Friends...they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.
Henry David Thoreau
I watched Kevin walk down the path and I had every intention of packing up my gear and either move to a new, more secluded spot or head home. Then, as Kevin disappeared into the brush on the other side of the pond, I remembered something very important. Something that was said by Ralph Waldo Emerson and I can only assume that when he said it, he was speaking of his good friend Henry David Thoreau. What he said was “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
So instead I grabbed my fishing gear and headed back to my fishing spot. I cast my lure into the water, set the line and secured the rod and reel to the shore and went to set some snares and traps in the hopes of catching some tasty yet elusive four legged creatures. Once the traps were set I checked to my fishing rod to see if I’d caught anything, there was a fish on the lure so I removed it and put the fresh catch on a stringer and recast my line. I then spent the next hour gathering wood as much wood as I could to last me through the night. Throughout these chores I would occasionally check my fishing rod, I was quite successful. My fishing stringer had four respectable size fish on it and I knew I would sleep with a full stomach and wake up to a decent breakfast.
The sun had been steadily sinking towards the horizon and the afternoon’s breeze had begun to cool. The warmth of my fire was had become more and more welcoming. I took one last walk down to my fishing spot to retrieve my gear and I saw the tip of my rod dancing nervously in the air. I hurried my pace so I would not lose a meal.
“Skip!” a voice called out to me as I began to reel in my catch. I turned to my left and saw Kevin approaching my camp. He was not alone; there were two other kids with him. Each one looked as if they were carrying enough camping equipment and supplies for a week.
“Hiya Kev.” I shouted as my prey began to fight a bit on the end of the eight to ten pound test line. “Be with you in a bit. I’m a little busy here.”
By the time I got my new fish in, threaded on the stringer and my fishing gear loaded up, my three new camp mates were unpacking their equipment and pitching their tents. And as I approached I noticed one of the kids was remarkably smaller then Kevin and his other friend.
“Hey, Skip, um… look, I brought along two buddies of mine. I hope you don’t mind.” Kevin said as I set the stringer of fish next to the campfire and headed toward my tent. I rested my fishing rod against a tree and put my tackle box in the tent and reached under my sleeping bag for my pack of Marlboro’s, pulled one out and lit it up. As I emerged from the tent I saw Kevin and his two pals standing by the fire staring at me.
“I thought you said all your friends were in Green Bay.” I stated.
“Yeah, they were, but Big Pi and Little Pi had to come home early cause their sister got sick.”
I looked at the two kids standing next the left of Kevin looked almost identical, they both had short dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin and were dressed in the summer uniform of kids across America since the 1920’s, blue jeans and t-shirts. The taller of the two, “Big Pi” had a Pink Floyd shirt on, ratty jeans and an almost worn out pair of Chuck Taylors. “Little Pi” was wearing a “7-Up” t-shirt, jeans and an identical pair of Chucks, albeit a few sizes smaller.
“Guys, this is Skip.” Kevin said and he gestured towards me “He’s from Green Bay and moved here a while back. Skip, this is Kevin Pietroski” and he gestured towards the taller of the two brothers “and his younger brother David Pietroski. But we just call them Big Pi and Little Pi for short. Besides, I was the first Kevin on the block so he gets the nickname.” Kevin said as he pumped his thumb toward Big Pi’s chest.
“Nice to meet you Skip.” Big Pi said as he stepped forward and offered his hand to me. “Kevin said you were pretty cool and weren’t too concerned about the Rangers fucking with you out here. We thought it would be cool to come out here and check things out. Hope you don’t mind.”
I shook his hand and nodded “Nice to meet you… don’t mind at all.” I stammered. What could I say? Go home? Get the fuck out of here? Leave me alone? Who do you think you are? I knew if I said any of those things I would be alienated and labeled an asshole. And since this was really my first contact with anyone close to my age and near my neighborhood I did not want to be known as a freak or a creep.
As Big Pi stepped back I looked towards his younger brother, the kid was standing with his back to the fire but instead of facing me he was staring at the fish flopping on the ground where I had left them. Big Pi cuffed his brother on the back of his head “Ow! Wachoo do that for?” Little Pi shouted as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Introduce yourself to Skip you little shitheel or I’ll smack ya again.” Big Pi warned.
The kid looked up at me and nodded his head at me, a simple sign of acknowledgment and respect “Sup Skip?” he said “Names David but everyone calls me Little Pi, you got another smoke?”
I nodded back to him, took a puff on my cigarette and handed it to him. “Nice to meet you Little Pi, you can finish this one.”
“Thanks man. Hey, you really catch all those fish yourself?” He said as he exhaled the smoke and pointed to the fish on the ground with his foot.
“Sort of, they actually catch themselves for me.” I said as I headed back to my tent to get my smokes. “You see, fish aint to bright and they’ll bite on anything if you leave it alone long enough. So, all I do is cast my lure into the water with a bobber on the line and let the lure float around. Then, I go do other stuff so I don’t scare the fish or get too bored. I just check on the line every now and then and sometimes there is a fish, sometimes there isn’t.” I ducked into my tent, grabbed my pack and my lighter.
As I was turning around I saw Kevin was bent over in front of my tent. “Hey man, we cool? I mean, I know you kind of wanted to be alone and everything but when I got home I saw the Pi’s were pulling into their driveway and well, you know… one thing led to another and so here we all are.”
“It’s cool Kev. Don’t worry about it. But you’re going to clean the fish.”
“Shit. Ok.” He said and started to back out of the tent. “Um, Skip?”
“How do you clean a fish?”