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A Short Story - ''The Carp'' by Eugene L. Benton - 6 pages - one picture - Revised 06-08-17.doc

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A Short Story - ''The Carp'' by Eugene L. Benton - 6 pages - one picture - Revised 06-08-17.doc
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  "The Carp" By Eugene L. Benton For a late Saturday afternoon, the weather had cleared from that morning's thunderstorm and eerything had water apor wafting up from the surface that had!een drenched !y the sudden downpour. ene Leroy thought that now was a good time to go fishing !ecause the cree#s would !e full from the runoffs. $at $asswater was one of his !est friends in the Longiew %eights community of south &emphis, and, een though he was three years younger than ene Leroy, he shared his interests in fishing, eploring the undeeloped land along the &emphis' south side city limits, and collecting !ird eggs. Today, they would ta#e their two(piece poles andsome !ologna for !ait and a late afternoon snac# while fishing in Cane and )onconaah Cree#s, which com!ined along the south side of &emphis !efore emptying into the &ississippi *ier at the south end of *ierside $ar# on the fourthChic#asaw !luff on which the city of &emphis was !uilt in the early +--s. ene Leroy and $at strapped their poles across their !icycle's handle!ars. $at's !i#e was a real nice !lac# and white Swin while his was a red and white . C. %iggens. They li#ed their coaster !i#es !ecause the !i#es freed up their hands unli#e the English three(speed !i#es. ene Leroy could out pace $at !ecause he was!igger and $at was the younger of the two. /s they pedaled !ris#ly south on $rospect Street, they passed through many remaining puddles from the passing thunderstorm. They would hold their legs up as they rode through so that they did not get their shoes wet. )o matter what else they got wet, they did not dare return home with soa#ed and muddy shoes. The last time ene Leroy came home in that manner, he had to strip his own switch from the!ush !y the #itchen window. %e once tried selecting a small !ranch !ut instead got his face slapped. But now he was older and 0uic#er, and he could see it coming fromher piercing glare of his mother's yellowish(!rown Celtic eyes. %e would lean !ac#  1ust aoiding the slapping hand, then run outside to the front yard slamming the #itchen's screen door !ehind him, and stayed away until supper time so that she cooled off !efore his daddy came home from wor# at the 2. T. *awleigh Company located in downtown &emphis !y the &emphis(/r#ansas !ridge. Eeryone called his daddy "E.C." instead of Eugene Colum!us Benton, and he was a district sales manager for /r#ansas. ene Leroy and $at continued pedaling past &allory /enue to the industrial par# where the Federal Compress' storage !arns and the /merican Finishing Company were located. The preious day they had spent time clim!ing oer the cotton !ails in storage in the !arns getting coered with cotton lint. The /merican Finishing Company processed cotton cloth for the clothing manufactors. The company emptied the processing water into a channel that 3ig3agged through the industrial par# !efore flowing into )onconaah Cree#, which eentually flowed into the &ississippi *ier. 4sually, there was golf !all si3e pumice floating in the channel. 11   "Let's stop here and find some pumice," said ene Leroy, loo#ing and pointing to the channel where the contents rushed !y in a fog of water apor and steam straddling the channel. $at said, "Sure5 6 7 need a large piece of pumice for my roc# collection5" "895 6895" ene Leroy said while spying a fairly large piece !o!!ing along. %e hopped off his !i#e and reaching down scooped up the !ouncing !ase!all si3e pumice from the swirling warm water. %e plopped into $at's shirt poc#et still dripping with water. $at loo#ing down with surprise said, "That's hot5 6 7 wonder if there is any acid in the water:" They continued pedaling along past a large pond with ery large goldfish swimming and hoering in its clear li0uid depths. ene Leroy had always !een told that when goldfish were released into the wild that they would grow large li#e carp and would change color to a near natural !eige color of wild carp to which they were related. ene Leroy passed the opportunity to catch one !ecause no one he #new would consider eating a goldfish no matter how large the goldfish had grown in the wild. They pedaled onward pass the grain mill and up the leee to cross oer the trac#s of the 7llinois Central *ailroad on top of the leee. They were a!out a 0uarter of a mile away from a freight train approaching the crossing, which was unmar#ed. Theengineer was !lowing the locomotie's horn in short piercing !lasts as a warning to them. $at yelled, "7 want to place a penny down on the rails," which were shiny from their continual usage. "Be 0uic# a!out it5" ene Leroy said urgently. $at was a!le to put two pennies right on the rail 1ust !efore the locomotie arriedat the crossing where they were straddling their !i#es. /s the locomotie passed oer the pennies flattening them, $at raised his right arm pulling down on an imaginary cord connected to the horn to which the engineer replied hon#ing the locomotie horn repeatedly. Laying their !i#es on the ground !y the trac#, they ran down the other side of the leee to where the trac# crossed a trestle oer Cane Cree#, normally a sluggish, muddy stream pouring into a pool net to the trestle. The pool had many pieces of tree lim!s and leaes deposited !y the heay run off from the recent thunderstorm. There were seeral turtles in the center, popping the heads a!oe the muddy surfaceas well as seeral cliff swallows flying in and out of their nesting holes in the high !an# surrounding the pool, which was swirling !ecause the increased run off. $ositioning themseles on a low area of the !an#, they assem!led their poles and !aited their hoo#s with strips of finger length smelly !ologna. /fter watching, their !o!!ers float around erratically for a!out twenty minutes, $at said, "There's nothing here ecept those scooters55 6 Let's moe on down the cree# and loo# for other pools." "7 #now of a pond further down net to the cree# !efore it enters )onconaah Cree#5" said ene Leroy as he was trying to swat a dragonfly darting in and out of his face as he tossed the !ait towards a waiting turtle. 22   $lacing their poles on their shoulders, they !egan pic#ing their way along the cree# amongst the growth of thic# cane and willows towards the !ottoms in the distance where the )onconaah Cree# flowed its meandering course. 7n one place, they ran into shoulder high ohnson grass, which made paper(li#e cuts on their arms as they pushed their way through. 7n short order they arried at a !luff oerloo#ing the cree# on which lay a small pond not isi!le from the cree#. "2e'll hae to clim! up that !luff to see the pond," said ene Leroy, pointing upwards to the top of the !luff. They tried to cross the cree# !y stepping on some well(placed flat roc#s !ut with disastrous results. They got their shoes soa#ed with water and mud of the cree#. $at scampered up the !luff !efore him and to the pond's !an# where he promptly !aited his hoo# with the now hot, smelly !ologna. ene Leroy followed with his pole hoping they would finally catch something other than turtles. %e proceeded to chum the pond with !its of !ologna in the epectation of teasing some nice !ass or crappie to the area they were fishing. The pond's surface !u!!led with a myriad of water !ugs, mos0uito larae, and small !ream and shad fishes. Throwing his !aitedhoo# with a flip of his pole into the schools, he could see the flashes of sunlight from the scalely sides of the fish. "/t least there's life here," he said as he loo#ed at $at's !o!!er almost disappearing !elow the surface of the dar# emerald green water of the pond. Ecitingly $at said, " 7 am epecting a !ig !ass to stri#e5 6 7'll !et the only thing we'll catch are seeral of the small shad or !reams," he said as he retrieed a little shad into his out stretched hands while holding the pole !etween his legs. "&ay!e if we catch a !unch we'll hae something to show eery!ody5' replied ene Leroy disappointedly. " They're are too small and would !e would !e full of !ones and not much else." "&ay!e we should moe on to )onconaah Cree#," said $at hopefully. /!out that instant, an old lady appeared on the opposite side of the pond yelling atthem to get off her property and that they were trespassing. "Let's get out of here5 6 ene Leroy said hotly as they retrieed their lines from the pond. They started immediately down the !luff together stepping on each other's heels. %e felt at a loss that they had not caught at least one !ig fish as they waded across the cree# getting mud into their shoes. %e #new that his mother would scold him for messing up the new shoes specifically !ought for the coming school year. But, he and $at continued in a fast wal# on the !an# of the cree# pushing the willow and cane out of their way as they preceded towards the 1unction of the cree# with )onconaah Cree# a!out one(0uarter of mile distant. ene Leroy could see )onconaah Cree# in the distance with its pool(to(pool coursing in the yellow loam of the !ottoms where willow, !eech, yellow poplar, hic#ory, and !lac# walnut grew in a!undance. %e #new that $at and he would hae!etter luc# in one of those seemingly deep, yellowish pools, which were lin#ed !y thecoursing cree# from pool to pool. /s he slid down the muddy !an# to the cree#'s edge, he called out to $at; "7 thin# we'll hae !etter luc# here5" "Cool5" $at happily replied 6 "The water leel is up ... 7'll try the pool oer here," pointing to the furthest pool, which had seeral willows growing in its depths 33  of yellowish churning waters carrying a carpet of leaes and lim!s from the recent rain. Calling out to $at he said, "%ae a piece of !ologna !efore we use it up." %anding $at a warm, oily and round slice, he !elieed if he threw all the !ologna into the pools in front of them that they would hae !etter luc# in stirring up at least a catfish lur#ing under the !an# or one of the willows lying half su!merged. They !aited their hoo#s and slung their lines and !o!!ers upstream letting them float down and through the pools. They repeated this action for twenty minutes gradually moing up stream from pool to pool. The hot afternoon !ore down upon them with its relentless rays on their foreheads, arms, top of ears, and noses causing their s#in to redden with the !eginning of scalely sun!urn. Standing !y the rushing water of the cree# as it streamed from a preceding pool, he suddenly faced an on(coming rooster tail of a su!merged fish with its tail fin splashing madly a!out. The scene reminded him of salmon swimming upstream to spawn ecept this fish was moing down stream. "$at5 ... $at5 ... $at5" %e screamed as he reached down into water trying to gra! the tail of this Captain )emo's su!marine racing !y him. $at raced to his assistance 1ust as the fish disappeared into the ad1oining pool. "ene Leroy5 ... Let's wade into the pool and catch him with our !are hands," $at said while dropping his pole as he ran oer to where ene Leroy was standing an#le deep in the water with his soa#ed new shoes. There would !e trou!le in the !luff city this afternoon at home with his mother. "7 don't want to get my shoes any more muddy than they already are," and also hewas afraid to wade !are foot on the muddy !ottom of the pool where a !ig catfish or0uic# sand could !e waiting for 1ust such foolish attempt. "7f we throw some roc#s and clods into the down stream side of the pool may!e the fish will return up stream:" ene Leroy lead the way !y pic#ing up handy roc#s from the shallows of the cree# and throwing them into the pool ma#ing a plopping sound as they entered the pool. Between !oth of them throwing, the fish attempted to wiggle up stream again, !ut was stopped !y them !loc#ing the fish's course and gra!!ing its tail fin. 2ith seeral 1er#s of the tail, they !eached the fish on a sand!ar lining the channel. $ounding on the fish with some !ig !ranches found floating near!y, they rendered the fish stunned. <uic#ly ene Leroy 1ammed a lim! through the fish's mouth and a gill opening sothat $at and he could carry it !etween them. "$ic# up the other end $at5" he said. $at spo#e up to say, "2hy don't we carry him home and show eery!ody what wecaught: 6 This is a great catch5" pointing to the now lifeless !ody s#ewered on the willow lim!. "That's a great idea," ene Leroy gleefully retorted. "Let's sling him !etween us and head oer to our !i#es, where we can drag him !etween our !i#es home." "2e can hide our poles in the willows5" $at said gesturing at the willows oer growing the !an#s. ene Leroy noticed that the willows proided a safe place to hide their poles until they could return later. "ood idea5" he said. "Let's go," said $at aniously. 44   "Cool5" Together they preceded up the cree#'s !an# and !y following the other cree# !ac# to the 7.C.*.*. trac#, they reached their !i#es near the trestle at the end of $rospect Street, which left them only si !loc#s from their homes to pedal with this fish. /s they rode their !i#es home other #ids en0uired a!out the fish. They as#ed what #ind of fish had they caught and what they were going to do with it: 2ere they going to eat the fish: 8ne adult in a passing car as#ed them what they were going todo with that carp. Their answers ran the gam!it from coo#ing, stuffing, and showing the fish to their fathers and neigh!ors. 2hen they arried at ene Leroy's home, they deposited the fish on the side porch to the #itchen where his mother was preparing dinner. "&other5 6 &other5" ene Leroy eclaimed. "8pen the screen door and see what $at and 7 caught in )onconaah." %is mother opened the screen door slowly and peered out from her dishtowel and said, "ene Leroy Benton5 6 et that nasty carp out of here !efore your father getshome5" She always stated his first, middle and last names when she desired to ma#eherself emphatically clear with no misunderstandings. %e stried to please her and as the result she allowed him to do almost anything he was curious to do or try. From the anger in the tone of her oice, he could tell that he had gone too far in !ring the fish home. She followed up !y saying, "=ou'e ruined your new shoes5 6 ene Leroy Benton clean them up !efore your father gets home ... /nd5 6Ta#e that carp and put in the trashcan5 ... )ow5 6 =ou hear me5" $at and ene Leroy 0uic#ly dismounted their !i#es and, carrying the carp !etween them, marched into the !ac#yard where the rusted out !arrel stood under a sprawling oa#. /s $at and he lowered the carp into the trashcan, the carp was already to !eginning to smell fishy. Their attention was drawn to the drieway where his father 1ust droe into from wor#. %e saw his father gie him a 0ui33ical loo# as he opened the door to the company's +>?@ Cherolet, which ene Leroy only got to drie when the family was isiting his grandfather, &r. Benton, in 8a# roe, Louisiana. /s his father approached $at and him, he said, "2as that a carp you were putting in the trash can: 6 Aon't you #now that carp will stin# up the neigh!orhood in a couple of days in this heat 6son: 7 'm going to hae to !urn it with some gasoline5"2ith that, he too# out from the trun# a gallon container of gasoline, which he handed to his son. "Soa# that carp with all this gasoline5 ... )ow 6 son5 7'll light it when you're done5 6o55" ene Leroy carried the container to the trash can and proceeded to soa# the carp thoroughly until the gasoline was running out of the rusted out !ottom of the trash can. %e and $at drew !ac# 1ust as his father tossed a lighted match into the top of the trash can. "et !ac# !oys55" he yelled as the match fell into the trash can and immediately was followed !y a great fire!all and a loud !ooming sound. The air was permeated with the odor of carp flesh and gasoline. "2e didn't #now you couldn't eat carp," said ene Leroy and $at in unison. "2hat a !ig stin# oer a !ig fish 6 daddy5" %e said loo#ing down at his mud( ca#ed shoes. 55
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