by Cape Crusader
(This is one of my favorite Cape Cod stories that I wrote when I was much younger. I hope you enjoy it!)
The minute I stepped into Grandpa’s kitchen…I knew something was up. He was looking at me over his glasses, his forehead wrinkling deeply as he raised a single eyebrow. The look that usually meant I had done something wrong. I quickly tried to think of what I could have done. I had taken the garbage out that morning. I had fed the dog, all of my chores were done.
“Do you know what today is?” He asked in a gruff, scolding voice.
“Yes sir, it’s garbage day, and I took the garbage out this morning.”
“Yes you did, and today is also Friday, which means that you have no school tomorrow. Seeing how you have been doing such a good job with your chores, what do you say we go striper fishing on Cape Cod tomorrow.”
I couldn’t believe it. This was great! We hadn’t been striper fishing on Cape Cod in two years,
“Grandpa, that would be great!” I replied excitedly. “But if we are going to go tomorrow, we have a lot to do. We’ll have to make up leaders and sharpen hooks, and we really should put new line on the striper reels, and we have to find out what time the tides are for tomorrow.”
“Whoa! Slow down son, one thing at a time. First of all, do you know where the striper rods are? I’ve been looking for them all day and can’t seem to locate them.”
“No Grandpa, not offhand, but I’ll bet that I can find them. What time are we leaving tomorrow?”
“Well, we’ll have to check the tide, but I would say sometime tomorrow afternoon. We’ll get up early in the morning and I’ll go down and get the newspaper to check the tide, while you locate the striper rods.”
I went to sleep that night determined to get up early and find the missing tackle. As I fell deeper and deeper into a peaceful slumber, I began to dream…….
I was in my Uncle Ray’s expansive home and there was a party going on. All of the rooms were filled with the roar of many different conversations. The kind of roar that is only noticed by one who is not involved in any of the discussions.
All of my relatives, both distant and immediate, were there. No one paying any attention to me as I made my way through the clusters of people trying to escape the unbearable din. I found my way to Uncle Ray’s office. I entered and closed the door, the roar immediately ceasing.
“Hello John.” A loud voice echoed from behind me.
I turned, startled, to find Uncle Ray seated behind his heavy oak desk with his back turned to me, staring out the window.
“Uncle Ray, I’m sorry, I didn’t know that you were in here.”
“That’s alright.” He replied. “Come over here and sit down, I’d like to talk to you.”
I walked over and took a seat in the cool leather chair in front of his desk. As he turned to face me, I was overwhelmed by his stately presence. There was an air of success that surrounded him which made a lasting impression in my young mind. His silver streaked hair parted on the side and combed to perfection. His strong jawline complimented by a warm, trusting smile, but there was something different, his eyes, usually a sparkling blue, were now dull and gray, almost lifeless.
“Tell me John, how are you?” He asked, his deep voice echoing from the dark panelled walls.
“I’m fine.” I replied
“And how is school? I trust you are doing well in the three R’s?”
“The three R’s? I asked, unsure what he meant.
“Well of course, reading, writing, and rythmetic.” He replied with a wry smile.
“Oh, the three R’s, I am doing well, mostly A’s and B’s.” I told him, not sure if I should tell him that writing and arithmetic do not begin with an R.
“How about your family, your Mom and Dad, your Grandmother and Grandfather, are they all well?”
“Everyone is fine and in good health.” I replied, wondering why he didn’t just go in the other room and ask them himself.
“I understand that you are going striper fishing on Cape Cod tomorrow.” He said
“Yes sir, tomorrow afternoon.”
“Boy, how I used to love to fish for Cape Cod stripers. You know John, you have to make sure that you fish the right tide, the stripers feed best when the tide is running strong through the marsh.”
“Yes sir, you taught me that. You were always a stickler for knowing the tide times. I remember that you used to be able to calculate the daily tide changes in your head and tell me the high tide for any given day.”
“I still can John, as a matter of fact, high tide will be tomorrow afternoon at 2:06, so it should be running strong by about four o’clock.”
“Uncle Ray, would you like to go with us? I am sure that it would be alright with Grandpa.”
Well John, I would love to, but I’m afraid I can’t. My last striper fishing trip to Cape Cod was two years ago with you and your grandfather, and I’m afraid that will always be my last trip.” He replied regretfully.
“That’s right! That was the last time Grandpa and I went too. We went on your boat and that’s where the striper rods must be!” I said excitedly.
“Actually John, I put the rods in my shed, I’m sure that you will find them there.”
“Thanks Uncle Ray, I should be getting back to the party now, I’m sure my Mom is wondering where I am.”
“Ok John, you run along then. I’ve enjoyed our little chat, and maybe we will do it again someday.”
I got up and walked over to the door.
“Hey John.” Uncle Ray called.
“Good luck tomorrow. Catch one for me, will you?”
“I sure will. Goodbye Uncle Ray.”
I opened the door and the loud roar greeted me once again, only this time there was also loud music. I opened my eyes and realized that the music was coming from my alarm clock. I shut it off and sat up in bed trying to decipher my dream from reality. The dream seemed so real, like my Uncle Ray had been right there. And his voice was still echoing in my head.
I got up and walked out to the kitchen where Grandpa was sitting, reading the morning paper.
“I got the paper so I can look up the tide table for today. Are you ready to look for those rods?” He asked.
“The rods are in Uncle Ray’s shed, and high tide is at 2:06 this afternoon.” I replied confidently.
Grandpa shuffled through the newspaper and found the tide tables. “That’s exactly right. How did you know that?” He asked in astonishment.
In my grogginess I replied “Uncle Ray told me.”
“John, Your Uncle Ray is dead.” Grandpa scratched his chin pensively. “As a matter of fact, he died a year ago last night.”