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Walleye fishing Ballards Resort Lake of the Woods, MN

Part TWENTY – continued from last week’s episode –

With his skivvies back on and britches hiked up Rusty exited the shack expecting to see the key to his snowmobile gone. Ah, for once he had been correct about something, even if it was miserably upsetting.

For the number of times he had dropped a cell phone into a lake, he reached into his pants pocket and withdrew a cased waterproof cell phone. With this he attempted to ring Sally. The call went straight to voicemail.

More options… It was a ten-mile hike to the mainland, potentially meeting someone (police or foe) he did not want to see. The other option was to scroll his contacts and drag one more person into this nightmare of an escapade. He chose the latter…

Antoine Fishbeard aka Buzz was an old classmate of Rusty’s that lived near the south shore where the Harvest River flowed north and entered the lake. They had not spoken in years, but in their shared past he had always been a do anything for anyone saint.

At this moment Rusty felt he was the kind of guy you could not talk to for ten years (which it had been)… Pick up the phone one day… Call him… And start right up where you left off.

Buzz was a shirt-tailed relative of Professor Scale. During their senior year of high school, he had provided Rusty with insight per the Fisheries University in East Jesus, Indiana. His connection laid the groundwork for the continuance of Rusty’s education.

Post high school graduation, Rusty and Buzz had drifted in opposite directions. Rusty became modestly successful in his studies, while it was rumored Buzz had difficulty holding a job and was more apt to be found occupying a stool at the local Thirsty Trout. His German descent made him proficient in downing repeated, white-topped mugs of beer and he honed his hustling talents at the pool table to turn a fancy buck with the seasonal tourists.

During Rusty’s college years, when returning home over breaks or holidays, the two might bump into one another and plan to meet up later. But more times than not it never came to fruition. He would pass by the Thirsty Trout on his way to the public library, see Buzz’s blaze red Firebird parked out back, and continue to the solitude of his studies.

Whether it was social awkwardness or simply Rusty’s humble mindset… He was unsure if a commonality still existed between them. In his mind nothing had really changed between him and Buzz. Except for the fact that Buzz chose to stay in his hometown (Rusty chose college) and Rusty was perfectly fine with that decision. In retrospect, he should have pulled into the parking lot of the tavern.

And now… In this dire strait instance… Here he was about to make a phone call. Rusty and Buzz had hometown history and there had never been a rift between the two. Quite the opposite… Best buds from way back.

Cold… Snowy… Windy… Rusty and Buzz had cut class on more than one occasion when first ice walleyes were biting. They rode double on a four-wheeler to a wood paneled shanty that contained a boxed metal wood burner to provide comfort.

When the bite was on it was not uncommon to limit out before Noon. Walleyes and sauger provided plentiful action… Of which the limit at the time was a blustery 20-per-person. It would take them longer to process the fish for the freezer than to catch them. When it was good, it was really good!

Providing more entertainment would be the possibility that cousins Skip and Scoop paid a visit. More times than not they were present exclusively to create havoc. Doing fly-bys on their four-wheelers… Spinning cookies and throwing snow toward the door of the ice shack… And every now and again losing control and bashing head on into the side of the fish house.

Sally worked loose from bound hands. The cut marks on her wrists from the rope burned insanely and the pain elevated her anger pushing her red line upward toward revenge.

– To be continued –