Lake 33 Killing Relic
Chapter 18
The trout fisherman

As normal, this is the FIRST draft, with all the typos and errors yet to be fixed......... Plus this chapter has a point of view problem that I have work out, or give up and go fly fishing.

Chapter 18

Agent Douglas held the captured Canada goose, patiently untangling the monofilament line from the bird’s legs, and turned it loose. He collected the line for disposal; monofilament was a number one bird killer, and the deaths were entirely preventable if people only paid attention. The goose swam away, too exhausted to fly.

Agent Douglas drove along the Lake 33 dam conversing with the bird watchers about the Canada goose and looking for anyone fishing. Fishing season was two months away, but there were always the lawbreakers and those unaware of fishing seasons or catch limits.

He scanned the Dardenne Creek parking area near the old bridge, noticing two vehicles, probably mushroom hunters. Morrell mushroom season was almost over. With nothing else to do, he took a photo of the one car with out-of-state license plates, grabbed his binoculars and set off to see what the mushroom hunters were up to.

“What the hell?” said Agent Douglas, observing that one of the people from the parked vehicle was trout fishing, even though there were no trout in Dardenne Creek and the fishing season was not open anyway.

The trout fisherman dressed for the part in the Northeast or out west wore a hat full of colorful fishing flies, a tan vest with clever pockets, and a short-handled fishing net slung across his back—a bamboo cane fly rod instead of carbon fiber. 

And a bird watcher? The trout fisherman stared intently through a pair of expensive binoculars as if searching for an ivory-billed woodpecker. 

Douglas panned downstream to see what the fly fisherman was looking at and discovered a person walking the familiar meandering pattern of someone collecting mushrooms. When the mushroom hunter was almost out of sight, the fly fisherman carefully stalked the mushroom hunter and never once tossed a fly in the creek. The pattern was a panther stalking a doe, a hunter.

Agent Douglas, with a lifetime hunting in the Missouri woods and a stint in the army, stealthily approached the fly fisherman who was not fishing or looking at the rippling water.

“What are you doing?” asked Douglas to the unaware pretend fisherman.

The fisherman yelped in surprise at the magical appearance of the conservation agent in the green uniform.

“You a park ranger? I’m just fishing,” and waved the dry fly rod at Douglas. 

“Have any luck?” asked Agent Douglas.

“Oh sure, I caught a couple of rainbows and a brown trout, but they were too small to keep. I set them free without hardly a tear from the fish.” 

Douglass considered the fishing gear; it looked straight out of a sports magazine.

“Odd, there are no brown trout in this stream,” said Douglas.

“I guess they were rainbows or brook trout,” said the fisherman. “I get them confused. But I took photos. Do you want to see my pics?” He flashed brilliant white teeth and the smile of your best friend.

“There are no rainbow trout in Dardenne Creek, either,” said Douglas. “Why are you trailing the mushroom hunter?”

“What? No,” said the fisherman, with the same smile except for the eyes.

The eyes every time, thought Douglas.

“Can I see your out-of-state fishing license, out-of-state permit, and trout stamp?”

“I don’t have any of those; I thought these were open waters,” said the fisherman.

“This area is closed for fishing right now. Do you have a driver’s license?

“Of course, Ranger.”

Douglas saw the holstered pistol under the vest when the trout fisherman reached for his wallet.

“You’re armed!” yelled Douglas, who pulled his own gun. “On the ground! Now!”

“Mister, I have a gun permit, I’m....”

“I don’t know who you are, and I don’t know what’s going on. For my own safety, I want you to get on the ground, hands behind your back.

“No, you don’t understand, I’m an agent.”

“On the ground now!” yelled Agent Douglas, his army training kicking in to control the adrenalin flood.

Attracted by the commotion, I walked over to see Agent Douglas with a knee in the back of a fly fisherman, placing the fisherman in handcuffs.

“Wow, is he lost,” I said; “There are no trout in this creek.”

Douglas half-rolled the fisherman on his side, removed a 1911 pistol, dropped the magazine, and unchambered a round.

“Loaded for what? Are you hunting?” asked Agent Douglas.

“Heavy antique armament,” I observed,

“I’m a DOE agent and authorized carry. I’m DOE. Uncuff me and return my weapon,” demanded the flyfisherman.

Douglas fished for an ID.

“Why were you spying on Ryba?” asked Douglas.

“What?” I asked.

Douglas looked at me, “I followed him for fifteen minutes, following you and was convinced he would mug you for that basket of mushrooms,” said Douglas. “By the way, JTAC man, you are pretty rusty. This fisherman is not quiet in the woods, and you missed several loud sticks breaking.”

I had been thinking of a woman, a defrosted ice queen.

“Let me go!” said the fisherman. “I was not spying on him.” 

“Actually, I shot a couple of pictures of you with binoculars, staring at and following Ryba.” 

Douglas opened the wallet and inspected the Department of Energy badge.

“This looks legit,” said Douglas, standing over the prone fisherman.

“But only counterterrorism agents would need a pistol.” 

Douglas asked me, “Why is a counterterrorism agent following you?” Is there something I should know?”

I held up my hands.

“I just got out of prison and am only mushroom hunting. Why are you following me?” I asked the DOE agent.

The DOE agent lying on the ground was red with fury and spittle. “I’m going have you fired. I will see you are fired!” yelled the Department of Energy agent.

Agent Douglas turned on his cell phone camera and pressed record.

“Agent Stevenson, my name is Agent Douglas of the Missouri Department of Conservation, “I will remove the handcuffs and return your weapon once I can ascertain and ensure my safety and the safety of the civilian with us. But I’m only removing the cuffs once you calm down. 

“Fuck you, local yokel! I will have you fired!”

“I’m going to stand you up. I respectfully ask you to be calm,” said Douglas. “Recommend you go to range safety class again, sir. There’s no reason for you to carry a bullet in the chamber of your weapon. We’re not in Iraq or the Hindu Kush.”

“Fuck you fuck you goddamn fucking hillbilly.”

“I am writing you a ticket for fishing out of season and no out-of-state fishing license. No ticket for the pistol. I’m making an educated assumption that, for some reason, you are carrying for the Department of Energy.”

Douglas turned to me,

“There’s no law against him spying on you with his binoculars. I’m sure you would tell me if you knew something; I’m not suspecting anything like murder or attempted murder unless you have been sleeping with his wife?”

“I’ve been in prison for three years.” I stuttered.

Douglas nodded and turned to the DOE agent.

“I’m taking the cuffs off and returning your weapon.”

The DOE agent snarled in frustration and stomped away, jumped his car, and spun gravel on the gravel road. 

“Is there something? Is there something you need to tell me?” asked Douglas.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “What the fuck? Why are they following me? 

Is it because I’m setting off the courthouse radiation meters or because I was at Danny’s funeral? Yes, Buck’s funeral.

“What did you tell the Director of the museum about me?” I asked. “Something you found in your father’s journal?”

Agent Douglas did not shy away.

“My father wrote that your family may have been involved in the disappearance of some Marijuana growers.

“What? Wait, because we complained to the sheriff? Those people were growing pot on the contaminated Weldon Spring land, and their shit was killing kids, their “Rad” pot, they called it. 

The pot ended up killing a St. Louis Alderman’s son; it was evil shit. What happened to growers? You try making a wannabe St.ouis gangster your enemy.

I’m sure the growers fled to Mexico before the St. Louis organized crime thugs caught them and tortured them for three days.”

“Honest mistake by my father, maybe,” said Agent Douglas. “Then Director Liu showed me the documents from the District Attorney that you were sentenced to prison for another person’s meth. So why are they following you?”

Agent Stevenson fishtailed down the gravel roads of the wildlife area and pounded the steering wheel.

“Fucking Hillbillies!”

 Finally, he made the phone call he was dreading.

“Chief, I’ve been made.”

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