Stickman Readers' Submissions March 31st, 2004

Gone Fishing (In Isaan) Part 8

The sky above me was a milky washed out blue, like the eyes of an almost blind geriatric Viking sailor. Birds flit through air, diving, and twisting and turning, chasing their afternoon meals, occasionally chirping and sqwauking at each other when two or more of them decided on the same insect prey to dive bomb. The surrounding rice fields lay spread out under the fiery sun like a hound dog in a dusty dried out mud wallow in the dog days of August. Beelzebub would feel right at home, although even he may have broken a light sweat.

In the distance the rice pickers picked on, steady as a metronome, their scythes flashing in the glaring sunlight. Faint sparkling girlish laughter could be heard once in a while floating by on a heat shimmering zephyr. Sis was quiet. I was even more so.

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My skin seemed to darken before my very eyes. Sweat poured from me as though I was sitting naked in a rain storm. Grasshoppers whirled like dervishes through the dry grasses, looking for god knows what to eat. The shade cast by the near-by small grove of foliage might as well have been a mile away for all the good it did me where I sat. I sat and baked, sometimes getting a little excited when I percieved a nibble on my bait.

I lit another smoke and wiped my moisture laden visage with my t-shirt. I pulled my line out once in a while to see if my appetizing little crab was still hanging around to entice a fish onto my hook. Yep. Still there, still alive. Back you go bub, into the drink. Have fun. Do some work ya little prick! Don't just hang around there on the friggin' hook. Wiggle around! You're a piece of bait for the love of god. Do some goddamned enticing! Be bait-ish!

The water still roiled and churned with seemingly hungry aquatic life. I looked on the surface of the water to see exactly what the fuck they were biting on. I couldn't see anything. The fish just sat there under the yellowish muddied water and the scorching sun, swimming around like mad men, or mad fish to be exact, and kissing the surface of the water, leaving ripples and rings of miniscule wavelets. No bites. Frustrating for sure.

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I moved to another spot and tried again, changing my lacadaisical crab for a more fiesty one. "This oughta get 'em bitin'!" I muttered to myself as I tossed the line back in. "Shoulda brought a couple of beers out here to suck on." I thought to myself as I licked my parched lips and again wiped my brow.

I started day-dreaming a bit. Mostly about sex, past, present, and future. The future conquests all had my wife's face though, for some reason, and I cursed her for intruding into my lurid day-dreams. For Chrissakes woman, let me "butterfly" in my own mind at least! I vow to make her pay for this later on that night in the sack.

All of a sudden a searing pain brought me back to the present. Shit! Yikes! Ow! Ouch! Oh shit! What the fuck?! Ahhhhh, fuck! My ass is burning like a couple of wasps bit me! I throw down my rod and dance around in the weeds by the edge of the pond, almost falling in, swearing and muttering, and flailing away at my shorts like a drunk who's set his pants on fire with a dropped lit cigarette. In the middle of my pain dance I notice a column of ants hightailing it out from under my dancin' fool feet. I think I even heard a few of them sniggering as they made their dash for safety. Little bastards! Shit! What are these? Fucking Fire Ants?!!

I also notice a snuffling giggling coming from across the water where Sis sat too. Much louder too. I glare at her trying to stifle her amusment. "Ha, ha, Ha," I say, glowering, "You like new falang dance I make for you?" She laughs louder, and says, "Yes. Good dance!" Her giggling continues unabated, and I can imagine I'll be the night's meal's amusing story for all to have a giggle over their rice and peppers. I sometimes feel like the constantly falling down stunt man comedian from a Morlam show. (Thai musical comedy shows with lots of slapstick comedy.) "Ahhhhh, shaddup." I glance around and pick up my rod from the dusty weeds.

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I shake my shorts pant legs out, and brush my hands all over, still imagining every itch and resettling tussled leg hair to be another leftover ant with flame-thrower in hand, ready to inflict more pain on the dumb shit who would sit on the Isaan ground without checking what was crawling about in the dirt. Just glad they didn't bite me in the nuts! Ouch.

Sis was still watching me from the corner of her eye….smirking. Waiting for the next installment of dinner conversation I assumed. I started to reel in my line and check my crabby bait when all of a sudden I caught something. Hey! A fish! All right. Hmmmmm. Not much of a fight here. Slight struggle, and no weight on the line really. Thought I'd lost it actually. I reeled in and there before my eyes was the puniest, most miniscule, tiniest excuse for a goddamned fish I'd ever had the misfortune to catch. I've had aquarium fish bigger than this runt!

It was a tiny little silver thing, and I noticed I hadn't caught it so much as accidently snagged the little bugger as I was reeling my line in. I think the crab was bigger than he was. Ahhh, shit. I look at Sis and show it to her laughing.

"What the hell is this?!" I query her. "Fish." she replies. Huh? "Sis, that's not a fish fer chrissake! That's jest bait!" I laugh at her, holding the runty guppy up for her to see closer to her face. "Yes, fish." she says again smiling, not understanding most of what I said probably. "Uh, Sis, exactly how big are the fish in this here fishing hole anyway?" A creeping suspicion is starting to form in my pea brain. "Like same same fish, some big more." she grins, almost confusing me, not quite though.

I hold my hands apart in measurement about 6 inches. I ask her, "Are there any this big in here?" She shakes her head no. "This big?" I ask bringing my hands about four inches apart. "No." she says, shaking her head again. "Jesus Sis." I say, shaking my head, "You mean they're all small like this one?" She grins and says "Yes. Same." I start laughing. Unbelievable. "Sis, you don't need a fishing rod to catch these fish! You need a net for god's sake!" She shrugs and smiles and says, "No have." I mutter under my breath to myself, "No shit, Sherlock."

I explain to her I want to go somewhere where I can catch much bigger fish than this. I tell her these fish are so small they can't even bite the bait, or the damned hook! She grins. They should change the name from Land of Smiles to Land of Foolish Grins and Foolish Fishing Farangs. "For god's sake woman, you'd need a hook the size of a cold Irishman's prick to catch fish this small! I don't think they make 'em that small!" I moan exasperated.

"What you say?" she frowns as she concentrates on my words. "Never mind." I say laughing. "Let's go to the lake on the other side of the village and see what we can catch there okay?" She nods, smiling, and says, "Okay. No problum. Up to you." I give her a quizical look and ask, "Are there bigger fish in there? Like this big?" I hold my hands 6 or 8 inches apart. "Sure." she nods, laughing. "Jing jing? (It's true?)" I plead. "For sure. Big fish." she assures me. Okay. Time to bolt outta this pissant, skin searing, hell hole on earth rice field fishing pond.

We gather our stuff and leave toward the truck.

After walking a few yards I notice I'm feeling a bit woozy. Shit. The chirping birds start to sound more like screeching griffins, and the whirring grasshoppers wings more like Huey helicopters coming in for a medi-vac. The earth moves beneath me, and not in the direction I was walking. Jesus. I feel like I'm gonna puke. Damn. I notice I'm not sweating anymore, and I feel cold. Goosebumps tighten my skin all over. Christ, I must be coming down with a case of fucking sunstroke! We head for the truck. Me, thinking of the truck's cooling AC, and the big bottle of re-hydrating H2O I may be needing, like real quick-like.

Fuck this rice paddy fishin' shit!

The blazing sun beat down mercilessly. My forehead felt like it was trying to hatch something. I noticed my arms were the color of ripe plum tomatoes. I put my t-shirt over my head and weaved my Isaan sun fried ass back to the truck.

I sometimes forget I'm just a farang.

(to be continued)

Stickman says:

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