“This is the life,” Woodruff said.
“We needed this,” Bob replied.
“No doubt,” Woodruff agreed.
Woodruff reached into a small Styrofoam cup and pulled out a muddy, wriggly, worm. He quickly expanded a fish rod and caught hold of the hook dangling off the end of the line. With the hook in one hand and the worm in the other, Woodruff sought to join the two by force.
“That’s barbaric,” Bob said.
“It’s nature,” Woodruff argued.
“Nature?” Bob said. “So, hooks are the natural predators of worms?”
“Fish prey on worms, I’m just the middle-man,” Woodruff said.
“It’d be more natural if you ate the worms and left the fish alone,” Bob said.
“Fishing goes back to the dawn of human history,” Woodruff said. “There are cave paintings depicting fishing, and archeologists have found stone age fish hooks made of bone.”
“You’re just mad because you can’t bait a hook.”
“Uh huh, sure you could Grandma knits-a-lot.”
“How dare you!” Bob exclaimed. With crotchet hooks in hand, he swiveled on the boulder to turn away from Woodruff, carefully balancing the balls of yarn in his lap. Bob rapidly weaved red and blue yarn together with sterling silver crotchet hooks, purposefully blocking his work from Woodruff’s view.
When Woodruff had properly baited his hook, he stood up on top of the massive rock and held the pole over his head and behind him. He surveyed the body of water and looked for a calm spot between their shoreline and the banks of the not-so-distant island in front of them.
“I choose to use my hooks to create not to kill,” Bob said, holding up a long sock shaped creation. “I’m making this for you, worm murderer. Maybe it could warm your cold heart.”
Woodruff lowered the pole and pivoted to look at Bob, who had already turned his attentions back to his project.
“You’re making me a heart cozy?”
“It was going to be an oven mitt, but that was before you forsook the sanctity of life.”
“The sanctity of life?”
“Hashtag worm lives matter, Woodruff, worm lives matter.”
“You’re being very dramatic.”
“Woodruff the wormslayer!”
“When I said I wanted to go fishing, what did you think was going to happen?” Woodruff asked.
“I thought you were going to catch them with your bare hands like a gentleman,” Bob said.
“And then what?” Woodruff asked. “Don’t fish lives matter?”
“You’re going to kill the fish too?!” Bob shouted.
“I’m not going to eat a live fish.”
“You’re going to eat them?!”
“What else would I do with them?”
“I don’t know, return them to the water with a light taunting for getting caught.”
Woodruff stared down at Bob with his mouth agape. The rod in his hand wobbled from the movement of the worm on the end of the line. The moment past with only the sound of a gust of wind between them.
“I need to know that you know where food comes from,” Woodruff said.
“I’m not a child,” Bob replied. “I know where you carnivores turn for sustenance. That’s why I gave up fish and chicken and lamb, oh, and hot dogs. Gross.”
“You had a hamburger last night,” Woodruff said. “What do you think that was made from?”
“And where does beef come from?”
“Uh, the store, obviously.”
“Before the store.”
“Bob, beef comes from cows.”
“Beef, hamburgers, steak, it comes from cows.”
“Then why don’t we call it cow?” Bob asked, incredulously.
Woodruff put down his fishing rod and rubbed his forehead with both hands. He drew in a deep breath and watched Bob stare off at the shimmering waters. Bob’s head slowly tilted to the side and his lips began to quiver slightly.
“An orange is an orange, an apple is an apple, lettuce is lettuce, chicken is chicken, and beef is cow?” Bob muttered.
From the look on Bob’s face, he was clearly grappling with the new reality. Woodruff picked up a canteen in a camouflage pouch and walked over to Bob. Crouching down he unscrewed the lid and offered it to his befuddled friend. Bob took the canteen and mindlessly drank from it. Swallowing the cool refreshing liquid, he pulled the canteen away from his mouth and looked at it suspiciously.
“Water is from water, right?” Bob asked.
“Yes, water is from water,” Woodruff said. “Bob, are you going to be okay?”
“What other food doesn’t go by its animal name?”
“That’s not important right now, you need time to process this.”
“That’s exactly what you said to me when I asked if Vincent died in the LOST finale,” Bob accused. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing,” Woodruff said.
“Woodruff,” Bob demanded.
Woodruff drew in a deep breath, and exhaled slowly, “Bacon.”
“But, but bacon comes from pork.”
“Why do you think the pig on Looney Tunes is named Porky.”
“No…no. It’s can’t be! That’s not true! That’s impossible!”
“Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”
Four hours later Bob was still hunched over the boulder in the fetal position, with Woodruff fishing quietly by his side.
“Is there a turg or a wild pirkey out there that we get turkey bacon from?”
“I think it’s just turkey that’s made to look like bacon.”
“No argument here.”
Bob sat up and wiped at the tear stains on his cheeks. Woodruff set his pole down softly and turned to face his friend.
“You all right?” Woodruff asked.
“I don’t know,” Bob said. “You know, you think you are a certain kind of person, but then you have to look yourself in the mirror and tell that person that you love bacon and you don’t care who it hurts. It’s hard.”
“I know, amigo, I know.”
“We were supposed to come out here and chillax, disconnect, take a break, get off the grid.”
“We did, we’re off the grid,” Woodruff said. “We’ve disconnected. We’re out in nature. Look.”
Woodruff gesture out at the beautiful vista, a lake surrounded by evergreens with a wooded island near the center.
“What else out there have I been eating?” Bob said, glumly.
“Honestly, none of the animals you eat were ever in the wild,” Woodruff said. “They were most likely raised on farms to be slaughtered for food.”
Bob burst into tears and threw himself back on top of the boulder, “I’m a monster.”
“You’re not a monster.”
Woodruff’s fishing pole shot off the rocky shore and went skipping across the top of the water.
Bob sat up and they both watched the rod dancing in the wake of a fleeing fish. The wake turned parallel to the shoreline as it approached the island. In a flash, a giant hairy blur exploded from behind the cover the trees and ripped the fish from the water. With wide-eyed wonder, Woodruff and Bob watched the towering creature retreat, back through the trees with fish in hand, dragging the fishing pole behind it.
“Did you see that?” Woodruff asked.
“I sure did,” Bob replied.
“Break is over,” Woodruff said.
“Things just got real,” Bob said.
“You know where we’re going.”
Bob collected his balls of yarn and Woodruff picked up his tackle box. With their supplies tucked underneath their arms they looked across the lake toward the island.
“You wanna get something to eat before we head to Bigfoot Island?”
“What’re you in the mood for?”
“I could go for a PLT.”
“A Pig, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich.”
“Don’t be insensitive, Woodruff.”
“I’m sirloin, um, sorry, I’m sorry.”
Woodruff grinned wryly and Bob shook his head.
“We have a Sasquatch across the way, but you’re the real monster.”