BIL1 and I do not agree on many things. We don't agree on politics, religion or how to play poker. But one thing we do agree on is that Hubz has a rather skewed outlook on many topics such as fishing and transportation.
The following is a true story. This is a story that when I called Hubz at 9 o'clock at night on the day in question to find out where in the world they were since they all had been gone since 9 o'clock that morning, I did not believe the story I was told. BIL2 was the lucky one to answer Hubz' cellphone. He was the one chosen to relay this story the first time to me. Needless to say that upon his giving me a quick rundown of the day's events, I pretty much thought he had been paid off by Hubz to tell this tale. But I have since received verification that this is all indeed true. All I can really say to that is praise God I didn't have to go on this fishing trip. I've had enough of my own nightmare-inducing fishing jaunts with Hubz to last me forever. I'm glad someone else got to experience this little joy in life.
Here we go. Please enjoy this fishy tale.
The following is an account of the tragic events that occurred one clear winter day in January 2011. A day of leisure that three brothers set out to enjoy, only to find themselves never so glad to get home in their lives. Though I am just a relayer of the message, during this interview I became more than just a reporter. I became a partaker in the struggle that these three men endured. The events described herein are real but to protect the egos of those involved their names have been changed to what they are known as on this blog.
As I sat across from the man we will call BIL1, you could see that this was a subject that he was not eager to discuss. He had a large stocky build, about 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds. He had a scruffy beard and he apologized to me in his slow southern drawl for the obvious smell of whiskey that tainted his breath. He explained that since what he called “the fishing trip from Hell” he has turned to liquor to help ease his nerves. When he spoke you could see his mind revisiting those horrible events of that day. His voice and tone reminded me of that of the character Carl in the movie Sling Blade. Here is what BIL1 had to say:
Question: BIL1, tell me what you and your brothers set out to do on that day.
BIL1: Well my brother, Hubz, had got luckier than a huntin dawg with two noses cause he traded his four wheeler straight up for a fishin boat. He wanted ta take the boat to the lake and try it out and we figured we aught ta get in sum fishin while we was there. So me, Hubz, and my other brother, BIL2 decided ta go fishin and that was great but Hubz decided to pull the boat with his Ford truck and that idea didn’t exactly tickle mine and BIL2's fancy.
Question: Why did it disappoint you to hear that Hubz decided to use his truck to transport the boat?
BIL1: Have you ever seen that movie Urban Cowboy with that guy that played Vinnie Barbarino? Hubz’ truck is just like the one Vinnie had in that movie, just age it about 35 years, run it off a cliff, fill the cab with tools and clothes, throw a bunch of old tabacca spit bottles in the bed, and add a motor that backfires all the time. That’s not a ride I was excited to be a passenger in.
Question: Despite yours and BIL2’s reservations you still decided to go on the trip. Why?
BIL1: Well we didn’t have no reservations anywhere, but fur a chance ta go fishin we would just about ride in a little red wagon. So we climbed over the tools and clothes and squeezed into the truck. Now Hubz and I - we’re big boys, but BIL2 he’s not. He looks like a popsicle stick on the Jenny Craig diet so he got ta sit in the middle. Sittin in that truck he looked like one thin slice of deli meat between two thick pieces of Texas toast.
Question: Were there any problems with the truck on the way to the lake?
BIL1: Ridin in a vehicle that Hubz calls a “classic” is not the same as ridin in the futuristic cars and trucks of today. So when you ask if there was any problems that is a matter of opinion and it was clear ta BIL2 and I that Hubz was obviously way to used ta his chariot and its flaws. Hubz said what we call "flaws" he calls "character". So we just had ta grin and bear the ride with the drafts, fumes, backfires, and the other folks on the road telling us that we was number one.
Question: Why were the other motorists giving you the proverbial one finger salute?
BIL1: Well Hubz’ truck will only run about 62 miles an hour when it is not pulling the boat, so you can imagine how it was for us to be on the interstate going about 55 miles an hour downhill. Between the slow speed and the leaky oil slick running out the back of the truck other drivers were not happy to be behind us.
Hubz had set it up so we would meet up with Hubz’ buddies. When we got to the lake there was no where to park because there was a fishin tourney going on. Hubz asked me ta back the boat down the ramp ta put her in the water. “Pat the gas pedal five times and it should start,” he told me after I got in the truck. After a few minutes of tryin, I finally got the thang ta start and since it won’t idle I had ta put a little pressure on tha peddle to keep it running. I drive a tractor trailer fur work so backin up a trailer is usually no problem but between the game of keepin the thang runnin and havin ta fight tha lack of no powersteerin made backin very hard. When we was done launchin the boat I had ta floor the gas ta get the truck ta pull back up tha hill then park in tha grass. My arms sure was sore.
Question: Well how was the fishing part of the trip?
BIL1: It sucked.
Question: Do you care to elaborate on that?
BIL1: Well nosey, I guess I can. The boat ran great. It was cold. The fish weren’t bitin. And the only thing we caught was Hubz’ rod an reel after he dropped it in the water. I bet we didn’t get about 2 hours of actual fishin all day long.
Question: How did he drop his fishing pole in the water?
BIL1: We were in a cove casting at a few trees that had fell in tha water and all of the sudden Hubz shouted out, “fiddlesticks.” Me and Bil2 turned around just in time to see the tip of the fishing pole disappear into the cold depths. We put heavy weights and treble hooks on our poles and started casting in the area where we saw the pole go down. After about an hour Hubz hooked the pole and slowly reeled it up, he got that darn thang bout two feet out of tha water and it came loose from his hook. Once again that thang taunted us as it went under the water. Finally after another hour we hooked it and got it in the boat.
Question: It’s amazing that you were able to get the pole back at all since it sank into the “cold depths” as you called it.
BIL1: Yeah, the water was bout 41 degrees.
Question: How deep was it though?
BIL1: It was pretty deep.
Question: Yes, you said that but how deep?
BIL1: O.k. o.k., it was eleven feet deep and we couldn’t seem to hook that dang pole in eleven feet of water. Heck it was so frustratin that after we finally got the rod back I told Hubz that I was about ta strip down and jump in and get the rod. BIL2 laughed and told Hubz that he wasn’t thinkin that at all and that the rod could stay at the bottom before he was going in that cold water. Then Hubz got a call from his buddy who couldn’t get his boat started.
Question: What did you guys do then?
BIL1: We don’t let our buddies down! We fired up the boat and went to help them. Halfway across the lake we found em and jumped them off. It was about an hour ana half from dark so we headed back toward the boat ramp. Then as if the day wasn’t eventful enough we had the "gas incident".
Question: What is the “gas incident”?
BIL1: Well as soon as we came out of the cove where they was at their boat ran out of gas.
Question: What did you do then?
BIL1: I already told ya city slicker down here we don’t abandon our friends so we tied a rope from our boat ta there’s and towed them back ta tha ramp at a creepin speed of 5 miles an hour. We got back ta tha ramp bout 15 minutes before dark. I got in tha truck of death, went through tha fight of backin it down the ramp, then keepin it runnin while we inched up tha ramp. That’s the story of our great fishin trip.
Question: BIL1, it is my understanding that this is where the story begins. Didn’t you guys have some sort of car trouble on the way home?
BIL1: Do we really have ta talk bout this part?
Question: Yes, I think it is an important part of the story. Will you please proceed?
BIL1: Well alright then. We followed Hubz’ buddies out of the park and back toward the interstate. There is bout 15 miles of backwoods roads between tha lake and tha interstate. So we’re bout half a mile behind the buddies when all of the sudden the headlights on the truck of death went out.
Question: What did you guys do?
BIL1: We all started screamin out "FIDDLESTICKS, OH FIDDLESTICKS" over and over. It was horrible. Hubz was pullin and turnin switches, Bil2 was banging on the dash, and I was looking down at the side of the road ta try and see the white line. The lights came back on. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Then...the lights went right back off.
Question: Then what did you do?
BIL1: Same thang. "FIDDLESTICKS, OH FIDDLESTICKS! DEAR GOD WHATR WE GONNA DO?" The lights kept going on an off. Then as we rolled up to a four way stop sign, the lights went off and stayed off. Tha only light we could see was the taillights of Hubz’ buddies truck slowly disappearin in the distance.
Question: I thought you said that buddies do not abandon each other.
BIL1: You ever liked a girl and then had that uncomfortable moment when you realize that you like her a lot more than she likes you? Sometimes it’s like that with buddies.
Question: What happened next?
BIL1: We was stranded on a back road, in the night, in the dark. This was the darkest of dark. Hubz said "let’s check under the hood." So he shut the truck off and opened his door. I know he said “let’s” check under the hood but I thought that he might have been talkin ta his make believe friend. He got out then shot me this look that cleared that up for me. “Let’s” meant me and him.
I opened tha door slowly as thoughts of tha movie Deliverance ran through my head. When I got out I could only hear two thangs - oil drippin under tha truck and Hubz sayin fiddlesticks over and over. I told him ta hush before someone or something heard us. We didn’t have a flashlight so I held my phone ta use as a light while he looked fur tha problem. As if I wasn’t nervous enough I noticed the bars on my phone bouncin from one bar ta none. I had the vision in my head of us running down the street from a band of hillbillies while I yell inta my phone "CAN YA HEAR ME NOW?"
I’ve seen that movie and I know what happened ta tha fat guy.
After bout ten minutes Hubz moved from tha hood back ta tha cab where he proceeded ta disassemble tha dash. He had all tha tools he needed in tha floorboard and behind tha seat. Somethin told me that he had done this before. Tha lights suddenly came on and went back off. Me and BIL2 yelled out “THAT’S IT!” So we spent tha next twenty minutes with Hubz movin different areas of thangs under tha dash while I would yell “ON, OFF, ON, OFF, ON.” While this light show was happenin a few cars started ta approach tha intersection. I guess they thought we was doin sum sort a gang activity with tha light show that wuz goin on.
Question: Why do you say that? (I noticed his eyes a bit watered and his voice cracking when he answered this question.)
BIL1: They drove off, they drove off fast, none of em slowed or asked if we wuz o.k. THEY JUST SPED AWAY AS FAST AS THEY COULD!
Question: Why does this seem to upset you so?
BIL1: Cause this was when I realized that we wuz all alone and no one was comin ta help us.
All at once our spirits lifted cause tha lights came on. Hubz found tha problem. The headlight switch had some bad contacts in it. Hubz slammed the hood closed and said "git in". We jumped in the truck. He turned tha key and...nothing. The battery was dead and our hearts sank deep in our chest. Hubz looked at me and said we’ll put tha battery out of the boat in tha truck, so we jumped out took the battery out of tha truck. we had ta lower tha boat motor down ta get tha boat battery out. We put tha boat battery in he jumped in and started tha truck. I I slammed tha hood down and, uh, never mind.
Question: It’s all right. You can tell me what you were going to say. Go ahead, please.
BIL1: Well ya might think I’m crazy but as I got into tha truck I heard a voice behind me whisper, “you sure do have a pretty mouth.” I felt a chill go down my back, I slammed tha door and yelled "GO, GO, GO!"
We went bout three more miles and I looked over at Hubz and asked “did you raise the boat motor back up?” He slammed on the brakes and we jumped out of tha truck and ran ta tha back. We raised the motor, got back in tha truck and I swear on my favorite pair of overalls that tha dang headlights went out again. Hubz wiggled the switch and got them on. We rode for bout five miles with tha lights goin on and off and Hubz steerin and wigglin. When we saw tha lights of tha gas stations at tha interstate we all breathed a sigh of relief. When we pulled into tha parkin lot of tha truck stop we paused for a second ta stare at tha proof of civilized folk that we had all but given up on just minutes before. Hubz then pulled tha switch out and got to the business of straight wiring tha lights.
Once we got on tha interstate I stared out tha window and counted mile markers ta tha beat of the engine backfirein. When we pulled inta tha driveway at home I felt like that girl from the movie Titanic when she was on tha rescue ship and saw the Statue of Liberty.
As I thanked BIL1 for the interview he slowly walked away overwhelmed with emotion from reliving this horrible tragedy, I heard him whisper “tell tha story, warn others of tha truck of death.”