Below is an excerpt from a book I’m writing called Adventures in Fishing (for Men). The book is a satirical allegory about Christian attempts at evangelism. He who has ears to hear…
After watching the boys catch a real, live fish on the riverbank the day before, I decided that I better learn how to cast my line into the water like they were doing. That’s the thing with fishing. You can only learn so much from magazines.
So I got out my fishing pole and on the end of the line, tied the best hook from my tackle box. It was a big hook, almost two inches long, with a big, sharp barb on the end. I bought the biggest hook they had down at the fishing store because I knew I would be catching some big fish. Those boys had been using a small hook, and as a result only caught small fish. This giant hook of mine was sure to catch the biggest fish around.
I pulled the fishing rod back over my shoulder and was just about to swing it forward when my neighbor stepped out of his house.
“Hey there, neighbor!” he shouted. “What’s going on?”
I sighed to myself. Can’t this guy ever mind his own business?
“I’m practicing my casting technique,” I told him.
“Oh,” he said. “I thought maybe you were trying to fish again, but this time in your grass!” He laughed at his joke. I did not.
“For your information,” I replied, “I went down to the river yesterday and had a very successful day.”
“You mean you caught some fish?” He looked genuinely surprised.
“I had a big fish in my hands, but I let him go.” This wasn’t a lie. Sure, the boy caught the fish, but I did hold him in my hands, and the fish did go back into the river. But these were minor details which would take too much time to explain. Right now I had to practice my casting.
“How big was this fish?” my neighbor asked.
I get so tired of all his questions. I sighed, loud enough for him to hear. Hopefully he would get a clue.
“It wasn’t as big as the fish I am going to catch,” I said. “Look at the size of this hook.” I walked over to him and showed him the giant fishing hook I had tied to the end of my line.
He looked shocked. “You are going to go fishing with that? Where are you going fishing? The ocean?”
I just laughed. This was the oldest trick in the book. I now understood why he was asking all these questions. He was trying to get me to reveal my secret fishing spot. Little did he know that I didn’t have one yet. But I didn’t need to tell him that. Let him think I had found a secret fishing hole with giant fish in it. I was a master fisherman, and when I came home with the monster of a fish, he would see. Then maybe the questions would stop.
“I’m not telling you where my secret fishing spot is,” I said. “Right now, I am just practicing my casting.”
“With that hook? I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Especially not with that little rod you’ve got. Even if you were to catch a fish with that hook, it would snap your line or break your rod. And besides, you don’t really need a hook on your line to practice casting. Especially not one with that barb. That thing is wicked!”
“No, liars and thieves are wicked,” I said. “Fishing hooks are morally neutral.” We who know the difference between good and evil must do our best to inform others that sin and wickedness is nothing to joke about. He apparently understood my point, and said nothing. So I continued.
“Now, stand back and watch the master fisherman practice his casting.”
He stepped back, and I pulled the rod back over my shoulder the way I had seen the boys do the day before. Then I swung the rod forward with all my strength, just as I had seen the boys do.
A sharp pain stabbed through my ear!
“CRAP!” I screamed. That was the strongest cuss word I allowed myself to say. I was very disciplined. The giant hook, rather than sail gently through the air to land on the other side of the lawn, had lodged itself in my right ear. I fell to the ground in pain and reached up to see if I could dislodge the hook. I pulled on the hook and screamed again.
“CRAP! It hurts!”
“Here, let me help!” my neighbor said as he ran over.
I was furious at him. This was all his fault, really. If he hadn’t interrupted my first cast, none of this would have happened. So when he got to me, I tried to push him away.
“I don’t need your help. I can do it myself!” But as I hastily reached out with the hand that was holding my ear, the hook pierced right through my thumb as well.
I screamed in agony.
“Look what you did!” I yelled at my neighbor. There was blood running down my forearm and dripping onto my expensive fishing vest. “You interrupted my casting, and now my ear and thumb got stuck with this hook, and my vest is getting stained with blood!”
He looked pretty angry, and started walking toward me. I thought he was going to hit me, but then he pulled a knife out of his pocket. I started to scramble away, thinking he was going to stab me. I knew my neighbor was a sinner, but I never imagined him as a murderer.
But he came up, grabbed me, and said, “Hold still. I’m going to cut the line to the fishing rod then take you to the hospital. You are going to need a doctor to take that hook out.”
He helped me get into his car, and on the way to the hospital, I dripped a little blood on the seat of his car. It wasn’t a nice thing to do, but all of this was his fault, and he still hadn’t apologized.
When we got to the hospital he stayed with me the entire time while the doctor cut the barb off the hook, put some topical anesthesia on my thumb and ear, and then pulled the hook free.
After I was all bandaged up, my neighbor drove me home. He never did apologize, and didn’t even offer to pay the medical bill. But at least he didn’t ask more questions.
I did learn one thing from this experience: In the future, whenever I practice my casting, I am going to make sure that my neighbor is not at home.