After watching a very interesting episode on the History Channel about space aliens, I went to the local Quick Trip to get a Cherry Coke Zero and to fill the car with gas. As luck would have it, I pulled in behind a 1985 Ford F-150 pickup truck with Arkansas tags.
The idea struck me that I had been thinking about space aliens, and now I am behind somebody from Arkansas. That’s about as close to a space alien most earth people will ever get. I was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, just across the Mississippi River from Arkansas. I know those people, and have great respect for them when they play football, cook barbecue, and drink beer. That’s universal stuff in the South.
The man pumping gas into the pickup truck was about five foot, ten inches tall, wearing tattered camo’s, and a dirty Brave’s baseball cap. He had about four days worth of beard, and smelled like he took his alcohol seriously.
Approaching the gentleman, I broke the ice with the universal good-old-boy line, “Where y’all from?” The answer was kind of muffled, but I attributed that to the shape of his teeth, of which there were damned few. I should have known that he had a mouth full of Redman tobacco. He was from the Ozark Mountains in Northern Arkansas. That is fishing and hunting country!
He was not impressed that I was from Memphis, but he was OK about Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Norfork, two of the best water skiing and fishing lakes in the entire world.I asked him if he did any striped bass fishing, and got a big, ragged-toothed smile.
Sure enough, the man had a fishing story for me.
His name was Sidney, and he started talking about the time when he and his cousin, Simion Paul (asleep in the front seat), were fishing Bull Shoals at three in the morning for striped bass. They had caught a couple weighing about fifteen pounds each, when Sidney hooked a really big one. He said that this one had to be about seventy-five pounds. The record was a sixty-four pounder.
As Sidney was fighting to reel the fish in, Simion Paul grabbed the StowMaster Tournament fish net to finish the job.
Sidney said, ” ‘Bout that time, a blinding light flashed down from overhead like a million flashbulbs going off all at oncet “. I didn’t think Sidney was old enough to remember flash bulbs, but I let that slide. After all, whenever a guy gets a good story going, do not interrupt him with facts. It might not be healthy.
Sidney then says he hears a voice holler, “Drop the fish and nobody gets hurt!”. Then, Simion Paul yells, “It’s the cops, and they’re not taking me alive!”
Sid says that’s when things get whacky. He swears that a seven-foot tall green-looking bug dropped down into their boat, grabbed the fishing rod, net, and seventy-five pound striped bass. Then, the creature took their stuff, tumped the boat over, and flew a saucer shaped craft into the night. After that, Sidney remembered nothing.
Well, Sid did remember waking up the next day on the highway by a sign that said, “Mountain Home – 6 Miles”. There was no boat, no fishing rods, and no fish. There was no Simion Paul, either. Sidney thought he had lost his cousin to space aliens and was worried about how to break the news to his Aunt Sooey.
That’s when Simeon Paul made his appearance, stumbling out of the roadside ditch, with a beautific smile on his face.
Simeon Paul had seen the light, and that changed his life, and the way he spelled his name. Sid, though, was left with nothing but a fish story and a hangover.