I am going to do something brand new with my blog. My new book entitled “How I Found Ultimate Trouble and Ultimate Trouble Found Me,” is scheduled to be published on July 31, 2012. It will be my third book in this series and will continue with humorous and ridiculous tales about events in my life. People often wonder how I can still be alive after all of these things have happened to me, but they haven’t read anything yet. Ultimate Trouble is just what the title implies; even more ridiculous situations that fortunately I can laugh about now.
So what I’m going to do is give you all a sneak peak at this new book, by posting on my blog 6 stories between now and the application date, just to give you a flavor of what you have in store. Here is story #1.
I have never been much of a fisherman. My usual fishing experiences start with great anticipation, but end with terrific frustration. The following series of short episodes should convince you that the man Jeffrey Shapiro was meant to be a land–based, red-meat-eating creature.
“Pop, Ryan and I want to fish,” said my 8-year-old son Bradley.
We were at our borrowed lake house at Lake Bridgeport for the weekend. I call it borrowed, because we didn’t own it, nor did we rent it. I had made an offer to buy the property, but it was tangled up in a divorce settlement and the owner, although sure that he would end up with it, could not sell it to me until the deal was done. To keep me interested in buying the house, he let me use it for free. It was an old rock house that smelled of mildew, but had a lot of character. It was situated on a cliff next to Bridgeport’s small marina, and had a long, elaborate staircase that snaked from the house down to a metal floating dock. The staircase was so long and steep that we planned our day around it to minimize the number of times we had to go up and down. Lake Bridgeport was a fisherman’s paradise with great crappy, catfish and bass fishing right off our dock. On this warm July afternoon, the kids fished for perch with worms while I put a piece of a succulent kosher hot-dog on my hook and lowered it to the bottom to catch a prize catfish.
“I got one,” screamed Ryan.
“Me, too,” yelled Bradley.
I had all I could do to keep up with the kids as they pulled in perch after perch. All the while our dachshund Shasta ran frantically around the dock, snapping and licking the flopping fish. Finally, I realized that the kids needed my undivided attention, so I reeled in my line and worked with the kids. After about 15 minutes and about 30 fish, something horrible happened!
“Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Shapiro!” cried Ryan. “Look!”
I turned around and saw Shasta running off the dock toward the house dragging my fishing pole. She had eaten the hot-dog bait, hook and all! I chased her down and pried open her mouth to see the hook embedded in the roof of her mouth.
“Mary!” I yelled.
My wife Mary ran down the stairs and gave me that familiar look I had come to know which communicated, “Have I ever told you that you’re an idiot!”
I needed Mary to help with the operation because Shasta didn’t like me even though I loved her. If I tried to pull that hook out without Mary, it would be like trying the floss the teeth of a crocodile. Fortunately the hook came out relatively easily.
When Ryan recounted the weekend to his parents, he told them, “We caught 16 perch and one dachshund.”
That evening, after the kids had gone to bed, Mary and I returned to the dock for some more fishing. Mary caught a perch, which I decided to use as bait to catch a big catfish, while she continued fishing with a worm. I hooked the perch through the back bone and lowered the frisky fish to the bottom. We sat next to each other enjoying the cool evening, until I got a bite. And then she got a bite. We both struggled to pull up what appeared to be 2 huge fish. I reached over and grabbed the net, but when the fish surfaced, we saw that it wasn’t necessary, because there were not two huge fish. There was only one small fish. My perch had eaten her worm!
As I sat reflecting on the day, Mary and the kids now sound asleep, I thought how nice it would be to catch a big fish to silence all of the critics who screamed in my head. The dock light reflected on the green Texas waters, and I could see the occasional alligator gar swim by and could hear the cottonmouths make their way between docks. Hour after peaceful hour passed by. And then, without warning, my pole slid to the edge of the dock and nearly bent in half when I picked it up. Something of huge proportions had gobbled up my bait. I could feel the weight and strength of the massive creature of the deep as I struggled to wrench it from the bottom. Slowly I inched it to the surface and got a peek at what it was. It was a huge catfish, bigger than Shasta and bigger than any fish I had ever caught. We met each other’s eyes at the surface, and apparently it didn’t like the looks of me because it dove to the bottom and I was left with the task of pulling it up again. I looked for the net and to my dismay, it lay on the other side of the dock, beyond reach. The fish surfaced again, but I had no hope of bringing it up to the dock without a net, so we looked each other in the eye again and then with one mighty lunge, it broke my line and was gone. My hands were shaking from the excitement and my heart was broken. I tried for 2 more hours to catch that fish, but I didn’t even get a bite. Dejected, I made the lonely trek up the stairs and into bed. I lay there for the rest of the night, thinking about the big one that got away.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mary. “All you’ve done is roll around since you came to bed.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“I bet you hooked a big fish and it got away.”
“Yeah, it was a huge catfish and the net was on the other side of the dock, so I couldn’t get it and it broke my line and swam away.”
“You’re right, I don’t believe you, now go to sleep.”
Like what you read? The newest Trouble book, “How I Found Ultimate Trouble and Ultimate Trouble Found Me,” is scheduled to be published on July 31, 2012! But I will be adding another story soon, so be sure to check back! If you would like to purchase one of my other "Trouble" books, please check out my website: http://www.jeffreymarkshapiro.com