May 23rd, 2011

Because I don’t have a single acquaintance who is sufficiently righteous, it’s hard to tell from where I sit if the rapture did in fact take place yesterday. Yes, there was an earthquake in Turkey and a volcano erupted in Iceland and a tornado touched down in Missouri and Harold Camping has gone missing—but still, nothing on the street where I live has changed. My friends and neighbors are all present and accounted for, including Joel Kirk.

One bright summer day two years ago I was briefly convinced that Joel had been raptured.

The two of us had been trolling for trout on Deer Creek Reservoir. Joel owns the boat, which means he gets to man the controls. That is, unless a fish hits his line, in which case he vacates the captain’s chair and I take his place. So when Joel shouted, “Fish on!” I immediately sprang to my feet and shifted the drive train into neutral.

Having done so, I turned around to discover I was all alone on the boat. No sign whatsoever of Joel Kirk, who has never ranked high on anyone’s eligible rapturehood list. Yet, how else to explain his sudden disappearance? I looked skyward for an answer. I remember a sunbeam was shafting downward through a break in the clouds. Everything was peaceful and quiet. Clearly, Joel had gone straight to heaven—there was no other rational explanation. How was I going to explain it to his wife Judy? Or the fish and game officer? I now had five trout on the stringer, and with Joel gone, that’s one more than my legal limit. I decided the prudent thing would be cut one of those rainbows loose before heading for shore.

Bending over the bow, I discovered—to my amazement—that Joel had joined the trout on the stringer. “Get…me…out…of…here!” he sputtered.

Soon Joel was back on board, dripping wet and hopping mad. Turns out the great fish had yanked his pole overboard. It was a brand new pole and reel, and Joel wasn’t about to let it go without a fight. Tragically, he had just missed grabbing it before it slipped away and sank out of sight into the watery green depths of Deer Creek Reservoir.

“Someday we’re going to look back on this and laugh,” said Joel as water dripped from his nose and ears and oozed from pockets, pants, shoes and socks.


-Richard Menzies