A long, long time ago, our family lived in New Jersey. I think I was five or so. Dad worked on Manhattan and we had a house by a lake. I think it was called Pacanack Lake but can’t be sure. I don’t think we were there very long either. It was a nice house as I recall and I think I had a room to myself upstairs. That has nothing to do with this story, however.
My brother is six years older than me so we never did much together. He did take me fishing once on this lake. We were there quite awhile and I think he caught something or other. I was not so fortunate. I not only didn’t catch a thing, it was a terrifying experience. My bother would not bait my hook! If I wanted to fish, I was going to have to bait the hook myself. Do you know how gross an earthworm feels in your hand? I simply could not do it. He relented only once and baited my hook. Stupid worm slipped his hook and bailed on me as soon as he hit the water. I begged and pleaded for Jeff to hook another worm on my hook. He flatly refused, the punk. I threatened to tell Dad. He ignored me. I told him I would tell Mom he stole his just-caught fish. He pointed out my well-deserved reputation for lying. As a last ditch attempt, I threatened to beat him up and instantly relented as I remembered that he was six years older and twice my size.
With eyes closed and trembling in abject fear, I grabbed a worm and slid him onto the hook. He promptly fell off. Jeff then told me I had to stab him with the hook. Setting him on the hook would not work. Now in tears, I grabbed another worm and stabbed him with the hook. I was certain at this point that I would rot in Hades for killing this helpless little worm. What a sad ending for a worm I thought. I tossed him into the water and he promptly slid off. Another one had escaped. To my relief we were out of worms. It was time to go home. I could not go home without a catch though! What would Mom say if she saw Jeff with a fish and me with none? We walked under a bridge that was also a spillway. There in the spillway lay a fish. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead. I picked him up (they are even worse to hold than a worm!) and hauled him home to Mom. I don’t know what she did with it but I never did see it on anybody’s dinner plate. We did have a cat….