When Gino arrived at his favorite Lackawanna River fishing hole, another fisherman had already staked out the spot. Gino set up about 15 yards downstream, sneaking sideways glances at the other angler who sang classic AM radio oldies songs out loud to himself as he reeled in and cast and reeled in and cast again. Turning with a wave, he shouted a greeting to Gino.
What’s happening, bro?
Gino ignored the man he pegged as an escaped mental patient. After about 15 minutes of sneaking peaks at the old-timer haul in fish after fish, Gino had to say something.
What are you using for bait?
I’m serious, Gino said.
Gino wasn’t sure if the old coot was putting him on or not.
You’re pulling in a lot of brown trout.
They like garlic with donuts, too. How about you, brother? What are you using for bait?
Hellgramites. Most people never heard of hellgrammites, Gino said.
I forgot they existed, Casey said.
Been around for a few million years.
Longer than me, Casey said.
Pleased to meet you, amigo, Casey said.
I’m not Mexican.
Day of the dead, dawn of the dead, Grateful Dead, what’s the difference?
Aren’t you that retiree Harry Davies hired to deliver his COVID tonic?
Scranton holy water right out of the tap.
I’m so sick of his bullshit, Gino said, and that goes double for that nutcase Pastor Earl with those militia bullet heads who want to take over the world.
I heard Earl passed, Casey said.
Gino shook his head so hard his Elvis sideburns wiggled in the wind.
He didn’t pass, he failed.
Went right over the edge, I heard, Casey said.
Rest in pieces, Gino said.
Casey perked up.
Maybe we should retire, man.
I already did but Harry Davies pulled me back into the crooked Scranton hustle.
I can do the Scranton hustle, Casey said.
Now he boogied like a disco dancer, shimmying to his left and shimmying to his right.
Shake your booty, Casey said.
Gino tried not to laugh and then got serious.
Wouldn’t it be great to fish whenever you wanted wherever you wanted? I’d love to fish up there at Lake Scranton, he said.
I swim naked at the lake all the time and fish whenever I want to, Casey said.
It’s illegal to drop a line up there at the reservoir, Gino said.
The trout swim naked, right?
Gino gave Casey the fisheye.
Establishment laws only let the government control our bodies, Casey said.
I’m thinking about moving, Gino said.
Me, too, Casey said.
California here I come, Casey said.
Myrtle Beach for me, Gino said.
My wife died, Gino said. You?
My dear old mother wants to see the Pacific Ocean before she crosses over to the other side.
I never been to the West Coast, Gino said. Never been anywhere really except the Jersey Shore a couple times on the casino bus. Born and raised and spent all my life in Scranton.
Where did that ever get you?
Harry Davies symbolizes everything wrong with this place, Casey said.
Earl did, too.
One down, Casey said.
We ought to do something about it, Gino said.
If you’re serious you can help me set things straight, Casey said.
Gino’s pulse raced.
Casey danced a little more of the Scranton hustle.
Have a marshmallow, he said.
Gino gobbled up five fat ones.
We better get ready for our trip, Casey said.