The whole truth

With the past weekend narrowing the last chance at a fresh feed of walleye before the season closed, I had suggested to the gathering at the debating table at the Bakery in Drizzle Creek how much a couple of packages of fillets would be appreciated.
The hint seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
“Sorry, but all we were catching was whoppers and had to throw them all back to spawn,” stated Pickle, ever the conscientious conservationist.
When I raised an eyebrow of surprise at that explanation, Pickle simply took another bite of toast, a slurp of coffee, and muttered something as he chewed his cud about the “enforcement officials being out in strength.”
I turned a hopeful glance towards the Runt who had come trudging in. He grabbed a handful of napkins, swabbed his face, and muttered something about a whole passel of grandkids down for Easter—all with runny noses.
However, the copious assortment of smudges on his fishing smock suggested his problem might have been an o.d. of chocolate bunnies.
“Sorry can’t help you. My boat’s out of action,” the Runt explained as he tried to swipe a piece of Pickle’s toast, unable to wait on his own order.
The speed with which he retracted his fingers as Pickle’s knife whacked the table suggested here was a man whose fishing reflexes were tuned to a knife-edge.
“What’s the matter with your boat? I thought it was brand new last year,” I quizzed, and waited patiently for an answer as the Runt concentrated his gaze on his fingernails and knuckles.
“Skag’s bent,” he offered without explanation.
“With this high water, I didn’t think any of you river rats would be hitting bottom,” I wondered as, finally overcome with the sight and small of all the freshly-buttered toast, I put in my order, as well.
Devil take the diet. Besides, the Pearl wasn’t around to see my backsliding.
“Concrete,” was all the Runt managed to mutter as he stuffed a full half-slice in without hesitation.
“Concrete? What concrete?” I pressed, my curiosity now aroused by the Runt’s lack of forthrightness.
“Onth theeeth boatt rampth,” he managed to sputter around the glue of the peanut butter.
“Whaddya do, back off the edge?” needled Pickle hesitating in the middle of an artistic application of a layer of jam.
“Okay! Okay! Okay!” protested the Runt. “The truth is it fell off the trailer when I was pulling up the ramp.
“I wasn’t going to say anything, but some nosy Parker would be sure to squeal on me.
“The cog on the winch slipped and when I pulled ahead, it simply rolled off the trailer onto the concrete ramp and bent the skag and scraped the bottom a bit,” confessed the Runt, holding out his cup for a refill.
“Besides those Fords have so much power, it’s hard not to surge ahead when you start up. Quite unlike those gutless GMs,” he added with a pointed sneer at Pickle.
“You mean, you forgot to hook up that safety chain? I’ve told you a dozen times, ‘Always hook up the safety chain,’ but no, you just don’t listen,” scolded Pickle, wildly waving his last slice of toast and splattering Moose with jam and p.b.
“Yes, Dad,” sighed an exasperated Runt. “Have you got an extra winch handle, safety chain, and a roll of duct tape?”
“Winch handle? I thought you said it was the cog that broke,” whined Pickle, seeing is treasured store of junk being plundered.
“Yeah, but I twisted the handle right off trying to crank it back on in a hurry,” explained the Runt. “I guess I just don’t know my own strength when I get excited.
“And that’s the whole truth,” he concluded.

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