Dear Bishop Hackle 9/8/17 by Perry Fuller

September 8, 2017


Dear Bishop Hackle,


I suppose we'll have to respond to the rest home administrators in some conciliatory manner, assuring them I'll never again encourage their elderly toward "socially disruptive behavior," as they put it.


Yet, my dear bishop, we should also emphasize that I broke no house rules whatsoever, especially since the handbook for residents does not specifically prohibit "the sheer absurdity of angling for an ornamental species in water obviously not suitable to recreational purposes."


Furthermore, I did not corrupt all the ancients by my bad example. That charge is blatantly false and ought to be vigorously challenged. Fact is, tossing terrestrials to the facility's scaly fauna enticed merely a handful. Only four gentlemen pulled the telescopic antennas off their boom boxes to fashion a dapping rod of sorts, an admirable display of ingenuity for which I can take neither credit nor blame.


Just one person, with whom you may be intimately acquainted, actually dropped a line. At most, I'm guilty of mentioning a serviceable pattern and demonstrating its proper use. Otherwise, innocence clings to me like the plastic wrap of righteousness.


Here's the truth, almost as honestly as I can tell it. My weekly visitation schedule includes Thursday evenings at the Sunnydale Home for Seniors, where I see a certain Mr. Jack Ash and his cronies.


Customarily we wander around an expansive garden area whose centerpiece happens to be an artistically designed koi pond. Usually our chatting ranges from Scripture to strike indicators, with the former being far more prominent for obvious spiritual reasons.


However fly fishing does dominate the conversation occasionally, stimulated no doubt by magazines I drop off for everybody's enjoyment. Coincidentally, three of those recent drop-offs ran articles on casting for carp. Behold the insidious nature of literature!


Koi, are they magnum goldfish or miniature carp? If you're an institutionally enslaved fogey the game fish alternative presents a tantalizing possibility. So thought Ash who asked me if a guy wanted to catch those things with minimum risk of getting caught himself, how could it be done?


Thus I explained a method of dapping involving short, low visibility, roll casts . . . something akin to tenkara, but on a reduced scale. Jack thought of using the radio antenna for a rod since it could be quickly collapsed and completely hidden from sight if necessary.


"Why not a trench coat for added concealment?" I asked rather sarcasticaly.


"Too cliche," he replied. "But an umbrella might do nicely. Hell, you can hide tons of stuff in a jumbo version. Last month, yes sir, I smuggled an inflatable giraffe, a bottle of brandy, plus a weed whacker straight into my quarters inside one of them giant golf jobbies."


Some questions are better left unasked, so I hastily suggested a hackle-trimmed ant to match the daily feed pellet hatch. "Damn fine idea," he agreed. When, oh when, will I ever learn to keep quiet?


My dear Bishop, the internet never ceases to bewilder me. Though porno blocking protects the dirty old men of Sunnydale from self-inflicted heart attacks, nothing prevents free access to the fantasy of flyrodding. The day room computer won't respond to requests for sexual content, but a search for fly rods, fly reels, fly lines or just plain flies is guaranteed to bring up a staggering number of equally salacious web sites.


When Ash realized a mere click on the keyboard could secure everything needed for his little adventure, he went nuts and ordered practically a whole fly shop.


Premonitions rarely afflict me, but last week's visit was preceded by an acute sense of impending doom. Indeed trouble came ten seconds after rendezvousing with Jack. Accompanying him were three other codgers, each wearing bunny slippers and a butt-exposing johnny.


"Playing the crazy card," they said, "in case we actually get bagged. The staff around here goes easy on you if they think you're losing it!"


I should have demanded the deal be called off right then and there. However, koi on "light tackle" seemed far too intriguing to ignore. Therefore, a trio of sans underwear geezers, Jack, and yours truly shuffled our way over to the garden pond.


En route we providentially crossed paths with a woman in a wheel chair who fired off the foulest burst of flatulence imaginable as she screamed, "Repent ya stinkin' sinners. The stench of guilt covers ya'all like crap on a shit sandwich!" Given our present circumstances, nobody could doubt that we beheld a true prophetess indeed.


The first cast belonged to me since I had been chosen to show the way. A beautiful fish, surely the pride of the school, sucked the ant from the surface as neatly as any trout. Koi are not jumpers. Naturally, I tied into the singular exception of the entire species.


The final leap of the fight was a killer, quite literally. The damn fish grazed its bulbous head along the rough edge of a rock protruding above the waterline, shuddered like a dog pooping a pine cone, and then went belly up.


"Ya reap what ya sow, suckers!" The wheelchair lady had rolled up behind us undetected. What else could I do? No choice, I had to report us before she did.


The rest home officials were incredulous. Now the matter sits squarely upon your lap, my dear bishop. They're expecting you to take disciplinary action against me.


But before I humbly repent in sackcloth and ashes before those punctilious pricks, I think you should investigate crime scene yourself, after their office hours of course.


The fly was a cinnamon #16, by the way.



Father Felim McAllister