STORIES BY BRIAN ANGEVINE
RANDY WATERS—GAME WARDEN
In the Jaws of a Dilemma
Lynx to a Killing
Fires of a False Allah
Fishing the Shadows on the Highway of Legends
OTHER STORIES, FICTION AND NONFICTION
(an account of the Hyatt Regency Hotel disaster in Kansas City.)
Love for the Living
Sunsets Over Kosovo
Nine Years in Song
An Acute Sense of Hearing
(A biography of Donald Ray Baird)
The Mysteries of Jarosa Canyon
Short Stories—are available on my web site.
Music: Sarajevo—a long symphonic band composition. (Inspired by the Winter Olympic Games in the area later destroyed by ethnic conflict.)
Brian G. Angevine
Trinidad, Colorado seemed almost festive. The town was full of police cars, fire trucks, highway patrol cars, every imaginable kind of law enforcement vehicle crowded the streets. The high school had been let out for the day and hundreds of vehicles with shields on the doors lined the parking lot. Two ladder trucks suspended a huge American flag between their outstretched ladders. It formed an archway leading to the gymnasium that made things seem even more festive.
But then a hearse drew near. Everything fell silent and the long procession of officers saluted the vehicle. Slowly the people filed into the gym until they overflowed out in the lot. Festive? No, somber. One of their own had been killed in the line of duty. Trinidad lost a police officer to a criminal and personnel flowed into town from many miles away to see him off and lend support to the community. They all belonged to the same community of those who take risks to help others. They all knew the risks and the consequences of one little mistake.
So far officers in this part of the country were not under siege like those in some big cities. They were not being ambushed or targeted—yet. But when one dies they all feel the pain.
After the service was over the badges of each officer were bisected by a black ribbon. They wore the badges proudly, yet in tribute to the fallen. Flags were at half-staff and there was little joy in Trinidad this evening. Life went on but the fallen were on their minds for a long time.
The South Fork of the Purgatoire River, in April, was very peaceful without a single cloud marring the blue sky above Culebra Peak in Southern Colorado. Clear water gurgling over stones nearly lulled the fisherman into lethargy. All was right with the world as his only point of concentration was the riffle curling around the edge of a large rock in the middle of the current. A short backcast settled the parachute Adams at the edge of the boulder where the water bulged off the rock. It drifted only an inch and a trout rose to grab the fly. The fish felt the hook and immediately turned downstream running past the fisherman’s boots.
Norm Roberts stripped line as quickly as possible to catch up with the fish, and then had to let it slip gradually through his fingers again to keep pressure on the line. It was a delicate operation--too much tension and the fish would be gone, too little and the barbless hook would slip out. Time seemed to stand still as the fight played on with nearly equal chances for each of the animals to gain success. Norm moved over to the edge of the stream and worked the fish out of the current. In the backwater the rod bent a little less and Norm was able to reel in some line. Soon the fish lay still at his feet in shallow water. Norm wet his hand and knelt to free the hook. Darting away from the motion the fish used its last reserves and glared at the fingers grasping the tiny fly. Norm held the fish upright underwater until it flipped its tail and disappeared back into the depths of the current.
Norm stayed on his knees relishing the passion he felt for fishing in clear, cold water for wild trout. The setting was not the most beautiful in the world, but it seemed a near perfect place for Norm. He had fished streams with multi-colored rocks lining the bed with crystal clear water highlighting the colors. Rainbow trout were nearly invisible in those streams. The Purgatoire had a mostly mud bottom. Some flat rocks with high iron content lay here and there, but mostly the bed looked brown. Of course brown trout were invisible in that setting. The browns here were numerous and not much over fourteen inches. But they were great fun to catch and release, and the lack of fishing pressure made the stream seem like Norm’s own private playground.
The road that followed the South Fork of the Purgatoire supported heavy truck traffic drilling and servicing the hundreds of natural gas wells from old coal beds that defined the area in the early 1900’s. Now the gas was beginning to play out and no new wells were being drilled. The old ones needed far less service and the Bosque del Oso Wildlife Area was returning to more of a wild place, as it should be.
Norm tried to get up, which was becoming quite a struggle at his age. He couldn’t just decide to stand up and make it happen. He had to use his wading staff or get on all fours, hoist his rear in the air and then walk his hands back until he could grab his knees for support. He was nearly upright when he smelled a foul odor. It was worse than any skunk he had ever smelled. Then something heavy smacked him in the middle of the back and tore through his shirt. He sprawled face down in the stream and his glasses shattered. A horrible crunching sound near his ears was the last sound he heard. The water ran red.