And Then There Was One

Somewhere in Manitoba | Phillip Compton, Google Maps

Started coming up here in ’69, hale and hearty as we were. Rode as far as Winnepeg in my VW bus with our gear strapped on the roof. Two weeks every August when the pike were biting.

’81 was the year Eddie caught a 32-inch walleye. Had it mounted in his bar. Us drunk on the dock, singin’ ‘Oh Manitoba’. Next year Randy died all sudden-like and no one felt like singing.

Phil got the cancer in ‘95 and stayed home to fight it. Next year he flew out anyway, cancer riding copilot, trademark ballcap loose on his bald head.

By 2001, most of the rest of us were retired, but feelin’ fine.

The tens were rough and by ’18 it was just me and Eddie.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he said on the phone a month before. But wouldn’t you know it, his wife just called.

Manitoba’s seen the last of us, I fear.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

30 Comments

  1. That just brought me a tingle. The reminisce of an annual event that’s hanging on by… by its guy-strings.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Love that phrase guy-strings. Glad it gave you a tingle. I know a group of guys who do an annual trip and this photo I landed on looked like just that type of thing. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It inspired me. As you’ll see, on Monday.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oooh! Looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yea, and now I’ve changed my choice. But the start began with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. n upbeat tale of friendship, slowly being eroded by time. So charmingly told. Heartwarming. Nice to see you on the top spot again, Karen. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, thanks Kelvin. I totally fell off the radar last week. This week I lucked out in that I found the location and the story in the same instant. You would think I might be smart enough to pick locations I have something to write about, but I never have managed to. Until this week, that is. Glad you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Northern pike is great tasting fish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh! I have never tasted it. I have done some fishing for it, but I’m more a catch-and-release kind of fisherman. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A nicely constructed story, Karen. I liked the touch of Phil attending – cancer riding co-pilot. The quiet heroism in the face of a certain and unwanted outcome is powerful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Penny! It’s great to see you. Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting that you said that. I was aiming for that kind of thing. I thought of these guys who get together who start out young and bulletproof the first year. When Randy dies prematurely, everyone is shocked and “no one felt like singing” as is often the case when we lose that first friend. When death comes knocking in the form of cancer, the instinct is to fight it–but ultimately the fight with death is never won (not to be all maudlin, but it’s true). And so Phil goes the last time to savor the time he has left with his friends. And then death plucks them off one by one, and the narrator will face it too–alone, as we all do. Boy I do get all maudlin, huh. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  5. lillmcgill

    and that is “life”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Life–haha. Love your use of quotes. Thanks for reading, Mom.

      Like

  6. I love the way you spooled this story out line by line; I really felt the narrator’s sense of history and camaraderie and loss. That’s the trade-off, isn’t it? To have a treasured tradition with a long-standing group of friends means one day losing it. But better to have loved and lost, I’d say.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah yes! Better to have loved and lost. Love that you said that. Thanks for reading, Joy!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely, sad tale. I really like the vibe of this piece, melancholy though it is. Well done

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] you, Karen and Josh for hosting this weekly […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Karen,

    Fifty years encapsulated in 150 words. Brilliant. The sense of friendship and loss are heartrending.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rochelle, that means a lot.

      Like

  10. peterkirsch

    SO powerful and sad.

    After a year of a dozen funerals, I just celebrated another birthday and I’m feeling it.
    Lots to do in this short little life..gotta get busy livin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a good way to look at it. Sorry for your losses. Get busy indeed!

      Like

  11. Good voice on this one. Sounded very natural, very down-to-earth, very authentic which added to the emotion as we watched this grim process of attrition.

    The ballcap detail is golden.

    Wonder who got the 32-inch walleye?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now you got me wondering about that walleye! Thanks for reading. I’m glad you liked the ballcap detail. That kind of feedback is helpful!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this. Wonderful voices and fabulous descriptions.
    Ironically, I wrote about my late husband’s fishing trips just a couple of weeks ago. He was the first to go and, being the glue that kept them together, they all stopped going. So sad, really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so sad. Not only are his loved ones left missing him, they’ve lost what must have been an important regular event. I’m glad you liked the story, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is.
        And I did.

        Like

  13. What a sad tale of aging and decline. Being the last of my fam alive, I totally get the emotiona content, here. Good writing.

    Like

    1. Thanks Jelli! I’m sorry you are the last of your family. That must be hard.

      Like

      1. Mostly around the holidays. Generally, I think I’m somewhat better off without them.

        Like

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