broken spark plug. deville had never heard of such a thing. "this just doesn't happen. spark plugs don't break." he assured. "i can't believe i don't have an extra spark plug." he wondered aloud. He had diagnosed the problem after furiously pulling the cover off the engine and digging through the often dug in mass of metal and wires. at that moment i allowed a quick, but unsuccessful, promise to learn more about basic engine care and maintanence. what if i was caught-up alone in the desert or somthing? i irrationally wondered. although a solo west coast trip to see the great pacific waters had long been anticipated, it was likely years off. deville cursed along. hawkeye serving diligently as right hand man to the captain. deville knew he was thrust into the position of savior and he tried everything to get that thing going.
catfish was despondent and unbelieving. "you mean this engine is broke again?" he had been on the same lake with deville four months prior. he'll never forget the late night breakdown that preceeded a three hour row across the entire lake with a kids plastic paddle and a piece of partical board. same engine. bad battery. same predicament. this was too much for catfish to absorb.
i, unknowingly, added to his burden with the obvious reminder, "man the fish are primed to be caught, the bait is taking its hold. come on deville, your reputation as the west texas super hero is on the line." catfish moaned and cursed in his soul. i felt i was living some dream. some test to justify faith in others. as if it could be justified. deville called out for a bottle cap. i handed him the steel modelo top and saw fear in his eyes as he grabed it from my hand. he claimed that this was going to work. and it did. breifly and almost tragically.
deville's repeated attempts at a solution yielded passing hope as he used the bottle cap with his right limb and hit the starter with his left, stretched over the entire length of the boat. we all kept out of the way as he deperately performed this spectacle. like kids. suddenly and without warning, deville got the engine cranked. incredible i thought. he steered away from the tree stump we had drifted to, saved hawkeye's life with his now free right hand and had us out into open water, heading for the boat slip and a final resolution to the spark plug debacle. we'll be back to our fish hunt in no time. he was very relieved. a hero from the land of dust. catfish was estatic, remembering the ordeal of the summer. no one knew how deep the seed of gratefulness was planted in dover's heart. he had stared down either death or disfigurement at the hands of that tree stump. the maneuver had been swift and upon recounting, a truly ugly scene was avoided due to the actions of deville. he was looking at the driver like an angel, sent to save him at this moment. which of course he was. "you guys don't realize how close i was to falling out onto that tree. you could be searching the bottom for me right now. knocked out. drowned." he still felt the adreneline in his veins.
"dover, i'd a tried for about fifeteen minutes," joked catfish, "but i have a family to protect. i couldn't put myself at risk like that." we could make light now. even hawkeye laughed loudly. i piled on the innocent insults. true, the baited west side would go unfished, but we would avoid a second White River Lake situation. Then the engine died, not to be resurrected again without finding land. land was way off. the wind was way high. white caps punished the small boat.
it was very predicatable, looking back, as deville told us to "grab that oar and hand me the board."
duncan was beside himself. "fix it deville!" he screamed. "i can't belive this. twice! on the same boat in the same lake! damn! damn!" on and on. "you didn't put two new oars in the boat after last time?"
"nope", replied deville, caring nothing about catfish's misery. pointing across the white caps, against the direction of the wind, he said, "we need to head over to that beach. we have to." it was way off and inconcievable that the desired beach could be reached. we were being blown violently the other way. quickly drifting out to the dreaded middle. right then fellings of dispair, despondency, soberness, and dread engulfed the boat.
you read about lake drownings all the time. ONLY THREE OF FOUR MEN MISSING. ONE CONFIRMED DEAD AS HE WASHED UP ON THE NORH MARSH, i could envision the headlines. however, for all, a feeling of excitment rose up. adventure. "we have to", deville had said. this is the statement we responded to. trying will not work unless it works. it was a singular mission and we had to. go across the lake, against a significant wind, to the pointed at spot. dover paddled with incredible vigor. some new strength had been found. he was exausted by the end. catfish, having been through this before, knew the needed effort. my fitness club membership was paying off as i took my turn and smoothly powerd the boat, finding a rythym and sticking to it until well after a burn screamed. deville wouldn't give up the particle board until it was evident we were going to make it. only then did he let anyone take a turn. the pure awkwarness and extreme uncomfort of trying to use the board in the back of the boat was ridiculous and i stopped shortly after my completely ineffective turn started. same for duncan and dover. we went back to trading the kid's plastic paddle in the front. through the roughest part and becoming assured of success, our efforts were going to be rewarded.
by this time, completely exhausted, catfish was over the disappointment of the lost fish, "we could have died out there. great work guys. deville, how the hell did you use that board for an hour straight. you didn't stop."
"just paddling." said deville to know one in particular. he was moving something to somewhere. staying busy on the crowded boat. That is when our hope truley came back. when it was clear. when it was evident. i think of hope as the best thing in the world. would faith be attainable without hope? and vice versa? God's gift to us. another gift to us. we worked harder after hope. worked together after hope. we got to hope through faith. faith in another and others.
"i can't belive no one's fell off this boat.", hawkeye said softly.