“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”
–Henry David Thoreau
It was another beautiful September afternoon at Silver Pine Lake as Bill Harris traveled southwest across the water in his small powerboat. Everyone knew largemouth bass and yellow perch could be found almost anywhere, but trout was more of a challenge. A person had to find the right spot and the best time of day, which for trout, was early morning—or about an hour before sunset.
Bill cut the motor and let the boat drift. The kokanee, or silver trout, had been biting all summer, but he’d decided to wear his lucky red shirt anyway. His wife Linda had given it to him for his sixtieth birthday last spring, and every time he wore it, he came back with at least four big trout.
Bill and Linda had started spending their weekends at the lake decades ago, but this was their first full summer. So far, retirement had been all he’d hoped for and he smiled as he pulled out his fishing rod. The past few months had been worth the long years he’d put in as data controller for one of the largest banks in the state. Back then, Bill had dreamed about moments like this, so he took his time baiting the jig. Dropping his line in the water, he watched it sink towards the bottom of the lake, pulled it back up, then watched it fall again.
A half hour later, he was reeling in his third fish. As he reached for his net, he heard raised voices. Glancing over, he saw two men walking along the shore, not far from the gravel road that cut through the woods to the main highway. He couldn’t make out who they were, but that didn’t bother him. Plenty of people visited this end of the lake for hiking and fishing, not to mention the cabins for rent further down, and the larger lake homes on the other side.
Not as many of those cabins were occupied after Labor Day, but enough that Bill turned his focus back to the fish and getting it in the net. It was another silver trout and he knew Linda would be happy. She always cooked whatever fish he brought home, but she preferred trout. He looked at his watch and decided to try for one more. After all, he was wearing his lucky red shirt.
The voices grew louder and with the sound carrying across the water, Bill could almost make out what the two men were saying. Not that he really cared. He just wanted them to go further down the beach and away from his fishing spot.
When he dropped the line, the voices stopped. Relieved, he glanced back and noticed the second man was picking up a long stick. At the last moment, he realized the stick was a rifle. As his eyes widened in surprise, he opened his mouth to say something…and fell backwards. The shot echoed across the lake, but Bill was dead before he hit the water.
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