“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 across the water in his small powerboat, heading southwest. He knew the best fishing would be along that end of the lake. While largemouth bass and yellow perch could be found almost anywhere, trout was more of a challenge. A person had to know 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 had on his lucky red shirt just in case. His wife Linda had given it to him for his sixtieth birthday last spring. Every time he wore it, he came back to their cabin with at least four big trout.
Bill and Linda had started spending their weekends at the lake decades ago, but this had been 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 larger banks in the state. Bill had dreamed about moments like this and 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 and 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 some larger lake homes on the other side.
Not as many 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 back, but trout was her favorite. He looked at his watch and decided to try for one more.
The voices grew louder and with the sound carrying across the water, he could almost make out what the men were saying. Not that he really cared. He just wanted them to go further down the beach and away from his fishing spot.
Bill dropped the line one last time and glanced back, wondering why the second man had picked 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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