This is from the twenty-second chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Tales. I hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week, and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.
SOMETHING FISHY (PART 1)
I was on my way out of the operating room, having assisted Ray with an emergency appendectomy on a young newlywed. She and her husband had been honeymooning at one of the local inns. Suddenly Louise burst through the OR doors.
Ray and I looked at each other. Who was she after this time?
“Dr. Larimore,” she squawked, “I need you in the ER. You won’t believe what I’ve got. I’ve been here in this hospital for a lot of years, and I don’t even believe what’s in there!”
She turned and tried to escape through the rapidly closing doors, which caught her squarely on the shoulders. She gave the doors a shove and shouted back over her shoulder, “Now!”
Ray and I looked at each other again. “Mind if I join you after I get the patient settled in the recovery room?” he asked.
“Sounds like it might be interesting. Come on down,” I chuckled as I sped through the OR doors.
When I got to the ER, things seemed calm. Louise was writing a note at the nurses’ station, and two of the three patient bays had drapes pulled around them. There were no paramedics to be seen.
As I walked in, Louise stood up. “There’s two patients, Doctor. The first one will live but needs a lot of suturing. The second one was DOA, but the first patient will not let her out of his sight until the game warden arrives.”
This has got to win the prize as the most unusual patient history ever presented to a doctor, I thought to myself. I must have looked totally confused.
She continued. “Before your jaw completely dislocates, come look.”
The smile on her face was devilish. She pulled the curtain of bay 2 open, and my eyes beheld something they had never seen before nor ever seen since in an emergency room. It was a fish. Now, not just any fish but a gigantic fish! The ER gurney is about seven feet long, and this fish occupied at least two-thirds of its length. It was massive. My jaw dropped. The jaws of the fish were also open, with horrific-looking teeth and some blood on the sheet by the mouth—I presumed from being hooked. Louise was snickering.
A voice from bay 1 spoke, “That’s one monster of a fish, ain’t it, Doc? I’ve ne’er seen a muskie so big. Think she’s shore ’nuff a record. Maybe even a worlt record.”
“What’s this fish doing in our ER?” I asked.
“Well, Doctor,” Louise piped up, “Mr. Crisp here would not be evaluated unless I agreed to let his fish accompany him.”
“Doc, that thar is a record fish. Can’t let her outta my sight till she’s properly measured and weighed. I caught her fair and square. I’d rather bleed to death than let her outta my sight.”
“Bleed to death?” I inquired.
“Oh, yes, sir,” exclaimed Louise. “Come looky at this.” She pulled the curtain back to reveal a white-as-a-sheet Mr. Crisp, who otherwise looked just fine—aside from his right arm, which was covered with a bloodstained hospital drape. Louise went to the patient’s right side and slowly peeled back the sheet that was clotted to his arm. He winced.
“What happened?” I cried—trying not to sound as shocked as I really was. The arm looked as though it had been through a meat grinder. No bones were showing, but there was clotted blood from just above the elbow to the wrist.
“Well, Doc, I was down near the Almond boat dock, jigging for crappie. The lake’s down a good forty feet, so to get to the shore you’ve got to walk down the edge. Thar ain’t no trees or stumps ’round the cove thar, just the water’s edge. But I know a place where thar’s a rock. When the water’s that low, you can get to the rock. On the side of the rock thar’s an underwater cliff, about fifteen or twenty feet straight down. Great place to fish.”
His eyes bored into mine. “Doc, you ain’t gonna tell no one about my spot, are you?”
“No sir, Mr. Crisp, your secret spot’s safe with me.”
“Well anyhow, I was just standing there at the edge of that rock, a jiggin’ for crappie, like I said. Had caught a bunch of them critters. Had them on a stringer in the water. But I had the end of the stringer under my foot, since thar warn’t no place to tie it to.”
“Go on,” I encouraged. The story was getting more curious by the minute.
“Well, I commenced to hearin’ a slurpin’.”
“A slurping?” I asked.
“Yep, Doc, a slurpin’.” He then mimicked one deep long slurp, followed by another. “What was it?”
“Well, I tell ya, Doc, I didn’t rightly know m’sef. Ne’er heerd such a noise. Then I realized it was at my feet. I just plumb froze. Then, while that slurpin’ continued, I slowly aimed my eyes down at my feets. And thar was the most unusual sight my eyes had e’er beholded.”
I couldn’t believe what my mind told me was coming, but he sure enough said it anyway.
“At my feets, which were thar on the edge of the rock, thar was that muskie.” He pointed to the fish in the bay to his left. “Doc, that’s a deepwater fish in Lake Fontana. They don’t ever come up to the surface. You’ve gotta troll real deep for them. But thar she was, a comin’ up right at the surface with her mouth wide-open, just like a big ol’ shark, and then she’d just suck in one of my crappie and then she’d a close her jaws and just fillet that thang while she backed up. Just filleted ’em one at a time, and then she’d come back for the next one. Why, I’ve ne’er beholded such a thang.”
He was quiet for a moment, almost in a trance.
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“You won’t believe this, Doctor,” Louise commented, shaking her head from side to side. “Just won’t believe this a’tall.”
“Well, Doc, I only had three crappie left on that stringer,” Mr. Crisp continued. “So I had to commence my planning real quick- like. I slowly bent down and took my pole—and very, very slow-like passed it from my right to my left hand while I was continuin’ to stoop. That muskie then slurped up my second-to-the-last crappie. But she either didn’t see me or didn’t care, ’cause she backed up and then came up for the last ’un. But, Doc, I was ready.”
“You were ready?”
“Yes sir, I was ready.”
“So what happened?” I was scared to ask. I knew the answer. Not only could I not believe it when I thought it, I still couldn’t believe it when he said it.
“Well, Doc, when she opened them thar jaws to come up an’ suck up my last crappie, well I just jammed my right hand through her jaws and up through her gills and then jumped back real fast ’afore she could pull me in and drown me.”
He paused as he relived this once-in-a-lifetime event—taking in and then releasing a deep breath. “Well, Doc, she shore didn’t like me a pullin’ her outta that thar lake. She was a thrashin’ and a floppin’. I backed up like a crab, a pullin’ her along with me— when all of a sudden-like my brain yelt at me, ‘She’s a bitin’ you, boy!’ I looked down at my arm, and every time she thrashed she done gored me again. Thar was blood a flowin’ out of her mouth—and I realized it were mine!”
“Then what happened?”
“Well, I kinda panicked and pulled my arm outta her mouth real fast, but I think that just caused more gashes. Anyway, I threw myself on her and we wrestled a bit. I warn’t gonna let her a back in that thar lake. Finally the fight kinda left her. I got my stringer and real careful-like passed it through her gills and done drug her back up to my truck. Come straight up here. Knew Louise would know who to call.”
“What in tarnation is going on?” a new voice blurted out. As the curtains separated, the exclamation continued, “What the blazes . . .” and trailed off as Ray entered the room.
“Well, I never . . . ,” he muttered as he looked back and forth between the two patients.
- The Murder (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Arrival (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Hemlock Inn (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Grand Tour (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Interview (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Settling In (Part 1); (Part 2)
- First-Day Jitters (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Emergency (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Delivery (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The “Expert” (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Trial (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Shiitake Sam (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina; (Part 2); (Part 3); (Part 4)
- White Lies
- The Epiphany (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Monuments (Part 1); (Part 2)
- My First Home Victory (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fisher of Men (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Something Fishy (Part 1);
© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2020. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.