Bryson City Tales — Something Fishy (Part 2)

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.

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The story was told again, with perhaps even more gusto and bravado. As Ray listened to the tale, I examined the gory mess. The patient’s hand was intact, and all the arteries and nerves were uncut and fully functional. But he had row after row of fairly superficial lacerations and a few that ran deeper.

“Looks like you’re going to be sewin’ awhile, champ,” encouraged Ray.

“Don’t you want to stay and help a bit?”

“I’d love to, buddy, but I promised Nancy I’d be home for dinner.” With that and one last chuckle, he was off.

I commenced to cleaning, numbing, and sewing. I don’t remember just how many dozens and dozens of sutures it took to close up Mr. Crisp, but it took a couple of hours of nonstop work. I took several breaks to see other patients. It was a good thing the afternoon was light—as we only had one available patient bed in the ER.

After I had finished sewing, while Louise was cleaning and dressing the fisherman’s arm, I was writing prescriptions for an antibiotic and a pain medication. Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone with a uniform on enter the room. As I turned, the officer introduced himself. “Dr. Larimore, I’m John Maddox with the Park Service. I think you know my daddy—the pharmacist down at Super Swain.”

“Yes, John, I do. It’s good to meet you.”

“Well, I was heading home when I heard on the radio a call for the game warden to come over to the hospital to certify a world-record fish. The warden’s hung up with a case down near Bird Town, so since I live near here, I told him I’d come and check things out.”

I took John over to Mr. Crisp, who was now sitting up, his color almost back to normal. He gladly, and with even more vigor, retold his story. John listened without a word and then took a small tape measure from his pocket and measured the fish’s length and girth. “Man,” he muttered to himself, “that’s a big ’un!”

He looked at me. “Do you have a scale?”

“For fish?”

He smiled. “No, for people.”

“Oh,” I stammered, “of course. Right over here.” I pointed to the scale near the entrance to the ER.

“Can I weigh myself?”

What an odd request, I thought. But, ever the polite ER doctor, I said, “Of course.”

He walked over and stepped on the scale, adjusting the weights. “One hundred seventy-three pounds,” he said, almost to himself. He returned to ER bay 2 and hoisted up the fish in both of his arms. “Doc, come give me a hand, will you?”

What was he up to? He carried the muskie over to the scale. “Doc, adjust the scales to see how much I weigh now.”

Now I could see what he was doing. By subtracting his weight without the fish from his weight with the fish in hand, he could come up with an approximate weight for the fish. As he saw the weight, John’s eyes widened, and he whistled. “Man, oh man, this could have been a world record.”

“Could have been?” I whispered. He nodded his head and carried the fish back to her bed. With my help we got her situated again.

“Is that a record, Mr. Ranger?” asked Mr. Crisp anxiously.

John walked over to the sink and washed his hands. “Excuse me for a moment, gentlemen. I need to radio this information to the game warden. I’ll be back in a moment.”

I also stepped out to finish my dictation on the case. Soon I heard a yelp, as Louise administered a diphtheria-tetanus booster to our fisherman.

Ranger John returned, and I joined him in the ER bay.

“Mr. Crisp, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First of all, if this fish is weighed on a certified scale, it’s likely a world-record weight, but . . .”

“But what?” croaked our now pallid fisherman. “Well, that’s the bad news.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“This fish won’t qualify for any records.”

“Just why the blazes not?” shouted Mr. Crisp.

“Since you didn’t catch it with a rod and a line, it won’t count. You caught it with your hands. They won’t certify a fish for a record unless you catch it with a regulation rod, line, and bait. I’m awfully sorry.”

Mr. Crisp’s face registered the terrible shock. His lower lip began to quiver. He bit it as he fought back the tears. He looked at his arm for a moment, sniffled, and then looked over to the fish.

“Well, she’s going to make one nice barbecue, I’ll tell you that. Might have to find me a pig grill to cook her. I think the Rotary Club might just rent their cooker. Gonna be one nice meal.”

John and I said our farewells to the patient and walked out of the ER together.

“For a minute there I thought I might have to write a prescription for an antidepressant,” I chuckled.

“Well, he’s not the first around here to catch some large fish with his hands.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. We’ve got people who go fishing with underwater electrocuting devices. Even had an occasional fellow using underwater detonation devices. Kills off or shocks a mess of fish and then he just scoops ’em off the surface of the water. Every now and then one of them will try to claim a record fish. Pretty easy to figure out.”

I just shook my head in disbelief.

“Aw, Doc, that’s just the beginning of the stories I could tell you.” He winked, and off he went.

I headed back to the recovery room where Mary, the newly operated-on newlywed, was with her husband. She was groggy but responsive. Her vital signs were strong, her abdomen was soft, and her bowel sounds were active. These were all good signs.

As I was leaving, Mary’s husband walked out with me. “Dr. Larimore, is she going to make it?”

“I think she’ll do fine. Just fine.”

His head dropped. He seemed embarrassed. “Doctor, will this affect our ability to have children?”

“Oh, no. Not at all. The fallopian tubes, the womb, and both ovaries looked good—good and healthy. Most patients with a ruptured appendix like this are able to conceive without a problem—at least the women, that is.”

He smiled. So did I.

“I would expect her to do fine, but I’m glad you got her up here when you did. Just in time.”

“That’s what Dr. Cunningham told us.”

Ray and I are both learning, I thought. “Let’s just take it one day at a time, OK?” I turned to leave.

“OK. It’s just a sad day for us. I had so many high hopes about this honeymoon. Now it’s been kinda ruined.”

I turned back to him. “Let me share something with you.” I paused to gather my thoughts, then continued. “I’m learning that the Lord seems to have a reason for the things he allows. I’m also learning that if we’ll trust him, he’ll often take the things that appear bad, and make good come from them. Let me encourage you and Mary to look for the good in this. I bet you’ll find it. What do you think?”

He tried to smile. “I hope you’re right, Doc.”

“I’ll drop by later this evening to see how she’s doing.” Mary’s husband took a deep breath and suddenly furrowed his brow. “Hey, Doc. What’s that smell? Smells like something . . . fishy.”

I smiled. “Probably just a smell of sadness coming from the ER.”

He nodded in empathy.



  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1); (Part 2)

    © 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.

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