The Heritage           Chapter Six          Gone Fishing

So the girl knew of El Viejo or the king as she had called the elusive trout that had
evaded Johnny hook more than once.  Traveling up the road to his favorite piece of
earth in what part of the world he knew, Johnny thoughts focused on if the girl really
would meet him there and of el Viejo.  His uncle had brought him up here many years
ago and taught him to fish.  He had also told him of the fish that had escaped him on
several occasions, el Viejo.  Johnny had always thought of his uncle's story as just
another fish story that the fisherman enjoyed tell, the one that got away.

Thinking back at his two experiences with El Viejo, a bit of excitement began to surge
with this fisherman.  Johnny had just turned eleven when he was fishing with his uncle
and his closest friend Sammy Tamayo, it had been a regular day of fishing when he felt
what appeared to be a snag of his hook in the rocks along the river bed, giving the line
a quick jerk hoping to free it up and not lose his hook he saw for but a fleeting second
the most abundant trout he had ever imagined.  For that quick second the flash of the
sun glimmered against the silver body of the fish and then as quickly as the fish hit the
water his line came free and gone was the fish and his hook.

For several years Johnny tried to find the spot where he had hooked El Viejo but ended
up each time of the memory of that split second.  He had almost forgotten of the day he
almost caught El Viejo, and once again while fishing some four maybe five years later,
he felt a strong pull on his line.  Immediately Johnny knew it had to be El Viejo, so
carefully he allowed his line to go out hoping to keep this fish from fighting against the
line.  Working his line carefully he eased the line in pulling closer and closer to shore
where he would get this trout on to the riverbank.  Suddenly El Viejo came out of the
water as he had done before.   Almost as if the fish were now walking on water.

Trying to get closer to the bank, Johnny decided to keep calm, again the trout leaped
out of the water and pulled against the line in a desperate attempt to get loose.  
Suddenly, the line became limp, and the fish had once again escaped Johnny's attempt
to catch him.  If I had only had a net, if I had only had a stronger line, if, if, if thought
Johnny as he realized once again he could only continue the story of the one that got

He was now on the gravel road heading toward the river and the spot where he would
park below the Middle creek puente.  Pulling into the place where his car was partially
concealed, he got out and began to get his fishing equipment which consisted of an old
army bag for a creel and his favorite and only bamboo pole and reel.  He debated for a
moment whether to wait on the girl or not, then decided in his mind that she would not
show up.  Like most girls, he thought the idea of holding a slimy fish or better yet
baiting her hook with an earthworm would be enough to keep her from showing up.

Johnny had almost reached the place on the gravel road where he would turn into the
trail that would take him to the river.  First, he heard the sound of wheels on gravel
then the sound of a horn and looking up he could see a pickup heading his way being
driven by the girl with red hair.

I thought you were going to wait for me was the first words that came from the girl’s
mouth as she pulled the pickup off the road I almost turned around before I spotted you.

I'm sorry, but I figured you were not coming and I just wanted to start doing a little
fishing answered Johnny.

Well okay, but believe me when I say I'm going to do something I do it.  Maryann
started to remove her fishing equipment for the bed of the pickup.  Everything she had
appeared new and fancy like the items Johnny had seen in the Sears catalog.  She then
slipped off her shoes and slipped on a pair of hip waders, something else Johnny had
never seen but in the catalog.  

I've got to dig up some worms, you don't mind waiting do you she asked, I guess it is
okay you go on ahead I'll catch up in a little while and picked up a shovel she headed
for a grassy area to seek out some worms.

This I got to see, Johnny thought to himself, a girl digging for worms.  He watched the
girl pull up a chunk of sod and began tearing up the black dirt in search of
earthworms.  She quickly got a couple and without hesitation, grabbed them and placed
them carefully in her bait box.  This same procedure went on for about ten minutes,
and when she had gathered enough, she quickly stood up and headed for the truck her
hand covered with the black mud she had been clawing through in the search for her

I've never seen a girl handle worms before Johnny informed her as they headed for the

My dad told me if I wanted to fish with him, I had to get my own worms and bait my
own hook; otherwise, I should stay at home.  It doesn't bother me except I just busted a
couple of fingernails, but they'll grow back.

After a short walk, they arrive at the bank of the river, feeling a bit self-conscious
Johnny pulled out an old coffee can and dug out a worm for himself as Maryann
dipped her hands in the water and began cleaning off the caked mud off her hands.  
She then baited her hook and laid her line across the water to start an afternoon of
trout fishing.   

He watched her as she skillfully fished slightly to his side and a little ahead of him.  
Several times he saw her make a catch and lay the trout in her fishing net, he knew she
knew what she was doing.  Concentrating on his own fishing he soon forgets she was
there and began to think of the great times he had experienced while fishing here with
his uncle, his buddy Samuel and by himself.

The sound of water rushing by him, the occasional chirp of a bird the wind whistling
through the trees and brush along the river bank it was here Johnny felt a close
presence to the Almighty.

He never considered himself to be religious, not even a good Catholic, but he felt within
there was a God.  He clung to many of the teachings he had learned in the catechism
classes, the commandments the concept of sin and right and wrong, good and bad.
The only question which haunted him was why a God of great love would allow the
inequities he saw in his world, here in the valley.

The only person he had expressed feeling on the matter was his close friend Sam
Tamayo.  Samuel was the son of an itinerant minister in a Christian sect called
Pentecostals.  Samuel and his family live a religious and moral life, they seldom left the
area call La Cueva, except to work, attend a school or to make whatever purchases
when they came to town.  Samuel was exceptionally well versed in scripture and was
always willing to share his thought with Johnny.  Since their early childhood days, both
boys and now men respected each others feeling on how they related to their religious

Yes, it was here while fishing, Johnny could stop and talk in his own way to his God, it
was here he would leave with an inner peace even when his questions to God went
unanswered.  Such items as to why did his mother and father have to die so young.  
Questions of why his heritage had been taken from him. Made by someone who did not
care in the least for it, the little house on the few acres of land.  Why were so many of
his people suffering in the valley at the hand of a few influential white people and yes
some brown skinned people?  Maybe it was because of what had been done by his
people to the people they found here when they first came here from Mexico.  
Questions that were left un-answered but which he hope to remedy someday.

Johnny suddenly realized he was near the part of the river where he would quit fishing,
stop and clean his catch and call it a day of his day of rest.  He looked around to
wonder where the girl might now be and felt a bit ashamed he had not looked after her
in some manner.  He thought of going back, but knowing the area, yet figured it would
be better if he waited for her.  He finished cleaning his fish and feeling the cold of his
wet trousers he just thought he better makes a quick run to his car and changes into dry
pants and shoes, figuring that by listening carefully he could hear the girl should she
passed by.

Returning shortly he yet saw no sign of the girl, had she passed by he though, which
way should he look for her?  As he was getting ready to head back up the river, he
spotted the red hair along the opposite bank, and when she had seen him, she waves a
greeting.  She didn't continue fishing anymore, and as soon as she found the right
place to cross over, she headed towards Johnny.

How did you do, she asked?

I bagged my limit Johnny answered proudly and you?

I've got five but they're all a good size, I threw all the smaller ones back in was her
reply.  She then dug her catch out of her bag, and sure enough, they all were good size
trout most larger than Johnny's catch.

                  Well, I've already cleaned mine you want me to clean yours he asked, still
feeling a bit ashamed he had left her behind.

I'd appreciated the help, she answered and reaching into her creel she pulled out a
knife, opened and began to split and gut the fish not even flinching as she grabbed the
inside of the fish.

Wow, thought Johnny, this was hard to believe, but he was seeing it with his own eyes.
After cleaning out her fishes, they headed for the spot when Johnny had parked his

How do you manage to keep so dry she then asked Johnny, I've got these boots on and
I'm soaked cause I slipped and one of my boots filled with water.

I brought an extra set of dry clothing Johnny informed her, so I changed as soon as I
got here, I have to do it cause I don't have any way of keeping dry when I fish.

Well, I wish I had brought some dry clothes, can you help me get these boot off she

She opened the front door of the car and lifted up her foot as Johnny reached down to
grab the boot, a quick pull and the boot slipped off.  The second boot was a bit harder
because of the water, caused the boot to stick to Maryann's jeans and foot.  Twice he
almost pulled her off the seat and onto the ground.  Johnny almost forgot the worlds
and lives that separated her kind and his.  Finally, the boot came off, and as she had
indicated, her clothing was soaked on one side of her body.

Reaching into the back seat of the car, Johnny retrieved an old army blanket he kept
for times when he was on the road with his uncle buying cars, and they would sleep in
the car alongside the road.  Here wrap this around your legs it might help keep you
from getting cold he offered.  He then put her fishing gear on the floor of the back seat
and got ready to drive up to Maryann's truck, so he could drop her off and be on his
way, still feeling uncomfortable being with this white girl, even as far away from the
town as they were.

He parked next to her truck and quickly started putting her gear in the back of the
truck.  While he was putting things away for her, Maryann had walked over a few feet
to the truck bear footed and had slipped on her shoes, she then pulled out a medium
size cooler and asked Johnny if he was hungry?

Well not really he lied, yet wanting to get this fishing trip over with.
Now don't tell me with all the fishing you did, you didn't work up a little appetite.  Now
I got some sandwiches and chips and even have a couple bottles of cold beer, so let's eat.

Her boldness and the fact she had offered him a beer took Johnny by surprise.  Never
had any girl or woman offered him a beer
let alone the desire to drink one along with him, only his buddies had ever done so, but
for a girl, this was almost a shock to him.

Without waiting for his answer, she handed him a sandwich and popped open the beer
for him and one for herself.  For the longest time, while he ate the lunch and sipped on
the beer, there was silence.  Johnny was at lost for words, and Maryann waited for
maybe a thank you or some other words from this guy that was far different from any
other guy she had to know, and this not because of his race.

Finally, she spoke only not a bold as before.  Why are you so afraid of me, Johnny?  I
am not going to try to do anything with you, just be a friend.

Afraid what makes you think I'm scared you Johnny asked?

Well, for one thing, you haven't uttered my name when you talk, you don't really look
at me, and I've never known anyone to be so nervous around a girl as you, haven't you
ever been around a girl?  In case you didn't know, girls are girls whether they are white
or brown.

Well, I got to admit you are quite different even from an Anglo girl I've ever met,
Johnny answered, and I'm sorry I don't use your name, I really don't think I know you
enough to be that informal, but if you want I say your name when the need comes.

Go-ahead Johnny says it, Maryanne simply Maryanne.

Trying to compromise on his feeling, Johnny answered okay and said, Maria-Anna.

Well, I guess that close enough for now, at least it a start was Maryanne reply to the
name Johnny had just given her.

They finished eating, and Maryanne finished her beer, and she got ready to leave,
Johnny too finished his bottle of beer and said goodbye to the girl and started to walk
toward his vehicle.

Johnny, she called out, he turned around, thanks she said for letting me fish with you

Your welcome, it was kind of fun, he answered.

Do you plan to come out again and fish was her next question?

Yes, he answered in a couple of weeks.

Can I come out and join you she asked?

I guess so only I bring the food if that no problem with you Johnny informed her.

Sure, should I call to make sure she asked?

You don't have to I'll be here, and thanks for asking Maria-anna and he walked over to
his car and waved goodbye as he watched the girl drive away.