A Bug on the Bank

September 12, 2018 – DSG

Mike just about had enough of those two morons talking about him behind his back.  He hid behind the moss rock listening to their crap for too long.

“Then I says to Mike, ‘hey I think that’s a giant beaver up there,’” said Bortle. “’Yeah, look at the size of its butt.  That thing is huge!’”

“Oh my bugs,” responded Clarice. “So, did Mike actually believe you?”

“Heck yeah he did!  You know Mike,” chuckled Bortle. “Anyway, I got him to go check it out seeing as the big beaver was ‘sleepin’’ and all.  So, he swims right on up there to take a look.”

“Oh my bugs, then what happened?” asked Clarice.

“So, he goes up there sort of swimming casually along the bank pretending to follow a dragonfly, or some shit,” Bortle laughed.  “So, he swims up there and the cow sort of shifts position.  Mike, he stops in his place, I guess still thinking it was some damn giant beaver.  Then, all of the sudden this cow just blew ass in the water!  I mean it was a total explosion of cow shit.”

Clarice lost it and started swimming in circles while laughing hysterically, her fins quivering with excitement.

“But, wait, that’s not the best part,” said Bortle, pausing for effect. “Mike, he couldn’t get outta the freakin’ way!  So, he’s totally enveloped in the shit-cloud.  For a minute I got a bit worried.  I mean I couldn’t see him in there.  I’m just hangin’ back lookin’ upstream into the cloud of shit that was spreading across the whole pool.  Finally, here comes Mike, slowly swimmin’ out into the clear.  Oh my bugs, the look on his face, I thought he was gonna kill me.  But, I couldn’t stop laughin’, I mean he was a true brown trout, covered in all that crap!”

“Gross!” exclaimed Clarice. “What did he do next?”

“Oh, he just moped on passed me down to his little hiding spot under that log with this little contrail of cow dung behind him.” Bortle shook his head. “It was really kind of pathetic.  I would’a felt a little sorry for him if it wasn’t so hilarious.”

“Come on Bortle,” sighed Clarice. “We’re talking about Mike here.  I mean he’s got nothin’ to offer.  Dumb as a mayfly larva; no talent; ugly as a… cow turd!”

Mike hid behind the moss rock just downstream listening to these two jerks go on and on at his expense.  No talent?  If only Clarice knew about my thin air training, he thought.  But, as he gazed upstream beyond Bortle’s and Clarice’s hangout, up farther past the grassy bank to the dirt shore, he saw his chance to rock their world.  It was a grasshopper—a nice green one just sitting there in that dirt within leaping distance of the water.

Mike eased over to the side of the moss rock into the bending current then darted ahead to Clarice’s and Bortle’s riffle.

“Hey, you jerks,” sneered Mike.

Bortle and Clarice whipped around to see a grinning Mike coming up behind them.

“Oh, uh… Hey Mike!” said Bortle. “We were, uh, just talking about you, and…”

“Shut it, Bort,” interrupted Mike. “I heard it all.  You think you’re a big shot just because I got shit on once?  And, you, Clarice…”

“Oh, my bugs…” Clarice stammered. “Mike, I… I, we were just…”

“Can it, bitch!” Mike yelled. “I know all about you, impressed by anything, no ideas of your own, just flittering around like the dumb-ass brook trout you are.”

Clarice frowned and fluttered her fins in the gravel.

“No talent, huh?” Asked Mike. “Watch this, dummies.”

Mike glided ahead, along the grassy bank, his eye on that green hopper in the dirt just off the water.  He held close to the edge for a stealth attack.

“What the heck’s he wantin’ us to watch?” asked Bortle. “Looks like he’s tryin’ to sneak up on something, but I don’t see what it is.”

Clarice nudged Bortle in the gill with a fin. “Maybe he’s fixin’ to get pooped on again!”

They both laughed heartily as they continued to watch Mike ease up the stream along the bank.

When Mike got close enough to the hopper he broke smoothly away from the bank towards mid-stream.  Then he turned back and made a b-line for the hopper, leaped from the water right up onto the bank, and scarfed that juicy grasshopper straight from the land!  He then flopped himself around a couple times straight on that beach before he let gravity do the rest and rolled back into the water.

Clarice and Bortle couldn’t believe what they just saw.

“OH, MY BUGS!!!!” Clarice finally belted.

“Holy crabapple, Mike!” Exclaimed Bortle. “You just completed the fabled ‘land leap of terror!’”

“Wait, what?!” Exclaimed Clarice. “How the heck did you just jump onto land, kill and eat a hopper, and flop back down into the world without drowning yourself in air?”

“Yep, I did that,” said Mike as he casually swam back downstream into Clarice’s and Bortle’s riffle.  “I did that right there and I can do it again.  And, that green grasshopper was a tastier meal than you screw ups will get in weeks.”

Mike continued his swim back down behind the moss rock, with a big grin and a full belly.

Clarice and Bortle were dumbfounded.  Then all three of them felt a movement in the water—something big!

“Oh, my bugs, what the heck is that?” Asked Clarice with fear in her voice.

A big, dark shape emerged from deep under the grassy bank.  Bortle shivered when he realized that he was looking at the legendary King Nightfeeder!  The King was rarely seen and was said to only venture out at night to feed on mice and birds.  Many even claimed he was a myth.  But, no, he was real, alright, and he was headed straight for Clarice and Bortle.  His huge, gaping mouth was slightly open, his lower jaw disfigured from some past battle.  A big scar traced from the corner of his mouth, up and around one eye, and then across his massive flat head.  He cast a big shade across the whole riffle.

“Uuuhhh… Behold the King,” stammered Bortle.

King Nightfeeder stopped and looked sideways at Bortle and Clarice.

“Shut up, you douchebag,” dismissed the King. “I’ve sat under that bank and listened to you two losers talk about young Mike over there for too long?  While you two idiots waste your time on nonsense, Mike over there’s been practicing.  And, now he’s accomplished something that you lickspittles could never do.  That’s right, the land leap of terror.  You’re lookin’ at the only other trout in this place to ever pull that one off and it almost killed me.”

The old King snorted some disdainful bubbles towards the two cowardly fish and then drifted down to the moss rock where Mike stared in awe at the big king.

“Mike,” said the King softly. “I’ve waited years to see another of our kind show the courage, the tenacity, and the skill to one day take my place in this world.”

Mike tentatively flicked his tail to move a bit closer to the King.  He was real! And, he was totally awesome.

“Mike,” continued the King. “I.. I’m not much longer for this world.  I’ve lived my time.  I’ve fought my battles.  This place needs a new King.”

The King then reached out a meaty fin and anointed Mike as his heir.

“You, Mike, will be the new king of our world,” said the King with dramatic effect. “You will be known as… King Land Leaper.”

King Nightfeeder then drifted away, back under his bank.  He was never seen again.  Bortle and Clarice moved upstream to a new riffle, too ashamed to stick around.  Over the years King Land Leaper grew to colossal proportions, feasting on land hoppers ,dragonflies, and even mice like the old king.  Most of all he enjoyed teaching his craft to the young fry coming up in the world.

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