Carl Hiaasen – Double Whammy
Carl Hiaasen – Double Whammy
On the morning of January 6, two hours before dawn, a man named Robert Clinch rolled out of bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He put on three pairs of socks, a blue flannel shirt, olive dungarees, a Timex waterproof watch, and a burgundy cap with a patch stitched to the crown. The patch said: “Mann’s Jelly Worms.”
Clinch padded to the kitchen and fixed himself a pot of coffee, four eggs scrambled (with ketchup), a quarter-pound of Jimmy Dean sausage, and two slices of whole-wheat toast with grape jam. As he ate, he listened to the radio for a weather report. The temperature outside was forty-one degrees, humidity thirty-five percent, wind blowing from the northeast at seven miles per hour. According to the weatherman, thick fog lay on the highway between Harney and Lake Jesup. Robert Clinch loved to drive in the fog because it gave him a chance to use the amber fog lights on his new Blazer truck. The fog lights had been a $455 option, and his wife, Clarisse, now asleep in the bedroom, was always bitching about what a waste of money they were. Clinch decided that later, when he got home from the lake, he would tell Clarisse how the fog lights had saved his life on Route 222; how a wall-eyed truck driver with a rig full of Valencia oranges had crossed the center line and swerved back just in time because he’d seen the Blazer’s fancy fog lights. Robert Clinch was not sure if Clarisse would bite on the story; in fact, he wasn’t sure if she’d be all too thrilled that the truck hadn’t plowed into him, vanquishing in one fiery millisecond the expensive Blazer, the sleek bass boat, and Robert Clinch himself. Clarisse did not think much of her husband’s hobby.
Robert Clinch put on a pair of soft-soled Gore-Tex boots and slipped into a vivid red ski vest that was covered with emblems from various fishing tournaments. He went out to the garage where the boat was kept and gazed at it proudly, running his hand along the shiny gunwale. It was a Ranger 390V, nineteen and one-half feet long. Dual livewells, custom upholstery and carpeting (royal blue), and twin tanks that held enough fuel to run all the way to Okeechobee and back. The engine on the boat was a two-hundred-horsepower Mercury, one of the most powerful outboards ever manufactured. A friend had once clocked Bobby Clinch’s boat at sixty-two miles per hour. There was no earthly reason to go so fast, except that it was fun as hell to show off.
Robert Clinch loved his boat more than anything else in the world. Loved it more than his wife. More than his kids. More than his girlfriend. More than his double-mortgaged home. Even more than the very largemouth bass he was pursuing. Riding on the lake at dawn, Robert Clinch often felt that he loved his boat more than he loved life itself.
On this special morning he decided, for appearance’ sake, to bring along a fishing rod. From a rack on the wall he picked a cheap spinning outfit—why risk the good stuff? As he tried to thread the eight-pound monofilament through the guides of the rod, Clinch noticed that his hands were quivering. He wondered if it was the coffee, his nerves, or both. Finally he got the rod rigged and tied a plastic minnow lure to the end of the line. He found his portable Q-Beam spotlight, tested it, and stored it under a bow hatch inside the boat. Then he hitched the trailer to the back of the Blazer.
Clinch started the truck and let it warm. The air in the cab was frosty and he could see his breath. He turned up the heater full blast. He thought about one more cup of coffee but decided against it; he didn’t want to spend all morning with a bursting bladder, and it was too damn cold to unzip and hang his pecker over the side of the boat.
He also thought about bringing a gun, but that seemed silly. Nobody took a gun to the lake.
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