The Grizz sat inside the converted gas station…Actually, an old run down gas station located on about an acre patch of bare dirt with sparse weeds growing in odd clumps. a place they called the farm, to inventory the vending machine items, and with a bacon flavored pencil between his teeth was making a needs list to comparison shop with a supplier who was coming in later. The coffee pot was finishing up as his son, Rocky, came into the farm.
“Hey, Son.” The Grizz said, by way of greeting him.
“Hey, Pop.” Rocky replied, reaching for his mug. “Looks like I’m just in time; You ready for a brew?” He asked.
The wall mounts, hooks, and shelving that formerly displayed automotive items like quarts of oil, windshield washer fluid, and the like was still in place from when the farm was still a gas station/convenience store. Most likely, it had not changed from when it was first installed when the building went up more than a couple of decades ago. When The Grizz moved in, the first items to come in with him was the coffee pot, and a personalized heavy ceramic blue mug on the side of which was written “The Grizz”. He sat the pot next to the sink, and hung his mug on the hook nearest the pot within arms reach on the former automotive display. Other mugs would follow, and hang on the wall near his own, including his sons’.
“Sure, thank you. I need to bag these walleye rigs before the machine starts rejecting bills. There guys out there yet?” The Grizz asked.
“There’s a few, the morning rush is winding down a bit.” Rocky answered. The front door swung open and greetings were exchanged as Ed, and Don came in, both friends of The Grizz, and Rocky. They occasionally helped the father/son team with odd jobs to get things done, the way friends do. They were good guys who held similar interest, who tried to be helpful, and kept the conversation mostly fun.
Since his dad had won the powerball jackpot a few years ago, Rocky had become adept at determining whose relationship was sincere, or whose was based on his dad’s good fortune. Rocky had them pegged as a couple of the good guys. They took their mugs from the wall and poured a cup.
“How’s the fishing this morning?” The Grizz asked nonchalantly, while his eyes read them with concern.
“Slow.” Don responded. Knowing that everyone was referring to the big walleye the lake is famous for.
Ed nodded his head in agreement, then added. “This hot weather has shut them down.”
The weather had been in the 90’s for over a week, and it had made fishing for lakes big walleye difficult.
“Anyone at the cellar?” Rocky asked, referring to one of the lakes deeper areas where cooler waters lay deep.
“There were a few out there, all telling the same story. Don said. They are hugging the bottom…”
“Sulking.” Ed said, ending the sentence.
“Well, the weather should break this weekend. The Grizz stated. Maybe a little rain will cheer them up, and make them hungry again.” Everyone nodded in understanding, and agreement.
“The bluegill are doing okay, if you get out there early enough.” Don threw in.
“The Grizz raised his eyebrows and nodded in confirmation. “I do like me some bluegill. Then added. How are you set for tickets?”
Ed read that right away, and took it to mean “Did you give those who volunteered information a voucher for free bait” The Grizz liked to reward those who provided good, solid information with a treat. And The Grizz often bragged that his bait was so good, that if you didn’t catch anything with it, you could take it home and eat it. Though he didn’t believe anyone ever did.
“I have a few left, I’ll probably need more for the weekend.” He replied.
“Me too.” Don threw in.
The sound of a diesel engine could be heard pulling into the lot, and it was shut down. Shortly afterward, the door to the farm opened and man in a supplier uniform walked in.
“Howdy,” he said while looking at his clipboard. “I’m looking for The Grizz.”
“Uh-oh!” Don said warningly. “He’s in uniform, I bet he has that warrant for your arrest.” He finished teasingly to the amusement of those gathered.
“Nope, sorry.” The supplier said. “Wrong uniform; I’m here to talk fishing supplies.”
The Grizz shook his hand, while laughing appreciatively. “Can I get you a coffee?” He asked.
“Sure.” the supplier said.
As The Grizz was pouring a coffee in a styrofoam cup; a boy from the neighborhood walked into the farm. The Grizz gave Rocky a look with a nod toward the boy that read; “You got this one.” and delivered the coffee cup to the supplier.
“Hey, what can I do for you, sir.” Rocky said to the boy who looked to be about six or seven.
“I want to work here.” The boy said simply.
“You do!” Rocky said. “Well it’s your lucky day, because we are looking to hire someone just like you.” He said with enthusiasm to the now smiling boy; drawing the attention of those in the farm.
“Do you know how to catch worms? He asked the boy. The boy shook his head no.
“Would you like to learn?” Rocky asked. The boy nodded enthusiastically.
Rocky grabbed a shovel as he walked out the door, with the little boy following describing where worms lived, and how to find them.
Ed, and Don finished up bagging the rigs while The Grizz conducted his business with the supplier; then rinsed out their mugs and hung them up on their hook, before heading out for the lake again.
A while later, Rocky had come back to the farm with his shovel, as his dad was organizing the inventory.
“How did the worm hunt go.” The Grizz asked warmly… remembering a conversation the two had just the other day about how they could get the neighborhood kids involved in the business by purchasing the worms that they find. They could have a box on the farm specifically for those worms, which would be donated to kids who want to go fishing. He hated taking money from the kids, and thought this was a way to give back to the community, but also mentor the children as well.
“Pretty good. Rocky started. I found his place around the block, and talked to his mother about his wanting to work for us. We had a pretty good laugh, until I told them I’d pay him a nickel per worm. Then she seemed grateful for the gesture. I have a box we can use right here.” Rocky said reaching for the box.
The Grizz smiled warmly at his son, and said. “Throw in a red pop every time as a bonus. and we will call it a deal.” He said proudly. Then added. “Can you closed up the farm when you are done for the day? He asked. I got to go to the other end of town to see about the other building. We might be able to lock up both sides of the only boat launch on this end of the lake.”
“Awesome!” Rocky replied. Then added. “Yeah, I will shut it down when I’m done. There isn’t much left to do, I should be done within the hour.” He finished.
“Then I’ll see you at dinner! The Grizz said. “Love ya, son.
“Love you too, Dad.” As the door closed behind him.
As he did a last sweep of the farm ensuring that everything was put away; Rocky looked up at the wall of mugs. At that moment he and realized that the only mugs that hung on the wall were those who were in their circle. Those worthy of a hook. Interesting.