Pete had just finished mopping up the last bit of his eggs with a piece of Elsie’s homemade red river toast, when eight-year-old Lori quietly came up beside him and swooped up his just emptied plate. He smiled at the little girl. “Helping out in the kitchen again are ya darling? Well, I have to say, you are just about the most efficient waitress I’ve ever had. ” Pete dug into his pocket, pulling out a nickel. “In fact, I think your excellent service deserves a tip, as usual.”
"Really? Another tip? Thanks Uncle Pete!” beamed Lori. Pete watched his niece trot off into the kitchen with the dirty plate and her reward for good service. It made his heart swell to see her so happy.
He stopped by his cabin to get his gear to take out on the lake for the day. It wasn’t really a cabin – it was actually the laundry room, which her shared with his wife Emily, and all the sheets and towels the camp possessed. The camp was getting busier, and as the number of guests grew, so did the number of staff, thus sleeping quarters were scarce. However Pete didn’t mind his cramped quarters. He was only there to sleep anyway, and he always had access to clean towels. After retrieving his jacket, bug spray, and cigarettes, he headed to the dock, ready to give his guests the best fishing day they had ever had.
After a brilliant morning of fishing – catching all the walleye they needed for lunch in a matter of an hour, then hauling in some monster northerns – it was time to head to the Knuckle Buster Bay shorelunch spot to meet up with the other two boats in his guests’ party.
The first ones to arrive, Pete unloaded his guests, his fish, and his shorelunch box, then rolled up his sleeves, and set to work building a fire. When he had a good flame going, Pete set the grate overtop to heat up. Fried fish always tasted better over the hottest fire you could muster. Next, he filleted his fish.
Ten minutes later, he had completed this task, and still no other boats had arrived. The fire was roaring by now. Pete grabbed a few more logs to keep it stoked. That’s when he tripped. Down he went, his forearm landing squarely on the sizzling grate.
“Gull dang!” Pete’s two guests, who had been fishing from the shore, heard him yell and came running.
“Oh my Gawd Pete!” They helped haul him back up to his feet. “You burnt yourself!”
Dazed, Pete lifted his arm to survey the damage. The area burnt was at least six inches long. “Doesn’t look too bad,” he said. “And it doesn’t hurt much Maybe if I just dunk it in the lake, it will be okay.”
Still concerned, his guests ushered him to the rocks on the shore, where Pete plunged his arm into the cool water. After several minutes, Pete said, “I think I’m good now. If I could just find something to wrap it up in.”
“I don’t know Pete. That’s a BIG burn. You should have it looked at.” Both his guests looked worried sick.
“I can’t do that!” exclaimed Pete. I have to make your shorelunch, and take you muskie fishing after.”
“Pete. Go back to camp. Tend to that burn. The other guides will make us lunch, and we can join them for fishing after. GO HOME.”
Reluctantly, Pete crawled into his boat, let his guests push him off, and he headed back to camp, where Al took one look at his injury, and immediately flew him in his piper cub into Red Lake for medical attention.
Several hours later, the two men returned. Pete’s arm was bandaged from his wrist to his elbow
“You should take some time off Pete,” said Al at dinner that night. “The doctor said that burn was pretty bad.”
“Not on you life,” said Pete. “I’m guiding my guests tomorrow. No way I’m going to stay in camp and stare at laundry all day. And no way is some other guide is going to get my tip— I need the money so I can tip my waitress here!” Pete winked at Lori, who was removing his soup bowl, even as he was still holding the last spoonful.
And indeed, Pete was guiding the very next day.
A couple weeks later, the wound had scabbed over well enough for Pete to remove the bandages. Strutting into breakfast that morning, Pete held his arm up for all to see. “Will you look at this!” he exclaimed. The table of staff stared in horror at the red, angry looking burn mark.
“What?” cried Pete. “Don’t look so upset—I think it’s great! Destiny has branded me with the letter ‘E” for my lovely wife Emily! Now she knows there’s no way I will ever leave her!”
Indeed the grill marks had left what looked like a perfect ‘E’ on the outside of Pete’s forearm.
Uncle Pete & his brother, Frank Reid