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Clyde and Baldur

 

    As often happened when the Red River Exhibition came to town, a couple of the guides suddenly needed to leave camp to go their mothers’ funerals. Never mind that these same mothers had "died" two or three times, it was an emergency and they had to leave immediately. There was no keeping them. They dove into the departing Cessna faster than you could say beaver tails and roller coasters. With every other guide already working, including Albert and himself, Al had just two choices left. 

    “Clyde? Baldur?” called out Al. “How would you like to be guides for a day?”

    Clyde was a blacksmith, married to Helen’s sister Ollie.  Nicknamed Swede, he was a strong, barrel chested man, with large meathooks for hands, and a sharp sense of humour. Baldur was a brilliant math teacher, married to Helen’s other sister, Emily. He was tall, narrow shouldered, and soft-bellied, with a very dry sense of humour. This Brawn and Brains team were not only brothers-in-law, they were also great friends and great rivals. Crib tournaments, horseshoe tournaments, shuffleboard tournaments—every game turned into a good-natured battle—the two men were always out to best each other.

    Al had invited them up for their annual weekend of fishing, which they looked forward to with great anticipation. They each loved to fish, and looked forward to a new competition. They were evenly matched in most situations; Baldur usually won by calculation, and Clyde won by cheating—he was not above sneaking a peak at his opponent’s cards, or pegging a couple extra holes in crib, that is if Baldur didn’t catch him, which he so often did.

    They were good fisherman, they could both run a boat, and they always headed out together on the lake without a guide.  However, neither had actually ever been a guide before.

    Clyde looked at Baldur daringly. “I’ll be a guide Al.”

    “So will I,” said Baldur, staring back at Clyde, jaw set.

    Clyde took a puff of his cigarette. “You don’t know where to fish. My guests will catch more.”

    “You are a person of unbelievable perfidy. I have several excellent locations in mind. My guests will succeed.”

    “I believe this weekend will turn out to be a battle of wits.” Clyde taunted Baldur.

    Baldur peered over the top of his glasses at his brother-in-law. With a straight face, he flatly stated, “I believe I have come out ahead in the last three of our five fishing matches. Statistically, I have the upper hand.”

    “Care to wager?”

    “I do.”

    “Five bucks says I bring in more poundage than you.”

    “You’re on.”

    “And just to sweeten the deal, an extra five bucks for the largest fish of the day.”

    “Let’s shake on it.”

    As Clyde reached out and took Baldur’s well manicured hand in his hard, calloused one, he laughed, “It’s in the bag Baldur, it’s in the bag.”

    Al, who had been listening to this back and forth bantering, now interjected. “Whoah! Just remember you have guests in the boat!  Albert will show you which boats to use, and assign you your guests. I’ll be down in a minute to see you off.”

    Al shook his head as he strode off. The poor unsuspecting guests had no idea what sort of day they were in for.

 

    Come five o’clock, Al met up with his two novice guides, who had just finished hanging their fish on the Stork Lake sign. Clyde’s sun burned face was grinning ear to ear.

    “Well fellows? How’d you like your second career?” asked Al.

    “Great day!” Clyde bellowed. “Look at this bragging board! You may just want to hire me full time. Beat out Baldur’s boat by 12 pounds . . . AND . . . my boat caught the largest pike of the day—22 pounds! Guess I win, huh Baldur?”

    Baldur allowed himself a hint of a smile. “I believe you will have to forfeit Clyde.”

    “Why would I do that?”

    “You cheated.”

    “I did not cheat . . . how could you say I would cheat?”

    “I can say it because I know it to be true.”

    “How could I cheat? There’s my guests’ fish, hanging right there. You’re a math teacher, can’t you count? We caught 12 walleye and six northerns. You caught 12 walleye, and only four northerns.”

    Baldur pursed his lips.“Ah, yes,” he expostulated, “but I just had a little chat with your guests.      Apparently, your line was in the water over 85% of the time, resulting in a catch of three of those northerns, including the 22 pounder!”

    Clyde pretended to look puzzled. “No one said I couldn’t fish!”

    “It was a tacit assumption.”

    “Maybe for you. Me, I assume nothing. If I’m in a boat, I’m going to fish.”

    “What’s this I hear Clyde? One of my guides was fishing in the boat along with his guests?” complained Al, jokingly. “You know, I fire guides for that! It’s a wonder you had time to help your guests take their fish off their lines.”

    “Help them take their fish off their lines? Are you crazy? I would have had to take my line out of the water to do that!”

    “I believe your participation in the overall haul disqualifies you from the bet.” Baldur smiled. “You owe me 10 bucks!”

    Clyde reached into his wallet, and peeled off a couple bills. “You may have won the bet Baldur, but I win the day.”

    “How’s that?”

    “Look who got to fish!”

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