Shawn, Tom and Gary

Arian Knops

Shawn, Tom and Gary

3 min.
November 9, 2021

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a big fan of relying on someone else to do what is right.  Too many times they have good intentions that can misfire and range from being an annoyance to being downright life threatening.

Fishing trips are meant to be a time of peace, quiet and if it’s gender specific a time for male bonding.  I’ve only heard about a few all-female fishing trips in my life so they must be quite rare.

I’m not really big on such forays so I’ve only been on one all-male fishing expedition in my life.  It was nineteen-seventy-something and I was invited to go to the Minnesota fishing opener on the Red Lakes of northern Minnesota.  These twin lakes are more like inland seas than the run of the mill lake.  To make this part of the story short I’ll sum it up quickly. We didn’t catch any fish and damn near froze to death in the northern gale that caused all of the participants to get seasick.  We drove back to the Twin Cities with the heater on high and vowed to never do that again.  So, it has been for me ever since.

This was not true for three of my buddies.  These guys, after working all week, would abandon their wives and kids to make a trip to Mille Lacs Lake just a couple of hours drive north of Minneapolis. Mille Lacs is sarcastically known as the ‘dead sea’ because it is stingy giving up eating sized fish.  The French words Mille Lacs means ‘thousand lakes’.  It is, however, only one lake, but then it is Minnesota so who knows what is what.

  The only time those three didn’t go fishing was deer hunting and again later in fall as the lake was icing up and then also in spring when the ice was too weak to support a vehicle.  One of the guys, Shawn, had an all-metal ice fishing house that, with a porta-potty brought from home, could be livable for up to six guys for a weekend of fishing.  It looked like a cheap silver twinkie (Airstream Trailer).  The biggest problem with the thing in the summer was that it only had one small one foot by one foot window in the door since it was considered to be an ice-shack.  To remedy this problem, Shawn had fashioned a screen door reenforced with hardware cloth to keep the racoons out that could be locked only from the inside.

One late summer weekend the boys had spent a rainy Saturday afternoon and evening polishing off a multitude of beers since fishing was deemed to be impossible.  Well after dark they returned to the fishing shack to sleep off the alcohol they had consumed.

Sunday morning came and Tom and Gary decided to go have breakfast at some local café.  They let Shawn sleep since he never ate breakfast anyway.  And being the kind souls the two of them were, they decided that they didn’t want their friend to be in danger of being robbed or murdered while he slept so they closed the outside door to the fish house and then to be super safe they slipped a lock into the latch.

Minds sometimes wander and people who are intent on fishing, as the two were, breakfast was quickly polished off and then down to the lake they went, hopped into the boat and putted off to their fishing grounds.  Lunchtime came and they returned to grab a bite to eat.  In the meantime, the temperature outside had climbed from the comfortable fifties of morning up into the low nineties of a beautiful Minnesota Sunday afternoon.  So, the boys, rather than get baked in the afternoon sun decided more beer was needed.

Somewhere around two or three o’clock while enjoying yet another beer Tom remarked to Gary, “Shawn sure would enjoy this if he were here”.  The terror of the error of where Shawn was, hit them simultaneously. 

They hopped off their stools and made their way to the lot where the fish house, along with more than another hundred were stored.  As they approached Shawn’s fish house, they could hear muffled cussing emanating from the silver twinkie.  Quickly they undid the lock and let their friend out of his metal entombment.  

When Shawn emerged, he was sweating like a stuck pig and immediately got the chills in the ninety degrees plus heat.

As God really is good and pays people back for their ways, several years later Shawn became both Tom and Gary’s supervisor.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.