The stream was cold and wide in places while its depth varied along its twisting, turning way. Regardless of its actual variance, it appeared to be of singular depth because of its newness here just below the snowcapped mountain known as Eagle Claw. Not far from here, there lived Sam who knew this area better than most. Sam spent his summers, however, down at the lake generally teasing and annoying all that he came in contact with. Everyone knew or at least had heard of Sam. His antics were well published in the local newspaper, rarely a week passing without a mention of some poor soul’s prized belongings being deceitfully stolen. In a strange way he became the towns’ hero and source of summertime gossip and fun, even in the face of his mischievous ways. He had no perceivable pattern to his victims. Young and old, rich or poor it didn’t seem to make a difference to him in the least bit. He was completely indifferent to these poor souls whom he usually pick pocketed when they least expected it. On occasion, he would shake your hand while at the same time relieving you of your possessions. At other times he would take what he wanted first and then innocently shake your hand. The worst however was when he would simply acquire his needs without the slightest hint of his presence; you were left to discover your loss sometime later. The thing was that his method would never be the same twice, so it seemed. Regardless of how the townsfolk passed the word around about his latest scheme, Sam could never be caught in the act. Out-of-state visitors were not exempt and in fact were encouraged in attempting apprehension. But he treated them the same. As the summer cooled itself to a crisp autumn breeze, Sam moved up, once again, just under Eagle Claw, at a bend, to spend the winter. It was there that our paths crossed one early morning just after the days first light began dimly to stretch itself out over the pastured field. He wasn’t expecting me and I the same of him, but as luck would, I saw him first. The decoy was not particularly an ingenious one but it was mine all the same. The startled look on his face when I employed it was a masterful disguise of both fear and disgust. I will never forget the struggle and furry the moment he realized his demise. I wouldn’t and didn’t concede until he had settled himself long enough for me to enjoy my triumph. And I did. He was as beautiful as they come, one of God’s finest, all four and a half pounds. Perfectly proportioned and covered in a mixed hue broken only by thoughtfully placed specks. It was easy to understand why so many would go through so much to capture the culprit. But before I knew it, it was time. Should I or shouldn’t I? Of the two choices the right one was obvious, but that didn’t make the temptation the less. Before I allowed my verdict to pass into the debatable, my hands were numbed from the cold rushing water as I let him slip through my fingers. It wasn’t long before I was tickled by the thought that I had become a co-conspirator of sorts. The unleashing of nuisance on the lake was by necessity of course, for every lake must have their Sam. And so it was, for countless summers, many would come to the lake below Eagle Claw and continue their seasonal attempts to capture Sam, the one who couldn’t be caught. As for me, I never went back to Eagle Claw but have always treasured the memory of that morning. Brian J. Rutherford Brian, Nathan and Abraham’s Dad

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