We Got Fish : Hard Rock Shorty of Death Valley

Hanging on the wall in the general store at Inferno was a fishing rod and reel. No one around the store could recall that it had ever been used—but it was there, covered with the dust of ages.

One day a station-wagon load of dudes stopped at the store for cold drinks. One of them happened to glance up at the fishing rod.

“Funny place fer a fishin’ rod,” he remarked. “I’ll bet there isn’t a pool of water big enough for a minnow within a hundred miles of here.” Some of the others took up the subject and began to wisecrack about the dryness of Death
Valley.

Hard Rock Shorty was helping the clerk that day. He didn’t care much for dudes anyway, and when they began to make uncomplimentary remarks about Death Valley his blood pressure began to go up. He stood it as long as he could.

“Sure we got fish here,” he exclaimed. “All kinds of ’em. We’ve got fish you-all never heard tell of. We got fish that hop around like toads. We got flyin’ fish and walkin’ fish and fish that have skids on their fins an’ use their tails fer propellors.

“Yu don’t need fishin’ poles to ketch the kinda fish we got up here. We got fish that’ll come right into the kitchen an’ jump into the fryin’ pan. The hotter it is the better they like it. You bozos from the city don’t know nothing about fish.

“Why Ol’ Pisgah Bill once had a tame fish that’d foller him around wherever he went. Bill kept ‘im around the house to ketch flies and usually took him along on his prospectin’ trips. ‘Twas a bad day fer Ol’ Bill when that fish met with a accident. Bill usta put him on the dinin’ table an’ feed ‘im crumbs at mealtime. They wuz great pals, till the day Bill left a pail o’ water sittin’ by the table, and the fish slipped an fell into the bucket. An’ before Bill could git him out he wuz dead. Yes, that fish was drowned.”

— Desert Magazine – December 1951

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