Quill Gordon Wears Steel-Toed Drinking Shoes

The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society has 100 members and 1 employee, which in itself could explain my desire for an occasional snootful. Sometimes, though, it seems the issue is not as much that I partake of volatile spirits from time to time but rather the company in which I do so. Why, just the other day, someone asked me, “Gil, why the heck do you hang out with that bunch of drunken ruffians?”

My interrogator was Dr. Calvin Butz, and the drunken ruffians in question were my friends Milt, Wally and Stinky, whose combined age is 274.

“Because I like old-timers, I guess. Why do you ask, Calvin?”

“Call me Cal. I think they are rude, offensive, and downright dangerous, that’s why.”

“They’re not so bad, Calvin. Come on, they’re old, give ’em a break. Besides, Wally’s pretty upset.”

“That may be, but he doesn’t have to take it out on me! What’s he so upset about, anyway?”

“Well, for starters, some Nazi shot a tank out from under him once. Need more?”

I wasn’t sure where this conversation was going, but I was along for the ride, because Dr. Calvin “Call me Cal” Butz had wrapped 20 yards of sinking fly line around the shaft and propeller of his electric trolling motor. Admitting his lack of experience with this sort of “mechanical stuff”, he’d asked me to do it for him help him, but since he wouldn’t let me use scissors I was going to be there a while.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Dr. Butz, “but why do they go after me? I mean, they served me moonshine in a martini glass and almost killed me with that swill!”

“Hey, they get some new guy with the fake martini gag every year. That was nothing personal. It’s just what they do, and that stuff’s not swill.”

“Whatever it is, it’s dangerous! I don’t understand how you can drink that stuff with those guys. How in the world did you get mixed up with them in the first place?”

I told Dr. Butz the story of my first drink with Milt, Wally, Stinky, and their friend, the dear departed Jim Davis, but for some reason he didn’t get it. Once I had his line and his motor separated he headed back to the water, but not before emphasizing the extent of his disbelief and administering some friendly advice about carefully choosing my associates.

I can not imagine why he would think my story to be anything but the unvarnished truth and, quite frankly, I don’t know why he would hold my associates in anything but the highest esteem.

Maybe it would be best to let you decide for yourself.


It seems ages ago that I first arrived at the shores of Fish in a Barrel Pond, and one of the first things I heard was that I should be very careful around Jim Davis, Milt Audette, Wally Gibb, and Leonard “Stinky” Taft. Some members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society called them cantankerous old coots, others called them a menacing gang, while still others called them a dangerous element. Members expressing none of the above opinions said they were a great bunch of guys and a tremendous source of knowledge, having fished these waters since the late 1920s, missing only a couple of seasons in the ’40s when they were busy fighting in World War II.

When Milt suggested I stop by for a “little get acquainted celebration” I accepted without reservation. After all, how bad could they be?

Traditionalists all the way, the boys (who called themselves “The Sons of Piscator”) refused to turn on the electric lights in their camp, using a couple of old kerosene lanterns instead. One of those lanterns hung above the table as I sat down with them, casting weird shadows and adding its own distinct aroma to those already present of vitamins, Vitalis and pee. Except for the folded hands of my new friends on the blue and white checked table cloth, the table was bare.

“We’re glad you could join us, Quill. Have a seat,” said Milt.

I sat and we chatted a bit, getting to know each other better, and it wasn’t long before we had decided we could at least find each other mutually tolerable.

“This calls for a drink!” cried Jim, slapping me on the back. “Wally, get the hooch!”

Wally disappeared outside the circle of dim light, returning momentarily and placing what appeared to be an ordinary, household canning jar on the table before me. The shoulders of the jar seemed to glow from within and the liquid it held streaked menacingly down the sides as it settled from the sloshing of Wally’s shaky hand. When Jim removed the lid, vapors rippled upward, shimmering their way toward the low ceiling. When they reached the suspended lantern above our heads those vapors became a slowly roiling blue flame that curled in all directions before burning out with a whoosh like distant thunder.

“Go ahead, Quill. Take a drink,” said Wally.

“Aw, gee, fellas, I don’t know …”

“Drink it!” Wally hissed, so I picked up the jar and brought it slowly toward my face. Fumes washed across my eyeballs, and I could have sworn they contracted into their sockets but it turned out they were just momentarily shriveled by the volatility of the escaping gases. Still, I could not bring myself to drink.

“Hurry up before it evaporates!” Wally demanded.

I held the jar before me a moment more, while tears flowed and my sinuses went into convulsions. Painful cramps in my saliva glands made me want to swallow, but my body was in full “repulse” mode and my throat (and every other sphincter I own) had involuntarily closed so tight I didn’t think it would be possible to swallow (or perform any other bodily function) for a month.

“Naw,” I said, “I think I’d better pass, guys. Really. But thanks anyway.”

Four agitated codgers glared at me from around the table.

“I said drink it!” repeated Wally, emphasizing his order by producing a knife. A big knife. A really big knife, the kind one might need if one were going to skin a large pachyderm.

“Um,” I squeaked, “I don’t know, man. Maybe I ought to go now. You know, things to do and all …”

Before I could finish, that knife was at my throat and Wally’s mouth was at my ear. “You take a drink, you lanky, long-haired son of a bitch, or I’ll run you clean through and cut you up for chum, god dammit!”

With the keen edge of Wally’s Texas toothpick against my Adam’s apple and his chin stubble digging into my earlobe, I didn’t feel I had much choice, so I picked up the jar again and poured as much of its contents past my lips as I thought I could stand. Blinding flashes criss-crossed my vision and I felt as if I’d swallowed flames. A roar to rival Niagara Falls filled my head and the room began to spin. It even looked like the blue and white checked pattern of the table cloth was rushing toward my face, but this turned out to be an illusion, for the reality of it was the other way around; it was my face rushing toward the table cloth and I could have done real damage to my forehead if my nose hadn’t cushioned the blow first. Then, all was darkness.

When I came to, I saw the faces of Jim Davis, Milt Audette, Wally Gibb, and Leonard “Stinky” Taft as they helped me back into my chair. Slowly, I attempted to gather my wits about me, trying to remember who and where I was. Looking around the table in the dim kerosene glow, I could see the boys were smiling.

“You okay?” asked Wally.

“I guess so,” I replied.

“Good,” he said, handing me the knife, “Now you make me drink it.”

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Quill Gordon Wears Steel-Toed Drinking Shoes

  1. I, too, have such a jar tucked away in the pantry. It comes out for newbies who’ve never experienced prime Kentucky squeezin’s. The pig sticker isn’t usually necessary, but one sip is usually enough. THANKS for the chuckle this morning.

    • Mike, I thought you could relate. It’s got to be pretty good stuff to ask someone else to make me drink it, although any more, I tend to just go along and avoid the fight, at least until later when no one will remember what the fight is about.

      I’m glad you got a chuckle. Thanks for the “Worth Your Time” plug! (Everyone reading this needs to click on Mike’s name and go visit mikesgonefishing.com. It’s definitely worth your time.)

  2. Oh man, you had me again! Quill if you don’t stop right now and write a book than that shine was just a waste of time.

    • Gotcha! Can’t stop right now because I have one more month and one more jar to get through! I’m hoping for a long, snowed-in winter with lots of writing time.

  3. Autumn turns us all inward…in many ways. And to writing — I am so glad you’re back!

    • I love fall for a lot of reasons, one of which is a bit more time to see if this blog thing still works. I’m kind of back, once in a while, anyway, and I am glad you’re still around to notice!

  4. You made up for lost time! Two posts in rapid succession, nice! Very, very funny! Reminds me of the time I had to try that stuff, but I think I actually took a sceond gulp…didn’t I? Or was that Weapons Grade Head Cement Thinner that I drank something different? Great laughs, thanks Quill!

    • A little burst, a long time coming, is all it is. I’m glad you found it funny. Sorry we had to force you to try that stuff, resorting to such strong-arm tactics as leaving it on the table …

      Weapons Grade, Blackberry Flavored, Head Cement Thinner. Not available at any store!

      • Stong-arm tactics of asking me if I wanted any…that worked. 😉 Leaving it on the table by my vise didn’t hurt either.

  5. Woolybugah

    Ahh shades of Old Stump Blower tales! Hope yer savin some!

  6. Steve Zakur

    Perfect for a Friday afternoon. Thanks, Quill. Now I gotta go find my knife.

  7. I found a jar tucked in the dry-sink cabinet about three months ago. It seems my late husband had bought it some time ago. I’m not sure why, he was more of a Bud kinda guy. Of course, I had to open it and take a sip. It may be some of the smoother squeezins’ I’ve tasted, but that’s not saying much!

    • It’s interesting how long some jars of hooch can hang around, and how some of us just have to open them and take a sip. “Smooth” is, of course, a relative term. I know some people who get a kick out of the 5 second delay between the swallow and the explosion in their belly, but it is definitely not for everyone, and certainly not pre-kayaking!

  8. I am glad I took a break from work to enjoy a yarn from a true pro. You had me all the way to the end. Well-done, Quill!


  9. I found out a couple of years ago that my days of drinking anything more than a good beer are over. And I have to stop at two of those. My dad gave me his name and now I have his nickname… “Kenny Two Beers”…

    He’s probably the only life long roofer that wasn’t a drunk. A twelve pack before lunch for others was quite common.

    I don’t mind the drastic reduction in drinking capabilities and my liver thanks me for it every morning.

    • Reduced capabilities are probably a good thing and I usually try to stick with one or two, but these darn anglers keep showing up. I find “Kenny Two Beers” an amusing nickname, for a couple of reasons …

      Roofers: There is one roofing company in our area that I nixed a couple of years ago, when we needed a new roof on a camp. Their crew was in line at the local convenience store/liquor outlet, buying lunch and after paying for their sandwiches they all got in the liquor line and each bought a handful of little shooter bottles. Safety was an obvious issue but I wondered about the quality of their work after a few Yukon Jacks. Never gave them the chance to show me. Besides, its easy enough as it is to fall off a roof sober.

      Your liver, and your family, should thank you.

      (email coming soon)

  10. Pingback: Drunks Running Around in the Dark | The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond

  11. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a really good article… but
    what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  12. Pingback: Halfway Through the Season | The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond

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