They saved their own money and bought themselves fishing poles. They have researched gear and equipment ad nauseum. And when the idea to fish in our friends' backyard pond came up, I was not the least bit surprised. They even succeeded in getting the friend's daughter in on the project.
The planned Saturday finally arrived, and they found themselves with poles in the water as the sun arose. Within a few hours, they were back at my door, a huge catfish in hand. Excitedly, they talked over each other, sharing the story of how Chase had reeled the giant beast in. I looked down at the poor creature and noticed that he was still breathing. Noting wistfully that the Husband was out on an errand, I told them that they needed to knock it out so that it wouldn't suffer.
First, they smacked the fish against a tree. Still breathing. Then they tried the sidewalk. Still breathing. Even beating it over the head with a rock -- STILL BREATHING.
And the blood. OH MY HEAVENS, THE BLOOD.
This thing was dripping blood everywhere from what should have been its fatal head wound. Blow after blow, they tried to put the poor fish out of its misery.
and still it breathed.
It was Jaws, only in our backyard, and without the help and skills of Richard Dreyfuss.
I looked up to see tears forming in Chase's eyes, and knew that this was breaking his heart. Taking a deep breath, I swallowed the bile in my mouth, went against every fiber of my being, and offered to help them gut the fish. I knew exactly what was going on in his head and how this was hurting him - almost more than it was hurting the stupid fish. I also knew that if we didn't finish this to completion, he might not recover enough to ever eat meat again.
With my good kitchen knife, and no idea whatsoever what I was doing, I went to work.
And let me tell you, it was awful. This thing had a giant backbone that was nearly impossible to saw through. There was blood and guts all over my hands. You know that scene from Goodfellas where they are chopping the guy up using Joe Pesci's mom's kitchen knife? Sort of like that. Only not. Because we didn't actually kill anybody. But it was a bloody, stinky, traumatic mess.
And I'm pretty sure I might not ever be able to eat meat again.
I quickly extracted enough meat from the fish to make a meal and took it inside to cook. Finding the fattiest, deep fried recipe that I could, we cooked that baby up. It had to be delicious to help poor Chase forget the murder he had just committed.
And it was.
Though later that night, walking past the boys' room, I found Chase curled up and weeping in his bed. I put my arms around him, and his body wracked with aching sobs as he said he could not get the image out of his mind. His blue eyes looked into mine, pleading with me to help him understand how he could be so cruel. He vowed never to hurt anything ever again. In fact, he said he was not going to join the military because he didn't think he could kill a person.
I hugged him tight, fighting back my own tears, and I told him that he has just learned a skill which will enable him to someday feed his family, should the need arise. I told him that heavenly father created the animals for us to eat, and that he had done nothing wrong. I pleaded with him to forgive himself and told him over and over that he is not a bad person.
I think he believed me.
Though it will probably be a long time before either of us can eat fish again.