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Community Service!

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At precisely 7:30 the President struck the workbench with the ballpeen hammer and called the meeting of the Ostrich Society to order. Thirty four of the 35 members and eight bird dogs were in attendance, the only one absent was doing community service as a condition of probation for fishing without a license.

Oleg, the official bartender of the Ostrich Society, a duly elected and important position, was pouring “two fingers” of bourbon, the official drink of the Society. Oleg’s election to the position of bartender wasn’t a fluke, Oleg has the largest hands of anyone in the Society and therefore pours the healthiest drink …because of a mishap at a prior meeting, he made sure to keep his distance from the workbench.

The membership was spread out over several tables, each sporting tying vises and an array of tied flies and a few books with recipes. The only table without tying paraphernalia was the table in the corner of the garage where “Poaching Jack” and “Wild Bill” sat in low toned conversation.

After the treasurer gave his financial report that consisted of the club’s liability to the local liquor store and the balance of the emergency fund, a motion to accept the report was made and seconded. It passed unanimously after an admonishment by Harry Andrews about the amount of bourbon the Society goes through monthly.

“We understand, Reverend Harry,” John interrupted. “No one is asking for an increase for the cost of one of Oleg’s pours. It’s just a matter of routine that the report is made. Your glass is almost empty, let me buy you another.”

A slight chuckle came from the membership and the meeting went on.

“Poaching Jack” and “Wild Bill” were still holding their own meeting when the President struck the workbench again with the ballpeen hammer and announced that the business was completed and the social hour was now in session.

The “Shakers,” the oldest members of the Ostrich Society, were sitting around Henry, watching him tie a soft hackle pattern that seemed slightly different from any they had seen before. It had a body from a stripped quill grouse body feather and was tied in backwards, that is, the thick end was tied in first then wound forward as it got thinner. There was no tail and the hackle was a strand of a silver colored yarn, picked and separated to appear scraggly. It was tied on a size 8 hook and didn’t look as though it imitated anything other than a clump of lint at the end of a hook.

Meanwhile, “Poaching Jack” and “Wild Bill” were now mingling with the others and after watching Henry tie his pattern, changed the conversation to Tom Abercrombie, who was missing because he was doing community service after being sentenced by Judge Hoover, a former member of the society, for fishing without a license.

Both men thought the sentence was outrageous and the Society should take a stand …demonstrate, show support for Tom, who they thought was made an example of.

All nodded in agreement and “Wild Bill” continued. “We all know Tom Abercrombie is as honest as they come and wouldn’t do anything to break the law, that’s why he walked home instead of drove.

It happened the night Abercrombie left his Jeep at the President’s house and walked home. Events were set in motion at last month’s meeting when Tom Abercrombie had a couple of generous pours from Oleg after Oleg’s fingers were swollen when the President accidently struck him with the ballpeen hammer. Oleg had his hand on the workbench and neither he nor the President were paying attention when the meeting was called to order. The end result was Oleg’s regular pours became even more generous.

As Abercrombie walked past the fountain in front of the court house, he noticed what appeared to be trout in the fountain. Not believing his eyes, he decided to find out for sure and went home, got his fly rod and came back and began casting soft hackle flies to the fish. Nothing. Having gotten a second wind due to Oleg’s generosity, he kept at it until a cop came by and asked him what he was doing. Abercrombie explained he was trying to catch the trout in the fountain and return them to the creek where they belonged.

The cop looked into the fountain and saw nothing but change sparkling on the bottom and decided to arrest him for Drunk and Disorderly. That morning he was taken in front Judge Hoover who asked him where he had been, how he got there and what he thought he was doing. Tom told him what happened.

The judge laughed and asked if he had a fishing license on him at the time. He said he did have one, but not on him. The Judge hit his gavel and sentenced him to 10 hours of community service; enough time to clean the fountain, in particular, scrub the bottom to get rid of the discoloration and debris that had collected.

After hearing the story, some of the members began to laugh, which turned into belly laughs and spread throughout the garage.

Finally the President said, “What’s the big deal? The Judge could have put him in jail for being drunk and disorderly. He could have come down on us for serving him that night and he could have cost everyone a lot of money.”

The Reverend spoke up again, “Yea, including his brother-in-law, who owns the liquor store we owe money to.”

The preceding was entered into the official minutes of the Ostrich Society as THE TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH ….give or take a lie or two!


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