First up in the Summer Short Story Writing Challenge is Vicki with The One That Got Away starring Ten, Adler and Stan. You can find the picture that inspired this story here.

“Dude, is he going to be okay?”

I looked up from where my line was in the water, waiting for the biggest fish ever to bite my lure, to look at Tennant. He jerked a thumb at Layton dangling over the side of my new cabin cruiser.

“Oh yeah, he gets kind of seasick,” I replied as my boyfriend righted himself and came staggering over, his face as green as my lime-and-mango slushie. “I told him to sit this one out because, well, look at him. But for some reason he didn’t feel that I should be the one posting online about our awesome fishing day.”

“Last time I let you into the team social media account you shared an image of your ratty underwear,” Layton said, gagged, weaved a bit, and then sat down right on the deck, his knees giving out. “Oh God, why are we out fishing during a hurricane?”

“Is no hurricane. Is good day, sun bright, water blue, fish making big bites!” Stan announced from the seat he’d claimed as his. “I make soup after we catch fish. Big chunks of salty cod with milk. Mama says fish stew fix for pundit gut.”

“Pundit?” I asked. Ten shook his head. “Right, well, fish soup sounds great. Come on, baby face, let’s get you down into the captain’s bed for a nappy.”

I hoisted Layton up, cinched him to my side, and led him down the into lounge area, making a sharp left into one of four bedrooms on the yacht. He fell face first into the big bed. I peeled off his trendy boating shoes, lifted his feet up onto the bed, and pulled the duvet up over him.

“Did you take your motion sickness pills?” I asked, running a hand over his sea-blown hair.

“Yes. Do not post anything on…” He gagged and belched and turned even greener.

“Totes on my goats.” I bent over to kiss his clammy cheek. “Just grab a nap and let the puke pills kick in.”

“No social media… Oh, God, why does the water make waves?”

I lowered the lights and raced back up to the main deck. The sun was brilliant and hot. Layton’s idea of a fishing weekend off the coast of St. Lauderdale had been fucking genius.

“How we doing gents?” I asked, grabbing three bottles of imported beer from the chest. I lifted them in greeting to the skipper of the ship up in the motor room or whatever they called where the captain did his captain stuff.

“My lure is bad,” Stan replied, holding up his latest catch, a tiny little fish that could be considered bait. “Why is small fish only bite my lure?”

“So, the thing is this.” I took the tiny fish off the treble hook and flung it back into the sea. “In order to become proficiently skilled at deep water fishing, you have to follow several key angling techniques.”

“Okay, Spongebob,” Ten sniggered, all splayed back in his seat, shirt off, cap down over his eyes, tanned up like a god from his recent honeymoon in Greece.

“What are techniques for deep angling?” Stan asked around Ten’s snorts of amusement. I gave the fishing poles a quick glance. There were several large poles were propped up into holders, trolling along behind the boat were huge lures that, we hoped, would attract tarpon or sailfish.

“First thing is you have to sprinkle your lure with dried fish flakes.” I sat down beside Ten, on the left of Stan, and gave the big Russian a firm nod. “I shit you not. See, if you coat the lure with fish food, well then fish will smell that and be like, ‘I am so hungry!’ and will come check it out. Makes sense, yeah?”

“Ah, yes, fish food. Where do I find this food? Is it in tackling boxes?”

“No, you have to do it before you leave the dock in order for the proper procurement and astral invocation time to elapse.”

“The astral what?” Ten snorted while twisting off the cap of his beer.

“Shut up and be pretty. Here, take some selfies of your bare chest and share them on my IG.” I flipped Ten my phone and he began snapping away. “Look, Stan, it’s fine, you can stop looking bummed.”

“Is most downcast in mouth,” he sighed forlornly.

“Well, there are other techniques. My fishing tutor once taught me the ancient method of blowing on the lure fourteen times, not fifteen or thirteen! Exactly fourteen times.”

“What good is blowing?” Stan enquired, eyeing his bright blue lure with suspicion.

“You’re a married gay man and you have to ask me that question?”

Tennant laughed so hard he rolled out of his chair. Stan blinked at me.

“Is blowing lure for husband fishing technique?”

“Dude, no, stop. I can’t…my sides,” Ten climbed back into his seat with teary eyes. “Stan, he’s jerking your chain. You don’t have to blow on the lure or sprinkle it with fish food. Just stop reeling it up every fourteen seconds and eventually we’ll hit a hot spot. Can’t catch a fish if your lure is in your hand, right?” I got up to recast one of the lagging lines.

Stan gave me the darkest look I’d ever seen him give a fellow player. I winked and giggled. The big man slapped me on the chest. Hard. I stumbled back, fell over a cooler of hard cider seltzer water that Layton had insisted we bring, and went ass over tin cups into the Atlantic.

When I bobbed back to the surface the engines had come to a dead stop and Tennant Madsen-Rowe or Rowe-Madsen or whatever mish-mash name he was using now was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. He was able to take four hundred pictures though. Stan walked to the rail, grabbed his crotch, and shouted down, “Blow my lure!” which made Ten collapse to the deck, peals of laughter ringing out over the swells. 

It was when Layton’s face pressed to a small window and his eyes flared that I kind of lost it as well. I laughed and laughed. Poor Foxy Man. Bet his evening was going to be spent sipping ginger ale and trying to recall why he thought deep sea fishing would be a better social media event than the alligator wresting party I’d suggested.

The End