Episode 7, The Fish Grove, Part 3

By: Sarah Bodine

Volume 19, Issue 5, May 2024

See Introduction: Roscoe Fish Stories, January 2024

  1. Episode 1: Roscoe Fish Goes "Boying"!  January 2024
  2. Episode 2: How Roscoe Fish Got His Name, February 2024
  3. Episode 3: The Journey Downriver, March 2024
  4. Episode 4: The Perilous Escape, March 2024
  5. Episode 5: Boying, The Lost Bait Can
  6. Episode 6: Boying - Of Storms and Shoals
  7. Episode 7:  The Fish Grove, Part 1
  8. Episode 7:  The Fish Grove, Part 2

The Rescue

He turned to Rose, who had also slid into the arena, dazzled by the display. She had not seen the danger for Quin. “Look,” Roscoe pointed up. Rose gasped when she saw the cage.

“Shh,” he whispered. “We have to free him. No fish should be held captive and put on display.”

“But, how?” asked Rose, even though she already nodding in agreement.

“We have to let Quin know that he’s in danger.” “That won’t be easy,” said Rose. Roscoe twirled his eyeballs, which helped The plan began to take shape as they lost no time heading back to the fireworks stall. “We can set the fireworks off outside the Grandstand. Everyone will think that they’re part of the ceremony. And Quin will look up and see the cage and make a run for it.”

Illustration by Sarah Bodine

“But, how will he know which way to go? There will be a lot of confusion,” said Rose, hurrying to keep up.

“You take some big sparklers and show him the way. Talk to him. Could you do that?” asked Roscoe. “Yes, I think so,” said Rose. “Yes, I was actually quite fond of Quin at the beginning,” she admitted.

The whap, whap, whap of clapping fins erupted in the arena as the first Roman candle exploded in a burst of white light. Then came red, white, and blue lightning bolts, and finally a red star shower. As the ear-shattering bangs began, Rose pulled the switch for the stage lights so that the arena was bathed in darkness. Then she quietly touched a sparkler to a torch along the nearest seaweed passage. With the sparkler as her only light, she raced down an aisle towards the stage.

Startled by the fireworks that flashed over him, Quin hunkered down, afraid to look up.  His big body stretched out to fill the entire stage, and the tip of his nose draped over the edge. Suddenly, a spark stung his nostril, and he heard a familiar voice: “Quin, look over here. It’s me, Rose perch. Remember me?”

Just then, the audience released a wave of excited bubbles at another round of flashes. Looking up to see where the voice had come from, Quin glimpsed a bar of the cage shining in the sparkler’s light. Just in time, he flopped off the stage and into the arena.

Pandemonium ensued – fish dashed everywhere, and Rose was caught up in the surge.

She dropped the sparkler and tumbled onto Quin’s head. She remembered that she was very close to his ear. “Give me a ride, and I will guide you to safety,” she whispered.

Fish mobbed the entry gate, but Rose steered Quin to an exit tunnel in the back, where Roscoe was waiting. Quin and Roscoe high-finned –- there was no doubt this time that Rose and Roscoe were trying to help rescue him.

“Thanks, you two,” chortled Quin. “Never thought I’d see you again, but merci beaucoup.  I promise from now on, my family will be scarce in this part of the river. I will spread the word that no one is ever to snack on perch or bass. We will stay close to the Forty Acre Shoal. Of course, you can come visit any time -– I know you like my home cooking.” Quin winked at Rose, as he lumbered off. Rose and Roscoe exchanged smiles. They were happy that the giant muskie was free, but they were also relieved that his family would stay home at the Forty Acre Shoal.

Roscoe pulled out his map, because they all still needed to escape the park. He led the way through a seaweed passage to a stop of The Royal Coachman railroad, and they slid onto the next car that come along. It was empty, as the great swarm of fish was still bottled up at the entrance to the Grandstand. But just to be safe Rose and Roscoe squeezed into the front cab next to the frog engineer. The frog cranked up the car and it began the steep ascent on the final loop out of the park. As it banked around the last turn and started its run through the old rum-runners’ channel on Mary’s Island, Roscoe and Rose swivelled their eyes back, enchanted by the thousands of tiny lights that made Fairyland Island look like a field of fireflies.

Ahead and out of the park, the little car plunged through the Palisades Path – the rift between Mary’s Island and Wellesley Island – into the big water of Lake of the Isles. As they barrelled through this chute in a whirlpool of foam, the current began to drag on Roscoe’s tail, and he started to flail frantically.

“Roscoe, wake UP!” It was Rose, treading water near the entrance to his cave, tugging on the monofilament tied to his tail.

“Come on,” she coaxed. “It’s time to go to the Fish Grove -– I was waiting up top, but I could feel the vibrations of your thrashing, so I had to come down to get you. It seems that you’ve been having a very active dream!”

By Sarah Bodine

Sarah Bodine is a writer, editor, designer and book artist. She spent the summers of her childhood at her great-grandfather’s house, known as Cliff Cottage, on the Ontario side of the St Lawrence River near Rockport. The three Keats children were her cousins, and she often ran an outboard across the Canadian channel to spend the night on Pine Island. John Keats, fondly known as JK, made Roscoe Fish the main character in his bedtime stories, which were loved by all the children. To this day, the next island generation is forever looking for Roscoe under the boats in the slip.

Those of us who read JK's (John Keats, "Of Time and an Island," 1974) books will smile and thank them for the opportunity to read more - even if in the imagination of Sarah and her cousins. Authors and readers will know that our TI Life articles are usually limited to 1,200-1,500 words - but this series of short stories about Roscoe are longer - long enough for all young River Rats to want more! The good news is there will be several more Episodes!]

[From the Editor: In May we present Episode 7 in three parts.  Why? Well if you are like me, you would not be pleased if you had to wait a full month before discovering what mischief Rose and Roscoe will get into - and so we gave you all three parts in one issue.  Enjoy and promise me you will read these aloud to a young member of the family.]

Posted in: Volume 19, Issue 5, May 2024, Fiction, Current

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