It was a long slow walk back to the house from the boat launch. We were physically beat, and mentally beaten; and I was in a foul mood. We barely had Wilbur for one day, and now he may be gone forever. Jeff was much more optimistic about Wilbur’s chances, “Don’t worry, he won’t freeze to death, he’ll find some warm place to hunker down for the night.” “Well he better,” I replied, “because it’s supposed to get down to 36 and rain all night.”
I thought we should call a war council for after supper, to figure out our strategy, so I sent Jeff out to get us a twelve pack. I always do my best figuring with a cold beer or two, and a shot of bourbon or two. After what I had gone through earlier, there was no question the need for either of the two, and we needed a game plan for tomorrow. There was no way I was going to go out in the cold, and rain tomorrow, and chase that damn pig around. This was starting to get personal. If that pig wasn’t frozen solid tomorrow, his ass was mine!
The war council convened after we finished the dishes; it consisted of Rhea, Jeff, and me. There were two things we had going in our favor; we knew the general area where Wilbur was located, and we had Toby. Wilbur could run, but he could not hide. Jeff brought up the point that when he saw Wilbur run from Toby when they were in the brush, Wilbur stayed on the path, and did not run through the undergrowth. This was a key observation on Jeff’s part, because there would only be Jeff, me, and Toby, around in the morning to get the job done. The general plan was simple, Jeff would take Toby to the far side of the brush along the fence line, and I would stand down the path a ways with Sean’s fishing net. When Toby caught scent of Wilbur, and went after him, the only direction Wilbur could go without running into the creek was towards the parking lot…and me. As he ran past me I would simply lower the net, and bag myself a pig. It was a good plan, and I went to bed confident that we would catch him; if he didn’t freeze to death over night.
When we got up the next morning, I was dismayed to see that the weatherman had actually been correct for once; it was indeed colder than a witch’s left tit, and it was raining. After a couple cups of hot coffee we grabbed Sean’s fishing net, and put Toby on the leash; it was pig hunting time.
Down the road we plodded in our boots, and rain gear. I carried Sean’s net like a rifle over my shoulder, and Jeff had Toby pulling him down the street. I am sure we were a sight to see, fortunately there were no neighbors out to watch us go “fishing” without a pole.
When we got to the boat launch we went into the brush along the creek. Jeff showed me the best place along the path to stand, it was very narrow, and Wilbur would have to stay on that path or he would take a tumble down the slope into the creek. I took up my position and waited for Jeff and Toby to walk down to the fence line. Jeff yelled out to me, “Wilbur’s alright, I can hear his little grunts, he’s looking for food.” We couldn’t see him, but we could hear him. “That’s good”, I thought, “Everything is going to plan.” Jeff, and Toby got in place and Jeff yelled, “Get ready, I’m unloosing the hounds!” He had got that line from the Jerry Seinfeld commercial that was popular at the time. It made me grin, but I braced myself for the charge. It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds before a din of noise arose from the silence, Aroooo! Aroooo! From an excited Toby, followed by a loud Wreeeee! Wreeeee! from a terrified Wilber. “I see them!” shouted Jeff, “Here they come!” I looked up the path, and sure enough they were coming my way as if they had been shot out of a cannon. Wilbur came running by me, and I put the fishing net down. Not only did Wilbur look like he had been shot out of a cannon, but he had the mass of a cannon ball, and he tore right through the fishing net! I was left standing there with my mouth a gape as Wilbur and Toby tore down the path towards the parking lot. I tried to give chase, but in my heavy boots, and rain gear I stood no chance. Once again Wilbur ran around the parking lot and high weeds until Toby was too tired to chase him any longer, then he disappeared back into the brush.
The fishing net was destroyed along with my pride, and self esteem. Wilbur simply refused to make this easy for us, and I was steamed. We walked back down the street to my house. Rhea’s older brother Dickie lived across the street from us in the house that Rhea grew up in. He was outside, and he asked us what we were up to. Dickie got a good laugh at our expense as I told him our story. “Here boys” he said as he went into his garage, “this net can handle a twenty pound pike, and I’m sure it can handle your little pig!” He handed me his fishing net, “Just make sure you bring it back after you haul in your little pig.” I assured him we would, and back down the road we went.
We went back down to the boat launch knowing that we had to get it right this time. Once again I took up my position on the side of the path, while Jeff and Toby went down to the fence line. “Here we go!” Jeff hollered and let Toby loose. “Catching Wilbur, take two!” I thought to myself as we replayed the previous scene. Just as before, Toby found Wilbur in a matter of seconds, and the chase was on! I could hear them long before I could see them, but here they came, Wilbur shooting down the path with Toby nipping at his heels. When Wilbur reached me I lowered the net, but this time when Wilbur ran into it, I released it. Wilbur’s momentum took him and the net about six feet down the path, but the net held, and Wilbur got all tangled up. This was my big chance and I seized it! I pounced on Wilbur, and the net; the prize was mine! Wilbur was shrieking his little head off, fighting to get away, but I was not letting go, not after all we had been through. We triumphantly walked home listening to Wilbur’s chorus of complaints.
Next…Wilbur becomes part of the family.