Who knows if this hopped-up daddy longlegs of a fellow really spilled blood in the Texas sun? The girlfriend had this to say, anyway:

"Kenny, you're a sociopath."
"Nah--I'll kill anyone!"
Andy and Opie never had it so good.

Mike and I had pretty much given up on actually catching anything, and our poles were lying against tackle boxes, lines slack in the water, when the Game and Fish Commission Urban Fishing man showed up.

Natty in white shorts and official maroon G&FC shirt and hat, his name was Eric, and he "had a few questions" he wanted to ask. We were on solid ground with our licenses. I had no fear.

Eric began with mundane stuff: "How often do you guys fish in urban water?" But he quickly segued into "How much money do you make?" Hey, all I wanted to do was catch a couple measly fish, not apply for a Visa card, but there was Eric, holding out a paper with these options:

A. $0 to $5,000
B. $5,000 to $10,000
C. and so on.

Eric told me I could point to one of the salary ranges, if I didn't want to announce my income out loud. I had no desire to point or speak and told him so.

"Okay," he replied cheerfully, "no skin off my nose. I'll just put down that you refused to answer." Eric tilted his clipboard so I could see that he was indeed marking down "refused to answer." I looked up at his nose, and he was right. There was no skin off it.

Then he got serious.
"I have to put on my legal hat now," he said, yet he made no move to remove his cap at all. Instead, he proclaimed that not only had we been issued the wrong licenses (you need "Urban Fish," and we had "Resident Fish." Damn.), we also had three poles in the water (Mike had baited up our spare) without the required third fishing stamp. But Eric was a good egg about it. He let us slide with a warning and eased over to Kenny and company.

Apparently, they had neglected to bring their licenses along, but Eric dealt with the slightly agitated Kenny like a pro. Joked with him about bringing in whoppers, traded stories, then said he would write them out a $150 fine. Kenny was having none of it. We couldn't really hear what was going on, but I think Eric eventually figured he wasn't going to get milk from a bull. No ticket. Exit Eric.

Night had fallen, the big Phoenix moon was up. We sat there with our lines pulled in, sucking our beers. Undeterred, Kenny began casting with a vengeance, muttering oaths about crossed lines and going to Texas to fish anywhere he "fucking wants."

"They'll have to extradite me to pay no $150," he said, reeling like a man gone wild.

We'd had enough. We bid adieu to our new fishing pals, loaded the cars and weaved through the maze of Papago Park. Away from Kenny and Charles and the pocket gophers, back to our homes and TV sets, back to civilization. I rolled down the window for the night air, and thought about whistling a certain TV theme song. But didn't.

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