A fictional depiction of what really matters: is it fish caught or good company on and off the water with a beer in hand? You be the judge.Sharpe was high at the party, everything looked so good. He had already told his most fevered guiding stories—the time he beat every other guide for most fish to the net on only half a drift, the rapper he took down the Sac, the time he slipped off into the brush with a client’s daughter. All through the telling he scanned his backyard audience until he locked eyes with people he had just met. They would be sure to see the way his sunglass tan line made his eyes blaze out from the deep auburn of his face.

“I’m doing it, I am in my prime and they know it,” he thought. The night hummed, and he felt the full release of a backyard summer party when the heat lifts with the smallest wind.

When he returned from pissing against the fence, he registered quieting music. Empties clinked back into six-pack carriers, and some guy he just met steadied himself against the deck railing, throwing his head back to kill a Corona. Disappointment swept into the yard with the signs of the end of the party.

Sharpe took a succession of bro hugs and compliments from many of the guys as they left. He sat down in a folding camp chair at the slam of his sliding glass door, took off his cap, and rubbed a hand through his hair. Before him, his remaining crew sat glassy-eyed and secure in the knowledge they could crash on a couch or just sprawl out on the lawn to spend the night.

Still he was not satisfied, and needed to up the ante. “It’s my day off tomorrow, so you know I’m fishing. Who’s coming with me?”…

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