Harry's Worst Nightmare!

"Harry, don't plan anything for that vacation day you got comin' up this Friday!" his ol' lady Maybelline said firmly.

"Sorry, but you're too late — I'm already booked up!" Harry snapped back. "The paintin' or mowin' or fixin' or whatever it is you wanted me to do will just have to wait! I'll be on Belly Button Bayou tomorrow from sunup to sundown!"

"Then this'll work out perfect!" Maybelline enthused. "My dear brother Ralph is comin' here Thursday night for a visit and wants to go fishin' with you on Friday!"

"What?!?!" sputtered Harry. "You mean that thievin' slimeball's gone and escaped from prison?"

"He didn't have to go to prison!" Maybelline corrected him. "Ralph says that was all just a big misunderstanding!"

"Some misunderstanding!" Harry chortled. "Ralph sold the county judge a low-mileage Cadillac off his used car lot that turned out to be hotter than a two-dollar pistol! Hee-hee, I'd like to have seen the look of terror on his face when the police hauled him off to jail! Lucky for Ralph he knew some shyster lawyer who got the charges dropped!"

"Don't you go around spreadin' falsehoods about my brother!" Maybelline warned. "Now, is you gonna take him fishin' Friday or ain't ya?"

"No I ain't!" Harry insisted. "And that's final!"

* * *

I reckon you know what happened next — Maybelline used her legendary cast iron skillet to give Harry an attitude adjustment! A couple of whacks upside the head was all it took for him to see things her way.

Ralph arrived at Harry's house Thursday night. "How's my beautiful sister?" he asked smarmily, givin' Maybelline, whose face could stop a clock, a big hug. "And how's my favorite brother-in-law? Good grief man, what happened to your head?! Were you in an accident?"

"I was fine till I found out you was comin'!" Harry grumbled as he pressed an ice bag to the enormous goose egg on his noggin.

"I was hopin' you could forget the rough times you and I have had over the years, and that we could wipe the slate clean," Ralph pleaded, oozin' sincerity. "How about it — can we be friends? Why don't we shake on it?" He extended his hand toward Harry.

"Well … okay … I reckon I's willin' to let bygones be bygones." Harry stuck out his hand and promptly received a 50,000-volt jolt! "YEEE-OOOOWWWW!" he shrieked, stiffening up like a board 'n' twitchin' uncontrollably!

"Har, har, I gotcha good that time!" Ralph chortled. "You just got zapped by my Little Taser Joy Buzzer! See? It fits right here in the palm of my hand!"

"Why, I oughta — "

"No harm intended, ol' buddy!" Ralph replied, puttin' his arm around Harry's neck and givin' the tender spot on his noggin a Dutch rub with his fist. "C'mon, little buddy, I'm gonna drive you downtown and buy you a brewski!"

Harry had semi-regained his composure by the time they reached Zonker's Tavern. But he lost it as soon as he walked inside and spied his archrival from the bass club, Wilbur Wangle, sittin' at the bar. "Well, look who's here!" Wilbur allowed, raisin' his glass in a mock salute. "Harry, you look awful! Was you in a car wreck? Where'd ya get that big bump on your head? And how come yer eyeballs is spinnin' around like two pinwheels?"

"If you must know, this polecat I'm with is the reason for all my troubles," Harry replied grimly, motioning to Ralph.

"You're Harry's brother-in-law, ain't ya?" Wilbur said. "I'm Wilbur, one of Harry's best friends from the bass club!"

"Pleased to meet ya!" Ralph said, shakin' Wilbur's hand. Unfortunately for Harry, he'd removed his joy buzzer, so Wilbur didn't get the 50,000-volt welcome. "Come sit down and join us! Barkeep, bring us three brewskis!"

"Uh, Ralph, I'm sure Wilbur has places to go and people to see, don't ya, Wilbur?" Harry insisted.

"Who me? Naw, I'm just killin' time!" Wilbur replied with a stupid grin. "Sure, Ralph! If you're buyin', I'm drinkin'! So what brings you to Swamp Gas Corners, besides visitin' poor Harry here?"

"I figured it was time for my annual fishin' trip!" Ralph explained. "Harry promised to put me on a big one out on Belly Button Bayou tomorrow! Say, why don't you join us, Wilbur? We'll all have a swell time, won't we, Harry?"

"Ralph, Wilbur's got a service station to run!" Harry insisted. "He can't just drop everything and go fishin' on a weekday, can ya, Wilbur?"

"Heck, I'd love to go!" Wilbur replied eagerly. "I'll get my cousin Ambrose to cover for me! Seein' as me 'n' Harry'll be entertaining' a visiting dignitary, I'll bring my boat – it's more deluxe than that leaky ol' tub of Harry's! Y'all meet me at the bayou at daybreak, hear?"

Ralph 'n' Harry arrived at the boat ramp the following morning to find Wilbur waitin' on 'em. "Mornin', boys!" Wilbur allowed. "How about if one of y'all gives me a hand by backin' my bass rig into the lake?"

"I'd love to, but my neck's got a kink in it from that skillet-whoopin' I took the other night," Harry allowed. "Ralph here's a expert trailer backer-upper, tho — ain't that right, Ralph?"

"Um — sure I am!" Ralph replied. So Harry 'n' Wilbur hopped aboard the boat and Ralph climbed into Wilbur's pickup.

"Just ease 'er on back real slow," Wilbur advised as Ralph shifted the truck into reverse.

SCREEEECH!! KA-RASSHHHHHH!! Ralph stomped on the gas, turned the wheel hard and jackknifed Wilbur's trailer so bad, the bow of the boat crushed the truck's tailgate like a sardine can! He then slammed the truck into first gear, jerked it into reverse and backed the truck into the bayou so far that water poured in through the floorboards! "I reckon that'll do it!" he grinned as he jerked forward, givin' Wilbur a thumbs up.

"What an idiot!" Wilbur fumed as he and Harry eyeballed the damaged trailer and truck that Ralph was in the process of parking.

"I tried to tell ya not to go fishin' with us, but you wouldn't listen!" Harry sighed.

Wilbur idled back to the ramp and picked up Ralph. "Let's make this fishin' trip more interesting with a friendly wager," Ralph suggested as he stepped aboard. "What say we put up a hundred bucks apiece, and the one who catches the biggest fish wins the pot!"

"You're on," Harry 'n' Wilbur replied in unison.

Wilbur made a short run uplake to a big stump flat. Both him 'n' Harry commenced to flailin' the water with their trusty baitcasting outfits, while Ralph chunked a big goofy-lookin' in-line spinner on a cheap spincast rig he'd picked up at the local dollar store. "I got one!" Harry grunted as he set the hook on a lunker bass. The big sow bolted for deep water, rippin' drag! "Get the net, Ralph!" he gasped. "This hawg's 13 pounds if she's an ounce!" He worked the beast to the boat and said through gritted teeth, "OK, Ralph, when I saw 'now' I want you to net this fish! Ready? One … two … three … NOW!"

Ralph swung the net like a battle ax and knocked Harry's lunker off the hook! It sat there dazed in the water for a few seconds, then flipped its massive tail and swam away! "Gee, looks like your fish wasn't hooked too solid!" Ralph remarked.

"Easy, Harry!" Wilbur whispered as Harry's blood pressure skyrocketed to the explosion threshold. "Just calm down! I don't wanna have to take you to the hospital!"

Well sir, the big fish contest seesawed between Harry 'n' Wilbur all day long, but Ralph couldn't catch nothin' to save his soul. With mere minutes of daylight remaining, Harry was in the lead with a 6-pound largemouth. "Heh-heh, I sure am gonna enjoy fishin' with that new pro-model rod 'n' reel I'm fixin' to buy with you two's money!" he guffawed.

Just then Ralph's spincast rod bowed double as somethin' huge loaded on! The monster fish was jerkin' line off the cheap reel like gangbusters, but somehow Ralph managed to hang on and work the behemoth to the boat. He reeled it right up to the tip guide on his rod, fell over backwards and the beast flopped aboard, right on top of him — 50 pounds of wet, slimy, stinky carp!

"Woo-wee!" Ralph cried triumphantly. "I caught the big fish! I win!"

"The heck you does!" Harry snorted defiantly. "That there's just a carp! It's gotta be a bass to qualify!"

"Er, I gotta side with Ralph on this one," Wilbur allowed. "He said that the biggest fish wins the pot, and we agreed!"

"That's the spirit!" Ralph beamed as he collected C-notes from both bass clubbers. "Now what say we head for home? Maybelline said to make sure we got back in time to clean up so you could take me out for dinner!"

But Harry 'n' Wilbur had other plans for Ralph. Wilbur motored over to a nearby island, where the two forced Ralph ashore! "Don't leave me out here all night by myself!" he whimpered.

"Oh, you won't be by yourself!" Harry laughed. "You'll have plenty of cottonmouths 'n' gators to keep you company!"

As Wilbur's boat backed away from the island, Ralph pleaded, "Wait! Don't leave me! I'll give you your money back!"

"AND you'll pay for fixin' my trailer 'n' truck!" Wilbur added.

"AND you'll take me 'n' Wilbur out for steak dinners in return for all the pain 'n' sufferin' you put us through!" Harry chimed in.

"Y'know Harry, you ain't as obnoxious as I thought you was!" Wilbur admitted. "I reckon it just took somebody as obnoxious as Ralph to make me realize it!"