A note about this series: As of 12 February 2024 the final edited copy is completed. I will be updating all of the episodes published on Tapas to bring it up to the most current version. There will be no major changes, this is mainly to fix spelling/grammar errors, formatting problems, and to clean up some text.
I will try to remember to not notify subscribers of the changes as I know how annoying this can be. However, Tapas defaults to notify, and if I forget to change it you may get notifications here and there. Please ignore these. I will delete this note when the uploading is completed.
This is a coming of age/coming out story based on
real life events. The main story begins in 1984 when I was twelve years old and
just entering puberty, but before we get to puberty it is necessary to take
this brief trip back to the summer of 1981, when I was nine years old. The
events that happened this day in 1981 would be important years later.
As was the case most of my life, my number one hobby was fishing, and I could always be found hanging around down at the lake with my cheap little fishing rod, a bobber, and a hook with a worm. I should point out that growing up in early 1980's Sackville was a far different experience than it would be today. With most families having two working parents we kids had the run of the whole town. Everyone trusted everyone else's kids and parents to watch out for each other, so my going to the lake alone at 9 years old was not extraordinary. I hardly ever caught anything, maybe a catfish or perch here and there, but I loved being there. The older kids got a real kick out of me and would let me hang around them.
One day one of the older kids started talking about a place called Sucker Brook, at the far eastern tip of First Lake. He was telling us how clear and deep the water was and how good the fishing was. The older kids were all talking about it when a stranger came up and sat down at a picnic table nearby. I didn't really pay any attention to him, other than noticing that he would not take his eyes off of those kids. I say I noticed, but really it did not register in my mind that anything was amiss.
Eventually the kids decided they would all go to Sucker Brook right away. It was at the "wild" end of the lake, no roads led there from our beach, but there was a natural path that followed the entire northern shore line. It was about 2.5 kilometers to get there, an easy walk for a bunch of kids. They started on the journey and I tagged along unnoticed, and probably a little longer than an hour later we arrived at Sucker Brook. There was a natural gravel beach, and we all settled in and started fishing. As that one kid had promised, the water here got really deep right off the shore. Also, since this was far from the construction areas, the water was crystal clear and the fishing was good. I lost count of how many trout we pulled out of that water. Eventually the sun started to set, and everyone started getting ready to leave. I was still having fun though, and I was still catching fish, so I didn't want to leave.
Those older kids either did not notice or did not care, but when they left I did not go with them. I kept on fishing well after the sun touched the horizon. By the time it was fully dark out I was getting chilly and the trout had stopped biting. I was now catching nothing but eels. Eventually I decided to leave, so I gathered up my catch and gear and started making my way along the path. I was not afraid: Darkness did not scare me, there was plenty of moonlight, and I knew that if I stayed by the shore of the lake that I'd find my way back.
I was about halfway along the shore, making my way through a section where the brush on my right side (the side away from the lake) was really thick, when something grabbed me by the arm. Without even thinking I screamed and started swinging at it with my fishing rod. I think the hook dug in, because I felt it catch on something, heard a scream, and the rod was yanked out of my hands. With that scream I was released, so I ran into those woods as fast as my little legs would carry me, not knowing or caring where I was going. I eventually tripped and ended up in a thick spruce thicket, so I crouched down and got perfectly still, trying to keep my breathing quiet. I could hear an adult male voice cursing and swearing, thrashing around and calling out for me to come back, saying he wasn't going to hurt me. The thrashing and cursing were getting quieter, though, so I guessed that he was going away from me. I got up and started moving carefully and quietly in the opposite direction from the noise, stopping to listen every once in a while. Finally, I could not hear my would-be assailant any more. I then looked around me. The moon was out, and I could see fairly well, but I had no idea where I was at.
Reality was setting in: I was lost in the woods and somebody was trying to catch me. I felt like crying, but knew better: the noise might bring him back. Instead of crying I just started walking, with no real idea of where I was going. I walked for about a half hour without really getting anywhere, with the only precaution against getting even more lost being that I tried to keep the moon on my left side so I could at least be sure I was going in a reasonably straight line. I tried to remember what I had learned in the one year I had been in cub scouts. I was just coming to the conclusion that I had learned absolutely nothing, when I heard a faint trickle of water. A stream! I followed my ears and found a very small stream running down a gentle slope. I thought 'This stream probably goes to the lake', so I started following it. It wasn't easy going; it was a very small stream, and the woods were thick. Often I couldn't find it at all, like it disappeared underground or something, but if I listened I could hear it and pick it up again. Finally, I could see the moon shimmering on the lake! I almost ran toward it but contained myself and carefully found my way to the shore. When I got there I could see the lights at the beach - at least my fumbling around in the woods had brought me in the right direction! I picked up the path again and started toward the beach, carefully listening for any abnormal sounds and being wary of every shadow, every tree, every bush. If the person that grabbed me was hiding somewhere I would be ready to disappear again.
As I got closer to the beach, I thought I could hear faint voices calling. The closer I got the surer I was. I continued following the path and came around a point where the beach was in full view, and now I was positive: They were definitely calling my name. I was about 300 meters from the beach now and I could see lights swinging around. I started moving faster and started calling back. As I neared the beach area I could tell they heard me - all of the lights were pointing in my direction, including two large, bright search lights on top of a vehicle. It was my father, with his Dodge Ramcharger! I started running now, calling out for Dad. I finally got there and stumbled out of the woods and into the open, nearly blinded by all of the lights pointing at me. I was tired, scared, bleeding from a million cuts all over my arms and legs, I was missing my fishing rod, I had dropped all the trout that I had caught, but none of that mattered. I was safe.
One of the lights started coming toward me really fast - it was my mother, running toward me. She scooped me up and started hugging and kissing me. The other lights came toward me too - it was my aunt & uncle, two cousins, and a couple of firefighters. My uncle was the fire chief. Dad drove his Ramcharger right across the beach, between the trees, and flooded the scene with light. He jumped out, left the door open, and ran up and hugged me. They almost smothered me between them, each peppering me with a million questions. I told them everything that had happened, from the decision to go to Sucker Brook to the trip back.
When I got to the part about being grabbed all the chattering stopped. My uncle asked me more details, so I told him about losing my fishing rod and fish and hiding from whoever had grabbed me. He listened to this, then walked over to my father's truck, where he picked up the CB mic (in 1981 everyone had CB radios in their trucks) and started talking. Mom and Dad's worry turned to anger and they started scolding me for going so far away without telling anyone where I was going. Mom started crying and told me that when she saw a large rock out in the water that she thought it was my drowned body! I started crying again and promised them that I'd never do that again. I was scared and had no desire to ever see Sucker Brook again, no matter how well the fish were biting there.
The next day my uncle showed up at the house with an RCMP officer. They asked me again all about being grabbed. They had gotten reports about a pervert that had been hanging around at the lake and approaching young boys, offering them booze in exchange for sexual favours. He had even tried forcing a couple of them. They thought that might be the person that grabbed me. I tried to tell them where it had happened, and the police officer promised that they'd check the area. Later on that day the officer returned: They had found my fish and broken fishing rod. There was blood on the rod and all over the trees and bushes, so they set up a crime scene and were sending the rod to the lab. That scared the hell out of me. It was a few months before I'd even go to the lake again. Kids have a short attention span, though, so I soon started fishing again, this time sticking around the beach area. I was never told whether they had caught the guy. In the years since, most of the woods were cut down and houses built, and a road was pushed through, all the way to Sucker Brook.