Rob heaved the large cooler out of the trunk and placed it on the picnic table. The other children rushed to the long pier that jutted out into the lake. Squeals of delight filled the air. It was the start of the weekly summer excursion for the family.
His little sister ran up to him. “Rob, can we have the tubes now?” The six-year-old gazed up hopefully at her brother.
“Give me a few minutes. We have to get all the stuff out for mom.” He motioned to his two friends who had come along to help. They grabbed the ends of the large tent equipment and hoisted it out.
Cari ran off to tell her cousins that the tubes would be out soon. Shouts from the children filled the air. Rob worked with James and David to get the canopy tent up to cover the picnic tables. A buzz of activity surrounded the site as more cars parked and unloaded their contents. Children and adults flooded the grounds.
It was the annual family gathering on the lake. Each year, the Robinson clan gathered at Lake Eufaula and spent the day eating, playing, and catching up. This year several of the younger ones brought their friends.
Once everything was set up, the activities began. A bonfire was started by the parents. The young mother’s organized the toddlers and babies in safe play sections. Children were on playsets, swimming in the shallow lake, and climbing on boulders. Everyone was enjoying themselves.
Rob and three of his friends sat on the edge of the pier tossing floating balls into the water for the dog to retrieve. Behind them, the younger children splashed around in the large roped off swimming section. Looking over his shoulder, Rob nudged his friend.
“Hey, did you hear what the park ranger said?”
Chuck shook his head. “Nah, what?”
“There are reports of a giant catfish in the lake.”
The splashing behind them quieted down. Rob smirked. His friends chuckled softly.
“Really? Where?” Steve asked as he leaned back on his elbows not even bothering to look around for the creature.
“All over the place, but the last couple were around here.”
A small gasp sounded behind them, bringing a malicious smile to Rob’s face. The splashes of the children could be heard getting closer to them. Their interest was piqued.
“Yeah, pretty big I hear.” Rob smiled. “One even attacked a swimmer.”
“No kidding! Wow! Do you think we’ll see one here?”
A laugh burst from Rob’s lips. “Actually, I think I see one right now over by the buoy.”
Shrieks filled the air as the children surged out of the water. The teenage boys rolled on the pier laughing.
“It’s going to eat us!”
Parents rushed to meet their screaming children. As they checked them over for injuries, others looked out over the water for possible threats. Two eyes settled on the boys and frowned.
Cari sobbed, “A fish going to eat us.”
“Where?” her mother asked.
“It’s in the water.”
“I don’t see it, dear.”
“I think the fish in question is on the pier.” Cari’s father pointed at the boys.
The children screamed again at the thought of the fish getting out of the water. They rushed to the cars and begged to leave the campground. Every parent but Cari and Rob’s rushed to console them. They scowled at the boys as they stalked down to the water.
The boys were all on their sides and backs, laughing loudly. “Man, did you hear their screams?”
“Oh, my! They couldn’t get out of the water fast enough!”
“Uh, guys!” Steve nudged Chuck. “We’re busted.”
All three boys quickly stood up with sheepish looks on their faces. Eyes were downcast to the faded pier planks.
“Excuse me, young men.” Rob’s father marched toward them. “What did you do to those children?”
“Honestly, didn’t do anything. We were just sitting here, talking.”
“Talking, eh? What about?”
The three boys looked at each other and failed to suppress their grins. Rob ran his hands on his shorts. “Fish.”
The man nodded. “Fish…I see.” He turned back to his wife and nodded. She rolled her eyes and went back to comfort her daughter. “Did that fish happen to be a child eating kind?”
“Uh…we were just talking about large fish.”
“Okay, so we had a little fun.”
“Fun? The kids are terrified.”
The boys snickered. “Sorry, Dad. Didn’t expect them to get so upset.”
“Okay, but stop it. You need to apologize to them as well and as explain that you were all only joking.”
“Right. No people eating fish here. Gotcha.”
“Then come on. Let’s resolve this so we can all eat. I’m starving.”
The three boys followed him. From under the pier, a six foot shadow moved toward the depths and disappeared.