Corky Furillo and I run a lot of guide trips together. He is a solid dude, 5’10”, 210, all muscle and spends a lot of time in the gym. His hair is dark and he wears it in a pony tail which he sometimes braids. He sports a Metallica tat on his left bicep. He is a flannel shirt and jeans kind of guy.


   After Iraq, Corky decided to become a fishing guide. We run trips together over to the Yellowstone and few on the spring creeks and lakes but mostly around the Madison. All in all, Corky is a loyal friend and a great guy to fish with but he has a couple problems.


   He has flashbacks.

   And he likes to fight.

   One afternoon, after a half day charter, me and Corky stopped by the Wagon Wheel for a few brewskys and some pool. As usual, there were a few drift boats parked out front on trailers behind pick-ups…blue, green, red, yellow and one all white with a large rainbow colored peace sign logo stenciled on the bow.

   Some of the other fishing guides were already getting tuned up inside…T-Bird, Skeeter and One Fly were in the bar…and over at the pool table was Rachel shooting eight ball with Shawn.

   “Legs” by ZZ Top was blasting out over the speakers

   Rachel Kenworthy is a knockout 5’9” raven haired beauty…tall and curvy and delicious. Long, straight, coal black hair, either parted in the middle or pulled straight back (it doesn’t matter), perfectly framing her dark bedroom eyes and full lips the color of Flathead cherries. How she squeezes into those skin tight Levi’s nobody knows but everybody wants to find out. She favors Hopi silver and turquoise jewelry…the expensive, Santa Fe, NM type…gifts from her fans. This day she was rockin’ a black lace bustier top that said it all.


   Shawn is a tall, handsome Alan Jackson look- alike with long blonde hair and a bushy stash. He runs a successful cow/calf/hay operation south of Town.

Shawn is a friend of ours.

   At the end of the bar by the pool table me and Corky noticed two of the newer fishing guides yakking it up over craft beers. They were both dressed alike; same hipster “Rip Lips” fishing caps worn backwards, exact same earth tone, long sleeve t-shirts with “Fly Fishermen Have Longer Rods” silk screened on the back. Both were in their early twenties, male-model slim, facial hair perfectly groomed and trimmed. Justin Timberlake would be jealous.    

   We learned from Smitty the bartender their names were Niles and Jeremy (nickname “J-Dawg”) and they were from “back east”. It was their first summer on the river and they had been spending a lot of time at the Wagon Wheel, drinking brews and tequila shots, hitting on chicks and weaseling fishing information from the guides.

   It was obvious the lads had been in the bar a while. Me and Corky watched them whoop and holler after every pool shot, and when Rachel bent low to try the five ball in the corner pocket, they both high-fived her cleavage.

   When “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple came on over the speakers, the one kid, Jeremy, who was drunk and getting drunker, stumbled over to Rachel and asked her to dance.

   She didn’t want to.

   “J-Dawg” insisted.

   When he grabbed her arm and twisted it, Rachel had had enough and she threw a haymaker bitch-slap catching Jeremy on the left ear and spun him around. “J-Dawg” yelled “owie” and his buddy Niles jumped on Rachel’s back, grabbing her by the hair. Cowboy Shawn had seen enough and jerked the kid off Rachel and threw him to the floor. Shawn never saw Jeremy coming at him from the blind side as he sucker punched him with a dead soldier bottle of Trout Slayer beer over the cowboy’s head with a loud CRACK!

   Then Niles picked up a pool cue and took a vicious swipe at Rachel just nicking her right ear, sending a turquoise earring flying across the barroom.

   By this time Corky had seen enough and moved in for the kill. First he grabbed Niles by the back of the neck, pinned him to the pool table, and pounded his head into the felt six or eight times, bouncing his dome off the slate till his eyeballs crossed and his cheeks turned green. Niles passed out with his head near the side pocket.

   A couple from San Francisco sitting at the bar fumbled with their camera phone getting ready to video the fight so they could post it on “Snapchat.” T-Bird and One Fly moved over to discourage them.

   Then Corky found Jeremy cowering under the pool table, picked him up by the belt buckle, took off one of his Tevas and slapped him upside the head with the sole of the sandal till “J-Dawg” started to cry. His face turned the color of a strawberry daquiri.



   Corky waved me over and I grabbed Jeremy by one leg, drug him across the floor, out the front door of the Wagon Wheel and deposited him on the sidewalk. Niles wasn’t so lucky, Corky had him in a head lock and was squeezing so hard his eyeballs began to pop. And then Corky launched ole Niles out through the front door to join his buddy.


   “Do yourselves a favor, boys and don’t come back in here acting all “back east”, said Corky. “This ain’t a college frat party, this is Montana. When a woman says no she means no! Have a nice day.”


   Smitty got a cold bar rag with some ice for Shawn’s noggin.

   After the place settled down, me and Corky and Shawn and Rachel sat down at the bar and joined T-Bird and One Fly and Skeeter. I bought a round for the whole crew while the jukebox was playing “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.


   It was a good day.