Okay, so I’m takin’ pictures down on Kelly Drive. I’ve always wanted to paint my homage to Thomas Eakins, you know, that one with the sculler on the Schuykill River? Well, I’m down by the Strawberry Mansion bridge, pretty close to the water when I hear this splash in the water. Don’t think much about it – till I turn and look! I swear! The biggest fish I ever saw!
An old dude who was fishing nearby got up off his lawn chair and came over my way.
“Haven’t seen old ‘Squook’ since I was a boy. Lived up in Conshsee back then. But he runs all up an’ down this river. Guess he’s gettin’ a little restless”
“I’m sorry but …”
“What you seen weren’t no fish, son. Did it look like a fish?” I had to admit that I only caught the thing as it rolled over and dove back down.
“Come to think of it, it looked kind of like a …”
“Big eel? Or a log –”
“Yea! Yea! With kind of like, not fins but …”
“Like paddles, would y’ say?”
“Yea!” I was stunned. “I’ve lived in Philly my whole life, Mister. How come I never heard of this … ‘Squookie’?
“Don’t rightly know. Like I said, last time I seen ‘m it was … more ‘n fifty years ago. But heard tell of stories goin’ way back to when the Lenape was runnin’ around this place”
“Y’ think we should … I don’t know, call someone? The Fish and Wildlife people or the S.P.C.A. or …”
“Nope!” He was emphatic. Don’t need no camera crews or crazy Bigfeet stalkers or that Titanic nutcase ruinin’ my fishin’ hole. I knowd I shouldn’t said nuthin!” He looked me squarely in the eye and pleaded. “Will y’ promise me y’ won’t go blabbin’ t’ the mediums ‘bout this, Son?”
“You’ve got my word, Mister” That seemed to allay his suspicions. A quick nod and he started back to his rig. But after a few steps, turned on his heel and pointed to me –
“Unless I ketch ’m! Talk about goin’ viral!”