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The case of the vanishing key


February 23, 2012

Let us go back in time to August 21, 2010. Due to the generosity of Mr. Gibson McKean, my fishing buddy Dr. Oliver Herz, DVM, and I were to have an opportunity to fish Cliff Lake. Mr. McKean owns the land surrounding the lake and also has the key to unlock the gate guarding the premises. We were to meet Mr. McKean at noon so that he could guide us through the maze of dirt roads that lead to the lake and also unlock the gate for us.

After unlocking the gate leading to the lake, Mr. McKean gave us a key so that we would be able to unlock this gate on our way out. After leaving us at the lake, it was his intention to relock the gate using a spare key. I watched while Oliver very carefully placed our key in the glove compartment of my van.

Cliff Lake is a pristine body of water that supposedly harbors a large number of sizeable smallmouth bass. Oliver elected to use his spinning rod while I stayed with a fly rod. Unfortunately, the smallmouth bass in the lake absolutely refused to eat anything that we offered them. Our catch for the day were two small yellow perch that fell for Oliver’s spinning lures. My fly fishing efforts only resulted in my living up to my nickname.

When it came time for us to leave, we narrowly averted a complete disaster. Upon reaching the dam at the far end of the lake, we made a wrong turn. At this point, we passed a small white car parked near the dam. When we realized our mistake, I turned the van around and passed the dam for a second time. This time the driver of the white car noticed us and waved as we passed by. When we arrived at the locked gate, I became aware that the driver of the white car had followed us. It turned out that he was an employee of the Alliance Energy Company. They use the water releases from several small impoundments in the area to generate electricity. When he learned we were friends of Mr. McKean, he whipped out a key and unlocked the gate for us. This was most fortunate, for when we looked in the glove compartment for the key given to us by Mr. McKean it was nowhere to be found. If we had not made that wrong turn, we might have wound up sleeping in the van. Despite removing everything from the glove compartment, Oliver and I never found that key. It had vanished.

On February 7 of this year, Barb and I had driven down to the Fort Worth Fly Fishers meeting. As she started to exit the car she exclaimed, “Wait a minute, what is this?” She bent down to pick up something from the floor mat at her feet. She retrieved the item and extended her open hand towards me. I was stunned. How could this be? In her palm was a small padlock key.