Ann looked at the store bought fish she held in one hand. Then she looked warily at the hook in her other. She was supposed to jam it through some part of the fish, right? That's how this thing worked or so she thought. The fish was dead and probably had been for some times. Yet, her emphatic nature caused Ann to imagine the emotions of this dead fish and the thought of sticking the hook in him made her stomach churn.
"No! Ouch! God have mercy, why would you do that? Why would you jam that piece of metal through my eye? You are a horrible person, Ann Perkins!" Mr. Fishkin's would scream at her after she'd hooked him.
This whole situation was pathetic. Not only did Ann suck at anything to do with Leslie's Pioneer Girls, now she was giving names to dead fish and afraid of going through with her fake fishing plan all on account of Mr. Fishkin's non-existent pain. She wasn't entirely sure if the hook even went through the eye. After deeper contemplation she realized that no fish, not even Mr. Fishkin, would intentionally get a hook caught in its eye. The whole point of fishing was to place bait in the water, causing a fish to bite at it and eventually get hooked. Yes, the mouth was the place for her to jam this tiny, curved torture device, but could she do it? Ann looked down into the dead eyes of her fish and saw him looking back at her with something that resembled pain. After all the catheters she'd inserted during her years as an RN and still it meant nothing in the face of placing a hook into Mr. Fishkin.
Nope. She was done with this. Her plan of trying to get any sort of approval for her fishing skills, even if they were falsified, was over. She should just call it a day on the outdoorsy Pioneer Girl thing. It would disappoint Leslie if Ann decided to leave the camp, but her selfish side had been whispering 'abandon ship' for awhile. She wasn't any good at this stuff, not even the pillow fighting, and didn't want to demean herself anymore. She would leave a note for her friend, since Ann had left camp before dawn to buy the fish and as far as she knew, everyone was still sleeping. She'd make up some excuse for needing to get back, one that Leslie would believe, and put it in that note.
Standing up, she left the fish on the ground with the hook by its side. Ann thought she had some paper and a pen in her car and knew she would need them to compose her resignation from The Pioneer Girls. She started on her way back to her car just as the morning sun was making an appearance on the horizon. The display of pink and orange in the sky caught her eye at the same time something else did. It seemed that not everyone was sleeping like she had assumed. A figure was slowly walking in her direction, but against the rising sun even Ann shielding her eyes didn't offer any help into giving away who the mystery person was. As they grew closer, the outline became more familiar and Ann pushed the small bottle of pepper spray back into her jacket pocket.
"Hi, Ron." Ann said, trying to get his attention and keep him from going past her where he'd most certainly discover the evidence of her fake fishing experiment.
If anyone wouldn't understand what she'd been trying to do, it would be Ron. In fact she couldn't imagine a worse person to be there at that moment than Mr. Watch me whittle a whole dining room set with this wood from a tree I karate chopped down.
"Ann?" Ron said in surprise, but then quickly fell back into his usual gruff mannerisms, "I did not expect anyone from Leslie's camp to be up this early."
His words were spoken cynically and Ann didn't have to wonder why. Ron and Leslie had been at odds this weekend, because her friend (in an incessantly cheerful, yet nagging way) tried to prove her group of Pioneer Girls was better than Ron's group of Pawnee Rangers. It wasn't so much an issue that girls were better than boys as it was Leslie being her typical purveyor of justice self. If girls couldn't join The Rangers then they would form their own group with Leslie at the helm and she would try her damndest to prove it was the best, because for all intent and purposes Leslie was the best. Although, truth be told a big reason why being a Pioneer Girl was better had a lot to do with the silly and fluffy challenges offered up at their camp. While in comparison, Ron's group did things like try and build a tent with limited supplies in all of 10 minutes. Simply put, less work and more play equaled more children wanting to be a Pioneer Girl than a Ranger.
This was the reason behind Ron's sarcasm. In his eyes why would a Pioneer Girl be up at this hour when she should be exhausted from her silly pillow fight the day before? If this had been any other time, Ann probably would have quickly nodded and moved past Ron without speaking a word. Words were always tricky around him. She never knew what type of response a simple phrase from her might elicit from him. For instance a "Happy Birthday!" could result in a very severe "You, shut your damn mouth!"
Even after having known Ron for a few years, she still wasn't sure how to act around him, so usually she didn't act at all. Oh, how Ann wished this was the case now, but her fishing equipment and the formerly frozen fish were nearby. She needed to stall. Somehow Ann had to get him to focus on something else for a bit while she cleaned up her equipment and erased any evidence of her fishing failure.
"Well, I guess if I expected anyone else to be up with the sun it would be you… you know you being Mr. Nature and all." Ann smiled brightly at him.
Ron's bushy eyebrows furrowed a bit, probably because Ann's delivery came out sounding much like she was on a vaudeville stage. "Yes, I was going to catch some fish for The Rangers to gut and then eat as breakfast." He stated after a few seconds.
Now it was Ann's turn to furrow her much thinner and more meticulously arched eyebrows, "But, you don't have a fishing pole or bait even."
Ron didn't say anything, but instead pulled his hands up to her eye level and indicated there was in no need of such trivial things as fishing equipment when he had these.
"Oh." Was all Ann could think of to say in response.
"Now if you don't mind … goodbye and please, do not tell Leslie hello for me." Ron made a movement like he was going to go around her, but Ann in panic mode placed both her hands on his brawny arms to stop him.
Again Ron looked surprised and slowly examined each of Ann's hands before tilting his head sideways as if considering the weirdness of their situation. This caused nervousness to stir in Ann's stomach and she lost her courage. "Sorry." Her voice was a whisper as she lowered her hands and avoided his eyes.
"Was there something you wanted?" He asked.
Ann was about to shake her head, but then in a moment of Leslie inspired gumption she pulled herself together. She was in her 30s, damn it, and wasn't going to be scared away by anyone … not even Ron Swanson. Her fear of him was less extreme than the waiting embarrassment that was just around the corner, "I thought … I thought, maybe you'd like to use a pole this time when fishing. I have one over there. I was trying to fish, but wasn't doing so well. I'll go over and get it for you."
Ron was quiet for a long time, so long that Ann's stomach began twisting in knots again. Eventually, he sighed which was followed by a chuckle and that chuckle steadily grew into a laugh. Now it was Ann's turn to be surprised. Ron Swanson was laughing and there wasn't any snake juice nearby. Was that even possible?
"What's so funny?" Ann gave her own nervous chuckle.
Ron quieted down long enough to answer, "I'll help you with your fishing. I assume that's why you are so eager to get me to use your equipment. You want to see the proper way to use it. No need to beat around the bush, Ann."
"Sure, yeah … you see right through me. Hahaha." Ann echoed Ron's amusement, but deep down was still anxious about him discovering Mr. Fishkin, "Would you excuse me for a minute?"
Before Ron could react, Ann bolted in the direction of her dead fish and upon reaching it she quickly kicked him into the creek. Watching as he flowed downstream with the current, Ann whispered a solemn, "Goodbye," to her friend.
"Yes, say goodbye to your old fishing techniques. Ron Swanson is here to teach you how this thing is done."
Ann jumped at the sudden appearance of Ron by her side, but she composed herself enough to look up at her fishing companion and smile, "Yes, I am ready to finally learn how to get that fish."
"If you do catch one, I might even let a Pioneer Girl like yourself serve it as breakfast for the Pawnee Rangers." Ron said in a tone that sounded like friendly teasing to Ann.
Did Ron tease … she wasn't sure? First laughing and now teasing, Ann was beginning to feel like everything she assumed about Ron might not be entirely true. In any case, Ann raised her eyebrows in the same bantering fashion and replied, "I'm not sure Leslie would approve, but I'm all for bringing the two sides together. Of course, you know it would have to be your Rangers serving the fish to me and not the other way around."
Ron's only response to her teasing was to grumble incoherently and then thrust Ann's fishing pole into her arms, "Let's get started."
Ann wouldn't admit it to him, but the thought of eating fish as breakfast made her want to vomit. It was a feeling similar to her nervousness as she wondered why Ron suddenly was taking an interest in helping her. She didn't want to over think it though. Perhaps, if he did teach her how to fish correctly then Ann would finally be able to gain some recognition from the others and that group of others included Ron as well.
Ron looked directly into the camera as an excited Ann stood in the background showing off her caught fish to the Pawnee Rangers.
"You know that saying if you give a man a fish he eats for one day … well, it's long and boring and I don't need to repeat it, but you get the idea. I saw Ann drive up and bring out her frozen fish. It didn't take me long to figure out what was going on. I went over there intent on deriding Ann about the situation. She was on Leslie's side after all, but when I got there she seemed so upset that I might find out what she had been doing that I decided to help her instead. Now look at her. She knows how to fish." Ron pulled a breath in and exhaled it in one long drawn out sigh, "Yeah, I like Ann. She talks too much when nervous, but I like her. Nice brunette girl."
Ron turned around to glance at Ann. The smile she wore as a result of her accomplishment was radiating in his direction and she waved at him. He returned the gesture and turned back into the camera's focus. A tiny smile of his own was curving up the corners of his mouth towards his mustache, but it quickly faded once he saw the camera was still on.
"Please, kindly get that fucking camera out of my face."