The weather was absolutely beautiful on Lake Ouchiimanga. Lake Ouchiimanga was the last lake before the Artic Circle. Every year, six intrepid city guys flew into the middle of no man’s land to fish. They flew a commercial airlines from Toronto to Thunder Bay. They changed planes to a native run airline, Bearskin and continued further north. When they reached a small lodge in the middle of the boonies, they transferred onto Otter and Beaver planes and an hour later after flying over acres and acres of tundra they were dropped off at Lake Ouchiimanga where they would stay for five days.

During the five days there would be much drinking, eating, card playing, laughing, and unabashed fun. The fact that the guys on the trip were all professionals meant they loved the hideaway and the anonymity. There would be the guys and a guide. There was no phone reception and in case of an emergency they would have to use an emergency beacon which would summon a Canadian Army Hercules plane. They had been warned in advance that if they used the beacon and it was found not to have been an emergency they would be responsible for all costs incurred in the rescue mission.

There was one guy on the trip who was a well known Lawyer, but everybody thought he was kind of odd. His name was Marvin Steubin and he had some form of ADD because he wouldn’t slow his roll for anything. He seemed to need to always be active and he didn’t know how to chill. As an example, there was tons of wood cut for the wood stove but Marvin still felt compelled to chop logs.

The mornings would start at five thirty with a breakfast of eggs and potatoes with a couple of slices of toast. The weather was freezing cold but it warmed up dramatically during the day. Every morning different combinations went out together on the boats and would switch up after shore lunch for the afternoon.

Unfortunately Jeffrey Meyers somehow caught a very bad cold and decided on the second last day not to go out on the lake in the morning , but wait till the afternoon. That meant everybody had a partner to go fishing with except for Marvin Steubin.

Marvin told Jeff not to worry he would go out by himself. Everybody left and Jeff (feeling like two pounds of manure in a one pound bag) covered himself up in his sleeping bag and tried to sleep. One of the Doctors on the trip had given him a supply of Amoxicillin and it seemed to be making him drowsy.

He was just dreaming a beautiful beach when he felt someone pushing on his shoulders. He looked up to see Marvin. He was pacing back and forth. ‘’Sorry for waking you, but it’s already seven thirty. It’s starting to rain. I lost sight of the other guys and I really don’t want to be on the lake by myself. Are you sure you won’t come with me for a couple of hours?’’

Jeff felt shitty, but he knew that the trip only happened once a year, so how could he miss the opportunity to catch fish and enjoy the camaraderie. The drugs must have kicked in because he was feeling better and somehow agreed to go out on the lake with Marvin.

After putting on his rain gear Jeff followed Marvin to the boat. The winds were starting to whip up and the water looked rough. ‘’Hey Marvin, maybe we should go back to the cabin and wait this out. The weather sucks so the fish won’t bite.’’ Marvin wouldn’t hear of it. ‘’I found a spot not far from here, we can anchor just around the corner from where we are now, catch a few pickerel and come back in. I promise I will keep us local. I just don’t like being out on this huge lake by myself.’’ Jeff nodded, put his tackle box and fishing rods and got into the boat. Marvin had a bit of a hard time starting the engine but eventually it came to life and they began their very rough ride cutting across the waves.

Jeff kept looking at the bottom of their boat as the water seemed to be accumulating. He tapped Marvin on the shoulder to show him and Marvin’s response was a shrug. ‘’I know these boats, there’s a little hole at the back that drains the water out. A few more minutes and we can bail it out, and then we’ll be fine.’’

As they kept going, Jeff looked at his watch, it had been fifteen minutes since they left the safety of the cabin, and they hadn’t stopped and anchored and Jeff was feeling pretty crappy again.

‘’Marvin, you said we were only going around the corner, it has been fifteen minutes since we left and I don’t see signs of land. The storm is getting worse, let’s turn around and go back, this is ridiculous.’’

Marvin nodded and slowly tried to turn the boat around and immediately hit a huge rock with the front of the boat, almost knocking Jeff over the side.

‘’You have to tell me when there’s a rock, that’s your job, how can I see it, I’m driving the boat.’’ Jeff was not impressed. ‘’Dude, please cool your jets, just get us back to the cabins.’’ Once again Marvin’s response was to shrug his shoulders.

After feeling the wind whipping the rain into his face like stinging pellets, Jeffrey Meyers didn’t think things could get worse but they did. Thunder started booming at decibels he could have only imagined followed by the brightest lightening he had ever seen. Marvin kept the boat going and before long they were in an alcove that was not familiar.

Jeff yelled to Marvin ‘’Where the Fuck are we?’’ Once again the answer was a very slow and not pleasant shoulder shrug. Marvin looked at Jeffrey and yelled ‘’If you were paying attention, we’d be back by now but you have gotten us lost.’

There was a temptation to jump to the back of the fourteen foot boat and throttle Marvin, but Jeffrey resisted the urge. ‘’Okay, we need to get off the water. If we get hit by lightening we are going to die. Let’s get out of this swampy area and try to find somewhere we can find some kind of shelter.’’

Marvin started the engine and they left the alcove to find the waves had gotten higher and more intense. The rain felt like it was cutting holes in their skin and the lightening was more ominous than ever as it lit up the sky and the area every time a bolt shot down.

Jeffrey looked at his watch, a good hour had passed and neither him or Marvin the Maroon knew where they were. Finally they saw the outline of a bank and Marvin headed for the grassland. Jeffrey started screaming to slow down or cut the engine, but Marvin for some reason refused to listen and once again he hit a huge rock that was protruding from the lake. It made Jeffrey think of the Titanic.

They both rocked and Jeff’s hand and elbow made contact with the water before they righted themselves. A lightening bolt showed the anger on Jeff’s face. He was no longer sick, he was now furious.

From the engine Marvin started yelling about not enough warning. Jeffrey really was starting to feel like Marvin was completely demented. It was at this point that another horrible discovery was made. Marvin had smashed the propeller on the engine. They were immobilized. The water was coming over the side of the boat, the rain was like miniature needles, and the waves were throwing them up and down, that combined with the water filling the boat made Jeffrey think about his loved ones and how ignominious it was to be lost in a lake all alone with the biggest jerk he had ever met. Why had he listened to Marvin? He should have stayed in bed, it was however too late to have second thoughts, he was stuck and the only thing he could think to do was say the Jewish prayer that was the mission statement for the religion, Shema Israel. ‘’The Lord is our Gd, The Lord is one.’’ Marvin listening to Jeffrey recite the prayer and said ‘’Just to let you know, if you would have been paying better attention to where we are from where we were, we wouldn’t be lost.’’ Jeffrey turned and glared at him ‘’If my Mother had balls she’d be my Father. Shut the Fuck up Marvin, we were supposed to anchor around the bend from the cabins. Why the hell did you need to take us out so far?’’ Just as another wave broke over the side of the boat, Jeffrey heard a blaring noise. He and Marvin started to scream and they heard voices screaming back at them. Soon there was the Guide and a couple of the guys from the trip on a boat with a huge searchlight. They pulled up beside Marvin and Jeffrey and after hearing about the wrecked engine they attached a tow line. The Guide knew the lake like the back of his hand and within forty minutes they were pulling up to the cabins. The thunder, rain, and lightening were still ferocious.

When Jeffrey felt the ground beneath his feet he made a vow to donate to charity and he was in a state of complete gratefulness. Marvin immediately started blaming Jeffrey for all their issues. Jeffrey had mixed emotions, he thought about slugging Marvin and then he thought about yelling at him, and then he decided to do what felt the best for him, he completely ignored him.

That night while the wood stove was burning and the guys were preparing a beautiful steak dinner, Marvin started again. ‘’If Jeff would have been paying attention, we wouldn’t have run into any trouble, but he was not interested in watching where we were going.’’ One of the Lawyers looked at Marvin and said ‘’Marvin, we know you were on the engine, we know you took the boat out, we know you smashed into two rocks, and we know that Jeff wasn’t feel well to being with. Instead of standing around bitching and blaming be grateful that the situation didn’t devolve and become much worse. Someday you’re going to have to take responsibility for your actions. If anything you should apologize to Jeff for being a shmuck, but we know you won’t . So drink some scotch, eat a steak, lose your money at poker, and shut up about who was to blame for your stupid ill advised misadventure.’’

The Lawyer’s words must have registered with Marvin because he quieted down. He never apologized or took responsibility for his actions, but for the rest of the trip he kept a much lower profile.

When the trip was over and everybody got back to Toronto, there was warm goodbyes except for Marvin who rushed out the door as soon as he got his luggage.

A month later Jeffrey was watching the news when the anchor led with a story about a Lawyer who had been arrested or fraud and embezzlement from his older clients. When a reporter stuck a microphone in front of the guy’s face he looked at the camera. ‘’I am innocent, someday else should have been paying attention to what was going on. It wasn’t my fault, I blame people in my office, they weren’t watching what was happening and then it was too late. ‘’ With that Marvin gave his shoulders a shrug and ran off.



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Alan J. Schwarz

Alan J. Schwarz


Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.