[Story Archives] Panic on the River: Heroism Arrives

abstract background beach color

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In case you missed the opening chapters of the story, here are the links: 

Panic on the River:  Friends Join Up

Panic on the River:  Disaster Strikes

Here’s a short excerpt from the previous chapter to help us to navigate better before we plunge into the final chapter:

The raft dashes to catch up to Fred, who is looming closer and closer.  With a few more yards yet to go, Fred may soon be saved from the clutches of the river.

Out of nowhere, a large tree limb cuts between the raft and Fred.  Like a large water snake gathering speed, the enormous splinter of wood rushes through the water towards Fred.

Whack!

Fred’s grip loosens as he is knocked back into the main waters of the Little Gulch.

Randy and Bill groan in utter disbelief at Fred’s terrible misfortune.  Pete senses that it is now or never for saving Fred.  He alerts his boat mates with a shout that he will try to save poor Fred.

Before Randy and Bill have a chance to persuade Pete to remain safely in the boat, he jumps into the high tide of the Little Gulch.  Unlike Fred, Pete’s life vest assists him as he manages to keep his head above the surface of the river’s furious charge.

Calling upon his swimming prowess (remember those high school medals), he furiously sets a pace to reach Fred as quickly as possible.  Fred, who is about to breathe his last gasp of air, begins to feel the final power of the river upon his tired, weary soul.

Stroke after stroke, Pete’s “state championship” swimming form propels him forward as he cuts the distance quickly.  Ignoring the aching pain in his long-dormant swimming muscles, Pete doggedly pushes himself to reach a nearly unconscious Fred in time.

Meanwhile, Randy and Bill struggle to keep the bulky rubber tube plowing a straight line towards their pair of friends in the water.  Randy hopes that both of his friends survive the death grip being applied by a nasty and angry river.

The Little Gulch prepares to take Fred with her, and possibly Pete, too.  The river’s “Grim Reaper” stands poised to claim another drowning victim or two.

Feeling his last bit of strength giving way, Fred succumbs to the river’s never-ending power.  He is totally out of energy; out of any more willpower . . . the river stands ready to claim final victory!

Pete is reaching his physical limits.  He feels his arms and legs beginning to cramp, but he tries to push on.  If he quits now, Fred’s final doom is sealed.

Death, the river wins!

Looking ahead, his water-filled eyes can no longer locate Fred.  Yet, Pete finds a hidden reserve of energy to continue his sprint to where he last saw Fred.

Where is Fred?

Has the Little Gulch pulled his lifeless body to her rocky bottom?

Where will she spit out his body for others to find so that his passing can be treated with dignity?

So many questions to answer as time seems to stand still momentarily.  Randy and Bill trail behind in the cumbersome boat.  Pete is pushing himself beyond his physical capabilities.  Fred seems to have perished from an “accidental drowning” (as the weekly Clifton newspaper prints in its next edition).

Fred and Pete may well have met their match with the Little Gulch, which stands poised to render both of them as new victims on the river’s scorecard.

Randy and Bill strain to see what lies ahead.  Unbelievably, their eyes locate something or someone rising out of the water just ahead.

Hooray!  Fred is back!

The unforgiving Little Gulch has made a tactical error.  Her death grip has maneuvered Fred to a gravel bar, hidden just below the river’s violent surface.  The guys cannot believe it!

Slowly Fred gains more consciousness.  He realizes that his nightmare has finally ended, and he will live to see another sunrise.  He ungracefully stands on his feet—a bit wobbly, but slowly regaining more strength and balance.

By the same miracle, Pete is also deposited upon the same narrow gravel strip.  He is exhausted, his lungs appear to breathe no more, and he lies there silently and very still.  Fred looks down at his would-be rescuer, and he begins to weep.  His own stupidity and panic have allowed the river to take away his dear friend.

The raft approaches a standing, remorseful Fred and a motionless Pete.  Randy and Bill fear the worst for their stricken comrade while thinking that Fred’s transgressions started this terrible sequence of events in the first place.

Without warning!  Another spectacular outcome is witnessed by all.

Pete’s lungs begin to take in fresh, life-supporting air.  He sluggishly feels his exhausted body trying to recover some of its misplaced energy and strength.  He has no idea of what has happened to Fred.

Glancing up, he notices a shadow above him.  “Is that really you Fred?”

Fred kneels down and gives Pete a big hug!  He feels overjoyed to see his good pal, who risked his life to rescue him.

Rushing in, Randy and Bill beach the raft a moment later.  The disheveled boat is partly filled with water from their ordeal.  Everyone helps to bail out the remnants of the Little Gulch’s fury and to examine their possessions.

Bill finds the empty rope at the bow, which used to be securely fastened to the cold beer.  Now like an empty fish hook, the beer has been swallowed up by the thirsty river.  Much of the lunch is water-logged and will have to be thrown away.  Actually, food doesn’t sound too tasty as this particular moment.  Perhaps the steakhouse at Clifton will offer a better tasting menu.

But at least, the men are safe and together once again.  They are feeling an urge to celebrate just a little bit, but their mood will need to stay calm until they reach Clifton.  The three look at Fred with more than a morsel of disappointment and frustration.  His brazen insanity has ruined a “memorable” float trip on the Little Gulch and nearly taken two men to their graves.

From his pocket, Fred retrieves an unopened can of beer.  He hurriedly pops its top, and begins his own private celebration.  Afterall, he has survived the river’s best shot, and his heart is still ticking!  Amazing!

Pete gingerly walks towards Fred, and rips the can from his grasp.  Pouring the liquid out slowly cannot conceal Pete’s hidden anger and annoyance with Fred.  While Fred protests, Pete pays little attention.  With the empty beer can gripped in his right hand, he crushes the aluminum cylinder into Fred’s forehead.

Fred crumbles to the bottom of the raft, and Bill quickly dresses him in a life vest.  The men make haste to finish their journey without any more adventure from Fred or the Little Gulch.

Eventually, the quartet of river adventurers reaches their final destination at Clifton.  While trying to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner at the well-known steakhouse, the men feel exhausted and rather subdued.  There will be no celebration tonight!  Even Fred looks tired and rather apologetic for his actions.

As the evening’s full moon shines brightly in a cloudless sky, everyone (with the possible exception of Fred) feels that this will certainly be the only time that Fred will ever float the Little Gulch.  The worn out trio of river rats still desires to return again in the future to enjoy their friendship along with safe, adventurous fun.

Without crazy Fred . . . stirring up another day of panic on the river!

[Story Archives] Panic on the River: Disaster Strikes

river between green leafed tree

Photo by Baskin Creative Studios on Pexels.com

In case you missed the first chapter of the story, here is a link: 

Panic on the River:  Friends Join Up

As we rejoin the story, let’s take a quick look at where the story last left us.

As the oversized boat journeys downstream, majestic cottonwood trees line the river bank.  The guys relive past stories and throw out a few new jokes.  The sun is heating up the raft’s surface, and Fred feels thirsty.  Sitting at the bow, he slyly pulls a cold beer from the chilly river water.  Nature provides a perfect way to keep these barley pops cold, and Fred intends to enjoy a few.

Bill and Pete, sitting in the middle of the boat, pay close attention to the river as they paddle and assist with the steering of the craft.  Randy, the mighty river navigator, hardly notices Fred pulling a beer out of the water.  Steering the raft from the stern, he notices that the Little Gulch is running much higher than he expected.

With the river cresting at such a high level, the boat continues to pick up speed in the churning waters.  Randy glances at his watch, and he figures that they will reach Clifton about an hour earlier than expected.  “No worries,” he ponders.  Thinking to himself, perhaps the gang can enjoy a longer lunch break several miles away.

The buoyant raft slides into a long stretch of challenging whitewater.  Everyone begins to feel an adrenaline rush, excitement builds, and the men prepare to float the most exciting segment of the river.

Meanwhile at the bow, Fred pays little attention to what lies ahead.  Another icy, cold beer is sliding right down, and the deceptive Little Gulch will soon bring on more excitement than anyone can imagine.

The eight-man raft picks up speed again, and Randy steers the boat on a straight and steady course.  The large craft is handling the whitewater and rapids without much difficulty.

Out of nowhere, a swarm of mosquitoes attack the crew.  The fellas do their best to fend off the biting invaders.  Suddenly, the overwhelmed craft becomes airborne as it maneuvers more like a large rubber tube instead of a hardy and manageable river craft.  Jumping up and down violently in the quick-moving water, the overmatched boat swirls along as the river attempts to swallow it whole.

Bill and Pete, feeling perspiration running nearly as rapid as the Little Gulch, continue to perform yeoman’s work to keep the boat on a somewhat straight course through the ever-increasing rapids.  Randy, feeling a bit of panic, realizes that he must stay extra alert and as steady as those ancient cottonwood trees lining the river’s edge.

The buzzing mosquitoes are beginning to fly away when Fred excitedly stands up.

Rule #1:  Never ever stand up in a moving boat!

A final attack of the airborne, vampire bugs proves too much for a beleaguered Fred.  In the middle of his thoughts, he remembers his father, Fred Sr.  The elder Fred died a few years ago when he fell off the roof of his home and struck his head.  Perhaps he should sit back down before he falls out of the boat, but fate decides to intervene at its most opportune moment.

Fred continues to stand and swat wildly at the raging mob of mosquitoes.

Randy yells at him, “You need to sit down.  Now!”

Rule #2:  Always listen to the boat’s captain!

Well . . . sometimes worthy advice shows up a bit too late!

Splash!

Fred tumbles into the powerful waters of the Little Gulch.  The guys hear his screams of terror before the river surrounds him and pulls him under the violent surface.  Randy strains to keep the raft steady as the river seems intent on possibly dumping the large boat upside down.  The Little Gulch’s pace quickens—as if on cue!

Bill and Pete glance at each other, wondering what to do next.  Bill, who cannot swim, tightens the straps on his life vest and looks forward to where Fred was just sitting.

Oh no!

Fred’s life vest is nestled at the front of the boat.  In their haste to get the trip started, everyone missed Fred sliding his life vest under the bow area.  Fred is now fighting for his life—just the river and him!

Pete screams, “How could Fred be so incredibly stupid!”

He hurriedly scans the river, and finally spots Fred’s head and shoulders popping up above the foaming whitewater.  Fred, in a semi-drunken state, is splashing around helplessly.  Everyone hears his muffled cries of panic and despair.  How will these three men prepare a plan to save foolish Fred?

As their boat hurries down the wild river, the guys realize that Fred is likely doomed.  But . . . fate always finds a way to tantalize and tease at the most extreme of moments.

Amazingly, the Little Gulch’s ravaging current pushes Fred towards the shore where the ageless cottonwood trees conveniently dangle their branches just above the river’s boiling surface.  As a waterlogged Fred reaches and grabs one of the branches as a lifeline, the fellas watch as he tightly grips a lone branch for his very life.

“Help!  Help me!” echo screams of help from Fred.

The raft dashes to catch up to Fred, who is looming closer and closer.  With a few more yards yet to go, Fred may soon be saved from the clutches of the river.

Out of nowhere, a large tree limb cuts between the raft and Fred.  Like a large water snake gathering speed, the enormous splinter of wood rushes through the water towards Fred.

Whack!

Fred’s grip loosens as he is knocked back into the main waters of the Little Gulch.

Randy and Bill groan in utter disbelief at Fred’s terrible misfortune.  Pete senses that it is now or never for saving Fred.  He alerts his boat mates with a shout that he will try to save poor Fred.

Stay tuned to this same river channel for the exciting conclusion when we all witness “Heroism Arrives.”

[Story Archives] Panic on the River: Friends Join Up

This short story was written and published in November, 2018.  While I am traveling, I thought now would be a good time to allow more readers to experience this story.  Due to the length, it will be divided into three chapters.  Here is the first, and the remaining two will be posted in the coming days.

people riding a boat

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

Planning for an adventurous river trip for the past six months, Pete joins his long-time friends Randy, Bill, and Fred.  The men have been looking forward to floating the Little Gulch River, and their expectations run quite high to enjoy a fantastic time.  All of them have floated this river before except for Fred, who will travel this river (or any river) for his first time.

For this time of the year, the river is running extremely high with an unusually swift current.  The local people have never seen the Little Gulch so full at this time of the annual spring run-off.

Twenty years ago, the sometimes treacherous river took the life of a careless fisherman.  The novice angler stood up in his small boat, and his poor balance sent him into the rapid-moving water.  With no help nearby and lacking a life vest, the old man was no match for the Little Gulch.  He perished quickly!

The excited river floaters plan to use Randy’s large eight-man rubber raft.  It will offer plenty of room for all of the fella’s supplies . . . extra life vests, paddles, a cooler filled with a delicious lunch, a few bags of salty and sweet snacks, and beer.  Randy’s water-worthy craft is large enough to handle any of the challenges that the Little Gulch brings their way.

As the “captain” of their vessel, Randy is an experienced river man.  He has floated the Little Gulch numerous times, and he is intimately familiar with most of its twists and turns.  The rest of the crew will depend on Randy’s expertise, more than they can ever imagine on this fateful day.

This day’s journey begins early in the morning at Sleeping Bear fishing access.  Few river travelers begin at this point along the river.  This section of the Little Gulch is only floated by the most experienced and skilled boaters and their sleek and stable river crafts.  Confident in his skills and vast experience, Randy looks forward to a routine, uneventful, and safe trip.

Bill looks forward to today’s trip as he enjoys floating the river with Randy and Pete.  The men have known each other since high school, and they have managed to stay in touch throughout the past several years.  These days find them separated by hundreds of miles, but the Little Gulch will provide a scenic backdrop for an exhilarating reunion.  Yes, exciting may not be a strong enough word to describe what awaits the men on their journey down the tricky and sometimes devious river.

The entire day looks to be sunny and warm.  The river’s temperature will be chilly, but it will keep the guys’ six-packs of beer cold in order to quench their thirsts later at lunchtime.  At the bow of the raft, Randy has cleverly secured ropes to safely transport and chill the cans of brew while they remain slightly below the water line.

Pete, having been on the Little Gulch just a few times, is not as experienced as Randy or Bill.  His experience may come in handy at a critical moment today, especially his skills as a competitive swimmer from his high school days.  Somewhere at his home, buried and nearly lost in an overflowing hallway closet, lies a small box with a cache of swimming medals.  Almost forgotten are these achievements!

The guys set out on their adventure.  They expect to have a marvelous time as the raft moves swiftly downstream with the river’s strong moving current.  Randy’s itinerary provides for a mid-day lunch (remember the chilling beer) at an island on the river.  In checking his map, skipper Randy expects the stop to be perfect for food, beer, and a bit of rest.  Over 30 miles downstream awaits the small town of Clifton and the arrival of the fun-loving foursome on board.

The last member of the boat’s crew, Fred, is floating the Little Gulch for his very first time.  With some reluctance, Randy has offered Fred an opportunity to make the trip.  He will replace a much more experienced river man, Mark, who is laid up at his home with a broken arm.  A recent tumble from a ladder puts Mark on the bench for this trip, and Fred is thrilled to be taking his place.

The river cruising quartet enjoys the bright sun and a gentle breeze.  The large rubber raft will likely make a speedy trip down to Clifton.  The men plan to eat dinner at a tasty steakhouse before driving Bill’s old, beat-up pick-up truck back to Randy’s brand new beast of a truck, which has been left at Sleeping Bear.  After loading the raft and supplies into Randy’s truck, Randy and Fred plan to stay overnight in Clifton while Bill and Pete will drive all night to catch an early morning flight back to their separate homes.

As the oversized boat journeys downstream, majestic cottonwood trees line the river bank.  The guys relive past stories and throw out a few new jokes.  The sun is heating up the raft’s surface, and Fred feels thirsty.  Sitting at the bow, he slyly pulls a cold beer from the chilly river water.  Nature provides a perfect way to keep these barley pops cold, and Fred intends to enjoy a few.

The story continues . . . stay tuned for the next chapter when “Disaster Strikes.”

Riding Cowboy’s Range

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Searching far and wide

Encircling landscape

Riding each morning

Cowboy’s day takes shape

 

Working ‘til sunset

Riding saddleback

Fulfilling life’s dream

Cowboy’s tasks unpack

 

Tracking each stray steer

Bringing safely back

Riding in cold rain

Cowboy’s small payback

 

Earning little pay

Tasting land’s treasures

Riding hard saddle

Cowboy’s few pleasures

 

Living with toughness

Facing shortcomings

Riding treeless range

Cowboy’s homecoming

 

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Monday Memories: Waiting and Ready

From Chicago, Illinois (courtesy of Pinterest)

Sitting eerily silent after these forgotten years

The abandoned firehouse rests without fears

 

Remaining alive, vivid memories reign again

Quietly remembering all that had once been

 

Rising above a busy street, the firehouse stands

Firefighters arrive on deck, with powerful hands

 

Living quarters on the second floor make due

Firefighters’ labors never seem quite through

 

Recalling a flawless safety record that shines

Teamwork and training work together just fine

 

Feeling safe, homes and merchants live nearby

They all witness courage as every day races by

 

Filling the ground floor, two red engines wait

The ensuing alarm will signal their next fate

 

Waiting side by side . . . shiny, clean, and bright

Pumper and ladder engines, eager to take flight

 

Providing basic firefighting is the pumper’s place

While the ladder reaches high floors, just in case

 

Visiting a nearby grade school one October day

The ladder engine shows off in a marvelous way

 

Encouraging children ask the ladder to go high

Accommodating firefighters look prepared to fly

 

Returning to the firehouse, a calm and inviting sight

An alarm goes out, both engines prepare for the fight

 

Sliding down a pole, firefighters destined for action

Their special clothing assembled, ready in a fraction

 

Rolling out to the street, piercing sirens wail

These seasoned warriors intend never to fail

 

Weaving through traffic, the engines arrive in time

Quick response calms the fire before it can climb

 

Remembering the past, the excitement is long done

The old firehouse stands ready for one final, fire run

 

The fire house in the photograph is the former fire department headquarters in Cambridge, Maryland (my wife’s hometown).  It sits empty today, waiting for its next assignment.

Mary Oliver Quotes

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.  Give in to it.

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was a best-selling American poet, who received many honors for her work.  Her love of nature can be found in much of her writing, and it resulted in honors from the National Book Award in 1992 and Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

Faith’s Adventure

From the words of American pastor and Christian teacher, Charles Stanley:  “Obeying God’s will in our lives should not be a burden but a thrilling adventure that we walk through with Him each day.”

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

Believer’s obedience

Thrilling adventure

Filled with Father’s blessed grace

Divine, joint venture

 

Trusting with patience of Job

Faith’s foundation grows

Living upon Father’s rock

His way always knows

 

One step follows another

Smallest matters count

Daily walk of faith matures

Father’s blessings mount

 

Escaping from sin’s darkness

Mercy marks life’s route

Repenting for transgressions

Father’s grace takes sprout

 

Obedience grows with love

Leading back to God

Life’s choices, Father rewards

His glory’s tripod

 

Photo byu0430 u0422u0438u0448u0438u043du044b on Pexels.com

From Psalm 40:6-8:  “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear.  Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.  Then I said, ‘Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.  I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.'”

Big Sky Treasures #4

Downstream from the steamboat port of Fort Benton, the currents of the Missouri River find ways to hide a mystery from the night.

Montana Territorial Secretary, Thomas Francis Meagher, has disappeared late at night outside of Fort Benton.  In the absence of the Territorial Governor, he is the acting governor.

What has happened to Meagher on this quiet evening on July 1, 1867?

Traveling by steamboat, Meagher appears to have fallen overboard.  His body is quickly swallowed up by the Missouri River’s unforgiving waters, never to be seen again.

Along the Missouri River, a steamboat waits while anchored at Fort Benton, Montana. (courtesy of Pinterest)

No one really knows what actually has happened, or better yet, they are keeping quiet about the dark happenings on this July night. 

Meagher is known to be a heavy drinker.  Is he killed in an accidental drowning when he mysteriously falls overboard?

Or did he succumb to suicide provoked by disillusionment with his shattered, personal dreams?

With many enemies, perhaps Meagher is murdered aboard this steamboat, and his body is forgotten as it conveniently floats far downstream in the swift currents of the river.

This “immortal” Irishman’s life is honored with a high degree of irony.  In an unusual tribute for a relatively unknown man with a dubious past, a statue of him is erected in 1905 and placed on the grounds in front of the State Capitol in Helena.  In the central region of the state, Meagher County is named for him.

Here are a few additional facts about Thomas Francis Meagher:

He is born in Ireland in 1823.

As an Irish nationalist, he participates in the Rebellion of 1848 and is sentenced to serve in a Tasmanian prison.  However, he escapes in 1852, and eventually ends up in the United States.

During the American Civil War, he joins the Union Army as part of the “Fighting 69th” Irish Brigade.  He rises to the rank of brigadier general.

Following the war, his dreams take him to the Montana Territory.  In his future, he hopes to build an Irish-Catholic colony and pursue a career as a U.S. Senator.

Past Favorites: Peril at the Falls (short story)

This short story was written in August, 2019.  The storyline is loosely based on the personal experience my brothers and I gained from a childhood trip to Yellowstone National Park back in the 1960s.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Chapter 1

The three brothers are excited about the family’s vacation to a faraway national forest.  Being an adventurous trio, they always seem to be finding themselves in trouble, and this vacation trip may just punch their ticket once again.

The family makes a stop on their first day out.  There is a gorgeous canyon with an incredible waterfall.  All of this waits for the family, nestled and hidden in the tall pines of the dense forest.

While Mom and Dad are gazing at the spectacular scene and taking photographs with their new high-end digital camera, the brothers three take an excursion to discover more about the waterfall.  The sound of the cascading water can be heard for miles.

Gene is the youngest brother, and the biggest risk-taker.  Nothing ever seems to frighten him.  He leads the way through the thick pines as the boys find themselves closer and closer to the roar of the falls.

The oldest brother, Pete, follows close behind.  He tries to be alert because Gene usually marches straight into harm’s way.  Trailing behind, follows the middle brother, Craig.  Barely noticed by the boys, the terrain begins to slope more and more, downward towards the dangerous canyon.

The pace of the brothers walk quickens, and their excitement grows with each step.  Gene shouts over the noisy falls, “Let’s see how close we can get to the water.”

Little does he know how prophetic his words may soon become.

Craig’s steps even more tentatively through the challenging terrain and the pines.  He notices the steep drop through the trees to the rushing and roaring river below.Pete calls out, “Keep your eyes looking up.”

Oops . . . too late!

Chapter 2

And the story continues . . . more trouble awaits the threesome of adventure-seeking brothers.

The charging water from the falls nearly drowns out Pete’s warning.  The trio of boys has ventured far past the safety zone.

Craig stares straight down at the bottom of the deep canyon.  His eyes fill with frightened trauma.  The angry river below, with the deafening sound of the falls, is too much to bear.

He grows more and more terrified, and his eyes are locked on to the danger below.  With his eyes no longer watching his step, Craig feels his feet sliding on the steep ground, surrounded by prickly pine branches.  He doesn’t see a protruding tree branch.

Colliding with the stiff branch, Craig’s body spins around as he is knocked to the ground.  No longer on his feet, his body propels down the slippery slope like a missile.  Closing his eyes, his hands miraculously grab hold of a stout pine branch above his head.

Craig lets out a scream, “Help!  Help me!”

Pete and Gene can’t believe what has just transpired.  Somehow, they have managed to stay on their feet.  As Craig tumbles towards the canyon’s rim, he narrowly misses taking both of them with him.

Hearing Craig’s continued screams for help, the brothers need to come up with a rescue plan . . . immediately!  They are too far from Mom and Dad for any help to arrive from them.  They need to deal with the situation on their own.

Cautiously, the two boys slowly move down towards their brother.  One misstep and one of them (or both) could be taking a plunge.  The prospects of all three brothers making it out of this jam in one piece grow dimmer by the minute.

Gene steps gingerly, closer and closer, to reach his stricken brother.  He sees Craig’s grip growing weaker as the pine branch appears to be breaking loose.  Pete follows close behind, ready to help Gene rescue their brother.

The two boys stop just inches away from Craig’s hand, which has a death grip on the weakening branch.  Pete anchors himself to a larger pine branch with one hand.  His other hand reaches out to Gene.

The boys attempt to create a human chain to bring Craig back to a safer place.  Suddenly, Pete’s hand slips away from the pine branch, and he tumbles into Gene.  Both boys nearly join the river below, but Gene finds another branch to grab as well as more solid footing.

Pete’s hand replaces Gene’s hand on the branch as his other hand connects with Gene’s hand.  The boys know this might be their final attempt to save all of them from the pickle they are in.

Craig continues to shout for the boys to save him.  His impatience only makes the situation even more precarious.

Gene and Pete anchor their feet on the firmest ground they can find.  Their feet dig in for balance and stability.  With their human chain stronger than before, Gene reaches towards Craig’s hand.

The three brothers have reached a final destination, without any more chances.  Gene calls to Craig, “You need to be ready to release your hand from the branch as I grab your hand.”

Craig nods in silence.  He is much too petrified to say anything.

The rescue line is ready to make one final attempt.  The wild river waits below as well.  The next few seconds will decide everyone’s fate.

Gene reaches for Craig’s hand while Pete provides the anchor to hold all of them up.  In an instant, Craig feels his brother’s hand and grabs hold.  Together, Gene and Pete carefully pull Craig up the slope . . . one step, then two, finally three.

At last, the brothers are united again.  They slowly and cautiously crawl and walk back up from the treacherous canyon rim.

In a few minutes, they emerge from the pine trees.  Their arms and legs bear several scratches, abrasions, and bleeding from the spiny tree branches and the hard ground.  Their dirty faces are topped with matted down hair full of pine needles.  This disheveled threesome of thrill-seeking comrades is finally safe.

Mom and Dad turn around.  They have been oblivious to everything until now.  They both say in unison, “Were you boys playing again?”

 

 

Missing the Bus

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Little Johnny hurried down the sidewalk.  Catching his breath upon reaching his school bus stop, he waited and waited.

Soon his fate began sinking in.  He had missed the bus . . . again!

The warm and sunny morning invited him to walk across the street to a park.  Curious and feeling playful, he explored and enjoyed some spontaneous fun.  Readin’ and writin’ and rithmetic could wait a spell.

Minutes turned into a couple of hours.  Feeling hungry, Johnny discovered a perfect hideout under a nearby pine tree.  He pulled out his brown bag lunch.

Following a quick lunch, he felt a bit sleepy.  Fresh air, plenty of exercise, and a filling lunch made him drowsy.  Curling up under the tree, Johnny was soon snoozing on a bed of soft needles.

Stirring awake, the noise of his rickety school bus shuttling down the street reminded him that school was over for another day.

Upon reaching his house, Johnny’s loving mother met him at the door.  Her stern-looking frown told him to watch out . . . caught again!