I wrote a good two-thirds of this story last night and it wasn’t working. At all. So I tossed it. Tonight I gave it another go.
It was the Fourth of July and, as he reckoned, PBR was just the thing all decked out in red, white and blue. Looking back, I have my own version of the old red, white and bruised.
There were two rafts for the six of us, and an easy stretch of mountain river, the Snake. Some of these guys I’d just met, friends of Cab’s in the west, not the old hellions we ran with back home. And there was Cab and my husband before he was my husband and me. We just floated that old river scaring out herons with our whoops, not giving the guys in the other raft a chance at catching those fish.
We took it easy, a real Wyoming vacation. Cab had picked up a couple of those waterproof disposable cameras to take along. The film got used up mostly in the first hour with rock jumping and general mayhem. Didn’t get a chance at my first squadron of honest-to-goodness wild pelicans, but I remember them, sure enough, galumphing around on a rocky shoal pouches all tucked in.
I picked up a handful of river rocks pocketing them with intention. Just tonight my daughter was feeling one in her miniature hand telling me how smooth and how pretty it is.
I was sunburned from nose to Teva and hungry, though I didn’t notice then. By late afternoon our raft turned the last bend. The truck was waiting.
Cab bounced out. He wasn’t done with the river. “Man,” he said, “We should have done the rapids. We could take them. Let’s do it. Let’s take Lunch Counter.”
But the sun was getting a little lower. In the mountains, you don’t notice til it dips.
One raft was looking too low, so all six of us piled in that one good craft and signed our rights away on a cloudless sky.
I was in front this time with Cab’s roommate. He said to me, “When we go over those rapids, pull up on the front and whatever you do, don’t let go.”
We hit our first rapid. The raft bucked. We held firm. Up. We were knocked back, then down with the raft and a heavy splash. “Oh, shit!” Cab yelled and we all hollered. We would take the Snake.
“Hey, hey,” Cab called out, “look up there. That’s Lunch Counter.” Up ahead and off to the right the river frothed at the mouth. Nobody bothered to ask just who’s lunch was being served.
We were all howl and delight. Bravado y bravada. “Hold tight!” Cab yelled. My knuckles were as white as the rapids, but what I held tight to wasn’t so much the boat as the stupid, cocky-ass notion that I would not be destroyed. Not yet. And that’s when I went under.
Like in all the movies, I bobbed up and down in the water gasping and spitting still holding firm to the raft. Cab counted us out–all safe and sound, a kind of a surprise considering the shallow rocks below. We edged to shore making plans. I didn’t know hide nor hair where I was, but whatever happened, I was not getting back in that boat.
I hauled my sorry butt up on dry land letting my shock do all the work. My guy came along through the underbrush and scrub. We scrabbled up the mountain toward a road we assumed was there. Mountain chill came on in the shadows and our bodies shook for want of warmth.
We found the road, two ragamuffin vagabonds on Independence Day.
Like a little memoir with your lunch? Like the Facebook page. I sure like you!