Evading Certain Death
“Darrin, am I imagining it? Those barges seem headed our way?”
“Yeah, but why? He’d be crazy to turn our way. He’d be up against the wall.” Twisting, I look upriver. The towboat operator has clear sailing. No one else is around. Why is he turning in on us?
Darrin’s words mirror my thinking. “If he keeps coming, we’ll need to cross. It won’t be safe.”
“He seems to want this side. Let’s cross while we still have time.” The minute we make our turn, the towboat captain turns his barges back upriver, onto our new course. It is now impossible to cross safely.
“I’m turning us back.”
Once again, the captain changes his heading, coming directly upon us. “We can’t be imagining this!”
Darrin’s angry voice says it all, “Dammit!”
“I’m going to stand and wave. Steady the canoe!”
It changes nothing. We are in trouble! Frantically waving paddles is a universally accepted method for asking others to take notice. Motioning him away does no good. His barges are on a collision course. As I can clearly see the captain’s face, there is no question as to his intention. We are trapped between fifteen barges and a rock wall.
I do not know how long I have been asleep, but in my dream men are running around, yelling at each other. I scream at them, demanding to know over the roar of a towboat engine, “What the hell’s going on?” I bolt up. Voices surround me.
“Go back to sleep.”
“Something’s wrong…listen! We’re being raided!” The fear in my voice matches my racing mind, as I attempt to process a hundred different scenarios. What’s going on? How do I prepare for what is about to happen?
Desperately searching for my glasses, I find Darrin’s flashlight. Shooting a beam out the screen door paralyzes me. Less than ten feet away is a grounded barge. Its huge bow hovers over our tent. This just can’t be. I’m dreaming.
“Darrin, wake up!”
There’s a huge barge looming over us.”
“No way! Go back to sleep. You’re dreaming.”
Although he would like to roll over, I won’t let him.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement. Because of nature’s soundproofing in this small cove, I hear nothing. Still, a nagging feeling leaves me believing something is moving up behind me. As Darrin is not moving, I want to dismiss it. No, wait! Now I hear it. A faint rustling is closing in. Whatever it is, it must be large.
Wanting neither to scare it nor be attacked, my senses go on full alert. It is approaching behind and to my left, some fifteen feet away. It’s moving slowly and methodically, and I feel as though I am being stalked. Survival instincts kick in. I do not recall any logs or hiding places in this cove. Upon landing, I always survey campsites much as an old gunfighter does when entering a saloon. I do not want to be caught off guard.
Slowly I turn my head. The movement causes it to crouch. We stare at each other. His ears perk up as a twitching nose sniffs the air. I want to tell Darrin, but am fearful of scaring it. I can no longer withhold the information. “Darrin.” He looks up to catch….