Sitting on the warm, sunlit rock, Eddie hugged his knees. Still shivering and still dripping, he looked into the flat green current of the river as it sped past. Everything seemed so peaceful, the surprising near silence of the rapidly passing river, the lazy desert heat of the late morning, the opening in the canyon walls that let the sun pour down on him.
He knew David was safe. He had caught sight of him perched among the low rocks just below the last set of rapids. Upriver, in the muted colors of the shaded canyon, David’s bright orange life jacket had signaled his presence. The raft would be coming downstream any minute now, stopping along the way to pick up each of the seven swimmers who had jumped into the rushing water just minutes ago. Eddie was distracted by the sensation of his feet cooling under the wet straps of his new sandals. Another vanity, only the best. The high-end tech gear he wore was performing as promised, rapidly drip drying, while he sat trying to make sense of what had just happened to him in those last – what – ten, maybe fifteen minutes.
Neoprene O-rings. They had come in a little zip-lock bag along with the sandals. Cautionary copy offered step-by-step instructions for installing the rings over the velcro closings of the sandals. “Jumping feet first into deep water or fast moving currents, without properly checking your O-rings…” warned that you could lose your new sandals, and suggested implicitly that you might then compromise the safety of the entire expedition. “Yeah right,” Eddie had thought. “Me and Tenzing Norkay” He had been much amused at prosperous suburban types like himself having to have only the best in authentic outdoor gear. He thought of the sleeping bags certified to forty degrees below zero. Looking again at the O-rings, he felt a tiny shudder. He was back in that first set of rapids feeling the force of the moving water, a force beyond appeal, a force that came close to sucking these same sandals from off his feet.
Turning his head upriver, at the approach of the raft, he could see David standing near the front. David was not smiling. Eddie knew he now had acquired a story to dine out on for a season or two. But he also knew he would probably never tell the whole story. Continue reading ‘A Short Story – Outward Bound’