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by Rick Giannola
Chico, CA 95928
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(an excerpt from the novel)
It all started for me when that damn Maggie May whore
stuck her nose where it
didn’t belong. She was often doing things like that. One cool
October day the men
and I were sitting around the fireplace in the Old Knuckle tavern and
barged right in -- her blond hair hanging over her brown eyes like she
through a stalk of scraggly, dying wheat.
“What say ya’ Maggie May?” old John quizzed her.
She scowled at John, looked away, and walked to the
tavern-keeper’s end of the
room. Old John shrugged and wiped some dirt from his knee.
“Need to get me
some new pants,” he said.
John was the kind of man who didn’t say much that didn’t
need to be said. He and
I had been working the land around Brannan Island on the Sacramento Delta
about twenty years, and had literally been through hell and high water
Before that, John had been working for Josiah Greene up at Merritt Island,
been kicked out when Josiah’s son George took over the place for his dad
Now, twenty years later, the Greene spread boasted
seven thousand orchard
trees, mostly pears, and was doing better than ever. George had
even built several
of his own steamboat landings, and put together a small steamship.
up and down Sutter Slough, made trips to San Francisco and Sacramento,
looked over his operations with it.
John never said a word about any of that. He
had once said that George was
nothing like his father Josiah; God-fearing Josiah had been one of the
best, he said.
And that was all he said.
Maggie May was beginning to raise her voice; it was
a pretty voice, but the way
she used it reminded me of a rough stone on a washboard.
“I’m tellin’ you Pete, that son of a bitch had better
pay up. You see him in here
you send little Peter right over to let me know.” I saw her lean
over the bar and
whisper in Pete’s ear, he nodded, she smiled, then she turned and stalked
screen door slamming shut with finality.
We sat and warmed our feet at the fireplace over another
round of beers; beer
was scarce and we were happy to get it. It had been a long day.
We had re-diked
a fair portion of the west side of Sherman Island for old Widow Twitchell
hands and backs were all sore as hell.
Soon my head started to nod, and I said goodnight to
old John, Cracker, and Paul,
and headed to the homestead.
My place is a pre-built home. It was built on
the East Coast and then the pieces
were shipped through Panama to San Francisco. I had saved enough
money in five
years of backbreaking toil to get a house that would keep out the wet
in the winter,
and the plague of mosquitoes in the summer. It was up on stilts
five feet high in
preparation for the floods to come. I knew floods would come again,
always did; no matter how hard we tried to keep out mother river with
she always seemed to find a way back in.
That night I had stuck around Pete’s a little later
than usual, on account of the
beer, and had a little more than my normal share of whiskey. So
when I first saw her
waving me over to the side of the road, I had to look twice to be
sure the dark and
wavering figure was Maggie May.
“Casey,” she called in loud whisper. “Come here.”
When I got up close, I saw that she was still upset
from earlier, and apparently
still had enough on her mind to bend my ear a little. “What is it
Maggie?” I asked.
She smoothed down her blouse and straightened up her
old green petticoat
before moving closer.
“Did you see that fella who came to town today?”
She was speaking of our fair
town of Isleton. I hadn’t been in town that day and told her so.
“Well I . . . had some business with him,” she said
hesitantly. “And he seemed a
bit queer. Didn’t want anything other men don’t want, but he . .
. well . . . he kept
himself covered up--liked to be in the dark, he said.”
“Covered up?” I asked. “What do you mean ‘covered
up’? Things don’t usually
work well like that.” Maybe it was only the whiskey and beer talking,
but I was in
the mood for some good gossip.
“Well he didn’t cover ‘it’ ya know, but it was wrong
Casey. I’m tellin’ you I been
with more men than my mother, bless her soul in heaven, would ever want
about . . . but this was different, something was wrong with him.
He didn’t . . . feel
right.” She looked at me in the darkness, her face a dim silhouette,
begging for my
understanding. “And I didn’t even get paid!”
“I don’t know Mag,” I said, rubbing my whiskered chin
and feeling a little out of
my depth. “I’m afraid I really can’t understand what you mean.
better talk to Betsy or Pauline.”
“I can’t tell them,” she said, wringing her hands.
“Even they wouldn’t
understand. Ohh, I don’t know why I even tried to talk to you about
it, you’re just a
man. And an old, ugly one too.” With that, she ran off into
I shook my head at the vanishing shadow, damn women
anyway, no wonder I had
never put up with one long enough to get married. It was like a
married, but the odds of winning were worse.
It was the end of October, and a beautiful time of
year. The summer heat was
nearly gone and the winter rains had yet to really get pounding; tulle
fog crept in off
the river at night and settled like a thick blanket on the marsh, and
my feet swished
through two feet of it as I walked the short trip home. I padded
my way up the stairs
of my house, stopping to bang down a loose rail. Maggie May’s description
strange man didn’t bother me much. Strange men had been coming through
Sacramento Delta for many years; Chinese, Hindis, and travelers from the
Coast had helped to build the Delta; Isleton itself was heavily settled
Some even called it “The Garden of California” --obviously they had never
set foot in
the rimlands. Me, I just needed a good night’s sleep to get rid
of my own personal
strangeness. I climbed into my bed without even lighting the lamp,
shucked off my
boots, and was out until morning.
Daylight saw me standing by my front window washing
my face and hands from a
bowl of fresh water. Through the window, the sun cast its early
glow over the land.
Being up higher than the dike, I could see the Sacramento flowing by sluggishly.
Where I built had originally been a rimland squatter farm, but since the
of the Union dikes, and the arrival of the big time farms, the squatter
abandoned to highest bidder--one of which was me.
Sometimes, as I stood getting ready for the day’s work,
I would watch a tramp
steamer head up through the Sacramento. Its paddles would slap the
water as it
headed far north for a Red Bluff timber landing, or a few miles up to
Locke to pick
up a load of asparagus. There were none this morning. It was
Sunday. I decided I
would get together with John and maybe do some hunting, some boating,
walking, and a little drinking--which John abhorred on the Sabbath.
I got my gear
together and headed out toward the east side of Brannan Island, slopping
the quagmire of mud at the edge of the dike.
We had already had our first few rains, and the new
green grass was growing
quickly--spurting up between brown strands of last year’s dried out remnants.
kicked a stone at an old oak. I had in mind to take John’s boat
out to Venice Island
along the edge of the Stockton Channel, and then cut south to Frank’s
Tract and do a
John Bush and his step-daughter Gloria lived only a
few miles up from my place,
but toward the Andrus Island side of Brannan, along the Jackson Slough.
channel was flowing deep already, but the slough near John’s had yet to
than ten feet of water.
The network of waters in the Delta were tangled like
a broken spider web below
Brannan Island. Parts of the river curved and meandered; and as
parted and connected, they formed dozens of small and large islands.
River came into Frank’s Tract, which had been flooded since the forties,
and split off
in ten different directions. Empire Tract, King Island, and Mandeville
all east of there and were split by the Stockton Channel and bordered
Disappointment Slough. South of them were Union, Bacon, and Victoria
There was more here than met the eye of the casual traveler.
I met up with John at the edge of his property where
he was tending some of his
crops: peanuts, sweet potatoes, and celery filled one half of his plot,
and he hoped
to buy the field nearest his someday. All our dreams were of becoming
sufficient and able to escape debt.
“Say John,” I cried, smiling. “What happened to no
work on the Sabbath?” John
peered up at me from under his straw-brimmed hat.
“Jus’ thought I’d get a little bit in before we go
and waste the day.”
Old John said that a day not working was a day wasted,
but as much as he liked to
kid himself, I knew he looked forward to these weekly fishing sabbaticals
“Why don’t you go take a breather in the house,” he
said, “Gloria’s fixed up some
very tasty Chicory tea.” He pulled a weed from the soil. “I’ll
be right in and we can
Gloria had long been an enigma to me. She was
only 15 or so years younger than
I was, but she treated me like some kind of grandfather; I liked to think
because she respected me, and somehow knew that I was wiser than other
the fact was that she thought of me like a long-lost uncle. Her
mother and father had
been dead since the day after she was born--a boiler explosion on one
of the earlier
steamships had taken them out mercifully quick.
I talked with Gloria awhile in the kitchen, sipping
on hot, bitter, Chicory-flavored
water. It was supposed to be like tea or coffee, but it tasted like
tree bark. At least
it was warm going down.
“So Casey,” she drew out my name as she spoke it.
“What’s new in the world?”
Her brown hair was naturally curly, and swept across
her shoulders as she turned
“Well,” I said, “I heard from Maggie May that some
stranger frightened her half
to death.” I blew on my tea and steam frothed from the cup.
“It was something of a
womanly nature I suppose. I didn’t quite get it, but apparently
she’s quite frantic to
find him.” Thinking about what I’d just said I had to wonder why
she was. I knew
that she’d done it without pay before, and I’d assumed that she’d just
disappointed with the guy and wanted some money. But what if there
was more to
Gloria’s deep, blue eyes went back to her kitchen counter.
She had a young,
healthy shape, and the attitude of frontier wife. A nobody-better-mess-with-me
of outlook on life. “Did Maggie say what his name was?” she asked.
“No, in fact she didn’t say much at all about him,
except that he was a strange
She snickered like a nymph. “Casey, the day I
meet a man who isn’t strange I’ll
marry him, exceptin’ present company of course. You’re about the
sanest man I
My eyes lighted up for a minute, and then the flame
stuttered when she added,
without turning around, “But that would be like marrying family.”
I felt like the bottom of the earth was slipping away.
It was true that I had seen her
grow into a woman, and a beautiful one at that. But those days were
past, and it was strange that she hadn’t latched onto one landholder or
now. She could probably have her pick of the lot, but time was passing
faster and faster each year and she hadn’t chosen yet.
John stumped in the door and broke me from my thoughts.
“Gloria, Casey and I
will be headin' out to do some fishing today so you might want to have
stoked in the oven around sundown.” His eyes twinkled. “We’ll probably
bringing home several dozen bass.”
She batted a spatula at him several times as she said,
“The day you bring home
several dozen bass in that old sloop of yours I’ll probably faint from
John and I nearly always brought home something from
the trips to Frank’s Tract.
Frank was long dead and buried of course, but the land he’d once diked
tilled had flooded and now made an excellent fishing and boating lake.
there was something in the lake besides fish. Benny Morgan had come
day last winter as white as a ghost, babbling about colored lights in
never seen anything strange, but over the last year others like Benny
various strange and magical sights. I suppose that in two decades
one is bound to
hear some tall tales.
* * * * * *
The winter’s first rains had Frank’s Tract heavy with
lush green reeds; spreading
oak branches swept out over the placid waters like the gnarled fingers
arthritic old woman. John and I had pushed his small rowboat in
up at Brannan
Slough and paddled in from the deep Stockton Channel. It rolled
back in from
marshy Suisun Bay and the ocean at San Francisco; it was usually plied
and flats full of produce all day. This being Sunday, boat traffic
Traffic was not light on Frank’s Lake, as it was called
locally. We spirited our way
smoothly across the water into the vast, sinking peat bog which had been
more than fifty years earlier.
A cry broke the silence.
“I got it! I got it! Pull it in Jeb!
Wrangle it in!” Some lucky soul had already
begun counting his day’s catch. Paddling a bit faster, we rounded
hillock--the tall fen grass gave way to a clear view of the lake.
“Look at that Jeb! It’s two feet if it’s an inch!”
Samuel Jenkins had caught a
whopper. The sun glinted off its silvery scales as his friend Jeb
pulled it into the
boat. Sam was an asparagus picker up at Grand Island, and worked
hard all week
for this day of fishing, as did we all.
Something glinted under the surface and I looked down
beneath my oar. Deep
down, maybe six feet, a dark shape was scuttling through the murky, brown
in the bottoms. Morning sunlight came dappling through the tree
overhead and sparkled in the wavelets where the boat cut a small wake.
seemed to slow as the shape moved up into the shallows--I realized dimly
that I was
holding my breath. There was a flash of green as the shape moved
under the boat.
It was huge, too huge.
“John,” I said quietly, “look down and tell me if you
see anything in the lake.”
He gave me a questioning glance and looked down.
“Not a thing Casey. What’d you see?”
It seemed I felt something slimy wiggle down in my
stomach; a wet salamander
sloshed around in my innards and I felt slightly sick. “I don’t
know,” I said slowly. I
met his sobering gaze and looked back down at the water. My hands
slippery wood of the oar and I held it up slightly, as if to ward off
the thing in the
Then I saw it again. Close up.
It flashed by so quickly that for a moment I felt only
the catch of my lungs. Two
widely-spaced eyes full of darkness, sunken in a lamp-shaped head, swam
me from the silty-brown bottoms. The thing stared out at me from
under a few feet
of water, it was green and covered with veins like some grotesque cucumber
county fair in Hell. An incredible chill ran up my spine,
shaking me inside.
Then it was gone.
“Uh,” I croaked. “Uh, Uh . . . John.” I
was in a numbing shock, cold sweat
dripped from the pores in my skin--the salamander in my stomach did backflips.
“You alright Casey?”
“I don’t know,” I said, trying to swallow.
“What is it partner, you don’t look so well.”
A sort of mad grin crept up the sides of my mouth,
something had to be wrong
with me. I couldn’t have seen what I just saw. There was no
such thing as that thing.
No, it was only the sun on the water playing tricks
on me. I looked up at a nearby
oak limb; that must have been what it was, just a reflection of a branch
the wind. John gripped my shoulder, startling me, and I nearly flipped
trying to get away.
“What’s got into you Casey?” he said with a concerned
beneath his eyes crinkled up and he patted my shoulder. “It’s OK
everything’s fine.” Looking into his eyes I saw for a moment what
he must be
seeing. A man scared out of his mind; a pale, shaken friend who
could barely grip
his oar. I tried to pull myself together.
“I’m fine John, just feeling a bit sick all of a sudden.
Do you mind if we put off
fishing for the day? I need to get some rest.”
“Why sure,” he said, his grimace breaking into a grin.
“I got some readin’ to
catch up on anyway, I’ll just have a relaxing day with Gloria. We
don’t get to talk
much these days, I always seem to be working or fishing.”
I was feeling steadier now, and told him so.
We began to paddle back toward the
Gloria seemed surprised that we had returned so soon,
but she didn’t show it.
John wished me good health and returned to working his small crop, I headed
toward home--wondering to myself whether I was merely insane or if I had
seen what I thought I had, the former prospect almost seemed the better
of the two.
Many years ago I had been in Elmira Prison in the North.
They had set me free
after a year, but the memories of that time remained as clear as the many
spent fishing on the wide banks of the Mississippi as a child--they were
times, which had taken on the quality of some other-worldly experience.
I had met a man while I was at Elmira by the biblical
name of Jobe. The old man
had been a teacher in his youth, but after a murder in Boston he’d been
sent to end
his days in prison--his wavy, gray hair was always slicked back cleanly,
and his eyes
were set like bright bits of glass in his wrinkled and worn face.
Jobe had taught me
much of what I now knew to be uncommon knowledge. He had a way of
things that made everything seem interesting. One day he might explain
sky was blue, and the next he might expound for hours on the nature of
ether--the ether, of course, is the stuff between the planets and the
suns in space. No
matter how bizarre the subject matter seemed, or how commonplace, Jobe
way about him that made it all seem very real and vital. I wished
that Jobe were
here to talk to now, but he had been dead nearly eight years. Elmira
had lost one of
its finest convicts on that cold January day, a friend had told me it
was Jobe’s lungs
that gave out in the end-he always did have a bad cough during the winter.
I sat down on my front porch and gazed out at the sluggish
river, trying like hell
to imagine what Jobe would have to say about what I’d seen. “Casey,”
he’d say in
his logical way, “you’re a young man and your eyes are good, it wasn’t
too hot so
you weren’t having heat delusions, you didn’t feel faint, and you don’t
history of mental illness, so you probably saw exactly what you think
you did. The
world has yet to reveal all its secrets Casey, but this matter bears further
investigation before you can come to a solid conclusion.” Yes, that
what he’d say to me if he could, or something very near that, Jobe always
an analytical mind. He took things step by step. That sounded
like a good idea to
For the rest of the day I took it easy. I pulled
my handmade chair down from the
porch and set it up on the dike, then brought out some of my best malted
whiskey and watched the river go by. I paid careful attention to
the water; it was
cloudy brown but I could see a ways down under. I wondered just
how many things
were lurking inside the mass of water that rolled down the old riverbed.
Indians around here said that there was a lot more to the Sacramento than
boating and fishing, and I was beginning to believe that maybe they were
right--after all, they had been here for a very long time before we Americans
crowded them out.
Off to my left Wood Island broke the river in half,
it wasn’t much of an island--too
small and sandy to grow much on-and to the right I could just make out
There wasn’t much action over that way; although a steamboat whistle from
upriver informed me that there would be soon.
I reached down under my chair and poured myself a long
shot of whiskey.
Holding it up to the light, I peered through the amber smoothness.
A long draught
of it made me shudder a little, but the malty aftertaste was too good
to miss. Sunday
was the only day I ever drank whiskey, but I could remember my dad
telling that everybody used to drink an uncommonly large amount of it
night, they called them drams--that was back before the big war--before
I had lost
them both and went to live with my aunt in Ohio.
Even though winter was on the way, the sunlight
still had enough summer in it to
heat me up and make me drowsy. With the warmth of the sun on my
skin and the
warmth of the liquor in my belly my eyelids soon grew too heavy to stay
Suddenly there was a ripple in the water in front of
me, down at the bottom of the
earthen dike. Something slowly inched its way from the shallows
at the edge,
reminding me of a rotting, bloated watermelon in the way that it seemed
bobbing and turning over and back again--black leeches coated its ruddy-red
underside. A single, unblinking eye opened within the squirming
parasites. It stared out at me with a loathing from the depths of
hell. The eye grew
until it filled nearly half the exposed side of the watermelony head.
ran through the eye, pumping red blood to the center where the black pupil
and closed like a cat’s. Teeth sprouted from the bottom, and
writhing leeches fell
into the maw which gaped at me--the mouth smacked hungrily on the bloodsuckers.
I could feel a scream building up in my chest.
It was only a dream of course, but when I woke gasping
for breath I took a quick
look around at the lengthening shadows, and then hightailed it back down
house and locked myself in.
* * *
* * *
North of the Delta, valley oaks were strewn across
the landscape, as if God had
thrown down handfuls of seeds and let them sprout where they might; down
the fens, though, there weren’t many. I was lucky, in that I had
a wide stand of oaks
next to my house. The trees kept part of the house cool in the summer,
but in the
winter I was constantly keeping an eye on the massive branches as they
the wind. When the wind hit them hard they swayed back and forth
over my tin
roof--creaking and moaning like old ship timbers on heavy seas.
I lay in my bed that night and listened to them groaning,
wishing the evening
wind would slow, but liking the noise they made. It made me feel
vital and alive to
know that disaster could be just around the corner. I had turned
the problem of the
thing in the lake over and over in my mind and I still wasn’t satisfied
with what I had
come up with. If something like that was really in there,
wasn’t it my duty to do
something about it? But then again it had yet to hurt anyone, although
it might give
someone a heart attack who just happened to see it. My natural curiosity
standing up and taking notice now that my initial fear of it had run dry--it
certainly nothing like what I had seen in my dream, that was just my mind
creepy tricks on me. I resolved that after work the next day I would
head back over
to Frank’s Tract and see what was what.
* * *
* * * *
Deep into that Sunday night it began to rain; not much
rain, not enough to cause
anyone any scare of flooding, but enough to keep pickers like myself and
from the fields. There wasn’t even any diking to be done;
up and down the river
folks had been getting ready for rain for months, and there were only
a few who
weren’t prepared for winter.
Since I had decided to face the thing again, if I could
find it, I put together some
stuff: a rain jacket, a pair of galoshes, a canteen, enough food to get
me through a
day of waiting, and my old Colt. I hadn’t touched the Colt in years,
it was an old .38
that I had bought back in ‘76 when I decided to head out west--back
then I was still
holding to the eastern view of California as a glamorous gun-fighting
state. In the
last twenty years I had never fired the Colt except to practice with it,
chamber and pawl were still as clean and oiled as I had left them the
I only had about twenty bullets left, which I had bagged to protect
humidity. I shoved these into my pack far away from the canteen.
There was no way I was going to tell John or anyone
else what I had seen the day
before, but I needed a boat to get to the lake. I figured John and
Gloria were holed
up from the rain, probably sitting by the fire swapping gossip or playing
checkers--a favorite of John’s. Anyway, the last thing on their
minds today would be
taking out the boat, and even if by some wild chance they found out, they
be telling Sheriff Gates on their friend.
I took the shore trail along One Mile Slough; rain
pattered against my hood, and
the trail was sticky and slippery with wet, red clay. I had thought
about bringing a
small flask of the malt whiskey to warm me up, but I wanted to be completely
clear-headed in case I actually found the thing.
Mile Slough was calm and tranquil; dots of rain coated
the surface of the still
water. I trudged along the top edge of the dike for a bit and then
cut over to
Jackson Slough where John kept his boat tied up. I couldn’t fool
myself into thinking
this was not stealing, but I knew that Old John would forgive me once
he heard the
whole story. I mean, what would someone say who saw something like
I did? “Oh,
by the way John, there was a green, vein-covered man swimming all over
bottom of Frank’s Lake yesterday.” It sounded ridiculous because
it was, but I had
seen what I saw, and as they say: seeing is believing.
I neared the boat dock and crept quietly toward it.
John kept the boat in excellent
repair; it bobbed silently at the end of a short span of wood.
All at once there was a
rustle in the bushes near the trailhead up to John and Gloria’s.
I stepped behind a
tree and spied out from behind it, Gloria came into view holding a shawl
head to protect it from the rain. She walked out onto the dock and
something out of the boat. It was John’s fishing bag, he must have
left it there the
day before. In spite of the dampness, the undergrowth was still
dry, and as I
stepped forward to get a better view a branch snapped under my weight.
“Who’s there?” Gloria said, stopping short and looking
in my direction.
I stepped out into view. “It’s just me Gloria.”
“Casey, what are you doing back there in the bushes?”
“Well, to tell the truth I was hoping to borrow John’s
“Oh,” she looked at me strangely, “is that all.
Well come on up to the house, I’m
sure he won’t mind.”
I walked closer. “The thing is Gloria . . .”
I was caught. I would have to invent
some reason to need the boat, I sighed. “OK, lead the way fair maiden.”
I followed her up the path, admiring her lithe figure;
why she hadn’t been
married off yet I still couldn’t understand; maybe she felt that Old John
too much. If she would’ve asked me though, I could have told her
that John worried
more about her not getting married than anything she could provide for
the homestead. He had watched her grow into a beautiful young woman,
high hopes for her suitors. Hell, even John Aldrich up at Grand
Island had vied for
her hand, and he had a spread that was the envy of every man for miles
she had politely turned him down . . . along with the rest.
Their home was more of a large cabin than a house,
and unlike mine it had been
hand--built by John himself. It was a sturdy construction, with
lots of insulation and
heavy lumber. Building the house had cost John a lot, and for many years
extra penny had gone toward it. They say that hard work pays off,
and it had for
John. I could only dream of the day when I would have good land
and a solid
homestead like his.
Gloria held back a moment to let me catch up as we
left the trail, and I almost
grabbed her hand, it brushed magnetic air next to mine--I wondered if
it had been
on purpose. There’s a feeling you get with a woman when you know
about to happen, and I had been having that feeling for many years with
her; it was
just that the concept was taking its time to come to fruition. She
had been so young
when I first met her that the idea had been unthinkable, but as the years
things had changed between us. She was a mature woman now, and well
“Where are you going to take the boat Casey?” she asked,
looking at me with
those beautiful eyes.
“Uhh,” I stammered, “I was just, you know, wanting
to tool around for a bit. Take
the edge off the day.”
She smiled at me. “Why that sounds like a fine
idea,” she said. “I just love the
rain. Don’t you Casey?”
“You wouldn’t mind if I went with you would you?” She
I mentally gulped and thought, is this it? Does
she want to be alone with me or is
it just an innocent outing to her? “Why sure Gloria, that’d be fine
We went back to the house to let John know what we
were doing and, although he
thought taking a boating trip in the rain was crazy, he gave us permission
to use it.
“You two youngsters be back before dark you hear?”
he said, laughing. As we
left he cozied up to the fireplace and took out an old, dog-eared book.
Gloria and I had loaded a few sandwich fixings in a
satchel, and I waited while
she stowed them under her seat in the boat. She had also donned
a slicker, and with
the layers of clothing she already wore, she was as snug as a bug
in a rug. I began
to paddle in the front and she obligingly picked up the rear. We
started out rough
but soon we were alternating side to side, flowing in a rhythmical pattern,
as if we
had been doing it together for years.
The water flowed quick and smooth past the prow of
the rowboat. I couldn’t
explain why, but I was enjoying this paddling with Gloria, and having
more fun at it
than I had ever had with Old John. The rain fell in soft but unrelenting
uniform grayness gave a dreamy look to everything. We cut quickly
Slough and soon were coming to the Stockton Channel, I pulled right hard
to aim us
downstream and saw a fisherman’s worst nightmare. Someone had decided
Monday would be a great day to bust a fat log-jam up the channel, and
hundred foot logs were spinning downstream, bristling with short branches.
channel I could see hundreds more logs out of their element, and badly
They were off balance and moving fast. One was coming straight at
Riverwater sluiced from the dark, heavy bark as the timber spun on its
careening to one side and then another.
“Paddle Gloria! Paddle!” I yelled frantically.
She took one look at the log-jam
and started paddling like crazy. I had to give her credit, there
was no screaming
and panicking for Gloria, she just heaved forward and dug her oar deep
water. Momentarily I had thought of turning back, but it was too
late. We were
caught in the channel and there was no use trying to deny it. We
could only paddle
like the devil and hope we made it to Frank’s Lake alive.
. . . . Continued in the complete God's Dice
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