At the Lake – Chapter 24

“Well, we survived the first night with flying colors”, which when said, made my father look, as if he had waited his whole life to say something like that.

The ground was really wet after last night’s thunderstorm, but the sun was shining with nary a cloud in the sky. My friend just looked at the mud and replied, “Convenient isn’t it, all that rain and all, washing away any footprints, we might have found around the cabin?” I thought it was a strange thing to say, even for her.

My father didn’t seem to notice anything wrong with what she said, and proceeded to talk about the day’s activities. First we’ll go down to the park entrance and look into renting that boat. Heavens only knows what might happen if we are as lucky fishing as your little friend! In that case, I’m afraid we’ll be eating fish for the remainder of the trip, both morning, noon and night! My friend looked pleased at his comments, but kept looking back at the cabin, as if something was biting her imagination, or something.

I might have said, it was mosquitoes, that was troubling her! The are nasty little devils, who know exactly when you’ve decided to change into shorts from long pants. My mother probably would have brought up the time that I made my own creepy crawlers.

That’s what they were called, Creepy Crawlers, made with the Thing Maker. Mom would never have given me such a thing, but then that’s why someone invented Grandparents. It had a bunch of metal mold,s and an oven of sorts, and some liquid rubber called Plastic Goop. I could sit for hours making multi colored bugs, even though I don’t know what I ended up using them for? I guess, if I had a little sister who was afraid of such things, then it would be expected of me to be a menace, just like Dennis. Dennis the Menace, I mean.

I think that the 3, no 4 greatest things of my childhood were Hardy Boy Books, Creepy Crawlers, illegal firecrackers and watching Gilligan’s Island. Man that was really living! But now that I’m older and wiser, I don’t seem to have time for a lot of those things anymore. My Creepy Crawler Maker seemed to break, or was it that it disappeared one day, with my mother denying any and all knowledge of its whereabouts. “It might have been stolen, or sold on the Black Market and shipped away to New Foundland, or something. I wish, she didn’t keep giving everyone in Canada the blame for unexplained things, but I guess if we had another foreign country which was closer, then it would have gotten the blame instead.

Funny, but My father and friend were nowhere to be seen. We had just been talking, then I had a few random thoughts, then….

There they are! Way down the road in the distance. I high-tailed it over to them, falling in step as if I had been with them all along. “Where were you this time?” asked my friend after a minute, or so. Were you traveling down the Nile, or something? You won’t find my father there, because he never wanted to end up in Egypt for fear of seeing the Pyramids. He always told us: Man fears time; time fears the Pyramids! Which makes sense if you think about it?”

I had to think that one through. Her father. The Nile. Egypt. The Pyramids. Nope, it must be one of my failings, but those things didn’t seem to add up, no matter what! I kind of regretted, that I had started this conversation in the first place, because now I didn’t know where to hop off, before the train traveled close to a chasm, or crocodile infested river bank.

Trust me, you won’t get hurt, she said and pointed to the edge of the cattle car. I’ve done this many times, when we were traveling light, that’s what my father called hitching a ride on a train, without buying a ticket. We’d usually jump from car to car, especially if the Rhinoceros start to stick their horns through the roofs. My father just laughed, as if it were a walk in the park, but I always hesitated and wanted to swing by Liana instead. That’s for Sissies, he’d say as he hopped over the next Rhino horn. The train began to turn the corner, making it difficult for my father to dodge the low hanging vines, now covering the Rhino horns and the holes, they made.

“What’s the name of your friend? Her father asked, pointing to me as the train rocked from side to side. “Just call him Ninny, or Poindexter. He is not particular about which one, you choose. ” Her father came over to me and shook my hand. “Nice firm grip there, young man. I’d feel funny calling you one of those names, but I’d rather call you Johnson, if you don’t mind?” I didn’t think that Johnson was any worse than what his daughter usually called me, so I shook my head in agreement. “Nice firm handshake, you have there, Johnson.” He said while smiling at me. “I like that in a man, especially one who is romancing my daughter!”.

Romancing his daughter? I just met the man, but I felt that he had been reading my mail. “The Postal Service frowns upon that kind of behavior “said the dour looking Postman. I didn’t see how there was anymore room on this Cattle Car, but I guess this was her party, and she could cry if she wanted to, while inviting every- and anyone to the top of that Train Car. “Low Bridge Ahead!”. Someone managed to yell, as we suddenly entered a tunnel. When we came out into the light once again, the Postman was gone as was most of the Lianas. I couldn’t see the point in hopping off the train car anymore, and decided to enjoy the ride, as long as it lasted.

My father came out of the boat rental cabin with 2 oars in his hands. “Now, we’ll see, who can sink, and who can swim!” which worried me a bit, knowing how my swimming instruction had been cut short this summer, by a wayward horse!

We all got into the row boat, which rocked a bit from side to side, as each of us got in. “Nothing to worry about with your Captain at the helm!” remarked my father, donning a Captains Cap which almost magically appeared from nowhere. “I’ve been saving this one for a special occasion like this. I had wished that your mother would have been here to enjoy it as well, but we’ll have more happy times together, I’m sure of it”. My father had put on his brave face for our trip, but I wish he had met my friend’s father as well, making it a sort of reunion of sorts, giving my father something else to think about. He didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as my friend and I, so I just let her father be for the time being.

She was wearing shorts that were rolled up at the knees. She rolled up the left side a bit more to show me something that I hadn’t noticed before. You see that scar right there? Yes, I did see a rather nasty scar that ran up her left thigh. That was made by a Rhino which stuck its horn up at the wrong moment, when I thought I had jumped high enough, but the liana got in the way. “I remember that, I said thinking back to that moment. It was lucky, your father could patch you up using a needle, a bottle of whisky for disinfection and a thread from his shirt!” She just nodded and liked that I was paying attention to her at that time, and not having been someplace else in my thoughts. “It’s funny, how many  things we seem to be experiencing together? ” she said as the train neared its destination….

Her father motioned us to be quiet, as we neared the station. “Here” he said suddenly. “Jump here, it’s safe!” Which we did, rolling to a stop in the cool African Grass. “Hooooot” said the train when it entered the station area. The Zimbabwe Republic Police were present at the station, when the train arrived. They pulled out their flashlights and began searching the train from top to toe. “That was a close one” whispered my father and led us through the fence to the street. Now I was wanted like they were, that is if they ever caught us and questioned about how we got to Zimbabwe without any visible means of transportation.

My father rowed us out to a place near the middle of the lake. “This looks like a good spot for fishing! said while he began rummaging around for the fishing poles. Uh. There is something wrong here? He looked rather perplexed and told us why: “It seems, I’ve forgotten the fishing poles back on dry land. I hope you are not too disappointed? It doesn’t really matter to me, as we can have a good time, just being together with one another! I agreed and my friend seemed to do the same. We were sitting opposite my father, rather close to one another. “You know”, she said. “I really liked how you helped my father on that train. And you didn’t even try to deny anything when he mentioned that thing about Romancing his Daughter!”

It’s true, I didn’t deny that fact. I guess, I’d been a bit slow about telling her my feelings for her, but in the face of danger what with Rhino horns and the Police beating the brush for us and all, there just didn’t seem to be enough time to tell her everything I was feeling for her.

I moved a few inches closer to her to see how she’d react.

My father beat her to the punch, “Hey, are you two getting warm for each other, or something? I’ve never seen you sit so close to a girl before?” She just looked at me and smiled. Now it didn’t matter if her Rhino scar was visible, because I knew where it came from and all. We seemed to be sharing a lot more together, as if this story turned a bend somewhere near our cabin, and became another one.

Just one that was better for the two of us.

My father rowed us back to the shore, telling us some story about when he was younger and met a girl while on vacation. He tried to kiss her, but she only gave him a knuckle sandwich, with didn’t exactly sound like love at first sight to me.

I felt that I had my cake and could eat it too, whatever that  meant… but time will only tell on that one…..





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