I figure I should finish the story of the Ebola Gray and the monumental flight back home as I don’t want to leave you unsated after hearing of the monumental feats we had survived getting to the river.|
It was near time to go back to civilization and leave the river to it’s relentless journey to the sea. We had spent a fruitless few days fishin and our well had pretty much run dry in the food and drink department.
JEB was getting mighty crabby over the lack of both and was catching an earful from me for putting us in that situation which wasn’t helping his crabs any.
He had eaten most all the grub on the first day we were there, swearing that he was gonna snag up every fish in that river and goin on as to how we would be feasting away on panfried catfish and bass burgers in no time.
It didn’t quite work out that away, in fact, by the next day we were so drunk (having nothing to eat for breakfast but whiskey and beef jerky) that if some had drained that river, I wouldn’t have put money on us even being about to walk out an catch a fish flopping around, specially that old walrus, JEB.
Now, as soon as we had landed on that beach, he had picked himself out a spot on the river side of this old log that was about 15 feet from the bank and set himself up a wallow. He had stashed most of the supplies on the other side of the log so he could just reach over and grab what he wanted without having to actually get up. This was fairly typical for the JEB style of fishin.
Drinking can have an effect upon one’s perceptions after awhile and JEB was no exception. We had been fishing and drinking for a few hours when he started mumbling about the river. About every five minutes he would ask me if the water was rising which I couldn’t rightly tell and told him as much every time he asked.
After about an hour of this, he rolled himself out of his wallow and crawled down by the water and stuck a stick in the sand about three feet from the waterline and then crawled back to his spot all proud of himself for no longer having to depend upon my vague observations to keep his drunken personage from eventually being swept away as he now had a watermark.
I got up to fetch up a fresh bottle of fishing tonic and noticed that the old curmudgeon had dozed off. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity such as this, I took a long draw off the bottle and tiptoed down to his stick and moved it right to the waterline figuring that this act could stir up a little entertainment since the fish weren’t biting anyway.
I then noted where Fred was sprawled out on the beach and positioned myself so that JEB was between Fred and me and held up a piece of jerky and said, “Food”.
Now, when it comes to eating or humping, Fred will invariably take the most direct route to his target, in this case it meant climbing over JEB which would of course wake his ass properly up so I could see if he would notice the stick without my having to wait for him to wake up on his own. Hell, he could have died in his sleep and I wouldn’t know for awhile as he would have just gone on snoring for hours after he kicked the bucket, being the way he is and all.
He spotted that stick right after he got done sputtering and threatening and went and got all puffed up, going on about Noah and Bangladesh and all sorts of stories about just about every flood that ever happened, just going on like all of a sudden he was the foremost authority in the whole damn world on everything involving water from moist on up.
It was pretty interesting to listen to even though he was getting his facts all twisted up as he went on to where after awhile he had Custer drowning in the Nile and Gabriel blowing a foghorn off Nantucket. I almost believed it, too, he was so damned convincing.
Well, then he starts in on me about how I was such a bag of shit because I was just standing there watching the river rise up on him while he was “meditating” and would have let it sweep him away , carrying on about the last time I let him float off. He was making sure I got a good look at the scar on his cheek where I hooked him that time too. Well, that’s another story that I already told you.
I pointed out to him that he was erroneously assuming some sort of similarity between meditating and passing out and reminded him that I DID save his life that day and that he was an ungrateful bastard who I should have left to float out to sea.
Moving that stick was a good idea, it turned out. Fish weren’t bitin’ anyway.
So, now he comes up with a brilliant idea to circumvent having to depend upon me to warn him of the rising waters in case he fell back to “meditating”. He takes this chunk of rope and ties it around his ankle, lures Fred over and ties the other end to Fred’s back leg.
Now, he figure’s that even if Fred forgets that he is Man’s Best Friend, his own retreat will alert JEB to the approaching peril in time for him to escape. Ole Fred just sat there and let him tie the rope, showing his teeth in silent protest. JEB flopped back down and within two minutes, was snoring like a train.
Fred sat down and began chewing on that rope and within five minutes, had severed the offending bond, leaving about six inches dangling off his back leg and the rest attached to JEB’s. Then he hiked up his leg and commenced to soaking down that rope, especially the part around JEB’s leg as a reminder that he never has appreciated that sort of behavior.
When he finished, ole Fred took off walking down the beach, stopping every three or four steps to shake his roped leg. Damnedest thing I had seen in a while, him doing this weird dog cha-cha and JEB snoring away in a puddle of piss. I didn’t make a sound, just bathed in the glow of the grandeur of it all.
Now, about sundown, the old fossil wakes up and immediately starts yeowling about how he is near death from starvation and would not last another hour without sustenance. He staggered up and snatched the last bottle of fishing tonic out of my hand and we commenced to arguing about who was the hungriest when all of a sudden, this big ole frog hops out of the brush onto the beach not 15 feet from us.
Sensing our spewing hunter/testosterone manscent, Fred spun around, spotting this potential dinner right off and started galloping toward the frog; it was every dog for himself.
JEB knew that Fred wasn’t planning on sharing that frog so he took a step and quickly launched himself at the frog and with the strength of Thor, he brought that bottle down on the spot that the frog had vacated a split second before, smashing it into a thousand pieces, the last of the tonic arcing into this singular fountain onto the sandy beach, gone forever.
Fred had also launched himself at the now retreated French delicacy and managed to slam into JEB just as he started his first bounce. No football game ever produced a more impressive crunch than that collision. They laid there motionless while I watched the frog swim off downriver as casual as can be.
JEB rolled over and moaned and Fred was at least twitching so I knew they were alive. I announced that with the untimely destruction of the last of the tonic and the departure of our last chance at a meal due to the inept attempts by both of them, we would be taking off just after sunup when the Ebola Gray had warmed up enough to start and I flopped down on my blanket in disgust after tossing a chunk of driftwood on the fire.
JEB started in on his emaciated condition again and must have said something about being a goner but I heard different and asked him why he mentioned the Donner family. The whole area became deathly silent as the portent of those words sunk in. We knew then and there that there would be no sleeping that night. Both of us were suddenly aware of the potential for treachery from the other two as Fred was already known for not having much consideration for where his next meal came from and we both knew the fate of the less attentive of the Donner party’s members. It was going to be a long night.
Hours crept by as we kept a constant bloodshot vigil on each other. Around midnight, Fred let out a woof and both of us snapped to full attention, staring with intense loathing at each other, tensed for the expected attack from the other. We slowly rose from our blankets and picked up long sticks of driftwood, preparing to defend ourselves to the death if need be. The fire flared up to find us slowly circling it, sticks waggling, each looking for an opening, it was the moment of truth.
What Fred had woofed at wasn’t either of us but a group of rafters drifting down the river apparently on some weekend adventure. As they drifted past us, they all quietly crouched down in their rafts, staring in horror and wonderment at the savage scene before them.
Fred cut loose with another woof and we both looked at what he was woofing at, a potential meal. We ran towards the water screaming and flailing our sticks. Jeb was bellowing “Feed me!!!” and Fred started braying which caused these terrified souls to jump up and start paddling like mad, disappearing around the bend downstream. I stopped at the edge of the water and watched JEB and Fred go crashing through the underbrush, chasing after the rafts while screaming and howling like a couple of Banshees. They never stood a chance though, those boaters were running for their lives having just been told the tale of the Pecos River Demons by their guide and were firmly convinced that those very demons were now on their tail. The guide was paddling with no less ardor than his charges as he too had never encountered the likes of us especially with the eerie and unfathomable shape of the Ebola behind us. This was one raft trip that they would never forget.
I took advantage of their preoccupation with chasing down the rafters and went and locked myself in the plane and finally was able to get a few winks in before the impending flight only a few hours hence.
That morning I arose to the harmonious snores of the two marauders who were sprawled out by the smoking remains of the fire. I woke them up and we prepared for takeoff and the real fun that was about to commence, but that’s another story.
Actually I guess it was supposed to be this story but I seemed to have gotten sidetracked. Oh well, maybe next time, eh?