|ROUGH RAPIDS - WHITE OR DARK WATER? ~ ala David Hartshorn|
THE YOUGHIOGHENY SCREAMS
~ ~ PART 2 ~ ~
By ~ Absolutely*Kate
Warning: This tale gets a little rough around the edges. Stay clear if you're too young to be roughing around edges.
First, read > ~ ~ PART 1 ~ ~
"Danger comes in all descriptions, all directions when danger comes. When it comes in the middle of an adventure to the rest of our lives it's not only a pain in the ass . . . it's a crying shame."
~ Gabe Connors
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That's how it started, the danger part, the pain in the ass part. Jenny sweet talked me one very fine Sunday evening just about a month before our "I do's" saying, midst maps and markers and her Maybelline lashes batting for a home run smack into my centerfield of vision . . . past my better calm, cool and collected judgement. Yes, we decided to shoot the rapids of the mighty rollin' Youghiogheny when it's expressly prohibited to do so that time of year in Pennsylvania. Upcoming nuptials drive some people nuts. It drove us crazy wild about doing anything and everything each other could think up. We'd already vowed our first sequence of vows ~ "To live each day to the Absolute Fullest. To cherish moments others just let go by in shades of mucky mundane." I'm tellin' ya, Jenny even lived the refrain she so wanted to be our married motto, pushing a Hitchcock chair over to my kitchen doorway so she could reach higher. She used velcro tabs to hang a blue placard she'd made over the framework molding, her flair for design sneaking through her motto for all our time:
The Friday we set out with all our gear as lightly and tightly packed as enough lugged stuff could take us for a three day getaway, with Duke wagging his shaggy tail to our happy one, had all the sparkle of life and possibilities upon it. Jenny teased me like crazy about who was gonna rock whose boat as our life tossed and turned and crossed currents and shoaled up in storms. I chuckled large into the fine, fine day, reached up, mussed her hair and wisecracked back, "Keep an eye on the horizon Babe. That'll always shore us up fine." The falls were coming up, I could hear 'em. She did need to keep watch.
There hadn't been much rain this scorcher of a sweltering summer. Jenny swerved the front end while wedging an oar at a rooted red maple emerging out of the calm glittery surface and ran us more aground of what we didn't see coming at us. What's that adage about what you don't see comin' won't hurt you? It's wrong. It's just damn wrong.
The water-logged log jostled and popped the back of our conveyance against a jut of rocks which somehow just kept coming. So did the falls. The rocks! The falls! Our trajectory for angling them was now way, way off. I tried to steady us best I could. Duke, always one for sensing coming trouble, yipped short stiff barks doing double time as Jenny screamed. And screamed. Oh how Jenny screamed. And then -- well, the pain in the ass part went sharp into my Levis from whatever the hell scraped at me while I got walloped head over ass through white water also doing double time.
|Tree Markings - ala Giles C Watson|
To say he was large, was like sketching the ocean - you just couldn't take all the edges in. But he was there alright and I knew it was more than a scare tactic rebuttal when he spun 'round at what yelping epithet I must have angrily emitted. That dirty bozo shot clean into my right shoulder -- damn -- right through the orange life jacket. And he kept groping determined rips into jagged tears through remnants of what was supposed to keep my Jenny safe. Though I was vaguely aware it was my blood oozing my shoulder so warm, I knew past my blood, in my gut, that it was fierce primal anger hastening the heat that hurled me across prickly hedged brush to take anything on. Anything. Seeing my scowl gone wild, he got mighty pissed off now, this snarling gargantuan caricature out of a bad bad-guy movie scene. This let go his grip on screaming, scrabbling Jen for the split second it would take to level a hand to empty his barrel yet a little more, most likely into other parts of me. Jenny kept right on screaming.
|Run Jenny RUN! ~ ala sarahb2010|
We could've got Jenny outta there and to the Poconos and splashed lightness and lovin' over this bad scene in one of those goofy champagne glass bubbly whirlpools they have in the bedrooms for honeymooners. And I coulda talked her into living in the safe suburbs and not building an A-frame on a bluff over the falls along the mighty Youghiogheny where she swears her father's baseball must've floated when it came down river from where he grandslammed it in the bottom of the 9th -- you know how the story must go -- two outs, down by three to win the Perryopolis city championship against Snipetown. She said her Dad always told that same story when they crossed over the Yough at Thanksgiving and Easter and for a summer week to visit her grandfather. Jenny's big on stories and heroes and marking memorable events as a sign to start new ventures off right. But I could've got her Dad to autograph a ball he said he kept in his Navy trunk all this time and we could've settled safe in the suburbs, and drove the kind of vehicles advertised during NFL commercials and huddled together on a big ol' white couch with a red plaid stadium blanket for excitement long into our happily ever onwards. We could've.
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Trouble is, trouble doesn't happen once when there are three of them. I heard laughter. High-pitched sadistic laughter. I tasted fear. It's kinda metallic, like at the back of your tongue. I don't know why I'm remembering all this so precise this way. It's just -- well, everything went vivid before I got livid. I smelled a stench like sewers streaming over rancid landfill, all acrid and hold-your-nose closed stink. I saw Duke switch his gnawing tactics away from sprawled out suffering Large Lard for a dash and run to where I was now headed without even knowing how I was gonna get there -- yeah, to my Jenny.
Jenny had run. Jenny had run smack dab into a preponderance of rhododendron that no longer offered pretty flowers for pausing to praise, as she usually did. Jenny had run smack dab into two of Large Lard's butthead buddies by what the hair standing up on the back of every place follicles fueled me were messaging. It was like a little forest fire jittering all over my body -- a sensation that scorches past pain, the primal rat-a-tat-tat that's every man's call to arms. Only I wasn't armed and ruddy Red Shirt and scraggly Beard Belly Gut were. That day's carefree sun shone like a dagger on a dagger. A freakin' dagger for crying out loud! How in God's good name was one of these damn derelicts wielding a dagger into the life vest of my life's best love?
|S C R E A M ~ ala Mareen Fischinger|
Jenny screamed way past a scream. It curdled the blood, the mud, even the beer cans I 'spect. It quaked the aspens. It adrenalined my instinct to leap into trouble while Duke deflected the other side of how they held Jenny. He darted fast. He darted back and forth in half circles so the two hollow-eyed creeps had to crank their ugly heads in some crazed puppet-symbolic rhythm to whatever the heck pulled evil's senseless strings and kept them muttering. Did I mention they were hollow-eyed? Does anyone ever really use that description? Well I did. I am. Amazing what's recalled from a danger day when your Jenny is screaming and screaming. And what the hell did I think me and old Duke should have to fear about a freakin' outlandish dagger along one of the trio tribs that was s'posed to pleasantly make its meander to confluence outside the old Three Rivers Stadium where Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception play was just a parking lot spot now. Unreal! This was too unreal to deal with. But hey, we had to. Yeah. Amazing though, how many crazing thoughts pass through the mind when danger, anger, pain and heat all frenzy up to take on whatever is comin'atcha.
Beard Belly flattened a hairy palm against Jenny's chest, the wriggle of her writhe forced flat into the squishy mud at the brown Youghiogheny's edge where they'd dragged her screaming from beyond the rhodies. Red Shirt groaned, holding his end of Jen like a wishbone. He stumbled, comin' down hard on his left knee. Laughed though. A hard brittle sound that racked nerves and one sensed could wreak havoc. Reached a hand to rub his knee while shifting his bulging flesh's jiggle down onto Jenny's kicking leg to force it more still I guess. Then jabbed fear. Dangled the dagger from up above in a swishing pattern next to her eyebrows. Grazed her cheek on the eerie sweep movement down. Held her gaze. Reached fast to rub her knee, sliding his grungy hand back and forth up her thigh, harder, quicker. I lunged. Duke barked. A warning.
Too late. Large Lard in a ridiculous camouflage hoodie topping off his unimaginable forest nonfashion statement had a hamhock of what must've been his hand around what must have been my windpipe. I just knew beyond all else I couldn't breathe now. So I counted inside - 1- 2- 3 - 4- 5 - 6 - 7, then let myself go limp. Textbook TV crimefighters. The lugnut loosened his hold. I bit. Hard. Trying to do my own version of serious damage canine style. Trusting against hope to convert not only a diversion but some sense of unreality in this unreality that there was this crazier-then-them dude chomping at the bite. Let 'em wonder. Let 'em lose buffoonery bravado.
God, guide me. Inspire me quick. Shoot me full of some fool idea to overcome these godforsaken fools' odds. Don't forsake me God, I really need'ya BigGuy. I do.
Duke was growling at Jenny's side and Beard Belly unfortunately was doing more damage than shaking a stick with the birch branch he bashed around behind his back. His intent was firm on what his yellowed teeth were doing to ridges of Jenny's rosy nipples. Red Shirt had her blue jeans half shimmied. Jenny was kicking. Jenny was screaming. Oh God, how Jenny was screaming. Jenny was screaming out her agony and her shame.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK,
AS I HONESTLY CAN'T WRITE
GABE'S HEART OUT THIS WAY ANYMORE