The Red Canoe, Some Beer and the Mountie
by Myron Unrau
He cursed under his breath as he crouched shivering on the wet riverbank. He stared hard at the raging rapids just downstream. Just my luck, he thought. It was raining hard.
His wet uniform clung to his lanky frame, a reminder of his earlier and near disastrous attempt to get ashore in one piece.
The beer had survived the rough river ride and he reached into the soggy case and pulled out a bottle, twisted its cap off and greedily guzzled the frothing contents in one huge pull. Tossing the empty bottle onto the sand he reached for another opened it and emptied it just as he had the first one. Then another and another. Soon his senses began to flow like the river, a few feet away.
As his gaze swept across the scene from left to right he allowed himself to believe that everything was OK, then his eyes came to rest on the red canoe, its battered and dented hull wedged firmly between the large river rocks.
Then he remembered that all was not well. Not at all. “And I’m a Mountie,” he blurted out. No one heard him. The thought soured as soon as he cast his mind back to the twisted events of that crazy afternoon.
Earlier that day he had pulled over the Jameson boy’s beat up old truck just outside of O’Bark Lodge. He had good reason. He’d seen a bottle of beer being passed from one of the three passengers to the driver.
For some reason he didn’t care to dwell on right now, he’d let Carl off with a warning and confiscated the two cases of beer the teens had stashed under their feet.
He had instinctively known it had been a mistake to pull over on what he always thought to be a lonely stretch of gravel road, a few kilometers east of town. Sitting in his cruiser and drinking a few of the confiscated beers had also been a bad idea. He had just opened the second bottle when the same beat up old truck roared towards him and screeched to a stop beside his open driver side window. The incriminating bottle still raised to his lips, he turned his head to find Carl looking down at him; a savage smile fixed on his thin lips.
Suddenly panicked by this ironic turn of events, he dropped the beer into his lap soaking his uniform trowsers as the bottle wedged itself into his crotch; threw the cruiser into gear and sped off in a shower of gravel, the truck spinning around behind him and staying hard on his tail.
The bright red canoe at the river’s edge appeared as a beacon. He threw the cruiser into a practiced skid and plowed to a stop just inches from the canoe. He just had enough time to throw the beer into the boat and push off before Carl’s truck roared onto the riverbank beside the cruiser.
The river quickly carried him out of sight and the rain set in. Now he wondered what had come over him as he huddled shivering on this dreary riverbank, his cold fingers fumbling with yet another twist off bottle cap.
He reached for his sodden notebook in the left breast pocket of his uniform jacket. With shaking hands he managed to scratch a brief apology on a sheet of paper and then tossed the notepad among the beer bottles in the sand and staggered to his feet. His mind numbed by the beer struggled to come to terms with what he had done. Then the swift waters lapping at the sides of the canoe seemed to beckon, suggesting his next move. He pushed off into deeper water before scrambling awkwardly aboard, drenched to the skin, letting the current take over.
Casting one last look back towards the bottle littered patch of river bank he let out a drunken giggle, bemused by the sight of the paddle lying beside the now empty cases of beer.
He cursed his fate as the river carried him toward the deafening sound of rapids ahead.
•Disclaimer -The story you just read is a work of fiction. The events and places in this story are not based on fact or personal experiences. Any resemblance or similarity to anyone living or dead or place is entirely coincidental and completely unintentional.