run off

by underswansea



Bishop couldn’t sleep worth a shit. The nights were filled with ghouls. He knew they were imagined, otherwise the dog would bark, but the dog stayed quite and he tossed and sweated. There wasn’t much to be done. It took it out of him nonetheless.

The rivers were up. The summer melted the snow in the high country. Everything came down. Dead trees, silt, muck and old driftwood, sometimes it would get tangled and block the river near a crook or canyon. When it let loose everything downstream could be taken out. Bridges and creek-side houses were washed away.

That’s the way it worked. If you were lucky, and most were not, you never knew what hit you.

Bishop’s ghosts were sneakier than that. They stuck a stick into his side. Taunted him out of hiding and jolted him with lightning.

Meanwhile the lake backed up with silt and stripped logs, green and heavy, despite the ride over river rocks.

Bishop couldn’t remember not being able to swim. When he was a youngster he’d swim to the washed logs and lash them into a raft. He wasn’t the only one. The Athalmer boys would do the same. The old logs, the ones swept off the lakeshore, would be covered in leaches. You learned quickly to recognize the old logs.

Back then they would try to capture each other’s boats. Bishop lost once. It was the first year they played. Bishop realized he could win if he was willing to play during storms, with whitecaps or at night, when it was quite, but for the lap of water on the shore and the hoots of owls hunting snakes on the tracks. After that it was all about defending. That’s what he was good at.

Back then sleep came easy.

If it wasn’t death he was afraid of what was it then? High water took the bank before the bridge. The bridge was deemed unsafe and bound to go before the end of summer.

It cut off the tourists.

Bishop rounded up a dozen logs, Douglas Fir, and pulled them ashore for winter’s firewood. It wasn’t much different then making rafts.