Male 20+. 201/390 words.  Chris: "Mississippi River." From: Into the River.

By Paul Pasulka

And you know, driving by the Mississippi you can see houses sitting in the middle of the river - swept away in one piece, I guess, till they settle and the rooftops reach out, like they’re craning their necks for air. There’s a town there, a little farming town, just off the river, that has three streets named Flood, Drought, and Pestilence. Gotta love ‘em though, a sense of humor like that. Defiance in the face of destruction. When I graduated high school I planned a trip to the Mississippi with a friend. Destination further. We thought we were the Merry Pranksters. Everyone said we were nuts. We were undeterred. (Singing, wistfully) “Well I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin. Old Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name…” Only this was a canoe. We painted it, and even named it: Charon’s Carrion Carrier. We brought a couple of cans of beans and beef stew and a bottle of schnapps. A little cash. We figured we’d pick up supplies as we went along. We went out the night before, celebrating our launch. We didn’t get started till after noon. Hung-over. In this stinking river. Smelling like pigs in a piss-hole, right?


And so, it started raining about an hour after we pushed off. Then the wind picked up. Strong. Man, we were going down-river, but we were going nowhere. Maybe backwards. Then I look around, and he’s back-paddling. To keep us going straight, he says. Now, neither of us knew anything about canoeing, but that just didn’t make sense to me. You paddle more on one side or the other. You don’t go backwards. You go backwards, you’re fucked. I was pissed.

We pulled in under an overpass, climbed out - soaked to the skin, took our stuff out of the canoe, opened the stew and beans and schnapps, got hammered and fell asleep. We woke up still wet and even more hungover. Weather was beautiful, but we just left all our shit there, took a bus home. We were gonna go back and pick it up later. We never did. Didn’t really talk much after that. A shame. In high school, it was just him and me. Did everything together. Don’t know if was the river, or me fuckin’ his fiancee, but we really didn’t talk much after that.