A River's Serpent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An old WWII veteran, Thomas Keefe, decides to go boating on a river. However, he is attacked by an underwater serpent. He will then have to face a challenging decision, that will forever change him.

Submitted: August 03, 2014

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Submitted: August 03, 2014



A River's Serpent

Little old Thomas Keefe walked down his dirt road, the brush whistling in the humid wind. His tacky fedora put on over his balding head, and overalls, despite the weather. His WWII Air Force pin was stuck on the right side of his fedora. This was all that was left of the last time he left alive. He knew life, and life wanted him. The bombs falling under him, and seeing a young man fall under a rock to his left. How he loathed the letter from the US Army, saying that William Henry Keefe was killed in combat. He knew it deep down in his soul that it would come. "He's dead" he would say. 
But today, he decided to walk down to his nearby river, the Columbia River. The last time he had been here was 1982, for the annual Columbia Cup hydroplane races. He left only ten minutes in, after a boat crashed, and the racer inside was killed. This was only one of a million times that scars were reopened. 
He got down to the bank of the river, a golf course to his right, and a playground to his left. Kids of all ages were jumping around and smiling. Tom couldn't help but crack a grin at the sight of him. He remembered being a kid. He remembered the 20s,  listening to jazz music, which his mother "disapproved of". He remembered walking down with his father, Clement, to Red Sox games at Fenway. How much his dad loved and cheered for Babe Ruth, their favorite player. And how much he remembered his dad's saddness when Ruth was traded to the Yankees. At the thought of this, he laughed, and continued to stroll down the side of the river, looking into the water.
The water today was still. The trees behind him could clearly be seen into the water. Only the swimming frog at his feet, and the occasional dropping leaf was the  movement around. He got to a little shack at the end of the river, and by the looks, it was old. The sign at the top, which read, "Boat Rentals" was faded into crimson red. The door was splintered with wood. The windows were cracked and bug-ridden. He walked into the shack.
The inside wasn't any better. A table in the corner was filled with dust. The walls were lined with old hydroplanes racers, including Dean Chenoworth. At the bottom of the photo, it read, "R.I.P Dean Chenoworth 1938-1982"
Tom walked over to a strange looking man behind the counter. "Can I rent a boat?" Tom asked.
The man, who looked only ten years younger than Tom, nodded, and held out his hand. 
"Uhh...how much is it?" Tom anxiously asked. (He hated awkward moments.)
The man frowned, before his eyes fixed onto Tom's WWII pin. He brought back his hand, and said, "It's free, for today. Follow me." He led Tom outside and behind the shack. There was an old looking dock behind the shack. It was covered in seaweed and, by the looks, wasn't used in a while. Twoof rowing boats were tied to the posts, and two oars stuck out from each of them. Tom looked into them, and a rush of worry filled him. "What if I drowned?" he thought. However, he insisted on boating today. He knew he had to be outside for once.
The old man gave Tom a life jacket from a chest next to the dock. He led him over to the boat, helped him in, and showed Tom how to put on the life jacket. Once Tom was strapped in, the boat was untied.
"Now, if you run into any trouble, just yell for me. I keep my window open all the time. I will come and help. You can boat as long as you want. Enjoy yourself" the old man said, with a grin across his wrinkly face. Tom nodded, and his anxiety was brought down. " I'm ok. I am safe. Nothing in this river will hurt me." Tom rowed from the dock, and set down the river.
The feeling of peace and wind in his face was nothing Tom had ever felt in a while. The water today smelled wonderful. Since it was the morning time, the river was only occupied by a few party boaters. The distant jump of a fish made Tom smile with happiness. He was so glad to finally be out on the river again. He loved Washington State for the rivers and lakes that filled it. He remembered hiking around Mt. St. Helens. He happily remembered him and his friend, Dave, fishing on Lake Washington. He loved Washington way more than he loved Massachusettes. He moved to Washington in the 40s, as he was working on the Hanford site.
The river was starting to produce more waves. This broke Tom from his deep thought, as he looked around the water. The water was rapidly rising.


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