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 Up the Creek Without a Paddle



"Oh man, that was a good story. Ole Huck Finn really knows how to have fun." Rick said as he tossed the book down. "I wish we could do some of the things he does."


Yeah." agreed Mac. "Hey, let's go down to the river. Where's Luke?"

"Where do you think?  His nose is stuck in a book."

Rick was the oldest at fourteen. He was tall, skinny and his feet were growing too fast and his jeans always too short. He knew almost everything there was to know. His brothers, Mac and Luke, thought so anyway. Rick saw no reason to argue with them.

Luke yelled out, "You goin' somewhere?  Wait, I’m comin'!"

The boys walked down the dirt levy toward the bridge, kicking dirt-clods and picking goat heads from their bare feet .  The well-worn trail took them beneath the bridge to the sand. They played on, around, and in the river, all summer long. They knew it well, considering themselves expert river men.

"Hey,  I know what we can do!  Let's build a raft and float down to the big curve, okay?"

The boys had talked before about rafting to the big curve, but it was a couple of miles away so they'd never gone.  The spirit of Ole Huck Finn was resurrected that day though, and they felt able.

Mac and Luke were willing helpers. They gathered the old boards and dried up tree limbs as Rick pointed them out along the bank.   

Rick opened his Swiss Army pocket knife and began cutting vines and Willow branches to tie the boards and limbs together.  They were soon ready.  Rick decided Luke should get on first, since he was the littlest.  Luke pushed through the chest-high water and climbed aboard. He wasn't sinking so Mac went next, crawling to the front of the raft. Rick took one more critical look at their work, saw it was still floating and scrambled on.

"Shoot! Mac, you forgot the poles!"

"Luke, jump off and get the poles!" demanded Mac.

Luke grinned widely at being picked to do something important. He entered the water with a splash and hurried to the three forgotten poles lying on the sand.

Climbing back onto the raft was risky.  The side dipped under the water as Luke pulled himself up. He sat down carefully, while the raft rocked back and forth.

It was a great day. The water was flowing steadily at a good rafting pace.  The three stretched out on their backs, discussing literature according to Mark Twain.  Hours were spent gazing at the trees along the bank and watching the fish jump and nibble on the bugs floating by.  They trailed their hands in the water for the relaxing pleasure it gave. An occasional eel or carp swam by so close they could have caught it if they’d wanted to.  It was a quiet, peaceful, perfect day of summer. Camaraderie abounded.

Suddenly hearing the rumbling noise of traffic, they rose and looked ahead.  They were at the highway bridge - five miles beyond the big curve which had been their destination. They could have rafted all the way to the west coast if the traffic hadn't woken them.

"Shoot-fire!" Rick exclaimed. "Pole to the bank! Quick!"

All three poled for their lives until they reached the bank and climbed off to rest.  Mac and Luke looked to their older, smarter brother for the answer to their predicament.  Rick was a smart boy; he really was.  For instance, he knew for sure the raft was not going to float home against the current.   

The trouble was, he had failed to mention this at the beginning of the trip.  Actually, he'd  forgotten, but he wouldn’t admit it.  He doubted if they had enough muscle between them to move the raft.  Luke was little.  Mac was strong, but still smaller than Rick.  Rick wasn’t as big as he thought he was.

“It’s a piece of cake, easy.  All we have to do is stick one end of the pole on the bottom of the river and push.”  Grinning, he thought he sounded pretty confident and convincing.

Mac and Luke frowned and were only convinced they had no other choice except walking that eight miles, so they better give it a try.  Even they knew it wouldn't float by itself.  After resting on the bank a few more minutes, they climbed back onto the raft, stuck their poles into the bank and pushed off with great energy.  So far, so good.  Rick sat at the back of the raft and tried to push the raft upriver with his pole.  

"Mac, get on this side, Luke, you’re on  that side.  Ready? Push! We have to all push at the same time. One, two, three, push!"  When one push was completed, the raft continued to float down river.  One, two, three. Push!  One, two, three.
Push.{i} push{/i}. On and on.   Breathless, they gained nothing.  Those boys were working up a sweat trying to get the raft to go upriver, or at least to hold still.  They soon realized it was an impossible endeavor. They were not going anywhere.  The people in the passing cars were getting a good show though, if the hooting and laughter were any indication.

It was almost dark by the time they finally stumbled into the house. They were hot, thirsty, hungry and more tired than they had been in their entire life. It had been a long walk home.

"What you boys been up to?"  Dad asked with a grin, as if he already knew the answer.  He probably did.  Dad seemed to always know when they were doing something stupid.

Rick and Mac were embarrassed, but little Luke piped up, "We went up the creek without a paddle Daddy!  It was fun."