As time draws nearer to the end of my book I thought it might be fun to give you another snippet.
There are a few things happening behind the scenes which have delayed the release, but I assure you it is all for the better.
I hope you enjoy this and I look forward to presenting you with the finished product.
The Lion and I
Intro to chapter 21
I couldn't believe it. Now I was stuck up here. Without any water, any food, not even a shelter. I wondered how long he would stay there. He did not move, just laid still, a dirty yellow mound of hair, tossing an occasional glance my way every few minutes, just to let me know he was there.
I scrambled around on the branch until I was able to sit upright. The vine, I hooked on a nearby stick and hoped it would hold. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the lion but he made no sudden moves. He acted like a faithful dog laying in the grass while his master changed the oil in the family car, in the driveway, on a Sunday afternoon. I took a moment to scope out the branch now that I was up close and personal. Things have a way of looking different from a distance and this was no exception. The branch wasn't as flat as it looked from the escarpment. It undulated up and down along the length of it. Not like the Kiddee Koaster at the county fair back home but it did have some whirls and curls. Nothing I couldn't work with though. From where I was the distance to the next branch was closer than it had looked from the ground. I could almost jump to it. As they grew further out from the tree they widened, like the letter V. At the very end it was a good fifteen feet apart. I wasn't sure I had enough bamboo long enough to span that distance.
Swinging one leg over the massive branch I scooted on my rear towards the main trunk. Where they met the tree, at the beginning of the V they almost touched. A foot apart I estimated. I turned around and sat with my back up against the smooth bark. It felt cool on my sweaty back, I rested my head up against it and closed my eyes. I was quite comfortable and before long I dozed off.
I don't exactly remember dozing off, I had an idea of five minute cat nap and then I would figure out what to do about my current predicament. Five minutes turned into ten and then fifteen and then an hour or two must have gone by. I had the strangest dream of a time when I was still in high school.
I was in Myrtle Beach. It was spring break and I was with my family on vacation. We were vacationing with friends and they had brought along their kids as well. A young boy who was a year younger than my younger brother and their daughter who was my age and went to the same school as I did. She had shoulder length, sandy blond hair, crystal blue eyes and dimples when she smiled. She liked to wear short, tight shorts and halter tops. Her name was Kelly and she was beautiful and it was all I could do to keep from drooling whenever she was around. We spent the entire vacation cruising up and down the boardwalk and walking on the beach. I had a girlfriend back at home, but I think if the 'moment' would have come, I would have taken it. I was in love (looking back I believe it was lust) but it never did and we were just friends, despite the raging hormones coursing through my adolescent sixteen-year-old body.
One day, the families all packed in the car and drove up the coast to North Myrtle Beach. The boardwalks were bigger, there were carnival rides and mini side shows. It was early in the morning so most of it was closed and I tried to get my folks to promise to bring us back that night, without much success. We walked along the boardwalk oohing and ahhing at all the fun we could be having if it wasn't nine o'clock in the morning. After a bit, I began to get bored and as I opened my mouth to protest my little brother shouted out, "BUNGEE JUMPING!"
I turned to see what he was yammering about and saw a giant tower soaring high into the sky. A set of stairs zig-zagged back and forth all the way to the top. At the peak, I could just make out a small gangplank jutting out from the tower. Within a few seconds, something emerged out on the plank. It looked no bigger than an ant and as I watched it, the ant-like figure, slowly inched its way out to the edge. Then it was falling. As it fell the ant morphed into a girl, I could see her hair flowing up behind her and after a two second pause I could hear her screams of excitement rushing across the hot boardwalk. She was attached to a long stretchy cord at the waist and underneath her was an enormous pillow made of a rubber canvas material, like the bounce house you see at little kids' birthday parties. She fell to within a few feet of the bounce house pillow and then the cord retracted and flung her back up into the air. Her howls of laughter ricocheted off the tower and bounce off the boardwalk. My stomach flip-flopped at the thought of it, and I went light headed looking up at the terrible height of the tower. No way could I ever do that, I was terrified of heights.
"Dad, Dad, can we do that," my brothers pleading broke the diminishing screams of the yo-yo girl.
"Let's see how much it is first," he answered.
I knew there was no way my Dad would spring for it. Everything down here, in vacation land, was three times as expensive as it would be back home. I figured it would be at least seventy-five bucks a head for bungee jumping. Boy was I dead right and also dead wrong. We headed up to the base of the giant tower. The sign read $75 a jump. I snickered at my little brother. Game Over I thought.
"You folks interested," the man attending the entrance to the tower asked.
"$75 is a bit steep when you got a car load of kids,'' my Dad said.
"Well, how many of you are wantin' to jump?" His accent was southern and his cut off t-shirt showed off his bulging biceps and his six pack abs. I could see Kelly oogling him out of the corner of my eye. In my head, I was throwing him off the tower sans bungee cord.
"Who wants to go?" my dad asked.
"Me, Me, Me, can I go, can I go?" he sounded like a broken record and I wanted to kick my little brother hard in the shin.
"Is there an age limit?" My Dad asks the attendant, who has now veered his attention towards Kelly.
"Long as you sign an adult consent form he can go, in fact, seeing were so slow this morning I'll give y'all a deal. $20 each, cash, of course."
My brother begins to whoop and holler. I shake my head and as I'm about to say there is no way am I ever going up there I hear Kelly.
"I'll go," she says in her sweet little voice. "You want to go with me?"
She is staring right at me, but I'm not seeing her. All I can see is me falling off the tower, the cord snapping and for some unexplained gravitational reason I do not land on the bounce house safety pad. I miss it completely and I splatter all over the concrete next to it.
I almost vomit in my mouth as I hear the words squeak from my throat, "Sure I'll go."
Sweat rolls of my forehead and my shirt is soaked through as I climb the nine million steps to the top of the tower. I don't know if the sweat is more from terror or the strenuous climb. I remember thinking that there is now way I would chicken out because I could never make it back down all those stairs.
Up to the top we go. Another attendant greets us and is all too helpful when it comes to getting Kelly's harness on. When it is my turn he slams it on me, cinching the straps so tight my sixteen-year-old balls are jammed half way into my gut. My stomach rolls worse than ever now. My little brother goes first. No fear whatsoever, he struts out to the edge of the skinny gang plank and disappears from sight. I hear his howls but can't bring myself to peak over the edge. I'm afraid I might vomit if I do. The three pieces of French toast, 4 strips of bacon and the large orange juice would cover everything in this tiny space up here, including Kelly. I forced my mind to quell the turmoil in my guts.
Kelly went next, she repeated the cries, howls, and screams like the girl before her.
I was next.
The bungee cord was reeled back up by the attendant and he clipped it to the harness I wore. It attached mid waist, at my belly button.
"Just walk out to the edge, turn around and face me, then just fall backwards," he shouted above the wind that was now picking up, and at this height, was enough to make the tower sway a few inches.
It was at that point when I began to giggle. I had an odd way of dealing with pain and fear. One of those ways was to giggle. I couldn't help myself and I giggled like a school girl. The look the attendant gave me was quite hysterical.
I giggled all the way out to the end of the plank, turned around and then the giggling finally stopped. I never fell on my own accord, I think the wind pushed me off the plank and I pin-wheeled my arms to catch my balance but it was too late. I fell into nothingness.
My dream was a dead reckoning for the events that happened that day in Myrtle Beach. All except for the end. In real life I screamed, "Ohhhhhhh Shhhhhiiitttt" as I fell over the edge and after a two second fall I yo-yoed for a while and it was all over. I didn't vomit or shit my shorts or anything tragic like that. I kept my manhood intact with Kelly, or so I thought, and life went on.
In my dream, however, as I fell from the skinny plank I rotated enough to see the ground and where the bounce house safety pad was, or in this case should have been, it was gone. It had been replaced by a jungle floor covered with sticks and rocks and cut up pieces of vines. I was confused as I fell towards it, wondering where the red and blue bounce house had disappeared to. When I hit the ground I realized I wasn't dreaming anymore. I landed with a thud, which knocked the wind out of me, and my forehead slammed into the ground almost rendering me unconscious. Stars whirled about in my head and my vision was all fuzzy, like your eyes after swimming all day in a chlorinated pool. I could make out a few shapes and one of those looked just like the stuffed lion I had won for Kelly at the midway that spring day at the beach. Except this stuffed lion leaned forward and licked my face.