TITLE: Beyond The River Shadows
GENRE: Literary Fiction
Along the steep canyon walls trees swayed in unison like slow moving breakers. A wondrous expanse of green surrounded him, the sun anchored high above the tallest ponderosa pines, the air laden with heat and sweet fragrance of azaleas and Shasta lilies. At his feet the McCloud River, broad and shimmering with sunlight, coursed by. It had been ten years since Brad Lucas heard the sounds of a river; he had been away too long. Squatting down on his haunches, he removed his wire-framed glasses and placed them on a flat, dry stone. He could feel his heart pounding in his fingertips.
“How much farther?” Brad’s voice cut the white noise of river and wind.
Dean Romans paused in the middle of the trail. Stooping forward, he adjusted the lens of a bulky 35mm camera. The shutter clicked.
“It’s so damned pristine out here,” Dean said, “I half-expect a unicorn to come prancing down the trail.” His tight grin twitched then cracked wide open, exposing perfect white teeth that gleamed in contrast to his swollen black eye.
Brad forced a chuckle loud enough for Dean to hear. He knew it would be a long week if he didn’t humor Dean’s smart-ass observations from time to time. He has his moments, Brad thought, and this place must truly seem otherworldly to him.
Hands cupped, Brad splashed river water on his face and the nape of his neck. The cold snatched his breath away. For a moment, he felt reinvigorated. Only fleeting relief, he thought.