The Bridge Between Heaven And Hell, Chapter 2

Chapter 2   The Deception Of Death

          Smoke danced from a small fire up to and then out of a seam at the top of the soot blackened rustic shelter. And occasional raindrop broke through the smoke before it escaped into darkness. The sound of a raging river and pounding rain was like hypnotic music. The only other sound was an occasional crackling of the fire that broke the solitude in the one room shanty. Hanging from the top of the shelter with bailing twine and pieces of barbed wire was the pantry of the shelter. The dancing smoke kissed the smorgasbord with God’s seasoning. A dozen large trout, a Cottontail rabbit, and a mallard duck, were slowly being browned and cured by the dancing smoke.

        The shelter wasn’t a formal piece of architecture with any sense of design. It was simply a structure pieced together from the gifts that the great river had washed onto the island. The main beam was a fallen cottonwood tree that got tangled in other trees and never reached the ground. The walls and roof were designed as one integrated feature in this A-frame like structure. They were constructed with large timbers placed carefully and artistically at an angle. The spaces between were filled with dried mud, grass and small sticks. There were some man-made items interspersed in the simple architecture. They too were held in place with dried mud and scrap pieces of barbed wire. A scarred white washing machine door was a contrasting element to the earth tones of the logs and mud. A red dented car door, make and model, unknown was the focal point at the low end of the shelter. A road sign decorated with a shotgun blast was framed with sticks and dried mud like an antique piece of art. The words written on the sign, rough road ahead, was a perfect message for the shelter. An elk hide covered a V-shaped door at the tall end of the shelter, it was tied shut with leather straps to keep the wind and rain out.  A neatly stacked pile of small pieces of wood was at the small end of the shelter. It was a perfect blend of wood to season the meat hanging in the makeshift pantry, Willows, Dogwood, River Birch, Hawthorne, Saskatoon Serviceberry and Rocky Mountain juniper. A black makeshift coffee can was hanging from the big beam by a kinked heavy wire with a hook on the end. Steam was coming from the natural tea that was boiling inside. The smell of the mixture was simply intoxicating. It was the perfect blend of dried this and that, Rose Hips, Chokecherry, Serviceberry, Wild Raspberries, Alpine Current, Gooseberries, Catmint, Milk Thistle, and Dandelion leaves.

       Squatting next to the fire was a weathered old man wearing Mountain Man like buckskin’s.  He was draped in dirty Indian blankets and had a makeshift Indian blanket hat covering the top of his head. His face was like a roadmap of wisdom, mixed with evidence of laughter from deep smile lines on his cheeks. His eyes showed the scars from age, the weather, his lack of sleep, and his long periods of meditation. His hair and beard were a white gray, wildly curly and un-kept. He seemed mesmerized by the steam coming from the tea in his rusted soup can cup.

        On the other side of the fire was a nest of deerskins and khaki wool blankets. Sleeping against the nest was a large Wolf like dog, obviously content to be out of the rain next to the warmth of the fire. The weathered old man was talking softly to wolf dog and to himself. He was a busybody, cutting and sewing pieces of deerskin together with a bone needle and thick pieces of leather thread.  Or sometimes he would just stare at the fire and as he sharpened his buck knife.

       The Wolf dog’s ears perked up as a moan came from under the pile of skins and blankets. The weathered old man placed a small stick on the fire, took another sip of tea. The Wolf Dog stood and stared at the pile with his head cocked to one side. Another moan came from under the pile and the Wolf Dog started to whine. A gruff cough was next and the Wolf dog buried his face into a seam of the blankets. A muffled sound of whining and licking came from somewhere inside the nest. Finally a spasm of coughing and then a muffled voice came from under the pile.

       “What the hell, stop, dammit my head hurts. Go on stop, holy shit, where the hell am I.”  The pile moved and the Wolf Dog backed away, a series of groans and moans came from under the pile again.

       The weathered old man cleared his throat and chuckled. “Welcome back from hell son.” There wasn’t a sound from the nest but the weather old man could see visible signs of slight movement. The old man chuckled again and took a sip of steaming tea. “I can’t wait to hear your version of how you ended up stark naked and facedown on a gravel bar on my island. I hope like hell the Internet isn’t promoting my sanctuary as some kind of weirdo nude beach. Please don’t tell me that you were filming some kind of way out there porno movie.” The weathered old man laughed at himself like he had done it before. “So Mr. Nudist Porno Star, whenever you’re ready to talk about it just let me know. I’m a really good listener who loves a good story about naked morons.”

       From under the nest came another moan. “Please spare me the comedy. I feel like shit man, my whole body aches and tingles. Son of a bitch, I can barely move my arms or legs and my head feels like the worst hangover in the history of the world.”

       The weather old man laughed a little longer this time. “Well, Mr. Never Stop Complaining, at least you can talk. When I found you magpies, ravens, and turkey vultures were damn sure they found their next meal. I’m pretty sure the mortuary in Idaho Falls has a whole bunch of people there that looked more alive than you did. Yeah, I’ll tell you what, Mr. Death Warmed Over. If it wasn’t for my furry bodyguard keeping those feathered scavengers away and howling like his ancestors, I’m pretty sure you would’ve been fertilizer in the river ecosystem right now.”

         From under the nest of blankets came a sentence of words that couldn’t be understood by the weathered old man. It was followed by a long series of convulsing deep coughs. The Wolf Dog stuck his nose back in the seam of the blankets to make sure everything was okay. “Dammit, your dog just stuck his tongue in my mouth. What the hell whoever you are, not to sound ungrateful but could you turn the heat up in here? I don’t know if I’ve ever been this cold.”

The weathered old man took another sip of tea and then said in a voice mixed with laughter. “Sure thing Mr. Iceberg Private Parts, I’m looking for my genie bottle right now. I’m pretty sure I have one more wish left and I’m ready to waste it on your goose bump covered body.” The weather old man paused to laugh at himself and take a sip of tea. “So here’s the deal Mr. Iceberg Breath, It’s been said by some very wise men, that morons like you might need to be taught a lesson by damn near freezing to death. They say that’s the only way to keep a moron from swimming in the raging Snake River a second time.” The weathered old man laughed at his own humor again before speaking in a sarcastic voice. “I hate to keep beating this waterlogged mule to death, but I’m seriously curious what kind of moron swims nude in a spring snowstorm in a river that hasn’t run 60,000 ft.³ per second in 50 or so years. I guess there could be a logical explanation like maybe you are in deep with the Mexican drug lords and they found out you were a narc so they tossed your nakedness into the Snake River never to be seen again. My next theory is a little far-fetched, but just maybe you were abducted by aliens in a UFO. Yeah, that’s it and once they saw what a gray, skinny, sickly specimen you were they dumped you out over the Snake River as quickly as possible in fear of getting some contagious virus.”

“Kiss my ass” was heard from the nest followed by a long spat of coughing.

“Last time I saw your ass it looked more like an iceberg Mr. Ungrateful.”

“You know what, smart ass. If I could move my arms and legs I would crawl out from under these blankets and teach you not to be such a smart ass.” The angry comment that came from under the nest of blankets was followed by another series of deep coughs.

The weather old man laughed hysterically until he started to cough too. “You got to remember, I’ve seen you naked pal. And from my perspective you don’t look like you could teach a one legged mouse a lesson let alone an old man who’s been more than around the block and seen it all.” He chuckled again and spoke to the Wolf dog loud enough to be heard under the nest of blankets. “Here’s the deal my Wolf friend, if he raises his voice at me again I want you to crawl under those blankets and give Mr. Self Indulged Jackass a poor man’s vasectomy.” The weathered old man laughed hysterically as he threw small sticks on the fire.

After a series of strange moans and groans the nest was motionless and silent. The weather old man poured himself another cup of tea and started talking to the Wolf Dog. “So you’re sure this disrespectful piece of creation is worth saving.” The Wolf Dog answered with a long whine and snuggled in closer to the nest. “Well maybe after he takes a long nap his perspective will change.” The old man went back to cutting and stitching leather and talking to himself interspersed with occasional laughter.

The Bridge Between Heaven And Hell-
A Story About Changing Preconceived Perceptions About God,

Book 1   of   Unlikely Disciples.
© Paul H. Keeler… A Cosmic Cowboy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s