Canoeing to My Destiny
Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne
I waited until Dawn had calmed down. She mentioned that she had drunk some coffee earlier and needed to relieve herself. When she was out of sight, I unsheathed my knife, spun, and buried the blade three inches into the tree, ten feet behind me. Slowly, my anger began to lessen.
Let me digress. When I was a young boy, there were two bullies in my neighborhood. When I would come home crying, my mother would comfort me. If my dad were home, he would threaten me with a beating if I didn't stand up and fight. For several years I had to endure my beatings in silence.
Then one day, when I was around eleven years of age, I decided I wasn't going to take it any more. I started fighting back against the one bully. I decided I was going to go all out, no holds barred. It wasn't long before I had him pinned to the ground. A neighbor man had to pull me off of him. The neighbor man called me a bully. After that, I never backed down from anyone again. I never initiated a fight either.
In middle school, a bully tapped me on my shoulder while I was facing my locker. When I turned, he kicked me in the groin, causing me to double over in pain. I had never done anything to him, and didn't even really know who he was. Several days later, he tapped me on the shoulder in shop class and wanted to fight. I spun around and punched him right in the face. A shocked look crossed his face as the blood began to flow from his swollen nose. He never bothered me again.
My anger is not something that I cultivate or even like. If I thought an injustice had been done, I wouldn't hesitate to attempt to make it right. I have stood up to some of the meanest men that one could imagine. Fortunately, it is usually my demeanor and strong presence that cause other men to back down. I am told that I can be a quite an intimidating person, if I need to be.
In this case, a grave injustice had been done. How it would be resolved would be a matter that would take some thinking. The important thing that had to be done immediately was to make sure that Dawn felt safe and secure.
I told Dawn to look into my eyes. I then told her that I would not let anything bad happen to her. I also told her that I would make sure that she made it home safe and sound. I saw her shoulders slump as some of the worry faded away. I could see in her eyes that she believed me. For a time, we just held hands and leaned into each other, occasionally pulling back to study the others face.
This is the story that Dawn relayed to me;
The weather was sunny and warm and she had decided that she was going to bathe and take a swim. She asked the guys if they would respect her privacy and they acknowledged that they would. Dawn walked down the trail to a secluded little bay where the canoe was kept. She slowly undressed and placed her clothes in the canoe. She carefully slipped into the crystal clear water, watching for sharp rocks which were easily spotted.
When she located a flat spot, she soaped up her body, enjoying the contrast between the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the water. When she was completely lathered, she dove into the water and swam around, rinsing the soap from her body. She stood up on a rock where the water was waist deep. She had that strange feeling that someone was watching her and turned to see the two guys sitting on a rock, looking directly at her.
Covering her breasts with her hands, she laughingly told them to go away. She noticed that they were passing what appeared to be a flask, between the two of them. Again she asked them to go. This time she was a little more serious. The guys began making rude comments about various parts of her body. At first, she laughed, but after a few more comments, she realized they were serious. They asked her to move into shallower water so they could get a better look at what was hidden from view.
Dawn said that at this point, she began to get worried. If something happened, how would this look? She had willingly agreed to travel with these two guys. She was the one who was standing naked in front of them. It would be their word against hers. She was at their mercy. There was no safe place to run to. There was nowhere to seek help.
One of the men stated that he was tired of looking and needed to take some action. As he got up and went into the woods to take the path down to the canoe, Dawn remembered that my campsite was on the next lake over. She said that, at the time, she had no idea whether I was still there, but it was her only choice.
Quickly, she swam over to the canoe and pushed it out. She jumped into the canoe and began paddling without bothering to put on her clothes. When she was about fifteen feet from shore, she saw the first guy coming down the trail removing clothing as he walked. When he saw what she was doing, he hurried down the trail and dove into the water to stop her. He swam swiftly, but Dawn had too much of a head start and quickly left him behind.
With her heart pumping rapidly, she canoed until she reached a small island, where she dried off and put on the clothes that she had placed in the canoe. She heard the muffled voices of the men screaming for her to return. She had left so quickly that she had left her boots and other supplies back at the camp.
As her heart rate slowed, she canoed over to the portage, and then carried the canoe barefoot over to the next lake. After setting the canoe in the water, she hopped back into the canoe and continued paddling until she reached my campsite. When she saw me, and knew that she was safe, the pent up emotions were released and that is when she began to sob.
I don't know what it is about me that encourages a woman to put her trust in me. Could it be a part of my demeanor, my aura, or the way I carry myself? Could it be the honesty that can be seen in my eyes and facial expressions?
There have been so many times when a woman has confided in me about cases of abuse from a mother, father, or lover. It may be the fact that I stop and really listen. Whatever the reason, I always make it a point to be a completely trustworthy and honorable person.
In this case, I had to insure that I did not take advantage of Dawn's trust. She was upset and frightened by what she had just gone through. She was in the wilderness with a man she barely knew. I had to insure that she was protected and not allow raw emotions to take over.
I led her over to a rock where I asked her to sit down. I put a pot on the fire, and then walked down to the shore to collect some water. I carefully washed her feet and checked for any cuts. I found several that I bandaged up. While Dawn sipped on some tea, I went over to my pack and pulled out a pair of my heavy socks. I placed them on Dawn's delicate feet and taped them at the top so they wouldn't fall down. I always carry a small roll of duct tape for emergencies that I know will eventually arise.
I could see that Dawn was becoming more relaxed. I caught her looking at me, and for a short time, we gazed into each others eyes. It was one of those special moments when a gigabyte of information was passed without a single word being spoken. In that look I could see that an incredible connection had occurred between two human beings.
I sensed a feeling of trust, maybe a little affection, and a relaxing of the fear that she had recently experienced. How anyone could betray the look in those eyes was beyond anything that I could ever comprehend.
I told Dawn that when she was ready, we would go over to the old camp and retrieve her supplies. I told her that she didn't need to worry; the men would not dare to attempt anything when they saw that I was present. I told her that she could sleep in my tent and I would sleep outside. I hoped to comfort her, by telling her that I was willing to pack up, at any time, and take her home, whenever she felt she needed to leave.
I think a bit of emotion overcame her, because she hung her head for a moment and I saw her head shake a little. When she looked up, I saw a little redness in her eyes. She asked me why I was being so kind to her. She said that so many of the men that she knew only had one thing on their mind. I responded by saying that I am not like those other men.
I also told her that there are many decent and honorable men in the world. I said that, right now, I had one mission to accomplish. That task was to see that she arrived safely back at her home. I assured her that nothing, short of death, would stop me from accomplishing that assignment.
I left Dawn to her thoughts and then went down to the waters edge to see if I could catch something for dinner. Dawn sat on a stump by the fire and watched. I didn't have any luck, so I went back up to Dawn and asked her if she wanted to go out fishing with me. I thought it might be a good idea to redirect her thoughts toward a different activity. She agreed and we were soon in the canoe, paddling across the lake.
I took her over to an area where a small creek cascaded into the lake. It was a beautiful spot with some lily pads and rushes. A moss covered log disappeared into the water, from which a turtle had slid into the water upon our approach. The ripples from the cascading water caught the sun at just the right angle. It created the illusion of a thousand pieces of sparkling glitter, spreading the light in all directions.
I tied a smaller lure on my line and tossed it into the water. I was surprised when I got a strike and my line started going around in circles. It was an unusual pattern for a pike or a walleye. I was amazed when I finally reeled in the fish and discovered that it was a sunfish. These are a smaller pan fish that are not usually found in boundary lakes. They are actually very tasty. A platter of them would definitely add a different flavor to our evening meal.
I paddled down the shore until I found a promising site. I got out of the canoe and turned over some logs and rocks until I had a small handful of worms. Then we paddled back to our spot and I watched as Dawn caught a half dozen of the nice sized pan fish.
It was such a pleasure to see the excitement and joy return to her face. I watched as she would set the hook. I would chuckle at the battle that would ensue. Every so often she would look back at me with a big smile. When we had seven fish, we decided to return back to the camp and prepare our catch for dinner.