Canoeing to My Destiny
Chapter 13

Copyright© 2012 by Lance Manne

We drove down the winding, pine tree lined, dirt road for about a half hour before finally entering onto hard pavement. Once that happened, our journey became one of speed and making time. We stopped at a nice little café and ordered soup and a couple of nice juicy hamburgers. We also ordered a couple of ice cold lemonades. It's always a special treat to drink something icy cold after being without refrigeration for such a long period.

After that, we became lost in our own thoughts as we drove quickly down the freeway toward home. Dawn would soon be starting up at school and going back to her old job. I would need to resume my job as a cabinet maker. It was decided that I would drop Dawn off at her apartment and then we would get back together as soon as we had some time to adjust to our new schedule.

Dawn lived about 45 minutes from my house. I owned a nice sized spilt level in the suburbs. I was the co-owner of a cabinet shop that was located only a short drive from my house. I had no doubts that my partner would be glad to see me. I had left at a good time, as business had been slow. Even if business had not picked up, there would still be enough for the both of us to do.

We prided ourselves in paying attention to the details and doing quality work. Our advertising was mostly done by word of mouth. We would frequently get referrals because of our reasonable prices and our fine craftsmanship. Even in a tough economy, we still seemed to be able to make a decent living.

It was a little after sunset when we finally pulled up to Dawn's apartment. She shared it with another woman. We collected her things and I walked her up to the door. Earlier, she had given me a piece of paper with her address and phone number. At the door, I placed her gear on the landing and we faced each other. We embraced and our lips met. We exchanged several kisses and then held each other tight.

I told Dawn that I would call her the following day, in the afternoon. I helped carry her things inside the door. I hugged her one more time and left. As I walked to my car, I wanted so badly to turn around and tell her to come home with me. I didn't want to leave her there.

But we were now entering back into the everyday world. We had duties and responsibilities to fulfill. The drive home seemed to take forever. Once again, I entered my lonely house. The only good thing, that I could see, was that I had a precious piece of paper in my pocket.

The next morning would be Sunday. I unpacked my gear in the basement and hung the wet stuff up to dry. I would do the rest of my unpacking in the morning. I had not slept well the night before and I was feeling pretty tired. I had intended to take a quick shower.

Once I felt that warm soothing water, I decided to stay and savor the cascading droplets for a little more time. It felt incredibly soft as I crawled into my wonderful bed. I guess there were a few good things about being home. I didn't have much time to think about Dawn, as I quickly fell asleep.

The next morning, when I awoke, I felt around for Dawn. I finally realized where I was and that she was not next to me. I made my breakfast and had some coffee. I suddenly realized that I couldn't wait any longer. I dialed Dawn's phone and was pleased to hear her answer on the second ring. She said she had just picked up the phone to give me a call. We agreed to meet later for dinner, then we said both good-bye. We both knew that we had to complete the obligations that were waiting for us.

I went about my duties half-heartedly, anxious to once again see Dawn's beautiful face. When it was time, I put on a nice pair of jeans and a nice shirt and headed over to Dawn's place. Before I had a chance to get out of the car, she was pulling my door open and leaning in to kiss me. After our initial greeting, she walked around and climbed into my Wrangler. We headed off to a local restaurant.

It was a bit different to see Dawn in her city clothes. I had to admit that she looked very nice. I also had liked the way that she looked when we were in the wild. As we ate, we talked about our schedules for the upcoming week. Dawn would be preparing for school during the day and working at the sports bar in the evening. The only day that we could spend together would be Sunday.

After we ate, we went for a long walk on a local nature trail. When we got to the middle of a hiking bridge, we paused. The bridge spanned a small creek. As we looked to the west, we saw the setting sun; it looked like a big fiery orange ball. We watched as it flattened into an elongated oval, and then slowly disappeared from view. The fading rays of the sun caught the cattails that spread out before us and bathed them in a golden light.

When we looked to the east, we could see that the moon had already risen. The white moon, mottled with craters, was a stark contrast to the fading blue sky. Off in the distance, an eagle perched in a tall tree. It was a beautiful view, in any direction that we turned. We heard some teenagers off in the distance. Their vocal interactions broke the silence and reminded us that we were no longer in the wild.

I dropped Dawn off at her apartment and headed for home. Coming home was turning out to be everything I had dreaded. I would have limited time with Dawn. I would be busy with chores and work. And worst of all, I would once again be alone for most of the week.

It didn't take me long to get back into the swing of things at work. While I was gone, an order had come in to install cabinets in a new multi-million dollar home. That would keep us very busy. It would probably mean extra hours and working part of the weekend. This was great for the business, but my mind was really on other things.

I spoke several times with Dawn on Monday. On Tuesday, she called in the evening during one of her breaks. I could tell there was something wrong, but it seemed like she was reluctant to tell me about the problem. After some prodding, it finally slipped out. The two guys she had gone camping with had spread some ugly rumors. It appeared they had made up some stories to boost their manly prowess.

I almost slammed the phone down on the table. As I tried to control myself, I could hear Dawn asking if I was still there. I finally managed to bring the phone back up to my ear, but my hands were shaking. All I can say is that it was very fortunate that I was nowhere near that restaurant.

Dawn kept assuring me that it was no big thing. She had sensed that something was up and had finally pried it out of one of her coworkers. Her friend told her that the men had made comments about the good times they had experienced with Dawn. She was shocked at what the men had said had happened.

I asked Dawn if she knew when the men would stop back in at the sports bar. She said they usually came in on Thursdays. We spoke some more and then I said I had to go. I went to the basement and ripped off some presses and curls until my muscles began to ache.

When I was sufficiently tired, I showered and went to bed. Even then, my mind was processing this latest turn of events. I already knew that there would be a confrontation. There was no way on earth that I would let this one slide. I just had to decide how much convincing these guys would need. I finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.

The next day I was very busy at work. I arrived home late and talked with Dawn, but avoided discussing the two men. Thursday was also busy, but I worked extra hard and was able to leave early to prepare for my meeting.

As I dressed, I chose my outfit very carefully. I wore my blue jeans that fit well but also offered freedom of movement. For a top, I wore one of my tight fitting t-shirts. I figured I might as well let them see the muscles that I had worked so hard to maintain. For shoes, I stepped into my cowboy boots with the tall heels. It wouldn't hurt to add a few inches to my hopefully commanding presence.

When I arrived at the restaurant, Dawn was extremely glad to see me. She also mentioned that I looked mighty good. She kept telling me that she didn't want a scene and that she really needed her job. I assured her that it wouldn't be a problem. I asked her to trust me. Then I asked her when she expected the guys to arrive.

I found a booth in the corner and waited for the varmints to appear. I let them get settled and then walked over to their booth. I hovered over them for a minute and then slid in next to the meeker of the two guys. I thought he was going to foul himself.

I looked the other guy straight in the eye. Without blinking, I told him that I had heard he was telling lies about my girl. He responded with, "So what?" I had all I could do not to wring his scrawny little neck right there. Somehow, I managed to keep my cool. I could smell the perspiration emanating from the guy sitting next to me.

In my most commanding voice, I said, "This is how this is going to play out. I am going to present you with several options. The decision as to how this ends will be up to you. Whatever your choice, in the end, you walk away from here and you will never come back." The guy across from me asked what would happen if they decided not to follow my advice.

I could feel the veins popping out of my neck. I said, "From the way I see it, you two have three choices. I want you to know that I am trying very hard to keep from throttling the both of you. Say the wrong word, and that could happen. You're not just messing with me; you are messing with someone I love. Number one, I can bring Dawn and her friend over and you can apologize to them. Then you can leave and never come back to this establishment."

"Number two, you can tell me to get lost, and I will walk away for now. However, I guarantee that I will make your life miserable. I have friends in law enforcement that would be very interested in how you dishonored this girl. It would be very easy for me to call in a few favors. Number three, when I leave to get the girls, you can hightail it out the door and never come back."

"Now I want you to look deep into my eyes. Right now, I'm like a momma grizzly. You have just messed with my young and I am furious. Normally I'm the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, but you two twits just crossed the line. One smart word would be all that it would take to trip my trigger."

"Now, I'm going to leave and allow you two a couple of minutes to think about your next move. In a little while, I will come back with the ladies. If you are still here, then I will expect you to apologize to them. The ball is in your court."

With that said, I walked slowly away. I made sure to use long strides in order to leave a lasting impression. From the look in their eyes, I thought I knew how this would all end. Several minutes later, I looked around the corner to see that I was right. They had left, just as I suspected. Once again, the problem had been resolved without resorting to violence. I could tell by the tenseness of the muscles in my face, that I must have made my point well. Gradually, my body began to relax.

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