Water squelched out of my sneaker as I stepped onto the boat ramp. I can’t describe the sound the wet sock on my other foot made with each step, though.
People ignored me as I walked past them and started climbing the hill in front of me. I suppose the three-car accident at the intersection took priority over an ambulatory, waterlogged college kid.
Small pieces of asphalt digging into my foot as I walked made me wince. The town was chronically short of cash; road maintenance wasn’t as high on their list as it should be. Potholes were everywhere, and cars passing over them constantly chipped bits off the edges. Wearing a sneaker on my foot would have helped prevent the pain, too. That sneaker was probably halfway down the river by now.
Plodding up the hill, families standing in their driveways stared at me. They snatched up their young kids and hustled away from me as I approached. Many dragged shiny, new Radio Flyer wagons behind them as they fled. Those new wheels rattled with a familiar, albeit quieter, sound.
I finally, mercifully, reached the top of the hill where my friends awaited my return. I couldn’t tell whether the looks on their faces were of disbelief or awe. I suppose either was true. They were either in awe of my accomplishment or couldn’t believe I was still alive.
I was lucky that I had been able to steer onto the empty dock next to the boat ramp and launch myself into deeper water. The water at the boat ramp would have stopped my conveyance in short order, pitching me face-first into the shin-deep river there. Shallow-water head-first diving is not a recommended activity; neither is riding an old, rusty Radio Flyer wagon one hundred yards down a hill while standing, through an intersection, across a wooden dock, and into the water. That was either an unbelievable feat or incredibly stupid.
Probably the latter.
I plucked my beer back out of my friend Gary’s hand, snapping him out of his trance. I saluted him before knocking it back and taking a long swig.
“Dude...” Gary breathed out as the sound of approaching sirens filled the air. “What did you just do...?”
I took another swig while giving him a look of disappointment.
“I also asked you to watch me, Gary...”