I stepped into the woods and walked in a direction that did not know where I was going. I stumbled and dodged branches and fell down and cleaned leaves from my hands all the while, listening for the sound of the water. A tiny trickling brook that would be larger than the sounds I had heard any time before in my life. I walked and sweat as a man that was walking to a place that had water where he did not have water; I walked for minutes, maybe thirty, maybe an hour and collapsed to a ground that smelled like earth and incidentally like a funeral. The only grave that was dug was my own. I did this amidst leaves and made something of a "leaf angel" and laid myself on the cold, hard ground.
I rose and opened my knapsack and took from a pocket my aluminum foil sandwiches. I situated myself on the log and waited to eat like a man. As I consumed them, the ants climbed the rotted log and up my pants as I ate like the simple hungry fool I was, but as soon as I noticed the stings from their needles of discomfort, I started to move. I dropped the sandwiches as they started consuming them and started to push and pull at my pockets and my underwear. Killing and stabbing, I left the sandwiches and picked up the knapsack to take it with me to the closest space of the sound of the water. I noticed moss growing and the sound getting larger and walked towards the taste of fresh water. The leaves started to separate from the lack of the earth to support them and I fell forward at an awkward pace hoping for the sweet taste of forgiveness that water at this point would give me. The sweet taste of whiskey beforehand. The
nights spent in female desperation only to have it satisfied by my Rebecca. Months of hunger from the unemployment that rice and bell peppers satisfied. Any of these things would have satisfied me, but today I had won more. I fell atop the river and drank like dogs. Lapping and slurping and washing at the same time. My hands and tongue served as chop sticks and were futile and my thirst could only be quenched by burying, drowning my head and shoulders in the water and drinking all I could breathe. I drank too much and my stomach hurt and I laid in the river bank taking it all in and watching the sun move directionally from my left to my right. I waited until I could I move a little and searched my sack for something but only found a knife and went to work.
The knife and the sun served as a proper playing field for a man about a mission. I immediately scoped the landscape and found the youngest most virgin trees that I could saw from their womb. I collected a large amount of these, and not being a woodsman, used the twine that I had brought from home, I fashioned a worthwhile raft. I put these together and put it on the water to test its floatability and was satisfied, drew it back, built a fire and took out my notes.
I had made plans for this. I waited for a date, June 3rd to be exact; that was covered. I had researched the bus and train schedules for the trip and found the cheapest one. I left my rent in the mailbox addressed to the Hassid landlord and a note to my father postmarked that would be sent later for sure. This was a decision I would have to make and I knew if I did not make it covered, I would not make it all. At that moment I pulled the map of the river from my wallet that I kept all along with no money to return and be reviewed. It was topographical and I thought i was more or less in the right place.
Next, of course, was my deep and desperate desire for whiskey, for this journey could only be made at night and me, with the courage of the coward, could only do it with this.
I drank. Like fishes do. Me close to water I absorbed the oxygen necessary for my lungs through liquid. I read and reread my notes hoping to find solace in the things that I had wrote but found none. I decided to do it just the same. I gathered my things and put my letters in a plastic bag. I placed my knapsack in an open area next to a the fire that was not extinguished but far from anything flammable and pushed the makeshift raft in the water and climbed on, lighting a cigarette as soon as it was stable.
The cool breeze bit the warmth of the evening moon. The freshness of the water calmed me. With disregard to beautiful environment that surrounded me I threw my remaining butts in the water. I floated for 20 or 30 minutes, but of course, as one always walks to their imagined execution it seems like hours until that sound of death I sought got louder.
The cross-pollination between nature and humanity that only the ocean and besought humans created did not make me balk. I laid still and let the splashes of the water extinguish my cigarettes as fast as I lit them.
I had almost more than a half an hour and would need no more. The rocks began to bounce against my back as I rolled over them, getting larger and larger as I went down the river. At the beginning, I felt pleasure in my ability to see it through, but later starting to cause pain and panic and lunacy, I wanted to see it to the end. Pieces of wood started to fall away. As I said I had no formal experience, military or whatnot. I was shocked at the shear severity of the cold of the water on a summer night and I panicked and dropped the cigarettes in the water and held to the sides as they bobbed and jolted against my head. But from the depths of the dips of the craters from below I laid on my stomach trying to balance myself but soon noticed that all this allowed me was a front row seat to the catastrophe that laid behind me. There was one in front, too.
At that moment, I faltered. I began to move from the front to see the impending disaster to turn to my stomach to avoid it. That sound of forest and nature all of a sudden turned into one that was most terrifying: the connection of god or whatever and humanity and a you can't fuck with me sound that the waves of the ocean had always given me. I was drowning, or about to and had chosen to do so, but in a river, not the endless cataclysm of waves that would take me to a different place of an ocean and I was scared shitless.
Every time I moved, the twine loosened and I clung more desperately. Pieces of rotten wood fell away and I cried. My eyes mixed with splashes of water that would take me to my death. I cursed myself but still did not stop myself from kicking. As I did, toenails caught on rocks and ripped apart. Fingers scraped the ground and were left with much less skin than the beginning. And my breath, my breath, my most important thing, was spent screaming into a darkness as I was carried down a river to a topographical error I did not know existed.
My map was birds eye view. A river was a river. This one led to a waterfall.
After seconds I was holding on to a stick that I kept trying to push in front of me to hit a boulder to force me on to the side of the riverbed. All it did was continue to force the branch into my eyes, lips and nose. It only took seconds before I could no longer breathe or see and quickly let it go. God and Nature won in the first round and I listened to it happen.
With breaths of fresh air I fell deeper, thinking of her lips wrapped around mine giving me her love to keep me alive. Yet I still went deeper hoping that the kisses would continue. They did, but I did not rise. I sank. To the bottom. In an open emptiness that accepted me, my dirty clothes and fingernails scraped the sand that covered my riverbed, pulling rocks from the bottom and sand to the top of my lungs. I raised my head looking for air but there was none to be found.
Her kisses enveloped me and I gave way, waiting for the fall to come slowly. My body and my head turned. Teeth bounced on the bottom, separating from my mouth and leaving them helpless on the floor. My jaws filled with sand and I started to chew. This was my last meal and to me it tasted like love. She, to me, one grain at a time until I ingested blissful sunlight and the great goodbye. I slowly rose to the top, floating down the river in a peaceful calm before the waterfall came. A passerby would have thought I was a log or a large turtle depending on the moment but She would always remember me as someone that always rose to the top or missed her too much.