Oh, PUH-LEEZE! Did she just say that? Did a twenty-first century professor of literature and composition assign an essay on 'My Summer Vacation' to her class of twenty-first century students? I believe the last time I was given this assignment was in the forth grade.
Professor Hixon continued, "You can make it as long or as short as you want as long as it's at least a thousand words. You can use as much slang, idiom and dialogue as you want. This essay will be graded on originality and its ability to hold the interest of the reader. Are there any questions?"
I held up my hand.
"Does it have to be true or can we create something?"
"Well, I'd like it to have at least an element of truth in it but you're free to spice it up in the interest of interest. I don't intend to challenge your honesty but try not to get too carried away. Are there any other questions? No? OK, see you next week."
I was still grumbling to myself as I walked across campus to my dorm room. This is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. 'Spice it up' she says. Well, I'll give her some spice.
I'd like to have given her something else; my hard dick! Janet Hixon was a knock-out; tall and willowy, raven hair falling half way down her back and a body good for hours of fantasizing. I had signed up for this comp class just to be able to sit and admire her beauty for three hours a week. Oh well, life's full of trade-offs. A stupid essay for the privilege of ogling Janet Hixon's ass isn't too bad a swap I guess.
I had to think about what to write for a couple of days. The only real break in an otherwise somewhat boring summer was the weeklong camping trip in the Wheeler wilderness area in southern Colorado. The scenery there is fantastic and, from time to time, I crave the sense of solitude you can only get in the deep forests. As much as I enjoyed the trip, there weren't a whole hell of a lot of exciting things to write about. I didn't wrestle any grizzlies or anything. I just took my time enjoying the view and filling up the memory card in my camera with pix.
But there was an idea beginning to form in my devious little mind. The more I thought about it, the more compelled I was to carry it out. It would probably get me into a world of shit, but I couldn't resist. Oh, the confidence of youth! I sat down in front of my computer with a mug of tea, took a deep breath and waded in:
My Summer Vacation
By: Sean O'Reilly
I love the outdoors. Exploring back trails in the deep woods is just about my favorite pastime and I seldom pass up an opportunity to indulge it. Last summer it was in a southern Colorado wilderness area. I knew I might run across one or two people like myself but mostly I'd be alone with the pristine mountains and my thoughts.
I spent a day getting my gear together before driving up to an old abandoned sawmill at the end of a dirt trail that wasn't much more than a cow path. That was as far as I could go in my old second-hand Land Cruiser. From then on, I was on foot. You might try it on an ATV but I think you'll wish you hadn't.
If you're not an outdoors person, I don't think you can appreciate the sense of exhilaration and freedom that comes from looking back and seeing no signs of civilization; no highways, no McDonalds, no eye-stinging pollution. By the end of the day, my camp would be about eight miles up the mountain. My only concessions to technology were my cell phone, my e-book and a solar charger taped to the top of my backpack. So sue me!
I pitched my tent a few yards from the rock formations that gave the place its name, Wheeler Geologic Area. I built a little fire pit and started to heat water for some bland but filling dehydrated food. If I was lucky I might snag a couple of brook trout from the little stream that ran through the clearing. I've never once suffered pizza and beer withdrawal symptoms on a camping trip.
Just as I leaned back against my pack to relax and sip some soup, I heard first a 'Whoa!', then 'Ouch!', and ending with 'Oh, fuck!' coming from the rock formations behind me. I set my soup down and trotted up the path into the rocks. Around a tight bend I found a woman sitting on her butt and rubbing her ankle.
"Are you OK, Miss?"
"No, I'm not OK if you must know!" She appeared to be in pain or pissed or both. Probably both. But then her expression softened a little and she managed a friendly smile. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. It just makes me angry when I do dumb things. I was climbing up that rock to get a better view when I got over-balanced and started to fall backwards, so I turned and jumped. I guess I came down with my ankle turned under. I'm pretty sure I've got at least a bad strain if not a sprain and here I am at least day's hike from anywhere."
"I'll be happy to look at if you'd like. I'm no doctor but I used to be a trainer for our football team and I've taken an EMT course. At least I know how to wrap it if it comes to that."
"Then you know more than I do. Thanks for offering."
I kneeled down to unlace her boot. She winced and sucked air through her teeth as I pulled it off followed by her heavy wool sock. The ankle was already beginning to swell so I was pretty sure she had at least a sprain. I looked at her and shook my head. "It needs ice but, unless you have some in your back pocket, we're out of luck. You're not going to be able to walk on this."
"Shit!" Tears of frustration were welling up in her beautiful brown eyes. "What the hell am I supposed to do now?"
"First we need to wrap it. Wait here, I'll be right back." I had forgotten about the instant cold-pack in my first aid kit. I brought that and a three-inch Ace bandage. After the ankle was properly wrapped, I helped her slide her wool sock on over it with the cold-pack tucked inside.
I stood up and looked around. "Is your camp close by?"
"Down to the end of the path and turn left."
"I guess we're neighbors. I just set up around to the right in the clearing."
"Yeah, I thought I heard something."
I helped her up onto her good foot and put my arm around her waist and her arm over my shoulder. We managed to get to the bottom of the path before she had to sit down. "This pain is getting pretty bad. I don't suppose you have any aspirin or Tylenol, do you?"
"In fact, I do. Do you think you can make it another few yards or would you like me to carry you?"
"I can make it."
We hobbled to my camp and got her settle on a blanket with her foot elevated. I gave her two industrial strength painkillers and some water.
"If you want, I've got a flask of brandy in my pack and some water heated up for coffee."
She smiled and nodded her head.
I poured a couple of ounces in a cup and added instant coffee and water. I asked her name as I handed her the cup.
"Jane. Jane Dixon. And yours?"
"Sean O'Reilly. Nice to meet you Jane. Sorry it wasn't under more pleasant circumstances. You know, that ankle is going to restrict your movement quite a bit. Why don't I move your camp over here next to mine?"
"I guess that would be a lot more convenient but I hate to put you through so much trouble."
"Not a problem. Just relax and I'll go get your stuff."
As I busied myself getting her tent set up next to mine, I kept stealing glances at her. She really was an attractive woman; almost as tall as I am, raven hair cascading halfway down her back and a body that invited lust. I almost asked her what she was doing out alone in the wilderness but caught myself before I wound up looking like a complete idiot. How sexist would that have been?
After a couple more laced coffees and two more pain pills, the throbbing must have eased up because she was looking a lot more relaxed. We spent the rest of the afternoon trading stories about our lives and our plans for the future. Turns out she's a professor of literature and composition at the same university I attend. Fancy that! The sun was warm and pleasant and during a lull in the conversation, she drifted off to sleep. She looked so sweet and innocent I just wanted to hug her. I didn't, though.
Maybe two hours later, I shook her shoulder gently to wake her up. "Hey, Jane, supper's ready. We've got chicken soup with dumplings, rehydrated, of course. Are you hungry?"
Looking up with sleepy eyes, she said, "Well, aren't you sweet. I'm starved enough to try it without the water. Help me up?" With me supporting her she hopped over to a big rock and sat.
"That brandy must have really done a job on me. How long was I asleep?"
"A couple of hours, I guess. How's your ankle?"
"Pretty sore but I'll live. The question is how do I get myself back to civilization?"
"I've been thinking about that and I've come up with a few options. I've already tried my cell phone and there's no signal here so that's out. We can rig up a crutch for you but the terrain is too rugged to make any time on the trail. I think our best plan is to sit tight. Since today is Friday, I'm thinking sooner or later other campers are going to come along. I figure we can ask one of them to notify the Forestry Service and they can either chopper you out or send up a crew to carry you down in a stokes stretcher. What do you think?"
"Damn, Sean. I'd be embarrassed to be so much trouble. How long do you think it'll be before I can walk on this ankle?"
"You shouldn't even consider walking on it until it's been x-rayed. We don't know how bad the damage is; it could be sprained or broken or both. If the swelling has gone down and there's not much pain in the morning, we could try walking out. Do you need to be someplace soon?"
.... There is more of this story ...