“River Crossing…” said the sign.
River? There was nothing there, not a single drop of water in sight.
He looked left. He looked right. If he was to cross anything, he’d follow the rules.
Then he took a step forward and looked left and right again. He had always been very cautious.
He looked at his watch and took another step forward.
That’s exactly when, out of nowhere, a huge pack of wolves knocked him down.
The locals nicknamed the pack leader River and crossing River where he usually crossed was not a healthy thing to do, cautiously or not!
Welcome to River Crossing, possibly the most inappropriately named town in the County.
There’s no river here. Nearest one is two hundred miles south; so, no need for a bridge across it neither, nor any sort of river crossing, for that matter.
In fact, bridges is the one thing we’ve got in short supply around here. No river bridges, road bridges, footbridges or railway bridges, on account of there being no rivers, roads or trains.
So, no railway crossings either.
Beats me why they gave it the name in the first place.
But, I guess you gotta call it something.
If it’s a river crossing you’re considering, then a wise man will take my advice and avoid the old stone bridge.
For beneath its arches lurk the trolls, who will beat you senseless, steal your coins, then eat you for supper.
For a small fee, I will ferry you across safely to the far bank, out of harm’s way and protected from the evil clutches of the trolls.
Of course, when we land, I’ll beat you senseless, steal your coins and leave you for dead.
But at least, unlike the trolls, I’ve no intention of eating you for my supper!
Sam raised his hand to shade his eyes from the setting sun. The river was
high after the late storm rolled in from the Rockies. A few lights had
started to glow on the far bank. One single light grew larger as it moved
to where he stood. Blue brown water merged with the blue brown hull of the
river crossing ferry. It was a size fitting the population it served, and
made returning home for the night possible. Without the tiny boat it was a
four-hour trip to next largest town on the river.
The man looked cool in his khaki shirt with epaulets and unbuttoned to show his hairy chest. Even standing up to his waist in the jungle river, he had an air of comfort and confidence. With a rope over his shoulder, he pulled a simple bamboo raft with his supplies stacked upon it. He wasn’t even sweating. His loosely permed hair and big brown mustache were perfect. And he was enjoying a Camel cigarette.
The younger me stared up at the billboard in awe. The message was clear what I needed to do next to become that man of adventure.
“Daddy,” Linoliamanda called back to her father. “I’ve told you before. There’s nothing wrong with Billbert or his family. He’s my friend.”
“Don’t make me come and get you,” her father said, hurrying down to the sidewalk, but stopping at the street and eyeing it like a hazerdous river crossing.
Billbert’s father crossed the street, his hand extended and a big smile on his face. “Hello Mr. Withybottom. I’m Hosmer Blanketmaker. My son speaks very highly of your daughter.”
Mr. Withybottom looked at Hosmer’s hand as if he was offering him a dead fish. He folded his arms and frowned.
The Great Crossing is best witnessed from the watch tower by the grand market. Look to the river, before dawn. Soon the barges from distant Harem will appear, a fleet that blots out the river, their gaudy pennants outlined by the rising sun.
Then all is a jostling to unload and furnish the market stalls. Not a single pottery jug is broken, nor a single bolt of silk dropped, by the time the Market Bell sounds the opening.
Towards evening it sounds again, and the stallholders close up and row back to Harem, the barges glowing in the setting sun.
There’s an old puzzle where a monkey, a pig, and a person need to cross a river.
But if you leave one of them alone with another, something bad happens.
Like the pig eats the monkey or the monkey rips the face off of the person.
So you have to think through who crosses the river in a boat and who is left together on the shore.
Me, I just sent the person and the pig across in the boat and leave that damn monkey behind.
Because that monkey will rip the person’s face off at some point anyway, right?