THE WHITE MAN RECLINED, folding both hands behind his head, resting his back on the seat at the bow of the canoe and asked the Indian scout —
“It is beginning to get dark. When will we take out?”
There was a white, electric hum and the click of static.
The scout did not reply, but peered up at the sky from the back of the boat. The white man relaxed and laid his paddle across his lap, watching the banks of the river pass as the current moved the skiff along. The sun had sunk behind the horizon line where the river disappeared and the bright fiery sky burned red overhead, bright and bold, reflecting on the slow ripples of water that the canoe made as it glided along the deep stream.
The cold drone of circuitry whirred, dead and monotone.
The woods were silent and cold, resting latent on the banks and the frosted bark of the birch trees glowed quietly in the dark hollows of the still timber. The white man gazed calmly at the dim coppice from the canoe as it passed, steered by the scout, hushed behind him.
The land appeared content and peaceful as the two men penetrated the wide expanse of the terrain and the river gracefully churned, pulling the pair along cautiously, deeper into the shadowed entrails of the wilderness. The white man felt aware of the territory’s vastness and sensed his weight and stature lessen, ceding himself to the broad scale of the land.
As the hull of the small craft slowly horned in the stream, its trespass sliced through the calm watercourse and drifted furtively through the solemn wall of the neighboring foliage that hugged the waters, slipping abruptly into the untamed shallows of the feral earth.
Moaning pipes hissed deftly, spanning curdled whispers from an unseen place.
The river began to bend and narrow as the boat pivoted, then verged toward a sandy beachhead of the bank, guided by the lone paddle of the muted scout. The forest swung around as the creek bowed and the white man turned his back on the landscape to watch the scout, his arms stiff as he dug his row deep into the black stream. The milky shore of the beach slanted-up out of the water, swathed off the banks, away from the flow.
Lines of cables buzzed, bent and coiled, spliced and charged.
The sands scraped beneath the boat’s hull as the scout glided its nose onto the muddy sand. He dismounted and waded through the shoal, pulling the canoe by the broadside onto the dry ground so that the white man’s feet would remain dry. Here and there, clumps of driftwood and sediment littered the slender beach, bordered by the steep embankment of twisted roots and fern brush where the tall vegetation of the woods receded into a damp trench.
Artificial sound. Neon pulse. Synthetic glow.
The white man looked back at the section of the river they had followed, the water trail slowly oozing into the darkness ahead, cuddled by a spookish mist as the night began its descent. The scout was now at work, arranging the supplies in a regimented fashion, unloading the skiff while the white man dallied along the shoreline in fascination of the shadows in the forest as they grew distorted in the dense environs of the marshy backdrop, murmuring with the thoughts of a day gone by. He caught the smell of smoke and turned to see the Indian’s copper skin shimmer in the orange glow of the campfire as it sparked and snapped over the red hot ambers in the sand.
Vents purred noiselessly, vibrating blades pulse with quiet, sober voltage.
The white man looked on at the scout who was staring silently at the reaching flames as they rose-up and blurred at tip with its sharp heat.
The television screen goes blank with a prickly snap and a soft hiss. Crackles of static fall across the dark glass, clicking and popping with an unseen inertia. The fuzz settles and bares a reflection, mine, alone, indoors, dry, and warm, breathing in and out, recycling air, sitting, incubating, thinking, “Enough of white men and Indians.”