He awoke to the oil lamp in his room burning, brightly casting it’s dancing shadow all about the room, and a severe headache. The town doctor was sitting near him holding a thermometer and smelling salts. The doctor explained what had happened to him, and continued by scolding him for gallivanting around the tree at this time of year. From that time on he avoided the tree whenever possible, making it the first and last altercation they (Elliot vs. Black walnut tree) would ever have.
The heat was becoming unbearable, despite Elliot’s station, so he made up his mind to go swimming at The Dam. Now The Dam really wasn’t a dam, it was a section of conglomerated granite used for redirecting water into irrigation canals which all had fallen into disrepair. Elliot Put on his sandals, grabbed his wide brim hat, and proceeded out the door.. Stepping out onto the front porch he began to contemplate his route of travel. The most direct route was East Road, which was ironic because this road ran north to south, but this route offered no shade. His alternate route was the trail through the woods. The trees, thanks to the relatively unnoticeable season change, would shade the path. He chose the latter, obviously.
A soft breeze was rustling the branches and brought the sounds of mens’ laughter to Elliot’s ear. This was good news for Elliot since he had been worrying about the chances of him drowning because of his choice to swim alone. Stepping through the thick glade of trees that skirted the river, Elliot stopped in his tracks. There were men swimming, but to Elliot’s horror none of them had trunks on. Elliot had never skinny dipped before, and was scared to just stroll out there and toss off his clothes, so he stood still in the shade of the trees. He sat and watched these men for several minutes and began to admire their seemingly free will, he wondered if he should be doing this, but dismissed the thought and continued to watch the nude men frolic about in the warm water. Elliot’s eye-lids began to get heavy. In a few short minutes Elliot had succumb to the late fall humidity and tumbled into slumber. Slowly a dream popped into his eyes. He was looking at himself, or his feet anyway, feeling around on the bottom of a river at a pocket of clay. He watched himself dive down, grab a large hunk and wade back to the shore where he proceeded to rub the clay over his naked body… Loud splashing woke Elliot with a start, interrupting his nap abruptly. He looked around to find the thief who had taken away his dream and found a small brown river otter, chewing bits of fish, on the other bank of the river. Elliot noticed the men were gone, this saddened him because his dream had made him bold enough to attempt contact. He stepped out of the woods once again and walked towards The Dam. Elliot thought how much a shame it was he had missed an opportunity to share time with fellow humans. Stepping into the water, its temperature refreshing, he waded forward and wondered if the men lived nearby. He made up his mind; he was going to visit The Dam everyday in hopes to see them again. He wanted to talk with them ever so badly; he wanted to be free, to not care. As the clear waters of this slowly moving river enveloped his body, his last thought was…I wonder what kind of fish that otter caught.