Near-Death Experience

The What? The Where?

Lucas’s there, teetering on the edge; a light breeze, a falling leaf, and he’ll drop to the raging (okay, not raging) river (okay, maybe a stream) and be dashed on the massive row of boulders (okay, maybe loose formation of small rocks) a hundred feet (okay, maybe only fifteen or twenty feet) below. Holy smokes, this is not going to have a happy ending. It’s hard to believe his stupidity has driven him to this point, but in the fuzzy remembrances associated with imminent demise he seems to recall this all somehow being his fault. Damn, if only he had someone else to blame. He remembers biking for the park with his sister. There was a house along the way; he remembers that too. And a dog. Yes, a dog! A vicious dog with monstrous teeth. He can see him now, the dog, up on his hind legs, right before him, as if watching with bated breath to see if he would fall. The bastard! This was entirely the dog’s fault. The dog went after his sister. Yes, that sounds familiar. He ran at her and she freaked out. And then Lucas decided to be brave, and he barked to catch the dog’s attention. Really and truly idiotic. The dog just ran at him. And then Lucas biked away. But the dog was fast. He was gaining on Lucas. So Lucas got off his bike and ran for the bridge over the water running through the park. But … But it’s blurry, the remembrance. His balance is failing. He lunged at Lucas, but missed. Lucas dodged him, like a football player avoiding a tackle. Lunge and a miss! See you later! The dog lunged again, and he missed again. Lucas kicked him in the head getting out of the way. And then Lucas saw the brick divider. The divider he’s now on. He jumped onto it. A great jump. Maybe eight or ten feet (possibly three or four). The brick divider with the stones mortared unevenly together; with moss and cracks and all sorts of deadly things meant to disrupt balance. Lucas thought he was safe, but he wasn’t. The dog, the bastard, he tried to jump after him. The dog only got his forepaws up. But Lucas thought he was going to make it. White light! Lucas thought the dog would tackle him. A long tunnel! And Lucas stumbled. A golden gate! He reeled. He’s still reeling. He’s about to fall.

Two days before, Lucas had been exchanging a pouch of magic beans for a really cool bike with ten speeds, eight brakes, and super tires that allowed it to climb vertical obstacles from this peasant fellow with a hefty gap in his decaying teeth through which an occasional fly would zoom. Lucas thought he was getting the better of the deal because the magic beans had expired a few months ago and were no longer able to grow into giant beanstalks that soared into the sky. After the exchange was made, Lucas told the fool that he should plant those beans right away if he wanted to get those beanstalks nice and high for the next gold rush. The peasant thanked Lucas for the advice, and in return he warned Lucas that he should never ride his book toward a park lest a dog attack him. Lucas thanked the lunatic and rode away.

Two days later Lucas encounters the dog as he’s biking for the park, and, indeed, almost falls to death on the lip of the bridge. But he doesn’t. Light receding … Lucas regains his balance, kicks the dog in the nose, and the dog runs away.

Later that night, Lucas is plagued by nightmares over his near-death experience. In the morning, he decides to take his pouch of magic beans that had expired a few months back and bring them to market in the hopes of unloading them on some sucker that can’t read the expiration date on the bottom of the pouch. At the market, he encounters some gap-toothed fool of a peasant selling a gorgeous ten-speed bike. Lucas suckers the man into a deal, an even lays in a low jab about how the beans should be planted and watered straight away to ensure maximum growth before gold season. The gullible peasant thanks him, and tells him that he should be wary about riding the bike near bridges that run over parks, for it is said that dogs are inexplicably drawn to such activity.

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