Jackson awoke to the smell of fresh urine tickling his nostrils. He opened one eye, and saw the massive root of an oak staring at him.
He contemplated rolling over, to see what his other eye would report, but after some serious consideration, he decided against it – it would expend too much energy, and could possibly upset the already delicate balance he had achieved. He closed his eye again, and as he listened to the gentle purr of the river, dispassionately wondered if the urine he smelled was his.
“Whatever”, he thought as he drifted away, back into sleep, only to be awoken again, minutes later, this time by stinging sunlight. He knew now, that no amount of contemplating or considering or eye closing, would delay the inevitable.
He rolled his head over, slowly opening his eyes. On the other side of his head lay another massive root. This one decorated with a pair of black boxer briefs. Jackson had stopped wearing underwear about 40 years ago, and was truly perplexed and slightly worried as to the origins and ownership of these shorts.
He looked straight up. The great canopy of oak which protected him from the early searing sun could not protect him from that same sinister star’s reflection off his Dodge’s windshield. A thin cord of morning pierced through his temporary hideaway, and knocked impatiently on his eyelids. He rolled away with a grunt. The cooling feeling of no longer having the sun on his face was manna from heaven. Jackson was pretty happy with himself at this moment. As usual however, this feeling of success was not to last.
No, although it felt much more comfortable than the morning light, Jackson slowly began to realize the true nature and source of the new cool, moist and comforting feeling. Retching almost in the instant that the filthy thought bubble formed, Jackson realized that this nearly instantaneous cooling was not solely due to the absence of sunlight… His mind made some startling leaps in logic, quite startling and unsettling for Jackson to handle, especially in his current delicate condition. First of all, this instant cooling was not entirely located on the cheek which had just recently evaded the urine, but spread across his neck and shoulder. His face shuddered in horror at the new scent now assaulting his nose, a scent that was far more pungent than the fresh, watered down urine smell which had greeted him -now, in comparison, so soothingly compared to this current wretchedness.
Not taking the time to taste the cobwebs in his mouth, Jackson added to the concoction of filth by further emptying out his stomach unto his erstwhile pillow, the contents of which, already have been emptied several times the previous day, provided nothing but bitter bile, and a sharp pain in his sternum.
Once again, Jackson was experiencing the worst day of his life. It is amazing how many days in his life he had experienced as the worst day, more often than not, at this very river, and typically, on a Sunday. He could not rank which of these terrible days were better or, worse than the rest…. They were all, quite simply, the worst.
Standing slowly, and stumbling gingerly to the river, he cleaned himself as best he could. He then forced himself some long sups from the cool water. After he was sure he would keep down the water, and not caring which side of the river he was on, he gingerly laid himself at the base of a large willow, closed his eyes, and left again.
A few hours later, even the dense leaves of the willow could not protect him from the suffocating heat now engulfing the river bank. Almost like an automaton, he launched himself upright, and stumbled away from the river, in search of shelter, and revitalization. His nap had done some good, and he now realized that he was only a few dozen feet away from his cabin. Muddy, sweating, nauseous and dizzy, Jackson made his way back home, followed by Ulysses.