Excerpts from Deadly Currents

Excerpt #1

Chapter 1

“If a man is destined to drown, he will drown even in a spoonful of water.”

- Yiddish proverb

“Gonzo’s not going to make it.” Steve Hadley peered upriver, squinting as whitewater spray sparkled in the brilliant June sunlight. His voice held a sharp edge of concern.

“What?” Mandy Tanner dropped her half-eaten PBJ sandwich into the waterproof ammo box on a large boulder beside her. She leapt to her feet. “He never blows Number Four, even with a boatload of clueless tourists.”

Gonzo Gordon was one of the best whitewater rafting guides on the upper Arkansas River in central Colorado. He was manning the lead boat in this three-raft pod making its way downriver. He knew the Numbers section like an old milk cow knows the path to the barn. But now his raft teetered almost sideways to the rushing current at the top of the class V rapid’s last big drop. Mandy’s fingers clenched as if she was the one straining with all her might on an oar to fight the current, but in reality, nothing she could do would stop the impending disaster.

The forward side of the raft dove down the precipice, under the boiling foam. Passengers spilled out, legs and paddles flying. Even Gonzo pitched into the water.

Mandy craned her neck for a better view from her vantage point on the river bank, searching for heads as they popped, gasping, out of the waves. “Holy cow.”

The now lightweight raft, amazingly still upright, launched itself out of the tumbling waves. One wide-eyed woman remained inside, hugging the thwart on which she had been sitting, shoulders hunched in quiet desperation.

Excerpt #2

“Thanks,” Mandy said, grateful both that the woman had the energy to help and was okay—unlike her other rescuee. After they had beached the cat, Mandy tied the bow line to a tree. Then she checked on the man.

He lay across the pontoon, unmoving, his face gray. Not good. Definitely not good.

Wanting nothing more than to collapse on the gravel, Mandy knew she couldn’t. She slipped her hands under the man’s armpits and dragged him on his back onto the beach. He was tall, middle-aged and had a fair-sized beer gut on him. He must have weighed well over two hundred pounds, which didn’t compare well to Mandy’s one-twenty-five. Her arm and leg muscles quivered with exhaustion.

Once on the beach, she fell to her knees beside him. She put her ear to his mouth and nose and watched his chest. A faint wisp of air tickled her ear, then another, as his chest rose and fell shallowly. Thanking God, she felt for a pulse. It was weak, fluttery.

Mandy pulled out her radio. She looked at the woman who knelt nearby, hands on her knees, catching her breath. “Will you watch him, let me know if he gets worse in any way, while I call for an ambulance?”

She nodded and scooted next to the man.

“Thanks again.” Mandy keyed the mike. Between labored gasps, she relayed her location to the dispatcher.

“Hey.” The young woman tugged on Mandy’s arm. “I think he’s stopped breathing.”

Mandy shoved the radio at the woman. “Tell the dispatcher.”

She put her fingers against the man’s neck. No pulse. She listened for breathing. None. She gave him two full breaths mouth-to-mouth then rechecked. Still nothing. She unzipped his PFD and ripped it open. Counted to thirty as she did chest compressions.

What is up with this guy? Why is he going south on me so fast?