Wednesday, August 30, 2006


One jaunt across. It'll hold. One jaunt -- push the gas down, get it moving.

The diesel engine of the truck idled loudly as fat raindrops slapped and burst against the windshield. They dropped fast and plentifully, as the humid sky over the jungle canopy was filled to the bursting with moisture. But, no matter how much rain fell, the temperature and humidity remained, unabated.

It'll hold.

Mario's hands gripped the wheel at eleven-and-two, fingers massaging the grip, moist with sweat. Sweat -- everywhere. Rivulets running down his brow. Filling his eyebrows. Soaking his back. Pitting his shirt. Sweat -- everywhere.

Water -- falling outside. Water -- raging in the gorge below. The river was cresting, roaring. Water -- violent spumes of white.

His foot bobbed on the gas unconsciously, racing the engine ever so slightly with each slight push. The truck lurched forward a bit with each surge of gas, but rolled back to a rest each time. Gas, surge, but no movement. As if, the vehicle was bolted to the ground.

It'll hold. It'll hold the weight. Three days around the other way -- have to go this route.

The diesel truck was pointed towards a bridge -- a wood bridge spanning the gorge. The way looked unreliable -- an old bridge, eaten by time and age. It was once hardy, but now, tenuous.

Water battered the old beams plunging downward stabbing into the silty, shifting riverbed.

Will it hold?

What was called cursed at the outset was now downright damned.

Three days around the other way... can't spare the time. Time is too sensitive.

A bead of sweat fell out of his brow and into his right eye. He released the wheel and wiped the drip aside, returning his hand calmly in the wheel -- resuming the white-knuckle grip.

The way across the bridge hinged on its steadiness. It will hold, it won't hold. But what of the cargo?

Five-hundred gallons of nitroglyercine. One shake -- bad shake -- 20 acres of jungle are atomized.

Five-hundred gallons of liquid explosive, jostling in the back of the diesel. Unstable -- volatile.

A fool's errand. A dead man's errand.

Mario lifted his foot off the clutch, threw the vehicle into gear, and applied pressure to the gas pedal. The gap between the bridge and the truck closed, slowly. Slowly...

Five meters.

Four meters.

Three meters.

Two meters... one. And comes the contact: Tire on wood.

[Based upon Le Salaire De La Peur by Georges Arnaud]