By Trish Hubschman
How did we land up in a canoe on the Delaware River? We came to Pennsylvania looking for Dorney Park, an amusement/water park. But we couldn’t find it. Since we’d driven two
hours from Long Island, New York, we didn’t want to have to just turn around and make that
long journey back.
We decided to head up to the Pocono’s.
“Don’t you have a cousin that lives up here?” Kevin asked. I answered to the affirmative. “Why don’t we see if we can find his house.” Kevin liked my cousin Joey and his wife Nancy.
I knew their address, but I had no idea how to get to their house.
“They live on top of a mountain,” I replied. My window was open and I could hear the
Noise the river was making. “What’s that?” I asked.
I think he smiled. “The rapids, they’re very strong. I always wanted to go white water
I had no idea what that was but his voice sounded dreamy. “So why don’t we do that? We’re right here now. The river is there.” I pointed out my window. “What’s stopping us?” It
might be fun.”
He glanced at me. “You sure?” he asked. “You didn’t want to go to a water park.”
I smiled. “Hey, at least in a boat on the river there’d be no water slides to come down too fast, no wave pools to feel nauseated in and no hot cement to walk barefoot on. I say we
go for white water rafting!”
The boat supplier didn’t have any rafts available. They were all being used on the river right then. But we could take out a canoe. I’ve never been in a canoe but I figured it couldn’t
be too difficult, and with all the other people out on the river, it was safe enough.
“Let’s do it!” I said. The boat guy hooked my orange life jacket too tight. I then settled myself onto the plank seat in the canoe. I placed my backpack on the floor at my feet. Kevin sat at the opposite end. He proceeded to explain how to use the oar to row he boat. I tried to
loosen my life jacket.
“What are you doing?” he asked. I told him. “Leave It on ,” he told me.
I protested. “But I can’t breathe and I just want to loosen it a little.”
“Leave it on,” he said again. I dropped my hand from the life jacket. “Put your oar in the
water and let’s move?”
I did and we were off. It was smooth sailing. The scenery around us was beautiful. The current moved fast and looked white. “Where are all the other boaters?” I asked.
“ Probably at the other end of the river by this time of day. We made a late start,” he
I hadn’t paid much attention to that. “This is great,”” I replied as we continued rowing. Suddenly, I felt a thud and we stopped moving. “What’s going on?” I asked.
Kevin glanced around him. “I think we’re wedged on that rock,” he said. I put my hand over the side of the boat and it wasn’t water I touched but what felt like an island. “Put your oar on the rock and together we’ll try to push the canoe free,” he said. I followed his instructions, but we were still stuck. “We need more power,”” he said, rising to his feet. “I’ll try
to push us away with my oar. You rock the boat.”
That time I wanted to protest. His suggestion had to be dangerous, but we couldn’t stay on this rock forever. “Sure,’ I replied and did what I was told. As Kevin tried to push us away with his oar, I shifted back and forth on my bench. I think we were making headway. It felt like the little sand island beneath the boat weas scratching under us. “I think it’s working,’ I
Suddenly, the boat flipped over. Kevin went flying over the side. I screamed and fell beneath the water also. I came up first, sputtering and practically crying. I still clutched my oar, but my backpack was moving fast down the river. “Kevin,” I screamed, looking around me
frantically. “I’m over here,” he called. I turned and saw that he was pretty far away from me in the opposite direction. “Stay where you are. I’ll come get you.”
“I have to get my backpack,” I said, diving for the retreating sack. I grabbed it with my free hand. After taking a few deep breaths, I headed back to the canoe. Kevin was by the side of it. The river wasn’t deep. We could stand in it. The bottom of it was slippery rocks. The water was warm and kind of disgusting feeling. “What are we going to do now?” I asked. My legs
were starting to feel water logged.
“We have to get out of here,” he replied. He licked his lips and glanced around. “See that bank over there,” he pointed. I looked. All I saw was a ten or fifteen foot wall covered with grass, bushes and weeds. “We have to reach it and climb it, find a main road, then head back
to the place we rented the boat.”
I was tempted to make a snide remark. Heck, his plan sounded easy enough, right? But I kept my mouth shut and nodded. “I lost my glasses,” I said, as if that was of prime importance. Kevin reached out and took my hand. I realized then that I had lost the oar. I was worried about it. I told Kevin, but he said the guy would find it later. We had to get to safety first.
I couldn’t walk on the slimy rocks and kept slipping. I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to go home. But we made it to the bank and had to figure out how to accomplish the
“We have to follow this wall along to we reach a clearer path,” he said. So with our backs against the stabbing weed wall and our feet on a narrow earth landing, we edged across it. At least we weren’t in the water anymore. It was hot and I kept getting stabbed, pinched or scratched by something. The rocks started jutting out further and the little piece of land we
were inching across was vanishing.
“This is where we should try to climb it,” he suggested.
I didn’t look up. I was wet, filthy, disgusting feeling, thirsty and I had to go to the bathroom. I just did what he did, put one foot in front of the other and attempted to climb up the rock embankment. It was slow going. I slipped back a few times. I still had my backpack and
it was getting heavy. I didn’t want to relinquish it though.
We made it to the top. I felt like celebrating! But I knew we still had a long way to go. There seemed to be endless woods in front of us. Without my knowing it, my legs gave out and I sank to the ground. “You okay?” Kevin asked. I shook my head. “Do you want to stay here and
I’ll go see about finding help?”
For a second I considered his offer but then I thought what if there were bears in these woods? I shook my head. I Let my backpack slide off my arm. I couldn’t carry it anymore. I rose
to my feet. We set off.
“I see a house or cabin in the distance,” Kevin announced, after we’d been walking a bit. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t believe it. When it did come into view for me, I was certain it was a mirage. We got closer. A woman came out of the house. Kevin said something to her but I didn’t pay attention. I was exhausted and just collapsed on the deck steps. Kevin disappeared and the lady brought me a cold glass of water. Kevin reappeared. “I just called the guy at the boat place. We’re not too far from there. He’ll meet us at the main road and we’ll go look for the boat.”
The canoe and one of the oars were retrieved. The other was lost forever. The guy was pretty mad but after he saw the condition we were in and heard our nightmare story he
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
RATINGS GAME (TALK SHOW QUEEN)
by Trish Hubschman (C 2019)
In print ($9.50) and e-book ($2.99) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
The e-book is text-to-speech enabled.
Cover image, free text preview, buying links, and more:
Trish Hubschman has three previous Tracy Gayle mysteries in print: The Fire, Unlucky Break, and Stiff Competition (Miss America).
Synopsis of Ratings Game:
The Danny Tide story continues.
Somebody’s trying to kill the rock star’s second wife, talk–show hostess Blair Nelson. Danny and Tracy, now a couple expecting a baby, get pulled into it because Danny finally agrees to do an interview with his ex–wife. She’s been bugging him for a while.
That evening, after a draining day at Blair’s studio, when Danny and Tracy are home in bed, Danny’s phone goes off. It’s his and Blair’s daughter, Liz, announcing that she found her mother unconscious on her bathroom floor. Blair ingested a drug overdose.
Who would want to eliminate the talk show queen, and why? Could the perpetrator be Blair’s housekeeper? Her personal assistant? The owner of the television station? The show’s producer? Even Danny and Liz are on the suspect list.
Everyone had opportunity, but no one has a motive. They’re all devoted to Blair. They need Blair to wake up and give them some answers.
In the foreground, a black TV camera is in sharp focus against a blurry blue and orange background. The words “A Tracy Gayle Mystery” are centered at the top of the cover, and the author’s name is at the bottom of the cover, off to the right. Both of those are in white letters. The main title, Ratings Game, is in red-orange letters just above the camera. The subtitle, Talk Show Queen, is in parentheses in dark gray letters on an off-white background on the small screen on the top of the camera.
Editing, cover design, print layout, and e-book conversion are by DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. Cover photo is by Joshua Hanson on Unsplash.