On The River
By Jeff Baker
It was hot on the river.
The water was the green of late morning, not yet the gold of afternoon.
Duoaud was grateful for the hat as his strong arms rowed the boat forward. He was not going fast. It was good.
The tall man with the silver carrying case stood on the bank waving. Duoaud dutifully moved the boat over to where the man could get in. He recognized him.
“Hello, Hyew,” he said as the man sat down in the front of the boat. The boat was sturdy, made of firm, old wood. Hyew did not need to indicate the direction; they had been on this route before.
“I feared it would be humid today,” Hyew said, not really paying much attention.
“On those days, I wish I could stay in,” Duoaud said. The cool shade of a tree or a glass in a cool, shady house had an appeal, but he had to make money. His expenses were meager but they included upkeep of his boat. He smiled to himself. There was always the river.
“It’s a nice enough day,” Hyew said, “that in an earlier era I would have walked into work today.”
“In the days before the river expanded across the world, you could have,” Duoaud said.
But then, there would have been no leisurely trip down the river for the two men, the river making them equals for a short while. They heard the lapping of the waves, the sound of the oar, the wind whistling.
Duoaud glanced up and saw the pale Moon in the bright blue sky. He could make out the ridges and the blotches of cities. His passenger could afford to travel there, to live there, to breathe the cool Moon air from the Luna tanks.
Duoaud moved the boat along. No. He had the boat and the river and the payments of his passengers. For him the sky was for looking, not attaining things out of his reach.
Duoaud brought the boat to a stop at the destination. The man paid his coins and left the boat, walking along the stones set evenly on the bank.
Duoaud pushed the boat back into the flow of the river. There would be other passengers. Tonight, maybe there would be fish to catch. Fish to cook over a hot, outdoor fire, beneath the stars.
It was good.