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Post 84 / Hour 88: Burning Bridges

By Jules Fredrick
Atlanta, Georgia

[Jules Fredrick is the winner of our fourth and final flash humor writing contest. Congratulations, Jules! Here’s her winning entry.]

 

100hours-logo4Somehow, I don’t think “Federal Arson” will look too good on my resume. But there’s no way my company will keep me when if I return to the States. Especially since it’s my fault all 21 of my clients have been sequestered to the judge’s chambers.

I’ll explain. In the final days of a three-week tour through Chile and Argentina, we’ve arrived at the climax of the trip- Torres Del Paine in Southern Chile. I am leading a group of retired sod farmers that arranged the trip through the travel company I work for.

Following a white-knuckle flight and arduous bus ride through dreadful weather but stunning scenery, we arrive within a mile of our destination. Our bus is too heavy to cross the rickety wooden bridge to our hosteria, so we’re instructed to get our bags and walk across to meet the hosteria’s van.

It’s nearly midnight, and pitch-black. It’s also sleeting. It takes entirely too long to organize my cranky coalition. Impatient, I light a cigarette, cupping it against the wind while rounding up as many flashlights and umbrellas as possible.

Finally there is enough cohesion to begin our cautious trek over the slippery bridge.  Midway across, a plank gives way, sucking first my foot, then my entire leg, into the abyss.  Far below, the river rushes in a deafening torrent, and I know my time has come. I curse my high-school boyfriend and wish I’d been nicer to my brother. Really. No one deserves to have his toothbrush peed on.

A voice above tells me “It’s OK,” and I allow the calm to envelope me.  I see the pinpoint of The Bright Light, but it seems to be floating away, not towards me. Feeling my shoulder being yanked from its socket, I realize a group member is pulling me to my feet, away from my imminent grave.

Safely at our hosteria, the group members have a bite to eat and complimentary cocktail before retreating to bed. Too shaken and stirred to sleep, I have another drink when an employee rushes in with news. The bridge is on fire!

The police arrive the next day with a summons for our entire group to report to the nearest courthouse-several hours away, as soon as they can figure out how to get us back across the now bridge-less river.

After being corralled by fours into small aluminum boats, we are pulled, hand over fist, to the police-escorted bus on the other side.  On the drive to prison, our heavily armed guard explains that since this bridge was in a National Park, and we were the last people to cross it, we are being held on suspicion of Federal  Arson.

I consider a “Bus Break”. We have the numbers, but our passports have been confiscated.

Freed due to lack of evidence, the guard gives me a “never come back” look as we board our bus. Talk about Burning Bridges!


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Published on Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One Response to “Post 84 / Hour 88: Burning Bridges”

  1. March 5, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    Well, I got in what I could with only 2 words to spare. Stay tuned for the more complete version at a bookstore near you!

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