Book Excerpts

“It’s the color of the water,” I think to myself, “that’s what really makes this lake extraordinary.”

This seems like a strange thought to have considering I’m about to die. In a few seconds, my short and somewhat frivolous life will reach a dramatic conclusion, right on the glassy smooth water of Lake Chelan. It’s not going to be a pretty death either. It’s going to be spectacularly gruesome.

I imagine at my funeral they will say, “He died doing something he loved, out water skiing on his favorite lake.” Actually, my death will be the result of being dragged by a speed boat eighteen inches behind the swim step and getting hacked up by the engine.  Being chopped up by a stainless steel propeller is not an activity that I love.

My older brother is piloting the boat. He is unaware that I’m wrapped up in the ski rope and clinging with one hand to a small cleat. Most of my body is extended out over the water, my face inches from the churning outboard motor.

I’m hollering with great enthusiasm, but no one can hear me over the engine. I can’t hold back the force of the ski rope that is stretched out into the lake and pulling me with hundreds of pounds of force. The near end of the rope is tied to the boat, so when my hand slips off, I will fall into the water, spin around, and be dragged right on top of the motor, the blades of which I can actually see.

In the midst of this, I can’t help noticing how blue the water is. Between the frothing prop wash and the side spray of the boat, the hull is carving out deep glassy troughs in the lake, and it looks as if we’re moving across a glowing backlit sapphire. It seems odd to me that my last thought on this earth is going to be about how beautiful the water is in Lake Chelan.

Then again, maybe that’s not such a strange last thought for me. It might even be a fitting last thought. I have always loved lakes, lakes of every kind. I’ve enjoyed swimming in them, boating across them, gazing at them, fishing in them, watching storms come up over them. For my entire life, I’ve been enchanted by lakes and swept up in the romance of them. Of all those that I have visited, I have loved Lake Chelan the most. I will probably miss this particular lake quite a bit after the speed boat has chopped me into mulch.