A few weeks before my travels to meet Charlie in South Africa I dared to commit to a pre-paid elephant safari. In the bush. Bareback.
The bonus of an aging mind and faded memories. Not intimidated one iota by the eight inch scar running from stem to stern. Forty five autumns later, a whiter shade of pale. No more bikinis. Or a tawny, suntanned tummy. Unless you count the topless beaches in France (another story, peut être). Ruptured spleen.
Involved: Galloping double bareback with my school friend, Libba. A skittish mare. Handsome teen age boys. A train crossing on a country road. And yes, you guess it, poor timing. Recipe for disaster. Cantered right past a RR crossing. Gates descending. Clanging bells. Lights flashing crimson. A maniacal freight train bellowing black steam roaring past. Horse shied. We tumbled to the gravelly pavement. Woke up in the ambulance. The horror now as faded as the white stripe.
When we approached the watering hole I slid off Muqua's leathery, wiry haired back onto a platform. Legs wobbly. Pulse slowing to its natural rhythm.