Mark longed to get away from it all. The pressure of owning his own business was getting to him. The construction business is tough; schedules, deadlines, late deliveries, sick employees, bad weather, bad material, crabby customers, lazy employees, taxes, repairs, satisfy everyone but yourself.
“What do you mean the electricians left the job site!” Mark slammed the phone down on his desk and tossed it across the room.
Helen, his secretary, walked in with a folder in her hand. “Here are the invoices you screamed for 15 minutes ago.”
“I’ll look at them later,” Mark said frustrated. “I’m going to get a coffee and after the coffee buy a new phone.”
“Good idea,” Helen said and cautiously slid the folder on Mark’s desk.
“You don’t have to be afraid of me,” Mark said.
“I’m not, but if you raise a hand to me I’ll have to take you out,” Helen said. “You’ll fire me and I’ll be out of a job.”
“I’ll be back in awhile,” Mark said. He walked into the outer office and his cell phone rang. He answered. “Mark… Tell him he broke it, he replaces it!” And Mark stashed the phone in his pocket. Before he got to the door his cell phone rang again. “Mark… I don’t care if you have to drive to Chicago or Pittsburg yourself, I want it here by morning!”
Mark turned his back to the door and fell against it. “Helen, tell them all to go away.”
“Mark,” Helen said. “You have a cabin on Crystal Lake. No one is there this time of year. Go for a week.”
Mark pressed his lips and smiled. “Tell my idiot brother, Butch, to run things for a week. I’m taking off and hopefully he won’t bankrupt us by the time I get back. I‘m taking a week off.”
Two hours later Mark was an hour on the road and listening to classical music on the radio. Pleasant harvested fields with hues of red, orange, brown, and green as their backdrop gently passed by his automobile like a slide show. Tension eased away as if loosening a tightly tied knot.
Four hours later he was at the cabin and there was just enough daylight to stroll along the rocky shores of Crystal Lake.
There was not a soul in sight. The lakes surface was as calm as he’d ever seen it. He picked up a stone to give it a hurl and thought ’if I where that lake would I want so much as ripple to disturb me?’ He smiled pleasantly and dropped the stone in its place.
He continued along the rocks and looked over the lake surrounded by majestic pines. In the distance a few ducks sat undisturbed in the water. Overhead a flock of Canadian honked and it was so quiet he heard the flapping of their wings. After they passed he heard a lonely loon from the other side of the lake.
He sat on the large rock and just let it go for a moment. He thought of nothing, but where he was. The relaxation was so great he nearly came to tears.
His cell phone rang and immediately Mark was in full combat mode. He grabbed the phone from his coat pocket, stood, and hurled it as far as he could into the lake. He lost balance and his ankle slipped between the rocks. He stood, but could not remove his ankle. The harder he tried the more lodged it seemed to be. He’d call for help, but his cell phone was a good fifty yards off shore and twenty feet under.
Nobody was on the lake, of that he was certain. For an hour all sorts of scenarios raced through his mind and the least possible was being found and rescued. Only chance could save him. As night fell the pressure, strain, and anxiety of his business seemed not as distressing.
He wondered ‘how long would it take for Helen to realize he was up here stuck between the rocks? She didn’t expect me back in a week. If I don’t come back in a week will she reason that I’m having such a relaxing time that I’ve extend for a day or two or three. At what point does she realize I’m missing? The way I’ve treated her lately it may be a month before she knows I’m gone. And my brother will be happy being king of the hill for a while. He’s probably thinking about changing the name of the business already.’
Mark huddled down into his coat and pulled the collar over his ears.
“Hypothermia,” he said. “That’s the way I go. I’ll just fall off to sleep and never wake up. What I wouldn’t give for a cell phone.”
“Mark, Mark, Mark,”
It was Helen.
“Helen,” Mark said excitedly. “I’m over here! I’m caught in the rocks.”
There was a discussion of how to remove his foot. Finally Helen fetched a stove poker from the cabin and it was used to pry a rock enough for Mark’s foot to slide out.
He stood on the ground and stomped his foot and walked around until the feeling returned.
“Helen,” Mark said. “What are you doing here this late at night?”
“I was going to bring you my cell phone,” Helen said. “Remember you cussed the cell phone company out yesterday and told them to discontinue the service today?”
“Yeah,” Mark said. “I seem to remember that now.”
“By the way why didn’t you call for help?” Helen said. “They said they wouldn’t shut the phones off till midnight.”
“It’s out there,” Mark said nodding toward the lake.