Dragons in the Water
by J. H. Wear
When Harry accepted an invitation to join a dragon boat racing team by the eccentric Sheldon, he was plunged into the world of paddling, festivals and romance. But with Sheldon there is always a mystery and unknown forces involved as well.
Also includes: At The Edge Of Darkness
Can Rodney, a claustrophobic suffering vampire find romance? Rodney wants Irene. Her friend Shelly feels uneasy about him. And meet Sheldon, a whole other mystery.
I peered between the trees, straining my back as I stood on a clump of weeds that scratched at my bare legs. There couldn’t be any mistaking that booming voice of Sheldon. I had been enjoying a peaceful stroll along the walking path by the river when I heard that hardy voice. The truth was I wasn’t certain I wanted to see what he was up to, but morbid curiosity drove me forward.
Sheldon is a loud mouth, a know it all, and generally aggravating to be around. Annoying, actually. To say Sheldon is eccentric might be too mild a term to describe him. Lots of white hair. His face, like his personality, is large, with sky blue eyes, and a big hooked nose that stands over a mouth full of white teeth. He’s clean-shaven to show off his strong jaw and, for some odd reason, women find Sheldon handsome. What belies his elderly facial features is a body of an athletic thirty year old. Like I say, he’s annoying.
My name is Harry Webster. I’m thirty plus years old and I’m on the tall side of six feet. I guess I’m a bit on the heavy side as well, but I keep pretty active so the pounds are reasonably distributed. So far I’ve kept most of my black hair, though I have a couple of grey hairs sneaking in.
I write a column in the local paper about community events and keeping readers abreast of the social calendar. That may sound a bit boring work for a journalist but I also write under the name of Edwin Drood. My alter ego writes about the supernatural, ghosts, vampires, aliens and other assorted mysteries. Some are hard to believe but I always try to make sure there is a grain of truth in the story. No one but my editor knows who Edwin Drood truly is; it makes my column more interesting having that mystery. Well, almost no one else but my editor. During the course of following up on a vampire story, Sheldon casually mentioned to me that he knew Edwin’s identity was me. How he found out I haven’t a clue, but Sheldon is a mysterious man. More about him later but suffice to say that his nephew claims Sheldon is a warlock and it’s as good an explanation as any.
Thus curiosity, and a lead to a possible story, compelled me to seek an opening among the white bark birch trees, the thistles and sprawling elms to find out what he may be up to. By the way, thistles and bare legs are a bad combination.
“Nice job pulling water. Timing was a bit off but that’s what practice is for.” The speaker was a woman with her blonde hair tied in a ponytail. She was sitting backwards at the front of an oversized canoe, a canoe that held two rows of ten paddlers. In addition to the blonde speaker, there was a steersman at the back who held an oversized paddle to guide the boat.
“Can we do another race piece?” This was from Sheldon who was sitting in the middle of the boat and was holding a black paddle. His voice carried across the river easily, causing several ducks to take flight. The other paddlers quickly agreed to his request, though a few dropped their heads forward, looking exhausted.
I was fascinated. I had never seen such a huge canoe before and never heard Sheldon mention his interest in paddling. I watched as the boat was manoeuvred towards the middle of the river, and then the paddlers stopped, allowing the boat to slowly drift backwards from the flow of the river.
The blonde woman yelled, “Attention, please!”
The paddlers in unison held their paddles vertically just above the water.
The paddles plunged deep into water and then pulled backward. Water was ploughed upward as each paddler frantically repeated another stroke. To my surprise, the huge boat appeared to lift partially out of the water, as if it was trying to leap upward.
The paddlers, almost in harmony, reached forward with their paddles and slowed down their stroke.
Some of the paddlers adjusted their stroke, trying to pace with the lead paddlers better.
I watched Sheldon twisting in seat with each stroke, his big arms pulling his paddle with force.
“Power on three. Three, two, one. Power now!” the blonde woman shouted.
The boat, even though it was travelling at a good clip already, surged forward. It raced through the water as each paddler looked like they were trying to dig a hole in the river.
The steersperson, a tall, olive skinned man, stood easily on the rocking boat and moved his body with the strokes of the paddlers. He shouted out instructions to the paddlers close to him and they responded to his encouragement.