by M. A. Bookout
We were flying N.O.E. (Nap of the Earth) low and fast. The UH-1H Huey, Helicopter quickly rose, just missing a mountain top. I had my feet hanging out and swore I could drag them across the peak as we sped past. We dipped suddenly into a valley, and then veered right, then left, then quickly rose again and back above another Mountain top; shooting straight up into the sky; like a bird at play. The rugged Mountains of Honduras are daunting and dangerous but from where I was sitting it was breathtakingly exhilarating. The incredible vistas, the wind whipping through the helicopter, and the smell of burning JP-4 in my nostrils all gave me an incredible sense of euphoria.
The pilot gently set us down on a small open area in between mountains. We’d have to hoof it from there. “We’ll be here when you get back,” said the Pilot. We quickly grabbed our gear and made our way up the steep ridge. Cresting the slope, a small village came into view. When I saw it; I thought I’d been propelled back two-hundred years; huts made of mud with thatched roofing; the villagers; however, were in modern clothing.
In the center of the village, children were busy playing. I quickly took notice of one boy who had a small toy. It was a wooden top; chiseled by hand with a nail through the center. He quickly wrapped a string around it, and threw it hard toward the ground. It spun like a well-balanced gyro. When it quit spinning he picked it up and handed it to me. He said something in Spanish and I looked over to our translator, “He wants you to give it a try,” he said. I spun the string around it and threw in on the ground. It hit with a thud, and no spin. I quickly picked it up and tried again, and again. It took me half a dozen times but I finally got the hang of his crudely made toy. Every child in the village watched in amazement of me trying to get the hang of this little toy. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was a stranger, or the fact I had trouble with something so easy for them.
We finished our business in the village and headed back down the ridgeline. To our surprise the little boy came running down yelling in Spanish. He stopped in front of me and held out the small toy. Once again I turned to our translator, “He wants you to have it,” he said. I couldn’t believe this little boy would give me his only toy. I thought for a moment then opened my wallet and handed him a crisp fifty-dollar bill. He took it, and smiled then turned and made his way back up the mountain. “Was that okay?” I asked. Our translator said, “He’ll be a hero to his village. He’ll feed them for a month on that.” We climbed back into our helicopter for the fantastic ride home. As the beautiful scenery passed I didn’t notice as much. My mind was on the boy who’d touched my heart. I held in my hand, a little wooden top.
That little Top has a special place on the mantle of my fireplace. The best fifty-dollars I’ve ever spent.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing