Brian and Lanny Go to Europe
by Nick Brady
Having taken shelter under Roth's plastic tarp quite early in the evening, Brian, Lanny and Roth woke up early the next morning. Brian and Roth had slept in their damp clothing while Lanny was nestled inside the only sleeping bag that remained. As a result, Brian and Roth were chilled and uncomfortable. However, as soon as they awakened their concern was for Lanny.
"I'm cold," Brian complained. "How about you?" he asked Roth.
"I am also, but I hope that Lanny is feeling better today."
Brian peeked inside the bag at his sleeping friend. "He's still asleep and he's breathing. That's a good sign."
"Yes, it is," Roth agreed. "We should go see if we can find the other packs. We will need them. They will have dry clothes for us."
"I know, but I don't want to leave Lanny by himself. Maybe we should wake him up and see how he feels this morning."
"I have the little stove in my pack. Let me heat some water and make coffee for us. He will feel better with a warm drink, I think."
"We all will," Brian suggested. "That's a great idea. Do we have enough water?"
"I think so. My bottle is almost full, and the coffee and dried milk is in my pack. Let me do that now," Roth volunteered. "What will we do if he is injured and cannot continue? I am worried about that."
"We won't know that until we get him up and see how he is," Brian said. "He walked up here with our help. If he can walk, we can get him out. If not then we will have to carry him."
"Yes. We will not leave him behind. That is for sure," Roth agreed. "He is very dear to you, I think. Maybe he is more than only your friend."
Brian sighed. "He is much more to me than just a friend. I am thinking that I have found a life partner in him. I love him, Roth. I love him very much."
"And he loves you too. I can see that. Do not worry for your friend. We will take him home safely. I promise you that. Now let me make coffee for us. It will be a good thing."
Brian left the little shelter only long enough to empty his straining bladder then returned to Lanny's side. The movement seemed to rouse Lanny and he raised his head to look around.
"Where are we?" he mumbled.
"We are back up on the trail. Roth is making us some hot coffee. How does that sound?"
Lanny laid his head back down. "Yeah, that sounds good. What happened last night? It's kind of a blur."
"We had an accident trying to get out of the rain. I slipped and fell, and you hung onto me. I think it might have sprained your shoulder or something," Brian told him. "How do you feel? Can you move around a little?"
"I think I'm OK. Oh! I guess it hurts to move my arm. My right arm is OK but the left one, maybe not so much."
"Can you get up? Do you think you can stand up and walk?" Brian asked.
Lanny sat up in the sleeping bag and wiggled his feet. "I think my legs are alright. I need to pee something terrible, but where are my clothes?"
"You were all wet and cold so we undressed you and put you in Roth's sleeping bag. Your pack and mine are still down where we had the accident."
"Oh." Lanny tried to process that. "I need to pee."
Brian flipped back the tarp and helped Lanny to his feet, still wrapped up in the bag. "Turn around and pee right here. We'll get you some dry clothes. I think you should stay in the bag."
Lanny giggled, "I guess it's either that or piss in Roth's sleeping bag. Help me so I don't fall over in this thing."
With Brian's help, Lanny stood and unzipped the bag far enough to take aim and let loose a steaming yellow stream on the downhill side of where they stood. "Oh man, that's better," he sighed.
"OK now. Why don't you lay back down until we figure out what comes next," Brian said and gently helped Lanny back down and in the warm bag.
"Hello Lanny!" Roth handed him a steaming cup of coffee with milk. "This will be good for you. How are you feeling this morning?"
Lanny took the cup and blew on it. After taking a sip, he said, "I'm not sure yet. I hate being so much trouble."
"Don't worry about that," Brian told him. "Without you, I would be at the bottom of the canyon."
"How is that?" Lanny asked. "I don't remember much about last night."
"It will come back to you," Brian said. "Right now, if you think you can stay here by yourself, Roth and I need to see if we can retrieve our packs. Will you be alright by yourself for a little while?"
"Sure. I'm OK now. Thanks for the coffee."
Roth and Brian waited only long enough to drink some of the hot liquid themselves then went off in search of their packs.
"I think it's just down the hill," Brian recalled.
"Yes, I think so. The rain has stopped now. Maybe the little creek has stopped running," Roth guessed.
They made their way down a sort distance until they found the place of their previous adventure. The runoff was now only a small trickle and they passed across without difficulty.
"Here is my pack," Brian shouted, "and Lanny's is just beyond it. I was afraid that they were at the bottom of the slope."
"We have some small good luck," Roth laughed. "We can be grateful for that."
They shouldered the two packs and rejoined Lanny up on the trail. They found him sitting up with the bag around his shoulders and looking alert.
"How are you feeling now?" Roth asked him.
"Your coffee is magic stuff. Can I have a refill?" Lanny held out the empty cup.
"Yes, yes. Of course you can have it. Let me make more. Now we have all of our packs and more water bottles," Roth agreed cheerfully.
"Here is your pack, Lanny. Let me get some dry clothes out for you and we can get you dressed," Brian instructed.
With Brian's help, Lanny stood and stepped out of the sleeping bag. The sight of him naked gave Brian a feeling of concern for his friend. He was a little unsteady and looked rather helpless. He leaned on Brian and soon had on dry underwear and then pants and his hoodie. He sat back down and Brian put on his socks for him and laced his boots.
"How do you feel? Brian asked.
"Better. Kind of normal, I think."
"Can you walk?"
Lanny took a few steps and walked around in a circle. "I can walk OK. There's nothing wrong with my legs, but my left shoulder is not so good."
"Let me look at you," Brian said. "Try to raise your arms up over your head."
Lanny raised his arms to waist level then made a face. The right arm went up over his head, the left stayed down. "That's it, I'm afraid. When I try to raise it any higher it hurts too much. "It's not my arm, really. It hurts back behind my left shoulder."
Brian frowned, "I think you've torn your rotator cuff. We'll have to get that looked at when we get back."
Lanny looked concerned. "I'm going to screw up our hike. I hate that. I'm sorry Brian."
Brian stepped up and hugged Lanny close. "Don't worry about that. I'm just so relieved that you aren't hurt worse. You really don't remember what happened?"
Lanny shook his head. "Not really. I remember being in the rain and I think we were trying to find a place to get out of it. The next thing I really remember was waking up in Roth's bag this morning."
"You saved my life, I think. I slipped and fell and you hung onto me and kept me from falling. That's what pulled your shoulder out of place. If you had let go, I would have fallen a long way," Brian told him. "You're my personal hero."
"Really?" Lanny looked surprised.
"Really. Now we need to figure out where to go from here." Brian asked Roth, "Just where are we? Is there an access point where we could get Fredrick to pick us up?"
Roth looked uncertain and looked at his map of the trail. He shook his head. "We are not far from the place we wanted to stop last night, but there is no access road at that place. I don't know if the place we plan to stop tonight has an access road from Munich near it. Maybe the nearest place is at Passau where we intended to finish our hike. If we cannot make it to there, we could call for a helicopter airlift. We can do that if we need to, but it will be very expensive."
"Well. That sounds exciting," Lanny smiled. "But I think I'll pass on that. Actually, I think I can walk OK, but I'm not sure about the pack."
"That is not so important," Roth assured him. "Let us think about how to solve that problem."
"We can leave your pack behind," Brian suggested. "That's better than leaving you behind."
Roth interrupted, "His pack is a very nice one, and you will need it if you are able to continue. My pack is old and I can easily get a new one. I can carry Lanny's pack and leave mine behind."
Lanny frowned. "Maybe we don't have to ditch anybody's pack. What if you guys reload our stuff into two packs and let me try to carry one that's basically empty. I might be able to do that."
"I don't want you to injure yourself any more. That might make it worse for you," Brian protested.
"We could try it," Lanny insisted. "If it doesn't work out then we can dump a pack, but we can at least try."
"I think that might work," Roth agreed. "Let's see if we can put everything into the two good packs and let Lanny carry mine empty. If it is too much for him then we can leave mine behind. I don't mind. It will make a good reason for me to get a better one." Roth laughed. "Let's try that."
"Are you sure you want to do that?" Brian asked Lanny.
"I want to try it. That would make me feel better about slowing us down."
"The rain has stopped and I think it will clear today. It would be good to repack our things anyway. Let's empty all three packs and see what we have," Roth suggested.
They spread out Roth's plastic tarp and began to empty the packs. There were some light-weight things that Lanny might be able to carry. Everything else was divided up into the two newer packs and reloaded. Those two packs were somewhat heavier now, but not so much that Roth and Brian could not manage them.
"Now the question is whether or not you can carry Roth's old pack at all," Brian told Lanny.
"Let me try it," Lanny insisted. They eased the lightest pack on Lanny's back and let him take a few steps. "Oh shit. That isn't going to work. That left shoulder just won't take any weight at all."
"Then we can leave it behind," Roth insisted. "Really, I don't care."
"Wait a minute," Lanny protested. "Is there some way I can loop this thing over my right shoulder and carry it that way? My right shoulder is OK, really."
Brian sat down and thought the problem over. "If you just drape it over your right shoulder, it's going to keep slipping off or throw you off balance. What if we take some of that cord we brought, and tie the thing around your waist on the left side? That might let you carry it."
"Sure. It's light enough now. It won't be that hard to carry. Let's try that," Lanny agreed.
Roth shook his head. "I don't care about the pack, really. Maybe it is better for Lanny to carry nothing."
"Look. It is important to me that I can carry something. I guess it is kind of a pride thing, but I want to try this. If I can't do it then we can dump the pack," Lanny said firmly. "Besides, The light stuff is the Muesli, coffee and powdered milk. I don't think we can survive without coffee for two more days."
Roth laughed, "Maybe Lanny is correct. Coffee might be important for our survival. I think we should try this."
"Thank you," Lanny nodded. "I'm glad you see it my way."
Brian shrugged. "OK, hard-head. Give me the nylon cord and let me see what I can rig up."
After several attempts, a means was devised to allow Lanny to carry Roth's pack on his right shoulder with a tie around his waist.
"How does that feel?" Brian asked.
Lanny bounced it up and down a few times. "I think this will work. I'm ready. Let's go."
Roth put his arm around Lanny and gave him a little hug. "You are a person of great courage and determination. I am proud to call you my friend. I am ready also. Let's continue."
Brian was not totally convinced, but saw that further discussion was pointless. "OK, baby. Let's get this show on the road."
Roth led the way, followed by Lanny. Brian walked behind his friend and watched him carefully. Lanny seemed to be in good spirits. They hiked several miles before Lanny turned to Brian and said, "I think I would like to stop for a minute."
"How is that bad shoulder?" Brian asked.
"It's kind of sore."
"Do you want to dump the pack?"
"No, but I think I need to do something. I kind of want to support my arm a little. Is there a way to do that?"
"I think so," Brian said. "Give me a minute." Brian looked in his pack and found a dirty T-shirt. "Let me have your knife," He told Roth.
Brian cut the shirt into strips and made a sling to support Lanny's left arm. He also found some Ibuprofen and gave him several. "I should have done this before we started out. The sling should make you a little more comfortable and this might dull the pain a little. Want to try this?"
"Yes!" Lanny said with determination. "That feels better already."
Brian and Roth exchanged looks, then they started off again. "How are you doing?" Brian asked after another mile.
"I'm OK, thanks to Doctor Brian."
Brian trudged along behind his friend, shaking his head and mumbling something about stubbornness.
They actually made pretty good time, although stayed to the trail and made no side trips to enjoy the view. At noon they stopped for lunch and Lanny lay down to rest while Roth fixed some warm soup to accompany the jerky and granola bars. They found plenty of water and drank their fill.
"How do you feel?" Roth asked Lanny.
"I'm doing alright. I might talk you out of a couple more Ibuprofen though," Lanny said. "I can't say I haven't felt better, but I can do this."
Brian shook his head. "And you called yourself a wimp."
Lanny responded with a grin. "Maybe I can do more than I thought I could. I guess you never know until you try."
Roth smiled, "There are no wimps on this hike. We have come a long way. If you look to the south, you will see Austria. This is beautiful country."
"We are going to make it," Lanny assured them. "I won't slow you down too much. The sling and the pills are doing the trick."
They pressed on, ever mindful of Lanny. He walked steadily and with determination. Clearly he was tired, but would not stop. Their trek took them past an old mill, and several lovely lakes. They paused briefly to rest and drink water, then went on. When they reached Hauzenberg, they found themselves in a little park just inside the village.
"There might be a doctor here," Roth suggested. "Perhaps we should let you see him."
Lanny shook his head, "No. I'm doing alright. Doctor Brian is attending me. Maybe when we are back in Munich, but I have come this far and really feel like I can make it on in."
"You are one stubborn son of a gun," Brian almost scolded him. "I hope you don't suffer any permanent damage from this."
"You sound like my mother," Lanny chuckled. "Let me do this my own way, will you? Can we camp in this park? I'll let you set up the tent."
Roth laughed. "I think our packs will be safe in this little place. There should be an Inn here with a place to eat. Maybe we can find something that is not freeze-dried for our supper. Do you think so?"
"Now that's the best idea I have heard all day," Lanny smiled. "I wouldn't mind some real food."
"After stowing the pack in the tent and zipping it up securely, they walked into the village and found a small cafe. It was filled with the smell of good food and they sat at a corner table and waited for someone to come to them. A buxom woman came smiling up to them and asked them something in German.
"Wiener Schnitzel mit Pommes frites, ein gemischter Salat und drei Bier," Roth told her.
She smiled, nodded and left to fill their order.
"What's for dinner?" Lanny asked wearily.
"I think the American translation would be, chicken-fried steak and fried potatoes with a nice salad. Also three glasses of cold beer. I hope you don't mind that."
"Actually, that sounds fantastic," Lanny grinned. "The beer will serve a medicinal purpose."
"I couldn't agree with you more," Brian laughed. "If there is a time and a place for anything, this is the time for a beer."
Lanny slipped his arm out of the little sling that Brian had made for him. I want to see if I can eat with both hands," Lanny told him. "I'm pretty hungry."
"Let pain be your guide," Brian suggested. "We will sling you up again tomorrow when we are hiking."
"You know," Lanny looked at Brian with admiration. "You are going to make a fine doctor someday. You have a gift."
"Oh, I just know a little first aid from scouting, that's all," Brian said modestly.
"It's more than that. You have a feel for doing the right thing. If I say it's a gift, then it's a gift, OK?"
"Yes sir," Brian smiled. "I will take that as a compliment. But I still want you to see a real doctor when we get back. OK?"
Lanny nodded in agreement. In a few minutes the lady hurried over with a tray of food and set it in front of them. It smelled delicious and they dived in like the three starving young men that they were. Conversation ceased as they fell to their supper. The nice lady returned shortly and Roth asked for three apple dumplings with ice cream. That followed with coffee and thick cream.
Lanny leaned back and smiled. "I am healed. It's a miracle."
"You think so?" Brian asked.
"German Beer just might be a miracle drug."
"Maybe it was the dumplings and ice cream," Brian wondered.
"Or the coffee," Roth added.
"All of the above," Lanny sighed. "I think a good night's sleep and I'm golden."
"We have another day's hike before we reach Passau," Brian reminded him.
"Yes. We might ask Fredrick to try and find us here, Roth suggested.
"No. I made it this far. I can make it one more day," Lanny insisted.
"Then that's what we will do," Brian agreed. "You are a tougher guy than you thought you were, Lanny. Maybe you're tougher than I thought you were too. I have nothing but respect for you."
Lanny smiled almost wistfully, "That means a lot coming from you. Thanks for that."
"I am so happy that I know both of you," Roth told them. "I will never forget this adventure."
"OK. Enough of the sentiment. I'm beat," Lanny said with a sigh. "Let's get some sleep."
They went back to the little park to find their tent undisturbed, except for three small boys who were sitting nearby with a grubby soccer ball. When they approached the tent, the boys began to chatter among themselves.
"What are they saying?" Brian asked.
"I think they are curious about us," Roth told them, and spoke with the boys in German.
"They want to know where we are from. I told them I was from Munich and that you are from America. They are excited about that."
"Is this place so remote that they have never seen an American before?" Lanny wondered.
"Perhaps not. They are very young. I think for sure they have never spoken with an American before."
"Guten haben," Brian said to the boys. They responded with giggles.
"Wait a minute," Brian looked in his pack and pulled out a small coin purse. He sorted out the US Coins that he had inside and with a certain sense of ceremony gave each boy a quarter, a nickel, a dime and a penny. "America," he told them.
The boys were very excited and spoke rapidly something that was incomprehensible, except that the words America and Danke caught their ear.
"You have made some new friends," Roth laughed.
One of the boys said something else to Roth. "He says that they were watching the tent so no one would bother it."
Brian made a little bow. "Danke." More giggles.
Lanny stood by and smiled, then bent over and unzipped the tent. "You guys carry on. I'm going to bed now."
The boys laughed and then kicked the ball towards Brian with a hopeful look. Brian laughed and kicked it back. A brief and chaotic little futbol game took place before Brian put his foot on the ball, put his hands together at the side of his head and pretended to snore. The boys laughed and Roth politely shooed them off. The trotted away laughing and talking among themselves.
"You are nice with children," Roth said with a smile.
"I like kids. I always enjoyed the younger boys when I was in scouts," Brian explained. "I kind of miss my little brothers, actually."
"Yes. You told me a little about them. They are twins? Are they identical?"
"They are. I can almost always tell them apart, but sometimes they fool me," Brian admitted. "These boys remind me that they asked me to bring them back a soccer ball."
"Ah. You must remember to do that."
"I will. I won't forget," Brian said, and followed Lanny into the tent.
The sleeping bags were located and with very little conversation, all three were asleep.
The sun shining into the tent woke them up in the morning. The sun was a welcome sight.
"I think we will have good weather today," Roth guessed.
Brian stretched and yawned. "I hope so. I've had enough rain." He turned to wake up Lanny to see that his eyes were already opened.
"Guten Morgen," Lanny greeted him.
"You are speaking good German," Roth told him.
"Well, that and Danke is about All I know."
"Maybe that is enough," Roth laughed.
"How are you feeling today?" Brian asked him.
"Pretty good actually. I think I'm going to live."
"Are you up for another day of hiking?" Brian asked. "We might get Fredrick to come find us here."
"No. I'm good. Wrap up my arm and give me a couple more of those pills and I'll make it."
"I have a suggestion," Roth said. "This is our last day. Maybe we can go to see if that little cafe can make a breakfast for us. What do you think?"
"I think that's a great idea," Lanny agreed. "I remember that they have a toilet too."
"That's an even better idea," Brian laughed. "Let's go."
They zipped up the tent and walked over to find some breakfast.
"Do you suppose our stuff will be safe without our little security guards?" Brian laughed.
"Oh, I think so," Roth advised them.
The same stout lady was in the restaurant and smiled when they walked inside. Roth made a polite inquiry and she pointed to the toilet. They relieved themselves and used the sink to wash their faces and hands, then came back to order some breakfast.
"You did great last night," Lanny told Roth. "Why don't you order for us?"
"I can do that if you like," Roth spoke to the lady and before long plates of fried eggs, sausages and crusty rolls arrived with an assortment of jams and a plate of butter. Three cups were set out along with a carafe of hot coffee and a small pitcher of cream. There was honey in a little jar.
"You did good!" Brian said.
While they ate, they discussed the last day on the trail.
"This is a very nice walk today. I have done this part several times. There are some nice things to see if we can take the time to enjoy them," Roth said. "It depends on how you are doing today, Lanny. We do not want to test you too severely."
"Really, I'm fine. With the thing that Brian rigged on the pack and the sling for my arm, I think I will be fine. If I could make it yesterday, I should be just fine today. You guys are carrying almost everything."
Roth nodded. "Yes, yes. I think you will do very well today. I hope you do not mind my saying so, but I feel very proud of you. I have great respect for both of you."
Roth went on. "Maybe you should know that we Germans think of ourselves as very rugged people. Some maybe think that Americans are not so strong as we are. I will tell them that is not so. I would be ready to go anywhere with you. If you are typical of Americans, then we should think better of you."
"Thank you very much," Brian said. "I guess I never really thought about that. I just figure that people everywhere are pretty much the same. I know guys who are weak and guys who are strong. I imagine it's the same here. Probably it's the same everywhere."
Roth smiled and nodded. "Yes. I think so. I think that is true everywhere. We are all human, right?"
"Yep. And I think some of us are stronger than we realize we are until we get tested a little." Brian smiled at Lanny. "Right?"
Lanny shook his head. "I just couldn't bear the shame of letting you guys carry my ass over the mountains. I take your point though. I owe you both a lot of appreciation. You have been really good to me. Thanks."
"Well if you really mean that, we'll let you pay for breakfast," Brian grinned.
"You got it," Lanny laughed.
When they got back to their tent, they found the three young boys from the night before watching their tent. With them were three others. They stood up and grinned as the hikers approached.
"Uh-oh," Brian mumbled. "I think I'm about out of coins."
"No, no. You are famous now. Your friends are here to greet you," Roth guessed.
When they reached the little greeting party, Brian stuck out his hand and said, "Guten Morgen!" and shook the hands of the original three. They stood tall and proud and said something to their companions.
Roth laughed, "They are telling them that they are friends with the Americans."
"Doesn't take much to make you famous in a little town," Lanny chuckled.
Roth spoke to the boys again and they smiled and walked off for a little distance and sat down. "I thanked them for guarding our tent but we have to go now."
Lanny shook his head. "This was really a big deal for them."
"Yes it is. They will remember you. They will remember that the Americans they met were very nice to them. They will not forget this," Roth laughed. "This is diplomacy at its most basic level, I think. It is good that you treated them so well."
"Well, gee. They are just kids. Who wouldn't be nice to a little kid?" Brian shrugged.
Lanny laughed. "Not everybody would give them the time of day. But I guess you're not everybody, are you?"
Brian shrugged. "We need to get packed up and start off. Let's get with it."
They folded up the tent, loaded their packs, and Brian put Lanny's arm in its sling and rigged up his pack again. They turned to walk away and looked over at the little group of boys.
They were all waving goodbye.
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