Writing Prompt Story

 

This is just for fun- hasn't been edited, not looking for a critique.  This is FAN FICTION.  If ff turns you off, don't read.  It is based on the original Hawaii Five-O series.

Out of Their Comfort Zone

 

Danno walked into his best friend’s office.  He tossed a black knit winter stocking cap on his desk, grinning.

Steve looked at it quizzically, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“Steve, you’ve got to trust me.  For once can you totally and completely trust me?  No matter what?”

The tall man was very suspicious.  “Why?”

Danno sat in the chair, crossed his arms resolutely, “I’m not gonna tell unless you promise to trust me.  100%.”

Steve was still wary.  “What have you got in mind?”

Danno was mute.

“Give me a hint.”

Still grinning, the younger man pointed to the stocking cap he had thrown on the desk.

Steve scoffed, “What kind of a hint is that?”

Danny replied, “It’s all you’re going to get.  Trust me?”

Knowing something was up, Steve shook his head, “Uh-uh.  Danno, my friend, I trust you with my life.  But not now.  I want to know what you’ve got planned.  THEN I’ll decide if I trust you or not.

Danny just shrugged.  He got up, “Okay, Steve, no problem.   I’ll get started on that paperwork from the Benson case.”   And walked out, smiling.

Steve’s curiosity was getting the best of him, but he wasn’t anywhere near ready to concede to Danno.  And Danny was fully aware of his boss’s interest, but was steadfast in his mission.

The day passed, Steve had left the cap on his desk.  No one mentioned it.  At suppertime, Steve asked Danno to go out to eat with him.  “Let’s skip take-out tonight, Danno, and go eat someplace.  My treat.”  That was fine by him; they left together and drove to a nice seaside restaurant.  They were seated in a corner, and provided with water and menus.  Steve flipped the hat out of his pocket and on to the table.  Danno smirked and was silent.

Finally Steve said, “Tell me about it.”

Danny feigned ignorance, “About what, Steve?”

“C’mon, you know what.”

“Promise me you’ll trust me 100%?”

Steve still wasn’t ready to do that in this case.  It WAS true; he DID trust Danno with his life.  But there was something cagey, sneaky about this.  He wanted to know more before committing to something he had no idea about.  He pumped Danno with a few questions and got no answers.  Then he asked, “Does anyone else know what this is all about?”

Danno thought about that question, looked at his friend, chuckled and said, “Yeah.  The governor.”

The governor, Steve thought?  Why him?  After a few more unanswered questions, Danno suggested, “Shall we order, Steve?”  He knew his friend’s curiosity was growing by the minute, and the little tidbits he fed him were just adding to his agitation.  He could see Steve struggling to maintain control and a façade, mostly successfully, but to one who knew him so well, not entirely hiding his feelings.

They shared a nice meal and drive back to the Palace.  Then back up to Steve’s office.  He took the cap out of his pocket and pulled it onto his head.  “Is this what you want?”  Danno laughed, “Looks good, Steve.”  And said no more.

Steve paced.  Snapped his fingers and tried to use his superior detective skills to put together some sort of theory.  But there was too little to go on to make any sense.  He knew if he left with this unresolved, he wouldn’t sleep.  He also knew he didn’t want to give in to Danno, simply out of pride.  And Danny was aware of all of that.

The boss said, “You know, Danno, I could probably get the governor to tell me what this is all about.  Trick him if need be.”

Danny instantly blurted out in a panic, "Steve, you can't do that! It's just not right!  That would be cheating!"  He knew Steve was cunning enough to succeed if he tried that.

And Steve realized that acting that way would indeed be cheating, for some reason he wanted to “play fair” with Danno.  Smiling, the boss said, “Okay, aikane, I won’t call him.”

Danno wasn’t entirely sure if he could/should trust him, but decided to take him at his word.  But he clarified, “You mean you will not ask the governor anything about this, at all, in person, or on the phone, right?”

“That’s right.”  After a few minutes while Steve paced some more, Danny pushed it, “Look, Steve, it’s late.  I’m tired.  I’m going home. See you in the morning.”  And he got up to leave.

As the younger man headed out, Steve leapt between him and the door.  “Oh, no, Danno.  You’re not going anywhere until I know what this is about.  I won’t call the governor, but YOU’RE going to tell me.”

Finally the tall man said, “Okay, what, exactly, do you want from me?”

Danny replied simply, “I want you to trust me 100% and promise to do what I ask.”

Sarcastically, Steve replied, “That’s all???”  Danno just shook his head, and sat there. 

Danny stood there, tapping his toe, waiting for Steve to agree to his demands.

Finally, finally, Steve said, “Okay.”

Danny asked, “Okay, what?”

Grumbling, but speaking clearly enough to be understood, Steve said, “Okay, I trust you 100% and I will do what you ask.”

Danno eyed him carefully, “You’re sure?”

Steve had had enough, and hollered, “Yes, I’m SURE!”

Danny pleasantly replied, “Okay, Steve.” And went and perched in his spot on the corner of the big desk.

Steve waited impatiently, as the younger man played the moment for all he could get.  Slowly, Danno said, “Well, Steve, it’s like this.”  He looked up sharply at his boss, and reminded him, “Remember, you said you’d do what I ask you to.”

Steve, keen to get on with this, motioned away the objection with a wave of his hand, “Yes, yes, I promise….”

“Okay, Steve.  I talked with the governor.  You need a vacation.  It’s been over 4 years since you’ve had a real true vacation.  And you and I are going to take one together.  The governor okayed it, us both being gone at the same time.  He thinks what I have planned is a great idea.”

He stopped talking.  Steve bellered, “Okay, so what DO you have planned?  Skiing in the Alps or Aspen?”

Danno laughed.   He looked at Steve, “You’ll never guess.”

Steve demanded, “So tell me!”

Smirking, the young detective said, “We’re going caribou hunting in the Alaskan wilderness for a week.  Totally in the wild, no contact with civilization, just the two of us and two guides.”

Steve’s eyes just about popped out of their sockets.  He wasn’t sure he heard right.  “Are you serious, Danno?”

“Yep.”

"Danno, where in the world did you come up with that crazy idea?"

“I have a friend on the mainland who did it last month.  I was talking to him and he was telling me how great it was. That planted the seed and it grew from there.”

Steve was stunned, “Caribou hunting?  Alone in the wilderness?  ALASKA?  How cold is it up there?  You’re nuts!”

Chuckling again, Danno said, “Could be you’re right, Steve, I am nuts.  But you agreed to do it.  So we’re going.  Week after next, I’ve already scheduled us.  We have to go before it gets too cold.  They drop us by helicopter onto some plains, we go from there.  Then they pick us up a week later, along with our haul.  Days are what they call balmy, around 40 or 45 degrees.  Nights get very cold, way below zero.”

Steve sat in his chair.  It had been a long time since a vacation. And he truly enjoyed spending time with Danno. And he did like the outdoors.  But this?  He simply couldn’t imagine it.

Danny was quiet a while to let him absorb the information.  He knew Steve wasn’t upset, just staggered by the plan.

Finally his boss said, “And the governor knows about this and thinks it’s a good idea?  Even both of us being gone at once?”

Danny shook his head yes. 

“What about Chin and Kono?  Do they know?”  Danny said they didn’t.

"How are we going to tell Chin and Kono about this?"

Danny replied, “Steve, I’m sure they’ll be fine with it and think it’s a good idea.”

Steve just shook his head.  “Let’s call it a day, Danno.  I’m going home.  I’ve got to take some time to process your crazy scheme!”

Danno laughed and together they walked out.

The next week and a half flew by.  Steve had studied the literature from the company they were going with.  Looks like they supplied just about everything, all the way down to backpacks and thermal socks.   The list of things to bring along was pretty small.  You did need a waiver from your doctor saying you were in good health and could handle the rigors of the adventure.  Doc supplied that for them, but shook his head, “You guys are nuts.  But have fun.”

They left on a Friday, flying into Fairbanks via Seattle and Juneau.  They were met at the airport by their guides, two youngish, somewhat scruffy .looking Daniel Boone type men.  But very pleasant gentlemen with a good sense of humor and confident demeanors.  As they headed to the company lodge about 60 miles out of town, Mike and Bob began to orient their two charges.  At the same time, the guides began to get a feel for the men they’d be working with.  Every adventure out was different.  You had some men who wanted to prove their manhood and were macho, some were squirrelly.  Some worked well as teams, some were competitive.  Some accepted advice and guidance, some thought they knew it all (those were the dangerous ones you had to watch out for).  They’d been at this over 5 years, the two of them working as a team, taking out pairs of hunters, and were pretty good at reading people.  It didn’t take them long to begin to establish a good relationship with Danno and Steve.   The detectives listened carefully to all they had to say, asked intelligent questions, seemed eager to experience this.  The guides knew they’d have a fun week with these two.

The Alaskan scenery was beautiful, snowscapes that took your breath away everywhere.  Clean pristine air.  Quiet.  Once they got to the lodge, they shared a hearty meal with their guides of moose stew with fresh baked sourdough bread and more.  After supper, they were escorted into the equipment room and set up with properly fitting parkas, backpacks, everything they’d need.  Mike explained exactly what each piece of equipment/clothing was, and why they needed it and how it was used.

“Steve, Danny, we’re going to be out there in a environment that’s fairly friendly by day, but can be deadly harsh at night.  There’s rules to be followed.  Pay attention to them and keep them- your life may well depend on it.  We’ll go over them all several times, things like, ‘Be back at camp at least an hour before sunset, which comes early.’  If you end up away from camp when night hits, it would be a miracle if you were still alive in the morning.”

Their goal was not to instill fear into the men from Hawaii, but a prudent respect for the elements and hazards.  They continued the orientation for about an hour, then called it quits.  Steve and Danny stayed up another half hour or so, enjoying the fireplace and hot chocolate.

“Danno, I’m glad you set this up.  I’m looking forward to it.  Really.”

“Me, too, Steve.  It’s nice to be away from everything, isn’t it?”

The men slept soundly and headed down to breakfast when the meal bell clanged.  They had dressed, as instructed, in their long johns, wool shirts, and flannel lined jeans, all provided.  After breakfast, the excited pair headed out to help load the helicopter, then they took off with their guides and pilot.  They were flown about 200 miles into heart of Alaska, to a beautiful spot near the base of a low mountain range.  They landed and exited the chopper, unloading all the gear.  They did each have a walkie talkie (with extra batteries), which they were to carry with them at all times, 24/7, in the “off” position.  Mike or Bob always had one on, Steve and Danny were only to turn theirs on and use them in case of emergency.

They made camp, working well under the supervision of their guides.  The four men would share one tent.  All food was stored in packs hoisted high up in trees.  Steve and Danny had already been taught what dangers there were from the local wildlife, bears, bobcats and so forth, how to recognize signs of them and how to avoid them. 

Steve quipped, “Danno, this sounds almost more dangerous than chasing thugs down Hotel Street in Honolulu!”  They all laughed.  And Mike added, “Well, if you know what you’re doing and take precautions, chasing thugs probably isn’t as dangerous as it seems.  Same thing here.  Keep your eyes and ears open, follow the rules, and you should be fine.”

The remainder of the day was spent with further orientation, getting a real feel for the climate and land and equipment and so forth.  Mike and Bob had given the two detectives the option of going out together, all four of them, or in pairs, Steve and Mike, Danny and Bob.    They decided to spend the first day together, after that, maybe they’d do some of each, some days together, some days apart.  That sounded like a good plan to the guides.

Tired from the travel and work, with night quickly descending anyway, they bedded down early.  It got very cold very quickly after  sunset.  They had been taught how to get into their sleeping bags and pull the drawstring tight, leaving only an inch or so opening for air to get in.  Steve was a bit claustrophobic and back at the lodge when this was demonstrated he took Mike aside and said he wasn’t sure about that, and revealed his concerns.  Mike didn’t ridicule him, he just said that when the time came, he’d do fine, because the alternative was freezing.  Plus he’d probably be so tired he’d fall asleep fast. 

So, Steve did as instructed, mostly.  He left a bit more than the recommended inch or so opening.  Mike noticed this, but made no comment.  About 15 minutes after they bedded down, except Mike who was tending to some final chores for the night, the guide came over and whispered to Steve, “You still awake?”

Steve said he was.  “Doing okay?”  Again Steve said he was.  

Mike asked gently, “Okay with you if I pull this drawstring a little tighter for you?  You’ll be warmer for it.”

Steve hesitated a bit, but then said, “Yeah. Okay”.

Mike did so and patted the sleeping bag, “Hey, good night.  You just call if you need anything.  I’ll hear.”

Steve could have felt embarrassed over all this, but somehow Mike’s way of talking and manner didn’t make him feel bad at all.  As he snuggled deeper into his cocoon, he thought that this was going to be a good time.  And fell fast asleep.

Morning came quite quickly.  Hot strong coffee was brewing, and the smells of a hearty breakfast reached their nostrils as they dressed inside their sleeping bags.  They ate, cleaned up camp, donned their backpacks and equipment and set out.  Bob led the way to start with.  The two tropical visitors had surprisingly discovered the day before that walking with snowshoes really was quite easy and required only a little more effort than ordinary walking.   Bob set a reasonable pace, not slow, but not speedy either.  They had been coached to preserve strength and energy, not dissipate it all early in the day.  They’d been going about an hour, when they spotted caribou tracks.  Bob asked Danny to take over lead.  The guides had realized the men they were working with this week were not greenhorns and would be pretty capable in many areas.  And their unwritten policy was to let the adventurers do as much as they were able to do themselves.  So he set Danno to the (relatively easy) task of tracking. The harder part was knowing how fast to go, when to stop, how long ago it was that the animal was there, how likely they were to find it.  It was early afternoon, with Steve now leading the party, when they spotted the animal off in the distance, probably a good mile or more away.

Mike asked, “What do you think we should do?” 

Steve and Danny looked at each other.  They were anxious to catch an animal like that, but also not fools.  Danny said, “Well, Mike, my guess is if she stays where she is, we could probably get her and still be able to get back to camp an hour before sunset, as per the rule.  But my guess is that as we head towards her, she’ll start moving away.  So it will take quite a bit longer than an hour to catch up with her, which would leave us out here at night.  So I’d say, back to camp.”  He looked at Mike to see if he agreed, “Yep, good thinking, Danny-boy.  That’s exactly what I would have said.”  So the four men took a little break.   They had been instructed to eat snacks periodically throughout the day.  Granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit.  There were only 2 hot meals a day, breakfast and supper.

On their way back, they saw other animals tracks, some close to camp.  This unnerved Danny a bit, and he asked, “These tracks this close to camp are nothing to worry about?” 

Bob reassured him, “No, we’ve never had any trouble as long as the food is up, and food scraps are burned completely.” 

“Okay…”

As they ate their supper, they shared stories.  Bob and Mike of adventures in Alaska, Steve and Danno of events in Hawaii.  As expected, the men were bonding.  The guides began to know their charges better, and realized how close Steve and Danny were.  Next day they again headed out together.    Midway throughout the day the tracks they had been following split, it seemed one animal headed one way and the other in a different direction.  They decided to split up as well, Danny and Bob heading to the left and Steve and Mike to the right.  By now, Mike and Bob mostly just observed, kept an eye on things, pretty much let Steve and Danny run the show, they seemed quite competent.

They parted, Danno said, “See you back at camp tonight.”

While the rest of the day was pleasant for all, they were unable to catch up with their prey.  Steve and Danny found they enjoyed the snowshoeing, and the beautiful scenery, crisp, fresh air.  They all made it back to camp well before sunset and enjoyed another evening of camaraderie.  Steve thought how if he had been at home, he’d still be in his office working.  It was good idea to take this vacation with Danno.

All slept soundly that night, trekking about all day in the wilderness can make a man mighty tired.  They looked forward to the next day.

In the morning, they choose to go in separate directions, and meet up mid-day at a pre-arranged spot.

Just before noon, Steve and Mike caught up with the caribou they were following.  Steve positioned himself to take a shot with the long range rifle.  He steadied himself against a tree, sighted, and paused a moment, watching the magnificent animal through the scope.  He turned and looked at Mike, then refocused on the caribou.   Readying himself to fire, he brought the rifle barrel up about 45 degrees and squeezed the trigger, shooting at nothing into the bright blue sky.   The startled animal fled immediately.  Steve looked at Mike, smiled, and said, “I got him good, didn’t I?   Bagged my trophy for the trip.”  Mike studied him a minute.   He realized that Steve could easily have shot the animal, but chose not to.  He had him, and let him go.  The “having” was just as good for Steve as the actual “getting”.  Having was good enough, he didn’t need to actually kill him.  Mike’s respect for Steve jumped a few notches.  Steve smiled, “No need to kill him, let him live.”  The two hiked happily to the rendezvous point, feeling fulfilled.  They got there ahead of schedule and just took some time to relax in the very bright sunshine, made even more brilliant by the reflection off the pristine white snow.  They talked, munched on their high protein and high fat snacks.

In a while, Danno and Bob hiked up and rested.  Mike told them about Steve’s success with his hunt and “bagging” his caribou.  Danny grinned, not surprised at his friend’s choice.  They hunted together that afternoon; Danny didn’t get lucky enough to get his.  On their leisurely way back to camp the men were somewhat spread out.  Suddenly a large bull moose sauntered over a ridge.  They had noticed a number of tracks all along, and had passed some not long ago.  More or less the four men were in a line, maybe 20-30’ apart, and in a clearing, pine trees behind them.  As a safety precaution, rifles were only loaded when it was likely that you were close to your prey and to soon make a shot at him.  So all guns were empty.  Mike was on the far right, then Steve, then Bob, Danny on the far left.

Seeing a moose was not uncommon, although this one was pretty close.  Mike watched carefully, and then hollered to Steve, “Drop your gun, run for the trees behind you.”  He had realized that the moose was showing some very aggressive behavior.  Steve instantly obeyed, on the run dropping the gun slung over his shoulder and across his chest.  As soon as that was done, Mike continued instructions, “Now ditch the backpack- just let it fall.  GO!”  At this point the moose had taken off after Steve, the closest human to him, in a fit of rage.  Steve did as instructed.  Mike yelled, “As soon as you get to a tree, undo your snowshoes and climb up.  FAST, McGarrett.”  The moose was gaining. It looked like it would be a close race.  Steve didn’t look back, kept focused on his target, the closest pine tree.  As he got within a step of it, he reached down and quickly unlatched each snowshoe, grabbed a limb and clambered up about 15’ in record speed.

THEN he stopped to look, think, assess the situation, figure out what the heck happened.  He had wisely chosen to trust his guide and simply obey, instead of thinking things through himself.  That probably saved his life, if not a potentially serious injury.

The moose was angrily pawing at the bottom of the tree Steve was in.  That was scary, but he felt secure in his perch high off the ground, securely hugging the tree trunk.  The other three men had gathered in a group, Mike and Bob had loaded their rifles just in case the moose decided to attack them.  Mike hollered, “Steve, just stay where you are, you’re safe there.”

There was more stomping behavior by the moose and suddenly from the direction they had come from, a female cow ambled along.  The male noticed her immediately.  He looked up at Steve and snorted (Steve never knew a moose could snort like that). He bumped the tree hard with his head a few times, looked up again, then ran off to the female.  They both headed away into the forest.

Mike, Bob, and Danny had been standing stock still, unmoving.  When the huge animals left, they slowly made their way to Steve in the tree, picking up the rifle and backpack on the way.  They looked up at him, still clinging to the trunk.  His cheek was bleeding a little from a nasty scrape from a branch.  He looked scared.  “Steve, you can come down now.  He’s gone.”  Steve looked long and hard in the direction his pursuer had gone, staying put in his safe perch.  “Steve, he’s gone, come down.”  Steve still didn’t move.  Mike continued, “AND, our rifles are loaded- we’ll shoot him if he attacks again.”

Finally Steve took some deep breaths and headed down.  Landing with a thump, they asked if he was okay.  He shook his head yes, then looked at Mike, demanding, “What was that all about?  I thought you said moose weren’t dangerous!”

Mike and Bob looked at each other, and then he answered, “Steve, I really don’t know.  I was very shocked at his behavior.  I’ve never seen anything like that before.  One of the other guides a few weeks back said something like this happened to him.  We thought he was pulling our leg, or didn’t know what he was seeing.  He described a scene almost identical to this one.”

Bob continued, “It makes no sense.  Moose can be quite moody when it’s mating season, but it’s not now.  They’re very placid.  Or always have been.”

Mike had been thinking about what he had seen.  Tensions were much relieved by now, and he said, “You know, that IS the kind of behavior there might be during mating season.  And when the cow appeared, he seemed very interested in her.  I’ve never seen – or heard of- moose mating this time of year.”  Grinning, he said, “Here’s what I think happened.  Old Bullwinkle there, for some odd reason, has mating on his mind.  And when he came over that ridge, he saw Steve in between him and his beloved.  And perceived you as a threat.  HE wanted his girl and he was going to take out anything in the way, like Steve.”

Bob considered what his partner has said, “Yeah, Mike, it did look that way.  Weird.  What did you do, Steve, to make him think you were his competition?”

Steve took the jesting in the fun spirit it was meant.  “I have no idea.  I’ve been a lot of things in my life, but competition for a moose?  Never before!”  They all laughed and headed back to camp.  Enough for one day.

It appeared that while the moose incident could have been very serious, it turned into a wonderful vehicle for merriment, all of them kidding Steve, asking what aftershave he was wearing (Musk??) and more.  Steve joined right in, “Well, might be my exceptional manhood- my ‘appeal’ extends across species, apparently!”  They all hooted with laughter.

Next morning, the plan was for Danny and Bob to go one way, Steve and Mike another. As they began, Steve said, “Mike, I want to go moose hunting today.  A particular moose.  I ‘got’ my caribou, now I’m after a moose.”

Mike looked at him carefully, “Revenge?”

Steve reassured him, “Naw, not that.  I just want to catch up with him and hunt him down and bag him.  Even the score.  But not revenge.”

Again Mike studied his client, “Do you mean ‘bag’ him the same way you bagged the caribou?”

Steve grinned, “Yeah.”

Mike’s grin matched Steve’s.   “Okay, we’ll moose hunt today.”  Then he proceeded to educate Steve about the – usual- habits of moose.  And how to track them, where they might be, and so on.  By midmorning they were on the trail of Bullwinkle (Steve was sure it was Bullwinkle and not another moose).  They had spotted him (AND his beloved, apparently) off in the distance, they worked their way towards them.  Guns were loaded, but safeties on.  They’d only shoot if their lives were in danger.  They got fairly close, well within rifle range.  Mike looked at Steve, “He’s all yours.”  Steve assumed a prone position on the ground, forming a tripod with his arms and upper body, bracing the rifle.   He sighted Bullwinkle easily, the moose seemed very docile today.  Then he angled the rifle upwards towards the sky, and simply said, “BANG!” instead of actually firing the rifle.  He decided that attracting attention with a rifle shot wasn’t a good idea. Old Bullwinkle might decide he was a threat and attack again.

Mike laughed quietly, understanding Steve’s reasoning. “Good idea, Steve.  You ‘got’ him!”

This “mock” hunting was fun, Steve was really enjoying it.  He had done a little deer hunting, actually shooting the animals, but for him, the thrill and fun was not pulling the trigger and bringing down the animal- it was in the hunt, the chase.   And the way he was “bagging” his prey during this trip was enjoyable for him as he got the suspense, challenge and thrill, yet didn’t kill anything.

They arrived back at camp this day about the same time as Danno and Bob.    Danno still had not caught up with a caribou.  Steve explained how he had “shot” Bullwinkle and how he was enjoying his fake kills.  Danno liked that idea.  The plan for the next day was all of them going together.  Steve kidded, “Danno, it seems I’m pretty good at this hunting stuff.  I’ll bring you good luck!”

And sure enough, the next day, fairly early in the morning, they spotted an animal, tracked him, and Danno got within range and blasted the animal with a shell far far over his head.  He was elated, “YES!  Finally!”  They chose to spend the rest of the day hiking on some trails that Mike and Bob knew that took them to spots man had probably never been before (except for Mike and Bob).  It was a fun, leisurely day.

And they had one more day before they were due for their helicopter pickup.  Bob and Mike had more secret hiking spots they directed them to.  It was another beautiful day.

Next morning they broke camp, packing up supplies and basically every single thing they had come in with.  Mike and Bob seemed a little secretive or something that morning, like that had some trick planned.  Steve asked Danno about it and he also noticed.  Steve asked Mike, “Hey, Mike, what’s up?”

Mike feigned ignorance, “What do you mean?”

Steve smirked, “Mike, we’re cops!  Something’s up.  We can tell.  Spill it.”

Mike looked at Bob, then replied, “You’ll find out.”

The helicopter came and everything was loaded on, it wasn’t yet noon.

Instead of heading back to the lodge, they flew towards a fairly high mountain range and followed that a few minutes then landed in a gorgeous spot on a big lake, mountains all around.  Being at a higher elevation, it was cooler here, around 10 degrees.  Their breath left steam clouds.  They all exited, the pilot turned off the helicopter and retrieved an ax and chain saw from the cargo area.  He, and Mike and Bob moved to a spot a bit away and began to hack a hole in the ice with the ax.  When they had a little one, they put in the chain saw and began sawing away at the ice- it was about 18” thick.   Steve and Danno had no idea what they were doing, but when  requested, lent a hand with the chopping and removing the ice.  In about 20 minutes they had an oval hole about 3’ x 4’.  The pilot and two guides were grinning broadly.  The other two men knew this was whatever trick Mike and Bob had in mind.

 Mike announced, “Gentlemen, have you ever heard of the Polar Plunge Club?  You’re about to become certified members.  All of us are, and we present this opportunity only to our favorite clients.  You qualify.  Oh, and by the way, it’s not optional.  It’s required.”

Steve looked at him with horror.  Didn’t take much detective work to figure out what the Polar Plunge Club was.  Danno’s mouth hung open.  He loved the water, but Hawaiian water, warm, tepid, southern Pacific ocean water, not THIS!

Bob ignored their looks of shock and explained, “Here’s what you do.  You will each strip down completely, buck naked.  We’ll tie a rope around each of your waists.  You will then jump, feet first, into this cool water and then come back out.  You don’t have to stay in long at all, but you must completely submerge.  We made the hole big enough for both of you to plunge at once.  Any questions?”

Steve and Danny looked at each other.  This was ludicrous.  Steve questioned his friend sharply, “Did you know about this?” 
Danno honestly and adamantly replied, “NO!  I think it’s nuts.”

Steve turned to Mike, “You’re saying you want us to strip naked and voluntarily jump into that freezing water?”

Mike replied, “Oh, Steve, I knew you were a quick learner!”

Steve was ready to vehemently object.  He studied Danno a minute; they each knew what the other was thinking- that they WOULD do this.  Then wordlessly, he began to strip, Danny did the same.

They got the ropes tied on to their waists, standing barefoot and nude in the snow.

“God, it’s cold!” 

The guides were ready, having a secure hold on the other end of the rope.  “Anytime you’re ready.  Take as long as you like.  But you know, it IS only about 10 degrees here, and there’s that refreshing breeze.  The quicker you jump the quicker you’re out and can get dressed again.   So, feel free to just take your time.  We can stay here as long as you want.”

Steve and Danno looked at each other. Neither wanted to prolong this. Steve said, “On the count of three: 1…2…3.”

And then they plunged, in, down, and under, then they popped back up, shrieking, and were helped out.  The guides had dry towels there and they wiped off quickly, with help, then re-dressed.  All this was not done without some noise.  You can’t help but yell and scream when you hit freezing water, and until you get a little bit warm again.

After drying, and dressing, all the way to parkas and hats, they stopped to really catch their breath.

Bob and Mike smiled, “Good jobs, guys!  Welcome to the Club.”

Steve smiled, shook his head, “You’re nuts!  And so are we for doing it!”

They all piled back in the helicopter, and took off for the lodge.  Before supper, the men took long hot showers and relaxed a while on comfortable beds.  With the clang of the meal bell, they went down to eat.   It was just the four of them, and they laughed and talked about all the things they had experienced over the last week.  Steve and Danny were grateful to Mike and Bob- they had been excellent guides for them.  They pushed them to go beyond what the detectives thought they could, they let them make their own way, and they accepted their fears and limitations.

They shared memories of the week and Steve warmly said, “Thank you, gentlemen, you have made this trip more than I ever imagined it would be.  We have been indeed fortunate to have you guide us.”  Danno nodded assent.

Mike said, “Steve, you and Danny-boy have been exceptional clients.  It’s been a pleasure for us as we’ve seen you work through things this week, bagging your animals and all.  You are extraordinary men.”

Danno said, “Please, if you ever come to Hawaii, look us up.  I’ll teach you how to body surf.  It’s easy, but all kinds of special equipment is needed- you know- things like a pair of swim trunks.  Unfortunately I can think of no experience the islands can offer that is anywhere near comparable to your Polar Plunge!”

They all laughed.  That night as the detectives lay in bed, ready for sleep, Steve chuckled, “Who would have every thought I’d be chased up a tree by a hormonally imbalanced half-ton horny Bullwinkle who thought I was out to get his girl???  They’re never going to believe this back home!” 

“I’ll vouch for you, Steve.”

The older man said, “And you know, Danno, I DO have a bit of frostbite on the tip of my nose.  Mike says it’s no big deal, but I DO have frostbite!”

Danny laughed, “Must be your thin skin, Steve.  We all know how thin skinned you are.”  Steve laughed at the joke.

Steve continued, “And there are …. certain parts of my anatomy… that I NEVER want to be as cold as they were today!”

Danny agreed, “Amen!”

 “Danno, when we get back home, I am going to make absolutely, positively sure that I never let you do this again! Or drag me into it."

Danno said nothing for a minute, then chuckled, “Yeah but it was fun, wasn’t it?  I’m glad we went.”

Steve chuckled, “Yeah, Danno, it was.  And I’m glad, too.  Thanks, aikane.”

 

Author’s note: The polar plunge IS an activity that people really do.  Often it is a charity fundraiser.  One of my (teen) children has done this.  (NOT me.)