Josh made a puzzled face. “So, what does that mean?”
Sam finally raised his eyes to meet Josh. “It means this stuff glowed. It wasn’t alive or radioactive, but it glowed. That doesn’t just happen. Anyways, I want to get more samples from that area. Maybe even go to shore and collect some vegetation samples. You think we could do that?”
Josh shrugged grinning. “Dude, I’m just the boatman. You hired me for three hours. Hell, I’ll tap dance if you want me to for three hours.” Josh did an over exaggerated jig to further prove his sarcasm.
Sam laughed a bit. “That won’t be necessary.” There was a short silence as Josh continued to guide them further up the river. They passed through the cypress trees, ducking under branches as the water began to get shallow.
“So,” Josh said, breaking the silence. “Why is this research so important?”
“Because, it’s the ecosystem, Josh.” Sam said matter-of-factly.
“No, I get that. What I mean is why is this so important for you? Why are you specifically involved in this?”
Sam finally finished collecting up the equipment and rose to his feet. “Well, I guess it’s mostly to prove that I can do actual independent research. I mean, if I can prove this, it’ll really put in a good word for me within the scientific community, and if I’m going to Stanford, I’m going to really need it.”
Josh felt a bad taste in his mouth coming on. Sam was his closest friend, but it was no secret that he and Josh were headed on different paths. Sam wanted to go to college. He wanted to go to an Ivy League school, stay until he got a doctorate, and then spend his days in scientific research. That was the big goal for him.
But Josh? Josh lost his direction some time ago. The only thing Josh knew is he would never go to college. He just couldn’t do that.
“Ok, let’s take a sample here,” Sam called out. Josh snapped out of his internal thought and pulled the throttle back, cutting the engine. Sam took one of the vials in his hand and bent over the edge of the boat’s hull. He slowly lowered the vial into the murky water and scooped it into the container. When he had a decent amount for tests, he closed off the top with a plastic lid.
He blindly handed the vial behind him to Josh. “Here, can you put this into the matching compartment in that rack in my bag for me?”
Josh grabbed the small vial and focused to read the label marked RAT-1-3. When he didn’t see a match for the vial he turned around, realizing the problem. “Umm… Sam, can you put this up instead? I’m having a bit of difficulty,” he said embarrassed.
Sam mentally slapped his forehead. In his excitement he had forgotten about Josh’s dyslexia. He had very acute dyslexia as long as he could remember learning to read. On a good day, he could read shorter words, but he always struggled to keep up, and he couldn’t even read the sample name on the vial.
Sam got back up and took the vial, placing it in the matching space marked ATR-3-1. “Oh, gosh. I’m sorry, Josh. I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s fine, man.” Josh cut him off as he took his seat back at the central console of the boat. The truth was it did bug Josh a lot that he had such drastic dyslexia. For one thing it had always earned him a reputation for being stupid as a kid. Many times he had been the butt of a joke involving the term retard. It was false, of course; Josh’s mental functions were completely normal. He just couldn’t read very well at all.