Sunday, August 07, 2005

Friends and Brothers

It was an eighty foot cliff of ugly, weathered, moss-eaten rock. I looked it up and down, scanning for routes and holds, reaches and slide areas. "I can climb it," I said.

"Maybe. Of course you'd be stupid to try." Jake thought for a minute. "That's never stopped you before."

True. I started up and he mumbled something under his breath that sounded like 'idiot'. It was the kind of climbing I loved- no ropes, no safety, no sight-seers. It was natural rock and sky; it was random with unpredictable winds and wet spaces and weak holds that could and did break on you with too much weight. I would call it a 'cat save' when my hold broke and I was able to launch or fall to another.

It took a long while to get near the top, but there was no sense of time, just the numb and limp fatigue in your fingers and forearms and the awesome feeling of being truly alive with every sense at full pitch and everything riding on your own skill and courage.

The trouble was at the very top. The last three feet of the stone ridge carved out by the sea was covered with wind blown soil and gull shit and grass. Loose dirt, no holds. My ascent had destroyed most of the foot holds on the way up, there was no way down.

Sometimes, when you are trapped like a rat, you'll get a really, really stupid idea. If you can perform the stupid idea with absolute purity of intent, you can create miracles. It occured to me that I was a martial artist. As a martial artist I could throw myself into the air and launch a pair of nukite strikes (hand spears) into the soft dirt, pulling myself up over the slope. With seventy or more feet of nothing between me and the rocky shore, with absolute intent I launched off with my legs and struck...

I already said it was a stupid idea. The power of the strike would launch me away from the cliff far more efficiently than my stubby fingers could penetrate soil.

A big hand wrapped around my wrist. Jake was lying on top of the ridge. "Hold on, " he said. He pulled and I scrambled until I was lying on the crest. "Told you it was stupid to try."

"How did you get up here?" I asked.

He pointed along the length of the ridge, "There's a path. I think it might be invisible to people with testosterone poisoning." Point taken.

"You just saved my life."

Jake shrugged. "That's what friends are for."


A year ago, a new voice came into a cyberspace I spend time in. He wanted to (If I remember accurately) "say hi to all my brothers in blue". I told him I had a green uniform and a black one, that we might be cousins, but I've bled with my brothers.
I was thinking about Jake when I typed it.

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