Beautiful but Scary
After all the years, the best therapy for my mind-conditioned to foggy malaise and emotional turmoil was a car ride on an undriven road. The nice lady at the Memphis La Quinta check-in desk suggested State Route 88 a mile west of town, in her mind, it was the most beautiful road she had ever been on.
The malaise and emotional turmoil?
Too long a story! Simply what all my personal history added up to, broken home, romance, and money. In this case, it was ‘romance’…three years with the same ‘lady’ (a dubious descriptive courtesy) – who had a ‘romance’ with a dude who bilked her out of $500 dollars of my money… It shows how dumb I was! I knew nothing about her two-week dilly-dallying encounter with the guy.
Bottom line? We Split, and I’m on the road. That’s what I do when the fan is hit, if you get my meaning… I can afford it: I own a small business and my two sisters run it, plus, Uncle Sam pays me each month for an Army injury.’
Okay, I also run off somewhere when I get pissed off over something. This is one of those times, and taking a short trip helps me get back to whatever my ‘normal’ is.
I grabbed a hamburger at the fast-food place, and ate it by the time I reached State Route 88. As I drove along beautiful rolling hills, waterways, distant mountains, my mind settled and I had this euphoric feeling, like, “Man, I could easily live in this country.” The afternoon sun added a brilliance to the view that would be tough for me to describe. The higher the car took me, the more beautiful the land became.
Rounding a curve, I saw a gravel area big enough to handle the car. There was a path leading higher from the gravel area into a stand of trees. There was still enough sunlight to take a short hike, so, like an excited kid, I parked, locked the car, and rushed up the path.
After approximately one mile the path ended at a huge rock cropping. There was a steep embankment running along the right side of the rock cropping down into a small water area. Along the left side of the rock cropping there was just enough room for me to slide around, with trees caressing my body.
Then, I almost lost my footing when I stepped around the edge of what I thought was the end of the rock…
Simultaneously, I reached for a tree limb to my left and involuntarily let out a loud yell… ten feet ahead, there was another huge rock cropping, but the ten feet between this cropping and the next one was all space going down the side of the cropping – one step and I would have been gone…how far down, I don’t know. I could see fifty feet down that open space clearly, but, then, nothing but fog.
I thought only briefly about going up the left side of the mountain where I could only see hill-humps and trees, but my nerve deserted me, nowhere to be found. My body was in full quiver….
I hurried back to the car and was surprised to see two highway patrol men at the side of my car, staring anxiously at me.
One patrol officer asked me: “Did you take the big sign?”
“What sign?” I was Flabbergasted.
They looked at each other, back at me, nodded: “The Phantom has struck again, Grady,” said one cop to the other.
Looking at me they knew that I was shocked.
“Sorry, young fellow, nobody is supposed to go up into those trees, and someone is stealing the signs we put up. We been talking about hauling this gravel off and putting some huge stones in their place…guess we have to do that, Grady…as soon as today, or, tomorrow for sure. You can keep going up to the lake. It’s a popular spot. I’m assuming you came up from the Memphis area.”
“Yes, and no, thanks, guys. I’m sure the lake is beautiful, but
I’ve had enough excitement for one day… Thank God you were here to explain about the sign… Is there a history about this odd land formation?”
“Likely an earthquake, son. Either that, or God was fooling around with us.”
‘Flash Fiction’ from: BR Chitwood – October 24, 2021
Author’s Website/Blog: https://www.brchitwood.com