He Lives Inside The Mountain Of My Mind
When your whole existence is a pastime, you’ve got to keep your life alive. You’ve got to rip it up by the roots every couple of years and shove it into other soil.
When we came back from overseas, changed in ways we didn’t yet know, and walked a real city again, Larry told me you need to get away from the actual experience of something before pondering it too hard. Lay some distance down, he said. 39 years ought to do it. At the time, I laughed at his exaggeration, but as he flicked his cigarette butt into the small canyon of the gutter to punctuate his pronouncement, I thought: funny how we’re alive only as we burn to death.
A long chain of shackled years later, his face eludes me. Like a veiled thief outside a shop window in the cold caress of closing time. And the cave we discovered deep inside the mountain when we were kids. It too has ducked into darkness. The memorial I erected in my mind has suffered a tremor and toppled.
I used to believe I could return, renew our discovery, crawl back into the mountain’s womb. Surely I had laid sufficient distance down. Now I know better. The mountain, Larry’s cigarettes, Larry himself. They’re gone. Even with its dull doubts, the bell of my faith rings true.
After all, I was there. On the roadside. My finger touched the broken knife edge of the guardrail. And the long thick cable that winched his spent future from the canyon was my witness.
For 39 years I traveled to the mountain of my mind. I knew exactly how to find our cave again, our sanctuary. The road out of Deadman Springs. The curve to the left. The steep jagged path down the canyon through the trees toward the water. And for decades I told myself I’d go back to those mountains someday, maybe the last place I knew tangible innocence.
Yet one morning, a switch flipped in my mind and 39 years of memory flew out of me like birds. Thirty nine years of fondness and nostalgia compressed itself into a few nocturnal hours of moonlight and fled over the hedges. The cave did not exist. It had never existed.
I had invented it to cover the pain.
My mind at last reunited with reality but the cost has been more headaches than answers. Now, even if I could somehow, I wouldn’t go back to the mountain. I might find Larry risen from the wreckage, wearing the guardrail like a crumpled sash. He might slap me on the shoulder and make an earthquake of my legs.
There could be another reckoning and this time the passenger seat might not be empty. I could be at his side that night, our canyon swallowing both of us, me screaming: Why’d you choose to die Larry? Why? as the Chevy tumbles over the rocks, screeches in convulsions of maniacal metal laughter, and wraps its sparkling windows around our throats.
Thanks for reading Dynamic Creed. I sincerely appreciate it.
If you’ve been with me on this journey for a while, you know I don’t introduce my stories, nor do I explain them. I let the work speak for itself.
However, everything has exceptions. And this time, I simply cannot leave without personally acknowledging my friend Larry who grew up with me in our neighborhood. We served together, came back together, lived together, drank together, but we parted ways one night – about 5 months after we got out and exactly 49 years ago as of this date, on February 7, 1974 - when he drove to the canyon alone. He asked me to come with him that night, and I said no. And although at times I still wonder, it is of course forever out of my reach to know what might have been different had I made another choice.
As for the cave, when my mind flipped after so long and the truth of my self deception rushed in, I was more stunned that perhaps I’ve ever been. Something died, something was born. And I was left to sort out which was which.
Again, thanks for reading, and I hope 2023 is kicking into good gear for you. If you know someone who might like what I’m doing here on Dynamic Creed, please let them know.
All the best, Victor David.