Nowhere to turn (a flash fiction challenge response)
The actual Oak Creek switchbacks from the air.
Sometimes you just get dragged into things you ain't got no business doing. You just follow your friends along like you got no brains at all. Like that time I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Or the time I found myself floating toward the beginning of the worlds' largest navigable rapid -- Lave Falls in the Grand Canyon. I think maybe I have codependency issues. I really like this writer named Cam, well really he is Chris Mills. He issued a challenge. Stupid me I am now taking it. Sorry mom I think I have gone too far again.
Write a 1,000 (or fewer) word story using the following prompts:
Location: Coffee Shop
Object: A Walking Cane
(where is that stupid airplane when I need it to get out of here?)
Well I guess I will let go and begin my trip down the road to who knows where, thank you Chris, I hear this road is paved with good intentions like yours.
When the road in life just comes at you to fast and hard, there seems like there is no where to turn.
If you ain't never been there.
My road to this place was a long and windy one. Both literally and figuratively. I had come home again. If that is what you would call it. When you have led the charge to carry your own soul into the bowels of living hell going home is your last option. And when you get there and family won't open the door, you have got no one but yourself to blame. Despair just seems like too small a word to capture the essence of total helplessness.
To say I was a drunk would be to give paper sack bums on the city corner without a home a bad name. I was destructive, mean and miserable. You have heard it all before. Lost the house. Lost my wife. Lost my wonderful three little children and my career. Blah, blah blah. What the dirty grim reaper does not tell you is that you lose all hope. At least in the classic picture of hell there is a burning fire to let you feel. Nothing is nothing is nothing and it is endless.
If you know your blood alcohol levels, I needed to be at a .10 to walk or drive. I needed a solid .20 to feel like eating, not that I did. .35 would let me pass out for a few hours. I know this because of my many trips to an ER where they told me, along with "here are your drugs, there is no point in giving you a bed". Detox could be deadly. So there I was on a rainy cold night driving up the infamous Oak Creek Canyon switchbacks above Sedona Arizona. I was headed for the cabin no one used in the too cold winter months. I figured to go there to die. I had gallons of booze in the car, to draw it out for awhile. Well the damn deer jumped right out in front of my poorly maintained car and I went off the road and into the creek 20 feet below. I only lived because I was too drunk and flopped around like a rag doll instead of going through the window. I limped up to the road and across it to Garland's Cafe.It had been called Indian Gardens Market as I grew up there some fifty years ago. Our property was purchased from the same owner who was the son of the original homesteaders. I had a gouge in my leg the length and width of a butter knife and about a half inch deep.
The proprietor seemed to size me up in just seconds. Reached under the bar and tossed me a roll of duck tape. Told me to tape the leg good as the road just washed out and nobody was coming for at least the night. Right away he asked my name. And nodded and said "I thought so" as he reached for the whiskey bottle and a beer before I even asked. "Your brother who I hear you haven't talked to in years called and said he thought you were headed here and to keep an eye on you". Long dead silence as the man of about 80 watched without so much as a grunt. He stuck his hand out for the tape back when I was through, and just casually wiped off the blood and put it back. Then he said "enjoy your last drinks son". He went off into the kitchen and left me there wondering "what in the hell?", He returned with a plate of breakfast and a cane. He said eat up and then I got something to show you. I ate and drank.
I asked him what the hell the cane was for and he said he had kept it nearly forty years after he'd used it. I got up and fell flat on my face. He sighed and said "that is what it is for, you idiot". I could hardly put weight on my leg. But I followed him out the door. And then I followed him across the road to look down on a car down in the canyon, looking to be half a century old. "That was my car, does it bring back any memories?" I had a weird lightning flash in my head but in my fog there was nothing and I told him so. He laughed and said "figures but you will remember".
He began; "Forty years ago I was as drunk as a skunk, just like you are now. My wife and son in the car with me. A night like tonight. I lost control. And ended up down there. My family was thrown from the car and they both died on impact. Some young man was driving his mom back home from their cabin. Saw the wreck and crawled down to my car there. My leg was mangled like yours is now only with an artery severed. The young man used duck tape and taped it shut and saved my life and my leg."
Then he paused and looked at me in anticipation. "Wow, what a story" I said. He proceeded: "For years I hated that man as I walked with that cane you are using, made from that tree down there that my family landed on." "What the hell right did he have to save me so I could live with this misery?" "Now the reason is made clear why I lived". I was bewildered but a memory was coming back as I stood in that exact spot. As the rain picked up he sighed and said "you were that young man and now it is my turn to return that favor, let's go get some coffee and sober you up for your family."
A Wheel Inside a Wheel
We build personal temples to those we have lost.
Now don't nobody go on thinking that this is autobiographical. But it parallels someones life so closely I reckon he just might wake up one morning thinking it is real. There but for the grace of God go I.