- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Man Who Met Chief Falling Rock
Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley
"The magnificence of nature may be marred by man’s good intentions," Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley would say.
Well lackaday. Someone died yesterday. Dr. Kingsley. Twas right over there! And still I was going to the grumbling, naked, contestable colossi of nature, to take my chances there too.
Dead men teach us naught, for that is what they’ve wrought.
During that day, construction workers closed The Bastille’s fortress crags, that royally rocked, serpentine-spined, Basilica, to climbers. A favorite locale amongst the local alpine aficionados, and butterflies of the Genus Erebia, and ancient Ute Indians seeking shelter from the foothills for cover in the canyons during the chokingly chilly winds of Winter in Cholerado.
The Bastille, a hundred feet of technical, vertical walls, was cordoned off forenoon to the lancing pegs -known as pitons- wedged into wrist-wide cracks by chalk-covered hands, closed to the public with whale-trapping hairnets strung across the stones to stop Chief Falling Rock from exacting revenge against scourges of inadvisable, sandal-clad adventurers.
“BEWARE,” says Chief Falling Rock.
"Adventurers are assholes,” says Dr. Barth E. Kingsley, "thinking they can conquer something. What a waste. They should focus on conquering themselves first."
The construction crew with their crimson bandana beaks had to rub the rock face of soot, clean its crumbling makeup, and upend the loose and coarse insect-leg-like root strands, like mountain-face moles, so unsightly and cancerous to climbers.
And then, of course, there was the black blood mark of a human palm painted boldly upon an otherwise bland boulder, and a little sanguinary mountain puddle on the precipice below.
Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley, it was a sight to see.
Two dozen, bold rock climbers crabwalked up giant rockfaces with the ease of scurrying ants past the subalpine hilly lines of thinning altitude, calling out insectile yodels on the descent, casting multicolored webs of spider’s shitsilk from their packs that ricocheted off the rocks in tangled tumbles. They took turns spotting plateus for their feet, and holds for their hands.
They too, Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley, were a sight to see.
The clamberers declared “…over there!”
Over There was the infamous scrag, where the man, Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley, perished yesterday; petrified, thrall to the whistling wind like Banshees echoing along the tawny hillocks to prissy, eco-friendly Boulder, sending death screeches across the canyon on the backs of storm-chased butterflies, anguishing the bad botanist Barth over their echolocating antennas, lamenting prosaically upon litmus paper wings that old and winded Dr. Kingsley, whalloped against the grain, silenced in pain, who was ne’er to climb again.
With high-minded mountaineers in the palms of my mind, I proudly crushed them to dust.
I dreamed of some sure-footed scrambler falling. I killed climbers in my imagination. One got a boner. The boner rebounded and jettisoned him in terrible blood-spume summersaults down the jutting stones.
At their initial ascent, Man-eating Goliath mountains swallowed the driven and bent Davids, regurgitating them in rock-laden bellies, with stomach linings of salty, sun-scorched moss.
Secondarily, according to nature's laws of digestion, the scalers were shat into streams, pitons passed into the intestinal tributaries.
Lastly the PowerBar-fed bodies flushed into the forested Toilet-Bowl Vale, whilst casting their indigestible steel crampons into the cool Rocky Mountain currents whereby I bought breakfast this morning- that beautiful banana-nut bread prepared by a VW-driving grandmother with tulips tucked between her coiffured braids.
From Cooley County Texas I was northwestward bound on the 8th of September to Cholerado, and wouldn’t be back until the 20th. Mayhap I might’nt ever return, I thought, with so many amusing mornings like this woven through my knife-notched belt holes.
This crisp omelette of a morning, with a sizzling bacon sun cresting the yawning yoke of plains, and man’s morning cup of joe moon hanging faintly in the hashbrown firmament for the early bird special, was the best meal a man could and should ask for.
I stretched my invisible suspenders at the day, and determined, in an antithetical mood to the pleading chagrins of any who may love me, to make my ascent.
“Perchance,” I would say, pretending to be proud, “this day may be my last,” as Mister- excuse me, Doctor -Kingsley, may say before begrudging the day.
With one claw I took the snaking spines running along the backside of the Bastille covered in autumnal pines and linear swaths of golden aspens. I would see what Doctor Kingsley saw before his time as an intellectual flash of flesh expired.
As I sipped some Rocky Mountain Coffee I chuckled. Wishing I had someone to show this solemn and solitary self-eulogy, I asked the waitress when she arrived whether she knew Dr. Barth E. Kingsley. He’d built a house not far from the Canyon’s city limits, and I figured such an unsavory character must be well-known.
It's not every day you see a grizzled goat-man eating his own cheese. But then again he was "off the grid."
I told her the shortened story of this rich botanist from Colorado University at Boulder. Orphaned at birth, he’d inherited ten million dollars from his father’s Oklahoma City shipping firm at age eighteen. Taking the money to move west and restart his broke down life. His key was the university. His motor was madness and money. He absconded to Cholerado.
Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley built a log-cabin mansion into the side of a mountain near the Musical Boulders, and, preparing for the worst eventuality, had the house protected by a series of intricate, underground sprinkler systems. These ensured, as well as a sizeable insurance claim, that if the forest went aflame, his house would not be burnt; furthermore, he’d managed to have a moat encircling the cypress wood mansion.
When a forest fire crept like wind-swept cinder caterpillars to the Canyon, combusting forth from a cocoon of heat, Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley’s contraptions quickly kicked into action, douzing the butterfly blaze, and saving his lonesome home.
The Musical Boulders remained unscathed, like potatoes cast into a 19th century cast-iron stove, singing sweetly through their apertures like football flutes.
According to an anonymous neighbor, “Ol’ Dr. Kingsley could’a saved muh mobile home. But he tol me, tol me dis, if y’ain’t willin to put water in da ground, God ain’t gonna grant none to ya. Das da sorta asshole Barth were. Thought hisself some sorta greedy God off the grid. Now I got nothin against goin off the grid, but now alls I gots is dis shirt on muh back and a bit uh bread.”
I told the wonderous bosomy waitress about the neighbor-abscribed, indifferent God named Barth E. Kingsley, and the survival of his mansion using intricate, underground sprinkler systems; yet somehow, “No” she said, “never heard of him.”
I reiterated his pedantic and depressing paean, even showing her his novel on botany (which we will return to later). She was not enthused. So I mentioned his death in the mouths of the mountains, no more than a chucked stone upstream from the Musical Boulders he called home to, for their comforting, clarinet-like bombarments.
She, the azul, Arizona-scarab-necklaced waitress was so young anyways, so startlingly attractive with her spiritual southwestern motif aesthetic of rings and agnostic knee-high Sunday dress, with cheery, cherry lipstick, that I immediately regretted telling her about Dr. Kingsley, his tight-fisted troglodytism, his bitter obituary, his apathetic philosophies, for fear of ruining her, so far, and surely, so sunny of sunny days.
So I showed her his pale, university picture.
The Doctor of Botany was a weird whale-chinned man with a wizened mustache, blubbery brow, and a créme colored crown of hair. He looked like a barnacled banker. His nose was green with algae, warts with black bugs roosting around his dimples, and black crustaceous dots for eyes. His muzzle, was that of a suckling bottom feeder. As I said before, he lived so far off the grid that no one knew him anymore, if they ever had.
He looked like Charles Darwin on crack cocaine. And I could bet a buck why Barth was so bitter, besides being a doctor of botany.
Because men with hair atop their head have nothing to complain about, after all. This physical, follicle fact keeps springy gentlemen feeling fine about their distance from a deathbed. I suppose even Dr. Barth Kingsley believed hair should be planted to a human head in moderation.
She shirked my observations on Dr. Barth’s obituary with a silent but meaningful shrug. She was giving me a gracious, but stern, hands-to-hips hint, that my fascination with this father of neo-nihilism towards naturalism, who looked a little like a naturalist Nietszche, naturally, was unwelcome in her quaint Rocky Mountain Coffee Shack. Obviously, we were obtruding upon her pacified, leaf-loving, world-canoodling customers’ vibes.
Eyes peevishly peeped over their morning papers, where they read about sustainable living, electric cars, and the anonymous inventor of a state-of-the-art sprinkler system to ward against forest fires, that was stealing back the water Californication stole from Cholerado, by using big metal drum water-collectors posted for five acres around the Musical Boulders' lot.
“Sounds like a really crazy coot,” she said and brought me my check with a silly little slap across the counter, smiling for the tip. As if snapping out from her shell of indifferent grace, she asked kindly, with that winsome full moon smile and fulsome face, “another coffee for the road?”
I considered this, slowly, and with contemplated sureness in my declaration said “no ma’am, never drink coffee to excess,” and paraphrasing Dr. Kingsley’s curt words, “all things should be taken in moderation, after all.”
She scattered with her doily, Hopi day dress to the customers of her small coffee hut. Climbers and hikers hugged newspapers, but I noticed they never observed the obituaries. Death is an actuality that the dream-driven are delusional about, due to distance. These kids had full heads of hair, after all. The coffee crowd inside the Eldorado Canyon Coffee Stop was too young and caffeinated fleecy to care for an old, cold, pessimistic coot who had a pea farm and slaughtered mountain goats illegally.
They would've scoffed had I told them that carnivores are- mostly -my heroes.
Predator or Prey, Eh?
Counting the cash in my pocket I left the lovely waitress a moderate tip and took off towards the mountains, that loomed like snarling, hungry, hunchbacked timberwolves.
I was intent on taking Dr. Kingsley’s death trail through the lonesome valley, to travel atop The Bastille. I would bring the obituary in my back pocket as a commemoration and light it on fire. For all I knew the fire could've spread all the way to the bad Doctor's log-cabin mansion. But that was a crime I was willing to confront.
The worst punishment that the dangerous mountains could dole out to me for my illegalities was a stoning avalanche, or a slippery ledge. And I was going so far off the grid, that man and his kind's laws would take two hours to take me to the hard-rock jailhouse.
The greatest human flaw is believing God grants us the ability to live outside our laws. Law is an assorted list of Thou Shalt Not, and even Thou Shall is easily traced to Thou Shalt Not. So I decided to live off the grid to test the difference.
Leaving my troubles and Dr. Kingsley’s travails in the Canyon Coffee shack I began my long walk to the Eldorado Canyon State Park Station. At the window a sullen ranger in a brown, wide-brimmed hat slid the see-through window aside and asked, “payin for a full day?”
“Yes,” I guessed. The State’s station master peered over his magazine and inspected my hands to see if my money was already out and ready, and if it was any good. It wasn’t out at all, so he signaled to the sign aside his window with a roll of his eyes. He held a breath then let it out like a sputtering car, “20 dollars for a day pass.”
Feeling enthusiasm for some reason, or maybe some contrarian urge to redirect his coldly cocky and rocky attitude I asked, “20 doll hairs huh? Seems like fair hair.”
Exasperated with me, with a sidelong glance at the cars waiting behind me he said “yeah,” without the smile I felt I’d earned. I wondered whether Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley paid his State Park Pass in doll hairs, or if he paid at all, but brushed the idea aside as I dug into the dirt with my bootheel.
I paid up.
The Ranger decided to do his job with some joy. “Wanna map?”
“Is it free?”
He was beyond irritated with me now. He wanted to wring my neck. But instead, he said, swearing to all heck, “yes,” straining to moderate his statements with something akin to a pelican’s smile, a smile so unnatural for him… naturally.
“I’ll take one, thankya sir.”
“En-joy,” he said with stucatto breaths so I knew he didn’t mean it.
He slammed the window and began to scan his magazine with a Canadian-Mountie hatted moose in the foreground again, even though there were cars crawling forward behind me. With my water bottle I waved to the impatient car passengers behind me for their feigned and forced upon patience.
My way was onto the winding gravel roads of the Eldorado Canyon State Park, with construction crews halting traffic, slowing their work or slowing the cars, stopping their crane claws and turning their orange-domed heads vehemenously at me as I passed with nothing but a water bottle, a free map, some hippie crack trail mix, and a smile planted like a seedling upon my face.
I observed with the wide-eyed wonder of a day-old doe, climbers upon the rocky crags, kissing each handhold tenderly as if to say “if you hold me I will hold onto you.”
Darting down, below the construction crew's sweat and shovel work, I jumped joyfully into the cool creek with my water bottle clasped to my sagging belt. I beheld the beauty of the mountain’s breath, the breeze, and its urine, this unclean stream, dirtied by the drillers above, their sweat suffusing with the water, shoveling rubificated soil and showing no inkling of interest in the wonderful world surrounding them, or the sinewy feats of men and women scaling the sides of mountains, reminding me what we were bornt for: to overcome.
The construction crew thought of time cards, punching the present.
If God injected the meaning of life into our pre-frontal cortices, we can’t conceive of it. We get glimpses of our godly selves. Born blind to beauty, we see sights where something unsettling silently stirs below the surface, some reptilian mechanism Man buried beneath His shapely curtain of skin, that springs up like a limber sapling, that makes the intractable minutes of motion of mountains reverberate to the shoot-bone, as we stand alone in the midst of a miracle: our sapling selves seeking fully-grown God in an eagle’s nest- Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley.
The bird-beak-bandana construction workers paused in their progress to watch this weird fellow- me –scrabbling along the stream, overturning small water-weathered stones, presenting algae-jeweled pebbles, to seek out burrowing tortoises with genomic tales to tell of the Mesozoic Era to Mankind. I licked my lips for green river turtle soup.
An American Bald Eagle swooped above the canopy, carrying clouds behind its tailwings. I applauded. This animal actor was preforming, for sex, for itself, so its species wouldn’t starve. Because of babies. What drives the wind to spin the eagle’s strong forewings to dive and catch a crawling noonday critter, caught in the act of achieving its own frugal lifefruits?
Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley wrote a bitter novel on botany, wildebeests and black holes; co-written by the biologist, and specifically, zoologist, Zooey Haverford. And so we shall refer to
Chapter 9: The Preimminence of Pessimism Amongst a Doe, the Dark Side of the Moon, and Death.
It is a deniable fact amongst academia that there is an infantile term that conjoins all currents, soils, and atmosphaera.
This term is Biosphere.
This term was covered in the previous chapter Who Are We Killing?, and for those who wish to confer to the interconnections of coyotes, ocean currents, and crayons, please crawl back, or walk back like Cro-Magnon Man, to the preceding pages, so that we may continue to discuss what Chapter Nine is about: (though the publisher thought The Preimminence of Pessimism sounds better than:) MEANING.
We argue that since something is not seperable from something else, except in the substantive logic of language, known as the paradox of constitutions, that life is therefore meaningless, hence arbitrary in the artificial halls of the academic sturgeons who scuttle amongst the sandy bottom of library books, suckling at indivisible beliefs already wholly known to the illiterati, who don't understand long-hand division, or division at all. Like book bugs, an author's mind rots as they rip perforated pages to inspect the deeper meaning of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing as it relates to philosophical progress in the university sphere.
We hope we may be the author spoken of by Shakespeare’s Beatrice and The Messenger.
Beatrice: He wears his fashion but as the fashion of his hat: it ever changes with the next book.
The Messenger: I can see he’s not in your good books.
Beatrice: No, and if he were, I would burn my study.
For, does not the lonesome, illiterate doe padding along the dry prarie, truly understand through instict, its relation to the stars, to nucleur fusion, which begins by building from simpler chemical substances, that then explode, thereby producing, complimentary to Newton’s Laws of Thermodynamics, heavier elements, that in turn create, from an admixture of carbon and calcium and oxygen and so forth, a doe, when it eats a fern or fig?
We praise the prey who is absolutely unaware of his needs for survival, who but prances and plods about on the lilies of the lake, awaiting whichever Lion has enough audacity to learn to swim for its sweet meats.
And so, so on. My sincerest apologies for bringing up a very boring book, that has little to no intellectual merit, in an otherwise serene seance with the scenery of Eldorado Canyon State Park. But this quote from Chapter Nine stands out in my mind because I too believe, at least today
…that the Dark Side of the Moon as the dead side of the moon is circumstantial. The Moon is a matter of perspective. Our Moon is as dead and alive as you or I, no more, no less. Even death in the absolute, eclipsing darkness, evince for us the meaningless of existence. So what if life? The Dark Side of the Moon is kept as a contrast, but it does not see itself as being any blacker than the side of light. It requires Man to distinguish between darkness and light, death and life.
And so, so on, I decided to die and live, as best I may, off the grid.
And so I hopskipped out of the stream towards the trail that would show me the Musical Boulders, and take me to the location where Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley wedged his wrist into the rockwall, which was ripped clean off in a splay of blood that the construction crews were washing away today with a high-powered hose.
Upon the trail I met an Olympian and her struggling support. We met on the mountain trail leading to the Musical Boulders. I stopped to smoke a ciggarette moments before in the shelter of a graffitied cave. I was winded, walking up the mountain, waiting on my second wind to kick in, snacking on hippie crack, and taking teensy sips from my nigh empty water bottle, when all of the sudden this Olympic Amazonian and her nymph streaked down the mountain side.
“Hello.” The Olympian said.
“Beautiful day eh?”
“At this altitude makes me realize how outta shape I am.” I wondered whether they could smell the stench of smoke on my skin, and would realize I deserved no empathy.
“Keep truckin buddy.” She smiled. Then the two trailheads sprinted down the side of the mountain, kicking up rusty dust that covered their bare butts.
Gritting my teeth in the dust, I set my sights once again on the stones of blood, on the dangerous rockwall of death. But before I got there I found the Musical Boulders. They were on a hill overlooking the vast valley. No trees blocked my view of the busy valley. I was at alpine level.
Somewhere, down there, I could see two nymph nudists reeling from a mountain run. I realized, this was really quite fun, and stripped myself of my cumbersome clothes, except for my swamp-assed boxer briefs.
I sang out: all things in moderation, even man!
I had traveled out of the overpopulated, and lonesome valley at last.
I was finally off the grid. I felt my feet had landed where few others had tread.
Then, there was Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley’s mansion on the dark side of The Bastille, standing silhouette on the burned grasslands about it. A lonesome log cabin mansion dug into stone, spilling its timbers onto the opal-shaped land, never scorched, never scourged. A living and dead, lonesome testament, to the bad, tenured botanist Kingsley’s travails against Chief Falling Rock.
My ascent of the mountain spire took two hours until I came to the spot where the Doctor’s caribineer lay fifteen feet below. I didn’t dare descend without ropes. I looked at the long lines of construction crews preparing their hoses to wash away the white chalk, and botanist’s bloody handprint that had blackened and purpled in the sizzling bacon sunlight.
They were washing the blood away.
The hoses reminded me of Dr. Kingsley’s mansion.
Imagining these construction workers stationed underground with their steel claws and power hoses, like the Doctor’s sprinkler system, springing up at the allotted time like moles of the mountain, spraying Chief Falling Rock’s kill off the rockface, stringing suffocating nets about the great shimmering rockblock of The Bastille. So I shouted, "The magnificence of nature may be marred by man's good intentions."
I wish they would learn to keep some blood upon the wall. But dead men teach us naught, for that is what they’ve wrought.
So I listened to the long cavernous clarinets of the Musical Boulders with good intent, and not to mar the mountain or the men and women who climb it. And I thought of that old, bad, Beluga botanist. Dr. Barth Edmund Kingsley, believing he could be off the grid.
"Sorry Sir Doctor," I'd say, "The Meaning of Life is Life. Life is not merely a means to an end, and neither is death. You can't escape the grid, thanks be to God. I'm not so concerned with the Darker Side of the Moon anymore," I'd say, "besides, it is a beautiful day today, eh?"
"A man who dares to waste one hour of time does not understand the value of life."
-Sir Charles Robert Darwin