As far back as he could remember, he loved climbing trees. No matter where his father dragged them as he moved up the ranks from noncom to officer, as soon as the young tree climber could break away from the all too familiar routine of unpacking his junk in one more new home, he would explore the neighborhood for the best climbing tree he could find.
If he could not find a tree, he found a tower, a telephone pole, a high roof, anything that would lift him off the dreary Earth, even if only for a moment or two. Calm and resolve to deal with his new situation always came once he had climbed that first tree. It became his ritual as he prepared to face another new school, another new group of kids to break into, another location to learn.
Any high spot would do, but trees were his passion. No one tree ever treated him the same. All were unique in their rewards and the trials thrown at him by their distinctive growth, position, or height. He learned to love trees. Trees never hurt him or excluded him out of spite. Trees always accepted him as he was as long as he returned the favor. He knew he would climb trees forever.
The old tree climber attempted a dry smile as he remembered his humble beginnings a lifetime ago. His broken jaw acquired somewhere between up there and down here where he laid a twisted collection of body parts and climbing gear would not let the smile travel to his lips. The pain made him chuckle. His mother was somewhere out there in the ether, "I told you so bonehead. One day a tree is going to kill you."
And grumbling in the background through liquored breath his father grunted while digging at his crotch, "What a Dumb Fuck."
The memories were interrupted. His body began to convulse as his broken chest tried to cough up the blood that had been pooling in his lungs. The seizures lessened and he once again lay quiet. He knew now, this was one fall he would not walk away from. He could not feel his feet. As far as he could tell, any pain was from the waist up. "Well Shit. Guess I should not have come out alone today." No regrets, the old tree climber just acknowledged that he had been caught being stupid.
If he did not try to smile or move his upper body, there really was not much pain. Only a dull pressure that seemed to come from every direction. He felt his essence begin to slip away. The old tree climber was thankful he had landed face up looking at the spreading branches of the final tree he would ever climb. And as the light faded from his eyes and the sounds of the woods grew faint, the old tree climber realized that he had indeed climbed trees forever.
Afterthought - One of the most fun posts I have written in awhile. I actually had a plan but it didn't pan out since what I just wrote is not what I intended to write. Not even close. What a hoot that was. Got as much a buzz from writing this as I do when I am riding on some new and unfamiliar single track that just flows. Where it goes and finally ends up, nobody knows. About the only thing that resembles my original idea is the title. And maybe the opening line.
(588 / 3881)