Thursday, February 15, 2007

Intertwined, Part 2

I'm not sure much changed between us after that first kiss. I already spent every moment that I possibly could with him, and the topics we discussed had already spanned the spectrum: from sex to God to pharmaceuticals to international politics and how they inflated the price of coffee beans for the common laborer. Only now, however, I had access to his lips almost any time I wanted, and I partook of them liberally. Many an evening he let me venture close enough to those lips to touch them to mine, and more than a couple of times we fogged the windows of his car with our passion. Somewhere in this time something inside of me changed, and I no longer wanted the seclusion of my own life, but instead what I wanted was to pull close to him and lay in the security of his arms forever.

One Wednesday morning after a set particularly hot days, we were sitting in the café eating breakfast. I was having a muffin and a cup of coffee, and he was drinking a concoction of hot raspberry tea and munching on slices he cut off of a green apple with a paring knife. We were reading the newspaper, passing the sections to each other across the table, when, as he passed me the entertainment section, he asked me if I would like to go up to a cabin in the mountains for the weekend. I was rather stunned, because we had never done anything that was planned and non-spontaneous, and I am sure that I looked at him over the entertainment section with a blank stare and my mouth hanging open. I don't even remember what I said in response to his inquiry, but I know that it must have been somewhere in the ballpark of yes because on Friday I found myself sitting in an aisle seat of a jet liner, eagerly anticipating our flight into the mountains.

We had stayed up late the night before packing and laughing and watching old movies, and both of us were rather tired, so just after lift-off he leaned his head back against his chair in an effort to get some rest. The man beside him, however, had something different in mind, and I was fortunate enough to have a front-row seat to the event.

The man nudged my companion and asked if he would like to play a fun game. My companion looked up suddenly with a startled look and simply raised his eyebrows to the man, who I think was some kind of computer programmer, judging from the laptop computer and other paraphernalia he was toting. The man continued and explained: "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $5." My companion politely declined and tried to get to sleep. The Programmer, who was getting somewhat agitated, then said, "OK, if you don't know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $50!" This catches his attention, and wearing a smile that was so faint I barely recognized it, he blinked twice, and agreed to the game. The Programmer asked the first question. "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?" My companion didn't say a word, but reached into his wallet, pulled out a five-dollar bill and handed it to the Programmer. Then, it was my companion’s turn. He asked the Programmer a riddle, which I regretfully I cannot remember. I think that it had to do with going up a hill with a certain number of legs and coming down the hill on another number, but it was not the same riddle as the sphinx gave Oedipus. This riddle, however it was phrased, was completely unique. The Programmer looked at him with a puzzled look. He took out his laptop computer and spent over an hour on it, frantically searching all of his sources and talking to co-workers over the chat lines, but all to no avail. After an hour, he woke my companion and handed him $50. My companion politely took the $50 and turned away to try to get back to sleep. The Programmer, however, was upset, and shook my companion and asked "Well, so what's the answer?" Without a word, he reached into his wallet, handed the Programmer $5, and turned to give me a wink before he went back to sleep. It was then that I knew I was with the sharpest man on the face of the earth.

A couple of hours later, the plane landed, and we rented a car for our half-hour road trek into the mountains. The drive up the mountain was rather narrow and treacherous, with many unpredictable twists, and a wrong turn, if ever one was made, would decidedly be the last one a person would ever make as they toppled off the mountain into the valley below. The most treacherous portion of the road was just as we approached the cabin. It narrowed drastically, with one side being a rocky embankment, going up perhaps twenty feet, and the other side being a sheer drop into nothingness. Despite the insidious drive, however, the cabin was wonderful, nestled into the side of the mountain with a breathtaking overlook of the deep green valley below. Inside the cabin were all of the things one would need for a stay in the mountains: a bathroom, two bedrooms, a fully furnished living area, a rather large two-way radio, and a kitchen, fully stocked. It was a little dusty when we got there, but after I swept away all of the cobwebs and opened the blinds, the light of the sun echoed off of the bright pine paneling, giving the cabin a cheerful and cozy air. I was glad to be there.

There were trails that laced all through the terrain surrounding that cabin, and with the invigorating air, gorgeous scenery, and engaging conversation I must have hiked twenty miles in that first day. My favorite trail was one that went up that rocky embankment, and then curved around the side of the mountain for about two miles until it arrived at a giant sheet of rock that jutted out from the side of the mountain. This point was a fantastic overlook of the dark valley below, and in sharp contrast, the brilliant white of an immense waterfall. We stayed up there almost all day on Saturday, talking and soaking up the peacefulness of our surroundings. The echo up there was also remarkable. We would yell things off of the side of the mountain, and listen to it bounce around us for what seemed like an hour. He would go off and pick me wildflower bouquets and bring me handfuls of wild berries, and he told me stories of ancient Indian folklore about these mountains until it was dusk, when we walked that rocky path back to the cabin. That night he tucked me in, and kissed my forehead, and told me to have sweet dreams about him. It was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

I woke to the sound of a thunderbolt so loud that the iron headboard on my bed hummed like a tuning fork that had just been thumped. Lighting lit up the night like a flickering street lamp, and the sound of the howling wind was made even eerier by the creeks and groans of the house as the squall exerted its mighty force upon the little cabin. From my window, and in between flashes of lightning, I could see the trees bend to an almost impossible degree, as if even the force of my breath would cause them to shatter into splinters. And then the rain came, splattering against my window in waves, streaking the glass, contorting my view of what was going on outside, and the bent trees suddenly became wraiths that danced in the tempest, lunging toward me then away again, taunting me.

Suddenly, I felt a hand slip around my waist. I jumped, and tried to twist away, but the grip was too tight. I craned my neck around to see who, or what, was holding me, and in the erratic bursts of lightning I saw that well-known, crisp jaw line and sandy brow hair. I stopped struggling, my heart pounding and my breathing heavy, and he pulled me close and whispered soothing words in my ear, and then took me to his bed, and wrapped his arms around me until I fell asleep.


lorri said...

keep it coming...

Benjamin said...

Alethia, you make me smile.

I would have posted part 2 earlier, but I was sick for a couple of days, and didn't quite feel like posting more. I'll get rest of the story up in the next few of days.

How are you Bemidji-ites faring up there? I mean, it's COLD down here. I can't imagine the temp up there. I guess when it gets -10, what's another -10 degrees, right?

lorri said...

right-o about the weather. i'm not outside much, so it isn't too bad. but boy is that walk to the car in the a.m. and the p.m. a *&^*^%% (insert dirty word of your choice). did you have a cold? the stomach flu is going around up here, but steve managed to catch a good old fashioned cold that he is miserable with-- so i am sure i will be catching that too. i would much prefer the stomach flu....

Benjamin said...

My kids had some cold-like symptoms, but I had something more like the stomach flu - although I really think it was more likely some food that I ate. I have a pretty sensitive GI tract - which has gotten worse in my old age.

That short walk from the house to the car and from work to the car is so cold I've actually started wearing long underwear. I never thought I would be that kind of guy, but I've turn into one of those "It is better to feel warm than to have trendy undergarments" people. Again, a sign of my old age.

Funny thing is, no one ever really sees my underpants anyway - I don't know what I was afraid of. It's not like I'm in gym class every day and have to worry about being made fun of.

Great - now I'm that guy who talks about his underwear to women on the internet. I feel dirty and ashamed.

lorri said...

oh ben, you are so funny