HIGH TIME: THREE

Reads: 143  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Now Jason gets tested and the test makes the man; his new character does become fate.

Submitted: March 13, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 13, 2016

A A A

A A A


HIGH TIME

A Short Story

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Three

 

I really don’t have a clue how long I stood there, swaying, if not actually tottering

,with slack jaw and feasting eyes.

I mean, first pictures of naked women to a young boy hold no stronger or gripping

fascination than did Mount Everest for me at that ethereal moment, through  that

magical window, near the base of that mightiest of the mighty noble natural

edifices on our earth.

A hand was gripped my forearm and turned me back toward the candles and the bed.

The person on it could now be seen to be moving the pile of coverings with their labored breathing.

Urged by Tashi to approach closer to the bed, he at the same time said in a low tone.

“It’s one o’clock; we need you keep watch until six. Can you do that?”

“Can I do what?” I slurred groggily, sort of hoping this was all a Himalayan c

ochemar  which would evaporate if I shook my head three times

. . or better yet, if I clicked my heels three times and got the hell out of there.

“Keep watch. Everyone else is pretty sick with the altitude, and I can’t get anyone

until six am; I have to go to the Base Camp Hospital.

If anything happens, here’s my cell phone and call the Hospital and I’ll come back

as quickly as I can.  Do whatever you can until I get back here.”

Suddenly, I was waking up in a real hurry. Watch? For what? Hospital? Do what I can . . .

“Hey,” .

“Tashi.”

“Yeah, I know . . . hey, I don’t believe this . . . what’ going on? what’s wrong with

this person?”  I couldn’t tell the gender of the supine figure for the layers of the

coverings, “just what am I watching for . . . and what do I do if whatever it is

happens, that shouldn’t?”

I appreciated him not laughing at my gibberish syntax, but even in the dim

candlelight I caught a flittering hint of a smile as he answered.

“He also has altitude sickness; rather a bad case. But we’re hoping,” pausing,

“he’s had it before on occasion; but this time it seems a bit worse.

"But never mind; if his breathing becomes too deep give him water.

"And then there’s Diamox to give him if he’s really laboring .And as a last resort there is some Decadron  or Adalat on the small table on the other side of the bed on the bottom shelve.

"So; keep a watch, and here’s my phone.”

He handed me the phone and was gone from the room in a stride or two, leaving me alone with my patient and the candles and the haze and Everest.

I guess I was much too dumb to  really  be scared about this watch—or mission

—or . . . well . . .  the responsibility that had been thrust upon me.

In fact, a peculiar calm seemed to flow outward from some indistinct place deep

inside me, and not only was I devoid of fear, I felt as though a secret trunk had b

een unlocked and some magical inner dust was being sprinkled all over the raw

and tender bits of my soul.

I also felt like I was thinking like a complete dick.

One part of me was somehow at war with the dick side of me and I swear I could actually feel the other side winning.

Was I beaming? Was I smiling? I was certainly chuckling . . . at what?

Maybe at the opportunity to do . . .  what? . . .something other than fill space . . . or just feed from the sybaritic trough . . . bring a little something new into someone else’s life?

The entire feeling, the total experience, was taking over my essence and the losing part was getting pretty ticked off.

In spite of the frenetic action taking place inside me; and with great confidence, a little vigor and with a huge smile, I lifted my jaw and planted my body and my face four inches above that of my wheezing charge.

Huaaah!

My huge smile not only cracked—it shattered; and I swear I could hear the sound of crashing confidence, the groans of falling timbers of self-esteem—the complete demolition of what only moments ago had been a brand new me.

Looking straight up at me was the angular rough-hewn visage of Sir Edmund Hillary.

As if I were dying, my entire life flashed by in a grainy mini-video on the screen of my cranial cinema.

Hillary ! Wheezing ! The Khumbu Cough! Dying! Everybody leaving! Except me.

Boulders of expectation crashed upon my shoulders; massive metal mental weights hung from my mind.

Jesus! I thought, ‘I’m about to be all alone with a legend for five hours.

All my trek mates have deserted me—I tagged the nitrogen content of my blood as the culprit for this gross exaggeration—they weren’t my mates; and far from fleeing, they were dopily dreaming somewhere in a fifty square foot room —but they weren’t here.

 And they wouldn’t be.

Sir Edmund bucked and wheezed and I jumped, damn near knocking over the nearest giant candlestick.

Its tall flame wavered for a second or two, then steadied and continued its vigil with a soft hiss.

‘Christ!’ Was there really going to be five hours of this?’

Now my entire being felt flattened under all this pressure. I thought I would stop breathing.

Maybe my own altitude sickness was returning. Panic poked its horrible head into my mind. At this rate I wasn’t going to last five minutes let alone five hours.

What the hell was going on?

Then, like a vaporous morning fog lifting to reveal the burnt-orange pylons of the

Golden Gate Bridge, all the weighty shrouds of physical

and mental self-doubt evaporated.

Mount Everest. I looked.

Sir Edmund Hillary. I looked.

Life; and maybe Death. I looked.

Candles. Him. Me.

I saw. I understood. I accepted.

Responsibility.

 

After that, the hours shimmered by, wrapped in a gentle haze of Himalayan visions, scents and revelations.

“Ah, there you are, how is he?”

Six am; Tashi.

“Fine.” I said automatically as Tashi bent over my charge.

“Well . . . actually, he’s not.”

"What ?” I was now frightfully awake. ”What’s the matter?”

  “Well his pulse is way down and his breathing is getting shallower.”  He flipped  

  his GPS phone and tapped a stored number.

 “But what did I do?” I cried.

 Tashi just furrowed his brow and shook his head in an encouraging way as he waited for contact.

“Get the copter . . . quick,” turning to me, “nothing,” an encouraging tone, “ you

did fine. There’s nothing you could have done . . . or can do.  

“Neither can I. He needs to get to the Hospital; but he’ll be ok.”

 

However, helicopter pilots have to see, and an atypical pea souper was clogging

the approach valley.

Tashi was clearly worried.

By now, daylight was struggling with the fog. Several trekkers were standing near Sir Edmund’s room—often pointing at the sky—at the building—at me.

Marge was probably not quite blaming me for some possible but unwanted tragedy.

However, before any more of my vile opinions of the vast majority of my trek crew could surface, a whupping pattern beat upon the dense, still air.

The copter.

My initial joy was cancelled by another Sherpa’s question of Tashi. “How can he

land in this?”

After a moment Tashi replied, “with ease,” and he left it at that.

And the pilot did land with ease; must have done this before.

One moment, totally invisible but deafening whupping; next moment, silver

bodied helicopter eight feet off the ground and then, squarely settled on it; Sir

Edmund loaded in 30 seconds; copter off the ground in five seconds and

vanishes into the murk . . . as if yanked up by heavenly hands.

The whupping faded just as abruptly.

Quiet.

Not even a bird. No wind. No flapping flags.

Calm.

Mission accomplished.

I was ravenous.

 

 * * **

 

“Oh, but you must stay here with me,” cooed Terri while she slipped the card into

the lock of her corner suite on the thirty-second floor of the  Hong Kong Four

Seasons Hotel. “the Manager has cleared everything out for us . . . and on such

short notice too;  you really must stay.”

We had arrived an hour ago from Katmandu on a private jet; her private jet.

Being the widow of a media mogul has its perks.

“Terri,” I said softly, “we talked about all this on the flight. I’ll get my own room . . .

I’ve got my own room; and my own wife.”

She stopped in mid-turn and sighed; without turning, “You’re a good man Jason.

"Your wife is very lucky . . . even if she doesn’t know it yet.”

“Well . . . maybe she will now.” with some hope in my voice.

“Maybe she will . . . anyway, I really cannot thank you enough Jason . . . for

everything; but I am willing to try. Let’s have dinner tonight.”

She pushed open the door. Wafts of fresh orchids filled the doorway and pushed

nto the hall. Floor to ceiling glass walls were everywhere on the

perimeters of each room, revealing most of Hong Kong’s landmarks and

attractions.

An open door to the master bedroom framed a massive

king- size bed, complete with comforters and colored pillows sitting royally

beneath a Maharajah-magnitude canopy. I swallowed.

" Why don’t you come by about seven to take me to dinner . . .  downstairs; here

in the Hotel. I saw the menu,” she paused, laughing, “and not one item has the

word Yak in it, anywhere at all.” Her laughter was merry, and, I thought, relieved.

So I did.

 

*  * *

 

My freshly pressed chinos sported a crisp pleat and my blue and white striped

Lauren fit pretty well too; I hoped.

I had toy Yaks for the kids—one large, one small—and prayer wheels, ‘singing’

bowls, a miniature Tibetan chest, and a number of different-colored prayer flags

in various sizes.

I also managed to get there ten minutes early.

When I saw Andrea, I felt like I was seeing her for the first time; and I could

hardly wait to ask her for a date.

She was stunning. Long blonde hair; a white blouse with the two top buttons

undone; epaulets, and sleeves buttoned up near the elbows.

The blouse was worn out over white pants and she had on beige sandals with

just one sparkling stone on each thong.  She was floating toward me.

And she was smiling.

Maybe there is some strange vibe—no, I now know there is some strange vibe;

or wave; or connection . . . something, that announces massive sea changes in

human circumstance or character to someone else, without benefit of verbal or

written communication.

Although I had neither written nor said anything to Andrea about my experiences

in Nepal, she had already received notice that her husband had shed a major

skin and emerged a totally changed dude.

Her widening smile told me that instantly.

“ You know, don’t you?” smiling back.

“Of course silly; I always know.” 

“But . . . ” I stuttered, “but . . . ”

Her soft finger pressed against my lips. We hugged; desperately.

She whispered.

“You were always a man of integrity . . . so I knew, eventually, responsibility

would catch up with you,” kissing me gently, “and it did.”

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Nicholas Cochran

FLYING DEAD

Short Story / Horror

FAT CHANCE

Short Story / Literary Fiction

TINY TROUBLES

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Popular Tags