Thursday, June 5, 2014

Acid Cliff

Oh dear.  The bourbon bottle is open.  Tomorrow should be a dreadful work day, especially because I took today off work to drive Emily to Lexington.  Also especially because I took another 1.5 days off this week to spend with a houseguest.  Work is piling up, and my boss gave me another new multi-site application to deal with.  I will try to stop thinking about it since I’m busy now working on tomorrow’s hangover.

So, my houseguest (a.k.a. my mother) wanted to visit my alcoholic brother (her oldest son).  Lovely.  I called him a week ahead of time, and the day before.  He assured me he would be presentable.  We arrived at the appointed time and he was a mess.  When he finally answered the door and after we chatted a short while, he wanted me to drive us all to “Acid Cliff”, a place in Shawnee forest where, back in our high school days, was a place to go party.  I hadn’t been out there since my high school days, so it was quite a trip down “Memory Lane” to go back to that place.  I had forgotten the turn-off to get to it, and what a lovely view of the hills you can see from up there.

Acid Cliff, Shawnee Forest (southern Ohio)
I envy the bird

We weren’t out in the forest for long before alcoholic brother got the shakes and needed to go home to drink.  I helped him out of my van, supported him as he staggered up the steps to his door, unlocked his house, helped him across the threshold, put his key in his pocket, and closed his front door.   As I drove away, my mother cheerfully remarked that he seems better than when she saw him a year ago.  Jesus Christ!  It amazes me he isn’t dead yet.  He moves like a 95-year-old man.  The next day, he called me to ask if I’d been to the forest lately…he must have remembered something and wondered if it was real or not.  I reminded him that he, our mother, and I had taken a drive out there the day before.  He said he didn’t know our mother was visiting and asked if I was going to bring her down to see him.  Apparently vodka erased his short-term memory….or perhaps he just has none left.

brother and our mother "visiting"

The trip to Acid Cliff reminded me of a time alcoholic brother and I drove out to the forest and climbed a fire tower together.  It was his idea.  This was many years ago; I was about 21 or 22 years old.  It was a spectacular view from up there, but I should have never climbed up.  Coming down was terrifying.  The tower was not open to the public, and access to the stairs was locked.  We climbed up the outside of the tower on the steel girders.  No problem.  Great adventure. 

My brother went up the tower ahead of me.  I followed and never had any reason to look down.  We got to the first platform and rested.  It was my idea to go up to the second of three platforms.  Yes indeed, no trouble getting to that one either, and at that level, the view was breath-taking.  My brother wanted to go to the top, but it was getting late.  I suggested we just hang around a bit and then leave.   The time came to leave and then I realized that there was no safe/easy way to position myself back onto the girder from the platform…kind of like perhaps even worse than stepping off a roof onto a ladder (which I also hate doing). 

My brother offered no help or encouragement at all.  He threatened to leave me up there if I didn’t follow him.  He flopped down on his belly and scooted off the edge of the platform.  He stuck is foot in a girder hole, reached under the platform to find another hole, and started his way down the tower like a damn spider.  Easy for him – he’s nearly a foot taller than me.  Finally, I got enough courage to slide off the platform and wedged my foot into a hole.  As I was groping under the platform with one hand to find another hole to grab hold of, I slid off the platform, skinned the hell out of my chin, and nearly broke my ankle as I grabbed the underside of the platform just in time as I was falling backwards.

Needless to say, I was never temped to climb a fire tower again.      

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