He felt warmer now but feared it may just be numbness. His back spasmed and cramped, that dull exhausted pain from constant shivering. He tried to settle himself into a snowy den. Just easy breathing and a measure of will, that's all. Charlie peaked at his hand, crossed over him, and assessed the ugly wound. The inky cut had begun to dull down and blend into his skin. The crude tatoo had cleaned a bit, the newest tally starting to look like the others. He flexed the muscles across his chest, collapsed his shoulders inward, his cold duster moaning as it stretched, and resigned himself to another night in this young winter's dark.
I have an unusual relationship with the front range these days. From the hours of eight to eight in the western suburbs of Denver, I only see those hills when I'm headed east. The black boots I wear as a semi-comical testament to our collective manliness usually prop themselves on the head of our pram, squishing my knees up near my chest; the IV bags, the needles, alcohol wipes and band-aids, the intubation equipment and the oxygen, the shiny pointy gadgets used for ugly things: they all bounce along in a cabinet to my right. The heart monitor and the drug kit, maybe a dangling stethoscope and a select few other pre-prepped items have a place of honor on the bench to my left. The pram's newly dressed white sheet stretches from me to those back windows and then, if we're headed east, I get to look at the slow fury of the earth we're leaving behind.
My young memory in this rig has barely had a chance to get up and stumble around on its own in its new bouncy, clammoring house. Yet, exaggeration, lies, self-deception, immense suffering and death all happen at the mountains' feet, that much it can promise you. It remembers also that, once in awhile, a woman in her 82nd year breathes easy, leans back on that white sheet and stares out the back windows, just like you, for a twenty minute ride to a far-off hospital. She chats with the young, know-nothing medic next to her. She's neither restless nor shaken to awkward trivia. She hasn't uttered an insincerity in some time. Silence would be fine by her. Or not. Whatever have you. I try to catch up.
She knows the mountains too. Its where we're closer in age. They give me a texture, a surface disturbed enough to alter stillness and allow the mind to boil when it needs to. She can understand that too. We both can, even as we're headed away from that slow fury of the earth, eastbound, in this clammoring house.