Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Secret Fantasies of the Violent Sort - II





John Marriot/Viewpoints West Photofile Ltd.

The photo graces the month of February on a calendar supplied by my friendly insurance agents, Puckerbum & Puckerbum, Inc.

While lacking Dante's concentrics, the photo provides a satisfyingly vivid illustration of the fiery hell to which I would consign those with so-called good intentions.
Oh yes. Instantaneously. Sans roads of any surface.

It's like this: You are up a ladder. A long, industrial-length ladder. Twenty feet or more above a concrete walk.
Concrete is not as forgiving as a trampoline should a human body hit it.
You are very, very aware of that fact. You imagine a crunch. Or would it be a sodden flump? Your mind skitters away.
You have a body below bracing the base. He seems very small down there.
You did not scale up the rungs with the feverish haste of an armsman assaulting an outer castle wall.
Oh, no. You squeezed each fragile rung in your cautious ascent.
At the top, you stopped and learned how to breath again. In, out. In, out.
And then - as you stretch out a trembling hand to do whatever job that drove you up there, at the precise moment when your balance fights gravity - your concentration is shocked and shattered by a deep-mouthed bray like an air-raid siren:

BE CAREFUL!

You damn near slip and fall. 20 feet. Concrete.
After you recover you look down at the idiot. Some sidewalk superintendent. They appear out of nowhere.
Smiling up at you. Convinced they have done their civic duty. Warned you.
They nod and wave at you and continue on their cheery way.
You wish you could manage the projectile vomiting at which you were so accomplished as a child.
You want to release your talon-like clutch on the aluminum and hurl yourself upon them like some ravening creature of the night.
You eye the approaching delivery truck. You hope their brakes fail just as your self-satisfied saviour crosses the street.
Surely, there is a hell.

26 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

Cleaning your eve-troughs again, huh, Bernita!

Ric said...

I say leave the damned Christmas lights up until the snow melts.

Steve G said...

I've come to realize that heights bother me more as I get older. I haven't reached the physical unsteady age, just the mental.

Bernita said...

Is this a male thing? Erik? Ric?
Focusing on the reasons for the ladder in the first place?

I don't remember what the purpose of the exercise was now, Erik. Eavestroughs, plugged downspout, maybe. Painting a soffit, a third story window casing, maybe.

I'm old fashioned, Ric, I only put lights on the tree.

Steve, maybe it's am increased personal awareness of the destructability of the human body, or an appreciation of the odds of mischance.

anna said...

Not for the faint of heart
that's for sure! EEK!

writtenwyrdd said...

LOL! Glad you survived!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna, Written.
I do not understand what compels some people to shriek warnings at plainly inopportune moments.
When they are more likely to bring about the very disaster they supposely hope to avert.

Robyn said...

Puckerbum and Puckerbum? ~HEE~

Anything requiring heights reminds me of Gallager's old refrain: At a certain age, you don't put your ass over your head.

Jaye Wells said...

Oh. For some reason I thought this was an analogy about writing. Taken literally or figuratively, I hate those people.

Bernita said...

They are very GOOD agents, Robyn, but - cautious.

That was not my conscious intent, Jaye, but it could be taken that way. Thank you.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'll get on the roof...but I won't stand on a ladder 20 feet up...riddle me that!

That piece of writing was hysterical.

Ya' know girlfriend, I think your true talent is being lost writing period pieces!

You are so witty, and the comedy is so subtle, that by the end I am aways snorting coffee!

More...I want more jockularity!

And Oh, Ric....my christmas lights are still up...LOL...its too cold to go out there, so I don't see 'em!

ORION said...

It's not the height I'm afraid of...it's the falling.

Bernita said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it,Bonnie.
Thank you, but there is not one ring to rule them all...

Defintely, Pat.

Cynthia Bronco said...

A very suspenseful piece of writing! It made me nervous.

Dave said...

The sidewalk superintendent reminds me of the people who touch wet paint just to prove the sign right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

"You want to release your talon-like clutch on the aluminum and hurl yourself upon them like some ravening creature of the night."

I love that. To me, the most enjoyable first person prose includes moments like this: when the civilized and rational being rips off the well-veneered mask to wreak some well-deserved vengeance.

Asa

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cynthia. Didn't mean it to be grim.

With anything involving repair/construction, Dave, it's like driving - you have to watch out for the idiots.

Hee, Asa! Thank you.
The veneer holds, mostly, but one has these urges.

spyscribbler said...

LOL, Jaye. I got the same analogy to writing, Bernita. Proof that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Or cosmic luck. Or something.

Anyway, thank you. It was exactly what I needed to hear today. And you put it so vividly and beautifully (as always), too.

December Quinn said...

Pretty much all of my secret fantasies are the violent sort!

Jeff said...

I felt dizzy and a bit queasy just reading this, Bernita.
When standing on a ladder it always looks so much farther down than it really is. At least to me it does. ha ha!

Donnetta Lee said...

Bernita: This reminds me of when my dad and a coworker fell from a scaffold while working. Both survived Both were hospitalized for some time. I remember my dad having his legs in casts and the other guy had head injuries. Other guy fell straight. Dad caught on a board somehow. Yelled out, "Get out of the way, I'm coming down!" I do not like heights!! Donnetta

Bernita said...

Thank you, Spy.
Think we can do without this sort of "teacher."

We are compatible, December!

They say, Jeff: "Don't look down...Don't look back..."

Erm, Donnetta. Accidents happens, unfortunately. What people don't need is some damnfool shaking the ladder, because they were trying to hellpp.

Scott from Oregon said...

I am not real sure about this post.

As an avid big wall rock climber AND a construction worker who often lives on tiny ledges and hangs off tall ladders, my opinion is that anyone who is on a ladder and would get thrown by anything yelled at them has no business being on a ladder to begin with.

You aren't competent enough if you can't chew gum, sing, hang your body out and dab a paint brush all at the same time to be at that height...

Safety first.

Bernita said...

OK, Scott, so I was an idiot.
Homeowners, however, do the best they can.
Your reasoning seems to be that unless one born with a natural ability, one should never attempt to acquire it.

Scott from Oregon said...

No ma'am. My reasoning is that if you are not comfortable up atop a ladder, you should-- for safety's sake, get someone who is. I mean, sneezing is far more disturbing than a "be careful!" from below. Ever have a good sneezing fit on the sixteenth rung?

But you are very brave for tackling the learning curve at such high altitudes...

Bernita said...

Scott, sometimes the stewardess has to fly the plane.