Boy Gorge- Part 7
I could make a long story short, but then I’d never squeak this many chapters out of this story. So rather than just tell you that I did it- that I got onto a moving incline train- I need to tell you that I plonked by butt down firmly onto the I beam that jutted out away from my pylon (I can call it ‘mine’, there wasn’t anyone there to argue the point.) and though I didn’t actually have a suction fit to the beam, my butt did its best.
Did you know there isn’t a really good word for working your way out along I-beams over a drop with your legs dangling and your brain jangling? I’m using the word ‘scootch’. Sherpas might have a word that would fit the mood. I imagine that the guys in those old black and white photos of skyscrapers being built had a good word for it, maybe twenty. None of them have a word, though, that would shade it with the proper nuance to imply that you’re trying to catch a train on the other end of the I-beam. Odd.
Once the scootching is done, you have to clamber. ‘Clamber’ in this context, means to cross your body over a set of railroad tracks at a steep incline that are mounted to some trusses all of which are between you and a totally different other set of trusses and tracks that you need to get to without 1) falling through and 2) getting anything pinched off by a train being pulled up the track by big ol’ greasy cables.
Now that the clambering and scootching is all accomplished (without falling or severing) I still had a little time till the train got to me. The train, unburdened by passengers or anything, is taking its own sweet time. Obviously not a swiss train nor nothin’. Don’t think I’m complaining. If the thing had been chugging merrily uphill, I might have used more haste than speed and done something truly stupid. I’m good at stupid.
This story takes place a few years ago. At that time there was a Snickers bar commercial that said “Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers.” You may not immediately see why I bring this up, but me? I have, at this point in the story, not only scootched and clambered my way across all the trestles, tracks, trusses, ladder and cables to find myself on the teeny little bit of I-beam left on the far side of the whole mess, but I have heaved myself onto the creeping incline train, not even finding myself plastered to the outside of the train cagedoor, wondering how to get in. I got in! So, there in the top ‘seat’ of the train, grinning, I have taken a Snickers bar out of my PFD pocket and would now nourish myself. I also plot how I would tell this story to the Snickers people in a letter, and possibly get a box of free Snickers out of the ordeal. I wasn’t “going anywhere for a while!” I “grabbed a Snickers!” Just like the commercials told me to! Booyah! That’s gotta be good for a box of gratis candy any day. So I was tasting not only my melty Snickers of today, but all the snacky wonderfulness of those future Snickers to come.
Then the damn train stopped.
Anyone with questions as to whether this is a true story can now give them up. Nobody making this up would DARE to put in this many savage assaults on Human dignity. This is getting absurd.
It was, too. This was just nuts. I stood there, wondering. I was wondering if the train would start back up. Or worse, start back down. Or maybe hold still or… I don’t know. I just didn’t know any more. An hour earlier, Greg Raymond had said, “Go over there, and take the incline train to the top. We’ll meet you in the parking lot.” That sounded EASY.
But here I am, still not even half way up this hot, God-forsaken crack in the wall on a broken train with a half-eaten, totally melted candy bar. A minute earlier, I had the ending to this story all ready. “And when he got the truckload of free Snicker bars for being in the new commercial, he shared them all with everyone on the trip, and they all lived happily ever stinkin’ after.”
And NOW, I’m leaning out of the train, staring up at the place where there should be workmen and there aren’t. And I’m looking down out of the train at where I WISH there was still an I-beam to stand on. When I got ON the train, the I-beam had been truncated and slick, but it had been THERE. Now, the side of the train opened onto a considerable drop. I don’t want to drop.
Of course, I also don’t want to wedge my fingers into the steel cage of the train walls and swing myself out and around onto the footstep platform I know is on the end of the train (I had seen it on my way in, of course) and then lower myself under the train onto the ladder that’s bolted to the tracks’ underside.
But I do it anyhow. There was some cussing involved.
Now, all I have to do is climb to the top before the train starts up again and I go the way of a possum on the highway. But that’s for Part Eight.