A Serial in Eight Parts
retribution: deserved punishment for evil done.
Retribution Episode 3
Eight o’clock the next morning found us parking at the foot of the trail that led up the west end of the mountain. Donning our small backpacks and canteens, we started up the trail, Levi as usual in the lead setting a fast clip, skipping lightly over the rocks in the rough parts. An hour later, we were four miles and a thousand feet up the mountain. We stopped on a smooth rock for a small break and a drink of water. Sitting on the rock, we looked up at the slope on the other side of the small stream bed, quietly enjoying the solitude. We had never talked much when we were in the mountains and had always been comfortable with the long silences.
“Did you ever climb up there?” asked Levi, indicating the top of the ridge opposite our position. A steep walled canyon to our right separated the top of that ridge from the main part of the mountain. I knew the other side of the ridge was a five hundred foot sheer cliff face, it being visible from the highway that went around the north side of the mountain.
“Always meant to but just never got around to it.” There was a short silence. “Why not.”
“Start the ball, Tector,” he returned as we spoke lines from one of our favorite movies, something we often did while in college.
With that, we picked our way through the brush to the other side of the stream bed and started up the steep slope. Climbing without benefit of trails was always our favorite.
The slope was steep, but the climbing was easy, with no great obstacles. Two hours later we were sitting, panting, on the small flat top, three thousand feet higher than where we had parked our car. We sat looking north across the desert.
The silence was still easy between us. It was like the old days in college. We shared a canteen and some trail mix which I had made up the night before at the local market. There were white clouds scattered in the sky to the north and the light breeze felt good as we sat in the sun leaning against a large boulder.
“Did you know my mom died last year?” he asked after a while.
“God, I’m sorry, Levi. I hadn’t heard.”
“She had a heart attack. Just keeled over one day in the market… A good way to go I guess.”
There was more silence as we both remembered the nice lady who had often fixed us a meal when we showed up late at night, hungry and broke. I had often stopped in to say hi when I was in town, but I came home so seldom lately. Actually, I was almost completely out of touch with the town where I grew up. I didn’t correspond with anyone and, even when I did come back for a visit, spent most of my time out in the desert and mountains.
“Allens came back to town a couple months ago,” he said.
To be continued