My VA ID’s still good but my knee got a world better once I got off the processed food in the hospital, got my leave, and began collecting the cans: I dropped thirty pounds or so in the first year alone, but had to get used to the kids’ catcalls “Hey, can man!” and guys all torqued up in pick-ups trying to run me off the road into the brush; that was not cool.
It wasn’t for lack of trying: the gig at the machine shop ended up short-lived, once they brought in that 3-D printer. But with the military separation money in combo with the VA disability + the walking cash I got from the cans, I was fairly ironed out, though the only digs I could score was a basement room with little light, no view at all, so to be honest I started getting antsy.
Dr. Kahn was a life-saver, then: I skulked back to the hospital once a week to see her. I think she was Jewish, but I wasn’t anything, so I confessed my anxieties to her: how unlovable I felt, how no woman would ever, and how did I ever end up in this godforsaken place and whatnot, and she was placid as a lake reflecting back nothing but positivity.
I’m sure I was half in love with her; probably all in. She turned me on to reading: gave me my first book out of school, an easy reader, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I was hooked. Reading opened up my horizons; Dr. Kahn helped me envision possibilities.
At our last session she said “I shouldn’t” but gave me a hug, took my palm and placed an opal—transparent, flecked with green striations—in its rough. “From Mt. Shasta.”
Up Cosmic Wall I lead guided climbs in Castle Crags; easy ascents up Bolam Glacier on the north flank: the views, so clear. Spectacular.
Sure, some folks call it hokey; the crystal shops; the tourist traps.
But out here I swear I can feel the lava tubes hum at the heart of Shasta; swear I can see my house: a tiny fleck nestled in the stand of pines—early morning my wife still sleeping, the baby too, in her basinet. And I know, there’s a path, not random—in the least—that by the hand, with love and kindness, led. Led me. Here. To my mountain.
Robert Libbey lives in East Northport, NY. He has writing in or soon at: Cabinet of Heed, Ligeia, Spelk, Drunk Monkeys, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine and other places. He is a reader with Literary Orphans.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.