Wilderness Paradise Pt. 01byu06la14b©
A Wilderness Paradise: Of Brothers and Sisters
This story is longer than most. I reiterate, if you are looking for a quickie then this one is not for you. As always, it draws from personal experience:
"In a universe of ambiguity,
this kind of certainty comes only once,
and never again,
no matter how many lifetimes you live."
The Bridges of Madison County, Robert Waller.
The Lucky 8
The first thing I was aware of when I came to was the throbbing in my head. It hurt like a son-of-a- bitch. A fuckin' 10-alarm headache! I blinked and squeezed my eyes shut feeling the pressure thunder across of my forehead, a veritable marching band drumming right out from the center of my brain. And through this dull pounding the events of the previous night came seeping back in threads of loosely knit sequences.
I had stopped at 'The Lucky-8 Bar & Grill' for a drink and a bite to eat when one of the locals took umbrage to my presence. And as luck would have it, he happened to be about the biggest man I'd ever encountered. I'm a shade over six two but this Grizzly made me look like a midget. He was a foot taller and had me by about a hundred and fifty pounds though that really didn't scare me – size was never relevant in a fight. I had fought big men before and possessed an arsenal of techniques to deal with his size advantage. But someone forgot to tell Godzilla that.
He moved in trying to close the distance when a push-kick to his lower abdomen, a little above his groin, followed by a low roundhouse-kick to the outside of his knee stopped him in his tracks. I saw his leg flex unnaturally and his face contort with pain and was about to step in when I was sent flying by the swipe of a huge, gnarly paw. I tumbled over a table and ricocheted off of the wall landing on the far side of nothing, a mile from where he stood. Okay, so this wasn't going to be a walk in the park!
I got up quickly and stayed low ducking under a fist the size of Texas and when he swarmed in I hit him with a short right to the bridge of his nose and followed it with a left elbow to his temple. I could feel the impact running down my shoulders to my feet. The combination stunned the giant and he staggered backwards. There is truth to the cliché that speed kills. I was about to end it when there was a sudden explosion of lights followed by that peculiar weightless feeling as I slipped into unconsciousness. That was the last thing I remembered.
I ran my fingers gingerly over the walnut-sized bump on the back of my head just above the occipital bone, feeling around to gauge the extent of the damage. My scalp was split open and the blood had coagulated and clumped in my hair but I didn't think it would need stitches. I wasn't disoriented or confused which was good – it meant that though I might have concussed, it wasn't too serious. I checked my body for further injuries and apart from some sore ribs and a small bruise on the left side of my face I was okay, disheveled and badly in need of a shower, but okay.
I was lying propped up against the front wall facing the parking lot a few feet away from the stone stairway that led up to the entrance of the Bar. Someone must have carried me out. If they had thrown me down those stairs, I would have surely broken my neck. What can I say; I was dealing with a bunch of spineless but nevertheless, considerate assholes.
I sat up and shielded my eyes from the sunlight, the glare sending stilettoes stabbing through my brain.
"Damn! That's bright ..." I muttered to myself.
It was then that I noticed a piece of paper tucked into my shirt pocket. It was the crumpled tab for my meal. On it was scribbled, in childlike print, "I PAYED YOUR TAB. YOU WERE PREOCUPIDE PLEEZ COME SEE ME. DANIEL BENN". Okay, so I was dealing with a bunch of well-mannered yokels who couldn't spell but had a sense of humor! Nice touch but I was still pissed.
After making sure that my wallet and its contents were intact I got up, dusted myself off and drove a few miles down the road to The Smiling Bear Lodge. It was where I was supposed to hook-up with Rachael, Kyla and a few friends. Rachael was my kid sister and Kyla was a mutual friend we had grown up with. Andy and Sue were friends of Rachael's from college but I had yet to meet them. We had Skyped a few times but the lighting in Rachael's dorm room wasn't the best. I just hoped that they had some experience trekking in the mountains like the ones we were about to explore.
The plan was to use the Inn, just outside Bella Coola, as home base and drive to the mountains in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park to do some rock climbing, trekking and fishing. But my trip had been jinxed from the very get-go. I had left the office late and had gotten stuck in traffic a few miles south of O'Hare airport. Interstate I-190 had become a virtual parking lot thanks to an accident involving a tractor trailer and by the time they cleared the mess, I had missed my flight to Vancouver. The only option I had, in lieu of buying a new ticket, was to detour through Montreal or Calgary. So I flew into Montreal, waited around for four hours chugging stale coffee and browsing mindlessly through every magazine in the bookstore before catching the connecting flight to Sea Island.
I arrived there sleep deprived and hyped on caffeine only to learn that the weekly flight to Bella Coola had left a few hours earlier. Why wasn't I surprised? To paraphrase an old rock anthem: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all". But I wasn't going to waste my time bitching about this so instead of twiddling my thumbs for a week, I decided to drive the six hundred odd miles to Bella Coola. Bad idea!
After reviewing the map and checking the net for options, I settled on the Gold Rush Trail, Route Highway 1 to Highway 97 which was the quickest route to Williams Lake. It still took me over 7 hours to get there, but that was the easy part. Highway 20 going west to Bella Coola was in a different league altogether and could have been appropriately named 'The Highway to Hell'! Intermittent construction and the dirt road known as the Hill was enough to test the patience and nerves of the most skilled of drivers. There was a particular 5 mile stretch, riddled with hairpin bends and switchbacks that must have been designed by some sadomasochist or Evel Knievel himself. It was on a 20 degree gradient with sections that literally hung off the mountain's ledge that had my balls shriveling up like chestnuts and had me questioning the sanity of the decision to drive – at that moment a week in Vancouver didn't seem so bad. And it wasn't over. Once I managed to get down the Hill, I still had an hour or so to Bella Coola.
In all, including the break, where I slept in the car, the drive took me a little under 18 hours and this, when added to my transit time, cost me two days. I didn't really blame them for going ahead, I would have most probably done the same, but I was hoping that Rachael would have convinced the others to wait for me. But she didn't. True to her mercurial nature, Rachael sent me a text telling me to catch up! Her exact words, 'Sorry, Luke, would've liked to hang around but we've things to do. We'll see you at Hunlen Falls. Catch us if you can!', and ended it with a smiley. That was so typical of Rachael.
The thing about driving long distances, especially alone, is the cerebral freedom that often accompanies solitude; freedom that allows for the merging of thoughts and sensual fantasies with the reconstituted images of memory. This might explain the thriving flesh trade along the highways of North America. Those truckers have nothing else to do but fantasize about whatever it is they fantasize about and a willing body at a truck stop offers them some sort of temporary palliative. I could certainly appreciate that. My mind was filled, for most part, with thoughts of sex; of the girls I had slept with and those I wanted to sleep with ... and, of course, my younger sister.
After I had programmed the preset buttons on the radio and made the requisite phone call to my parents, I was left with the comfort of a peculiar quietness. It was a state where the soft strains of the music and the whirring sounds of the engine had faded into a soothing white noise and where the quantum of time and space had disappeared into the signs and scenery flashing by. I found myself revisiting secrets that had been locked away, stored securely in some far recess of my mind - secrets that families seldom talk about.
Incest! The word that once conjured images of banjo-playing retards and lewd, older men seducing little girls had undergone a significant change for me. I had researched and read everything I could find on the subject – especially articles delving into the sexual relationships between siblings. The more I read, the more I was convinced that some of the taboos were baseless. Exploration amongst brothers and sisters was a lot more widespread than acknowledged and was even considered normal by psychologists and doctors. What was surprising was that many of these liaisons developed into close, long-lasting affairs that continued even after one or both siblings had found other partners. The other interesting fact was the similarity in the experiences – couples who had indulged in sibling incest could relate closely with others who had done the same. Many also confessed that it was primarily their incestuous encounters that provided them with fodder for their sensual fantasies.
I can vouch for that. I couldn't help it, but the night that had affected both Rachael and me would play in my mind over and over and over again. It was an incident that had taken place on Rachael's Prom night and had changed my predilections forever. I was tied to my sister by the umbilical cord of a salacious memory.
6 Years ago – a flashback to Rachael's Prom Night
"What's up, Bugs?" I asked when Rachael's name popped up on my phone.
It was my nickname for her – Bugs as in Bugs Bunny; she used to remind me of a bunny when she was little with her two protruding front teeth and a cute lisp. That was before the magic of orthodontics gave her the perfect smile. She was eighteen now and all grown up.
"Kyla still doesn't have a date," she said without preamble.
"What? I can't hear you. Let me step outside," I said and made my way to the door.
I was with some friends at a popular Pizzeria and the cacophony of loud music, ribald laughter and clattering dishes was deafening.
"Okay, what was that? You said something about Kyla."
"Kyla doesn't have a date for the Prom," she repeated, "I told you about it ... we are running out of time!"
"I don't get it ... I thought Brian was taking her to the Prom?" I was genuinely surprised.
Brian and Kyla had gone out a few times and it was obvious that Kyla was taken with him. She couldn't stop talking about him and how "cute" he was.
"I know and that's why she said no to the others who had asked her ... but we just found out that he's taking Mary."
Mary was a bimbo on the cheerleading team – big boobs, bubble ass and absolutely brain-dead; she was the epitome of being "clueless"!
Brian was the captain of the football team and was a pompous ass. Girls thought that he was "dreamy". I thought he was a prick and no, I'm not jealous – we'd had our share of run-ins before I graduated. I was just glad that Rachael was never enamored by him.
"Brian's a fuckin' creep! You tell her not to lose any sleep over him. Why can't she go without a date? Hey, she can hang with you and Gorilla Grodd!" I suggested.
I couldn't help making fun of Rachael's boyfriend. He was a nerd, an extreme geek. He had a condescending manner about him and on more than one occasion I've had to step in to prevent someone from poking him in the eye. He was arrogant and super bright, as in "genius", similar to the anthropomorphic cartoon character. But it was the fact that the nickname, Gorilla Grodd, seemed to press Rachael's buttons that had me staying with it. I swear Rachael had the strangest taste in boys. But the truth was that I was jealous of him, jealous that he was dating my sister. And maybe that was the real reason I picked on him. It was confusing at best. Rachael and I had always been close but this feeling that seemed to crop up from nowhere sure beat the heck out of me.
"Why do you always have to be mean to James?" Rachael asked and I could tell from her voice that she was upset.
"I'm joking!" I protested.
"No you're not! I know you, Luke, and I know when you are kidding and when you're being nasty."
I was quiet. She was right – there was an undercurrent of meanness masked by the convivial cover of my incessant teasing. We had always been open and honest with each other and talked about everything, including sex, but for the first time I was at a loss. I didn't know how to verbalize the feelings inside me. How do you tell your younger sister that you are jealous of the guy she's dating? That it was driving me crazy imagining him doing things to her? I realized that sooner or later someone was going to get her into bed and that she wasn't going to remain a virgin forever but the thought was both sobering and disconcerting. Did I have a thing for my sister? Shit! That would be really weird!
"I... er ... I don't know why. It's not even him, sis ... it's ... it's the fact that you are dating him!" I finally managed to stutter.
"You're dating! And you don't see me making fun of the girls you parade in and out of your room!" she spat back.
"That's different," I squawked with typical male logic.
"Oh, really! How? How is it different? Did you ever stop to think how it made me feel ... those skanks walking around half-naked crawling all over you?"
I was shocked by the passion in her voice. Granted some of them were, for lack of a better word, skanks, and did walk around in their panties, flaunting their boobies (when Mom and Dad weren't around), but it never occurred to me that she might feel uncomfortable or was there more to this? Was she, like me, jealous too?
"I never thought it bothered you," I replied, "... honestly! You never said anything!"
"I hated them! Every single one of them!" She spat out, the passion in her voice surprising me, and then added, "Even Laura, who's really quite sweet."
This wasn't like Rachael at all. She was normally very laidback and easygoing. We were quiet for a while before my curiosity got the better of me.
"But why? I mean, why didn't you say something if it bothered you?"
"What was I going to say? You're my brother and there's nothing I can do about that," she said so softly, I had to strain to hear her. "One of these days you'll find some girl and get married and I'll lose you... I just have to accept that."
"I'm nineteen, Rach; I'm not getting married right now."
"I know, but ..." she said helplessly then she changed the topic, "... oh, what's the point! Just forget it! Can't you ask Kyla to the Prom? Please Luke?"
Me? Ask Kyla? Wow! That came out of left field! I've always liked Kyla and would be lying if I said I hadn't thought of boning her. She was the same age as Rachael and the three of us had literally grown up together, all the way from kindergarten, and, we got on really well. But asking her out on a date and that too on Prom night? That was a bit radical. However, there were some perks. I could keep an eye on Rachael and make sure nothing crazy happens. It was the night where 99% of the boys would be trying to get laid and 80% of the girls would be trying to hang on to their virginity! Any way you sliced it, the math didn't work – roofies and booze notwithstanding. I was going to try and help Rachael and Kyla keep their knickers on!
"I'll ask her but it'll have to be the four of us ... I'd feel really weird otherwise," I said.
"You'd really do that, Luke? Really? I could ... never mind ... you're a real lifesaver! I'll call Kyla," she said, perking up considerably.
"I'd better call her, don't you think?" I asked facetiously.
"Yes, of course ... what was I thinking? I'll let James know. Call me back after you speak to her, okay?" she was excited.
"You be sure to tell James to wear something over that monkey-ass of his!" I said unable to resist the parting dig and hung up before she could reply.
I waited a few minutes trying to figure out why I was doing this. I wasn't really interested in going to their Prom though there was a chance I could get lucky. I had gotten lucky at my Prom so you never know. However, Kyla was a friend, no she was more than a friend, she was like a second sister to me and I wasn't sure I wanted our relationship to change. In any case, I had promised Rachael so I called Kyla and after the usual small talk I got to the point.
"Hey, so who are you going to the Prom with?" I asked playing dumb.
She hesitated then answered softly, her voice trailing off, "I don't know if I'm going. No one's asked me. Well, it's a long story ..."
I paused before asking her. I wanted her to think this was spontaneous.
"How would you like to knock them all dead by taking the next Sonny Crockett to the prom?"
Kyla thought that I looked vaguely like Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame, a dark haired, taller version. I was hoping to get a laugh or some witty retort but no cigar. There was only silence on the other end.
"Hey, Kyla, are you okay?" I asked when she hadn't said anything.
"I'm not a charity case, Luke," she said in a somber tone, "Rachael should learn to keep her mouth shut!"
Okay, so the gig was up.
"She was only trying to help." I answered weakly, "Brian's a creep – I know that firsthand and he doesn't deserve you! Listen, if it's any consolation, I'm not doing anything and I would be flattered if you'd let me take you ... who knows, we may actually have some fun!"
"You're just being nice," she said softly.
Chicks! Nothing's simple ... they just had to do it; they had to draw you into more chatter. I would have been happy with a simple "yes" or a "no" or even a "mind your own fuckin' business and leave me alone!"
"Listen, Dumbo, you know me ... I wouldn't do it if I didn't want to no matter what Rachael said! You're gorgeous and the only reason that someone else hasn't asked you is that those punks in your class lack the balls to step up to the plate! Come on ... it'll be a blast! We'll make it a foursome with Rachael and Gorilla Grodd!" I countered.
She giggled, "Don't let Rachael catch you saying that ... you'll be dead!"
Okay! Now we were making some progress.
"We can watch him make the moves on Rachael! Hey, that's worth the price of admission right there! Come on, what do you say, Kyla ... it'll be the Three Vaqueros all over again and of course, the big monkey?"
The nickname for us came from her mother who was from Spain and had grown up on a horse ranch.
Kyla laughed, "Okay, if you're sure I'm ..."
I cut her off, "Great. I'll come and get you at 6 ... is that okay?"
"Sure. And Luke, thanks!" she said quickly and hung up.
Mom and Rachael spent the rest of the week shopping. All I wanted them to do for me was to buy the corsage for Kyla. What I saw were hundreds of dresses come parading in and just as many going out. I had half a mind to yell: "make up your fuckin' mind already!" but eventually, Rachael did pick a dress and though Dad and I wanted her to model it for us, we were told we had to wait. It was a secret only to be revealed on the big day.
Mom was thrilled that I was taking Kyla and wanted me to rent a tux but that was out of the question – once was enough. I was wearing a jacket and that's as far as I was willing to go. I was going to leave it to James to put on the monkey suit.
On the evening of Prom night, I was in the bathroom, a towel wrapped around my waist, shaving and getting ready when I heard Rachael calling.