The memory and the imagination–tools in a writer’s bin. A story of devolution that began with a travel piece on Views from Eagle Peak. Modified a bit–with more fiction and less fact. Some remains. Writing from life some call it.
I looked down at the dull gray boulders, thirty-feet below the clear water of Lake Superior. They called to me—well, maybe not them. Something did. Like the views from places there were no fences. No guardrails to keep the clumsy or the foolish from venturing too close. I was neither then. Just drawn to leap. Leap the 100-feet or so to the water below. To meet the rocks that called. Called me to a watery grave. I was a kid then. My much older brother pulled me back, sensing an unhealthy attraction, an unspoken intention. The psychic intrusion, the unwelcome desire quickly left at his touch—the spell broken.
Now and then an image has appeared in my mind, a recollection of that day. That day my life might have been cut short by an urge of unknown origin. Since then, I’ve looked down from countless vistas. Some were far higher than that Minnesota cliff. At the Grand Canyon. From a bridge over the Colorado River near Taos, New Mexico. At Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah. From visitor’s platforms at tall buildings here and there. The odd urge never returned. Until that trip to a resort in South America. That’s when I knew. Knew from where the call came.
I knew then, on that 20th story walkway, that someone must have jumped to the pavement below. A jump that shattered bones and splashed blood and gore that passersby witnessed. By the time we visited, the resort had scoured it all away. After the police officials allowed them. I could not be sure of the spirit. I have no proof. I have no news reports. No stories posted to social media or travel sites. No confirmation from the resort. Nonetheless, I knew. I told her about it. And the time on the cliff over the lake.
I felt the pull to climb atop the wall and take the plunge. A pull from an evil spirit. An evil spirit that caused the previous corporate owner to sell the resort. An evil spirit that found an opening into the minds of visitors. Happy visitors. Visitors with no death wish. Wishes only for fun and frolic on the beach. So, not a remembrance from the sad soul of the recently departed. No, the demon that instructed them. Them and others. Others who might have chosen the path of walking out into the bay during a riptide. A riptide that drowned an inexperienced swimmer.
She didn’t believe me. She humored me, though. We were there to put us back on the track. The track of a happy marriage that had become strained over time. She had always been afraid of heights. But she didn’t mind walking next to the wall, letting me walk next to the room doors. On the long walk to the elevators. I could almost hear the voice in my head. My head felt funny that day, the first day I felt it. She gave me the pills, the pills that made it all better.
The demons are out there. I know they are. You must resist them. Do not let them delude you. Don’t look. Don’t read those scary stories. Don’t watch those movies. You know the ones. The ones where the teenagers stupidly go into the deserted house on a dare. You believe, don’t you? I must go now—someone is calling. Calling me to dinner. It will be a tasty dinner I’m sure. Fugu. Fugu prepared by the former sushi chef at a local Japanese restaurant. They asked him to leave after that incident someone said. There’s no truth to that rumor, she insisted. She met him at a fitness center she told me. He offered to make lunch for his new friend. She was having Ahi (tuna), said she just didn’t care for pufferfish. I can hear her voice. In my head, that funny feeling again.