June Doom was my co-pilot along the dark cliffs of Mount Mercy — searching out the right rocks for my dead friend’s crypt. Everything we could see beyond our own spiderweb-cracked windshield been made in part by ice-age glaciers, now long gone.
I’m not sure what had made us: why we were made to suffer. But we were able-bodied, able-minded, able to find distractions to fill our heart like gasoline stored to flood an engine at the right time.
This was the right time. So … kick the tires and light the fires.
First chance, we skipped out on our friends at the lake house. This was our way of getting alone. We needed it, or we’d explode.
The F-250 pulled and popped, shuddered, vibrated: the steering wheel felt like it was trying to escape me, my hands buzzed. The driving was hard. Sticks. Jagged rock. Mud that had no end. The assorted wilds assaulted our industrial horse, tried to stop her dead where she ran.
The cassette deck played, “Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers. The cassette deck played, “Stay Hungry” by the Talking Heads. The cassette deck played, “Waiting Room” by Fugazi … A mixtape she’d made me, with a handwritten note that said, ‘I don’t wanna not know you’.
I took it in my paw, my hand trembling, feeling like a kid again.
She’d hung a handful of pink quartz, blue datolite and clear rock crystals from my rear-view mirror, they swayed and clapped together with each jarring impact of the truck as we headed up up up up. She said, “each time they click, it’s good luck,” brushing manic panic red hair out of her raccoon eyes.
“I feel like I just got my good luck back, ya know?” I said, squinting. The sun appeared, splintering like an assassin through the canopy of Beech leaves.
“Badluck never really leaves you once it finds you.” she said, as an authority, “it just hides in your clothes, crawls under your nails, hides in your hair. You gotta get rid of it yourself. You know the trick to get it out?”
“What’s the trick, June Doom?”
“Dance around.” she grinned, “shimmy and shake as hard as you can. Otherwise it digs into you and stays, permanent.”
I turned to look at her, she pushed my face back, meaning:look at the road, we’ll die.
Straight ahead was life — alright.
Feathers from a red tailed hawk, that she’d found by a sap weeping Spruce beside the river fluttered wildly from the crooked antennae. There were no radio stations up this high. Not in these isolated passages, son.
Transmissions were void. White violent static without remorse.
Badluck: I thought about Seth, the way that I’d found him. The TV on his nightstand had been solid with snow: while a river of dried up blood showed out of his nose onto the white sheets, now stained brown. He was cold, though the room was hot and I was sweaty. That was only spring.
Now it was almost August. I couldn’t dwell in that darkness long. June looked at me, the way that the sun melts the glaciers. Slowly. Over the course of a lifetime. Nothing stopping it.
Alone. Two people separate in the world, even farther separated. A castle with a drawbridge that now seemed to be up, saying, “Leave us be for the afternoon. Fuck with us and we’ll drop hot oil and feathers on you from our guard towers. Our archers will shoot you dead with fire arrows.”
Us: Away from the prying eyes of everyone else, and it felt beyond good.
She was private, didn’t even like holding my hand with anyone present.
As we drove the truck away from the stone house and Tull lake, June changed. She warmed up, became talkative and excited. She grabbed my hand, smiled so wide. I thought that I could see each and every single tooth. I focused on the sharp one. It was like a wolf’s. I’d have to be careful around that tooth.
“I know where I’ll take you,” I said.
“The edge of the world?”
“That waterfall that Trish and Otto couldn’t find.”
She knew we’d find it, but she said this anyway, “what makes you so sure that you can find it if they couldn’t?”
“I have incentive that they didn’t,” I said, “I want to show it toyou.”
She smirked, sat on her hands. Looked out the window. There was a deer up on a muddy path eating bark off a beech tree.
I playfully honked the horn: shave and a haircut, two bit.
The road forked as it went up. I went to the left, we wrapped around walls of rock as we went up higher still.
“Put on the windshield wipers, clear some of these clouds away,” she said.
I obliged: that’s what you have to do for pretty girls in the prime of their lives.
The wipers made a horrible shriek. I don’t think the F-250 had been gifted washer fluid since it was new.
She switched the wipers off, “Oh, god. Remind me never to tell you to turn your wipers on again.”
“I hear something,” she said, her head out the window. All I could hear were the strange darting birds propelling themselves from the trees above us.
As we walked hand in hand, I kept catching her so she didn’t roll her ankle, she kept doing the same for me.
We crossed through a wall of spruce trees. Then, suddenly, there it was: the biggest waterfall I’d ever seen in person. Thousands of gallons a second erupting off the side of mount Mercy, dumping into the rushing river below.
The rocks were wide and flat, becoming deadly slick as we neared the edge of the spout. Our eyes were wide with wonder. We hugged each other hard, kissing too quick, clanking our teeth together like kissing amateurs. Smooching rookies.
“This looks like a very sacred place, you know that, right?” she said loudly.
“For Indians.” I said, “way back when before us.”
“Yeah, exactly,” she pointed like a tour guide, “See that cut-out where waters eaten away the rock in a perfect circle.”
“How could I miss it?”
“I like that. Old. Ancient stuff.”
“Plenty before us …”
“Plenty after us.”
We started to kiss like crazy. This time, our lips hit all the right targets. Hands flailed. Feet gave out. Softly and with perfect trajectory, we lowered ourselves without disconnecting down to the flat green rock. Down there we pulled each others shirts over head and off as if that’s all we had ever been born to do.
The water streamed down in an impossible wall.
Her hair fell onto my face. We kicked off our pants and started to screw, without worry or restraint.
Sometimes when badluck death finds you: there’s no way that nature can make it up to you except sending someone brimming with such life as June Doom to come and force you to dance at near gunpoint.