Storytime: Stories.

November 22nd, 2017

Yeah, I might’ve told you about my great-uncle Tony before. Was a real-life thrillseeker. He was something like seventy-four, and he was going up – not Everest, one of the other ones, you know. K2? Maybe? Who knows. Anyways, he was out on a ledge or something (I’m not a climber), and he had his ice axe out, and he swung and yanked and hauled himself up and wouldn’t you know, I have no idea how he did this, but he was holding it BACKWARDS. Tried to haul himself and a forty-pound backpack up by the gripping force of a rubber handle.
His friend Louis got a look at him as he went by, and he said those were the most consternated eyebrows he’d ever seen on a man anywhere.
Not surprised, just VEXED.
Crazy ol’ great-uncle Tony.

I remember my cousin Janice very fondly. She knew everybody in my family, and she told me that story about our great-uncle Tony just the week before she passed. Man, she would’ve loved the way she went. Who hooks a whale when they were looking for mackerel? What a way to leave – whip-snap over the side like ol’ Ahab himself. Didn’t even have time to shout. And she’d just taken her jacket off and hadn’t replaced her floaters; boy, the things that make a difference when you think back twenty seconds.
Ah, well. She always did like the sea, Janice did. She’s just part of it now.

Oh, hadn’t you heard?
Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, but no, Denise’s been dead for like a year.
I know! I know, she was so young! She had funny pains in her arm the day after she helped me move – we had such a good time, sat around, shot the shit about all our relatives, had too much pizza. She called me in the morning to ask if I’d forgotten anything, thought she’d pulled something, then I heard a thump and she’d fallen right over. Called the hospital and by the time the ambulance showed up, well, that was that.
A stroke at thirty, can you believe it? Wow, neither could the doctors. Probably going to end up being a data point in a study somewhere.

Okay, I should explain a bit, because there was the flood, yes, but they didn’t tell us exactly cause of death until we got to the morgue, because they didn’t want to sensationalize it. So we were standing there in the lobby while they told us Eddie did everything right aside from not evacuating right away.
He saw the water rising, knew he had to get off the ground floor, and knew his attic was a safe place to wait because the windows there were real big and he could get onto the roof if he needed to. Young, athletic guy, he felt pretty confident about this. So he walked upstairs and pulled down the ladder and climbed up there with his arms full of blankets and cans and he was practically standing nose to nose with a tiger. A Bengal tiger.
There was a tiger in there!
I know, a tiger! The zoo flooded too, and it swam out and got caught in a current and it hauled itself out on his back porch roof and got into his attic through the window.
Well…it had an awfully big personal space bubble. And it was pretty scared at the time. So that was it for poor ol’ Eddie. Strangest thing I’ve ever heard happen to any member of my family. He’d been having such a bad year too, since Denise died. They were such good friends.

And just there, in between the lines and behind the words, there was
The drop
The snag
The clutch
The shock
The fear
And the pain

But you can’t tell someone else’s story without leaving a few things out.

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