Riggers and brothers, returning home
As the stars of the Way, begin to fade into the inky blue before another sunrise, a big ol’flatbed pulls into a deserted truck stop on an old weather beaten highway heading south. Four slightly weary bodies shuffle out of the cab of the truck, as each takes up a task to service the needs of their transport from over the last three day, the air is noticeably cold. Not towards one another, just the air in general, for Spring is approaching, and Winter is having one last turn at what it does best. Make people want to find a fire, blankets, and some company, well two out of three ain’t bad, just no blankets in the truck. The fire’s not for keeping us much warm either, but at least the old girl will get us to where we’re going.
“Anyone want anything from inside, or are we still right from the last stop?”
“No, all good, we’re just going to find the rest room.”
“All good here too, I’ll just fix up the aerial for the radio.”
Walking through the door, an old bell rings above the frame, heading straight for the counter as we don’t need anything else, just need to pay for the diesel.
“Just the diesel on two, thanks sir.”
An old timer, he rings up the fuel cost, and mutters a little to himself as he pushes a wrong button, and then looks up, looking me straight in the eye.
“Hey, you look familiar lad/son, but then again I meet lot of people. Been here 53 years now, but your face does ring a few bells, maybe you passed this way before. Ah, don’t mind me, when you get to my age, everyone starts looking the same, well almost.”
Before I could get a word in, we exchanged money and change, and I was headed out the door when he called out.
“You lived in these parts before, you were once a local? I never forget a local face.”
Turning with a smile, “Maybe old timer, but I’ll probably be seeing you around just the same.”
The battered door kicks my heel on the way out, “So are we right to go?”
Everyone climbs back into the old truck, and soon the miles are ticking away on down the road, as the memories of the old truck stop, of paddling down river to get there, with the long Sunday afternoons of playing eight ball while listening to tunes from a beat up jukebox come flooding back. The days of our youth, huh.. and getting in trouble if we got caught.
“Those were the days, little brother, escaping chores, having fun, but it was always a killer, that paddling back up river to get home.”
“You got it right there, you knew exactly what I was just reminiscing about in my own mind. Is old man Jardine still running the Stop?”
“Yeah, but he couldn’t quiet work out who I was, we’ll have to have a proper yarn with him next Sunday. Remember some of the wild stories of his youth, fact or fiction, always worth a listen.”
“So why did you both leave here, if it was such good times and all?”
“I’ve been wondering the same here, but where are we headed?”
“You can tell the story little brother. But where we’re going, has a lot to do with where we’ve been and are now.”
“Okay! It was like the world had just opened up for us, and said, come explore our vast realms. A fresh breeze and new freedom filled our lungs as the three of us set out to find our way. We left our ancestors’ lands to find the city of towers our new friends had told us about, a place where we could walk the vastness of the sky above the earth of those past. It took us many days of hitch hiking and jumping trains to find the city of towers, and many stories rest in those days of travel too, but they served their purpose, we made it to the Far East.
When we arrived, all we could do, was to look up into the sky for as long as we could, a vertical world reaching for the sky had us spellbound and in awe of where we set our feet down, one in front of the other. We had seen many tall trees and waterfalls before, but nothing like the forest of concrete, steel, and glass we now stood beneath. Our new friends had given us a name and a phone number, for if we ever made it this far, for their contact may have what we were seeking, the world of the sky.
We made contact with this person and for ten long years we walked the steel of the sky, building vast towers into the Aether. We three saw and did much together in the city of towers. Until that fatal day six months ago, before we had met you both, a lift load, high in the sky, took our eldest brother from us. We lost all heart for the sky, and the will to walk it, we had seen tragedy before, but this time we felt the lands’ of our ancestors calling us home. We tried to deny the call, we sort out different work, moved lodgings, but our love for the city of towers had waned, and we did not want to be there anymore.
It was when we met you both while we were working at the grand old Island Pub, we knew we need to find home and our feet on the earth of our ancestors again. We are just glad that you both decided to join us on our adventure to return home, to walk side by side as we return our brother to our family and our people.”
Us two brothers turn and look at one another, past the two girls sitting between us to smile briefly as my thoughts drift back to the road and why we were on it, with the now long narrow structure approaching, like driving back in time, for….
It came time to return home, to leave the world of sky construction far behind. Back to the forest of our ancestors, on the other side of that old bridge we helped construct as kids. Yes the days when safety was common sense thing. So, here we are little brother, parked at the gateway to our world as kids, for the first time in ten years, thankful to both our girlfriends, for believing in why we need to cross our old friend, her steel still straight and true. A single lane to freedom we thought so long ago, an escape from our ancestors’ forest, into a wide and open world, where we found chaos on the ground. But then, brother, we remembered her, her fresh painted steel. The hundreds, or was it thousands of bolts and rivets, the way she stood high above the river of our people and connected families on each side, our communities. We did find freedom and peace in the steel of the sky for a while, but the years have passed, and the liberties of home that lay at her steel feet are a welcome site.
What do you think little brother, out of respect for what the old girl gave us, we owe her that at least? Yes. Here we go then pick a foot. Our girlfriends leaning against the front of our old truck, we’re standing at the foot of the old girl’s beams. Kate and Marla shout go! Off and running we have soon made it to the level of her cross-members, they seemed so high when sixteen was just the beginning. Sprinting along her warm steel beneath our boots, as we hurdle each of her short cross-members, faster and faster, on our toes we bolted till the end, stopping at the top. The days from our youth, we stood there, looking around, deep into the ancestors’ forest. This old bridge is our freedom, our freedom to choose how we live, but we’re home now, and she offers us that comfort.
As we duck our heads under the last cross-member of our old friend, with her true, fine, and structured steel, a little dusty, but she’s all good. Kate, Marla, what are you waiting for? Deep in conversation, they stop and to wave while laughing, Kate snapping a shot of us happy trio. Jumping in the truck, the girls find no key, and shout it out. We slid down the girl’s eastern feet for the final time that day, walking back across her to say goodbye, but we’ll be back. Kate, snapping more shots as we cross under her painted and slightly rusted steel, the bridge, our old friend. Till we close on the truck, to our girlfriends hugs, kisses and laughter.
We can now take our brother home, across the bridge for the last time.