In the middle of one summer, John and I drove the corvette up the California coast, just south of the Oregon border, to a place called Usal Trail. We’d seen an article in National Geographic: “Here is Where?” or maybe: “Where is there?” Or… Anyway, I’m sure about the question mark. Backpackers call it The Lost Coast.
John’s friend Dave came with us and drove a jeep. John loved Dave, maybe as much as John loved me. Dave had many things I didn’t – oh, I don’t mean balls. Dave had a doctorate from Stanford, a famous father, powerful friends. Most of all Dave never questioned Dave; his Dave-words, his Dave-thoughts, his Daveness.
Beautiful as John was, he had trouble slipping into his own skin. He’d do this thing where he’d twist his head from the right shoulder to the left, as though everything pulled too hard. John was older than Dave, but that didn’t lessen the hero worship. When they sparred, verbally, Dave always won. It wasn’t much of a fight; John bruised easily. And yet, they never seemed to tire of the sport. It was more of an exhibition match, anyway; and Dave was spending a lot of time in our company.
The first third of Usal Trail was overgrown, but drivable. Eventually we had to ditch the vette, and then ditch the jeep and finish up on foot.
We came to a deserted monastery, and found old farming equipment, fermenting in the sun and fog. When we reached the grassy cliffs we stood about 50 feet above the ocean. Sheep were grazing near the edge and my dog Bru, big bad Bru, took off at a dead run. I called him back.
“Don’t bother,” said Dave. “He doesn't hear you.”
We watched as way, way off, Bru cornered a sheep to the edge of a cliff. We couldn’t see much, just enough to know that fur does fly. After a bit – 1 minute? 5 minutes? Half an hour? The sheep collapsed and fell off the cliff. Bru stood at the very edge and barked and barked and barked. At the sky, not the ocean.
When he loped back to us, his mouth full of blood and wool.
John said, “We’d better get out of here, someone might own those sheep.”
Dave took off his shirt and helped me wipe the blood off Bru’s fur. That’s when I could feel Bru tremble a little, tremble and then sigh.
“Really, let’s go.” said John, turning to leave. “Unless you two relish the sight of some farmer running up the hill with a shotgun. Because if you do, Looocie, you got some splainin to do.”
After awhile, Dave took my hand and helped me up.
"Where is John?" I said. Or maybe, "Is John there?" Anyway, I remember the question mark.
And we left the Lost Coast to go find him.