Falling Up The Stairs

Previously I wrote about the time I fell down the stairs. Fortunately I came out of that experience without any scratches, bruises, or broken bones. I did develop a keen attitude of caution and respect for the dangers of stairs. That one time was the only time I have had an uncontrolled descent of a stairway…and that once was more than enough.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about falling up the stairs.

How, you may wonder, can one fall up the stairs? It’s really quite easy, that I can assure you.

Consider, if you will, a person arrives at the bottom of some stairs with the intention of climbing them. Maybe because they are distracted or simply not paying attention they fail to lift their foot quite high enough and instead trip on the first step. Because of their momentum they pitch forward, landing prone with their upper body several steps above the first one. Bingo…that person has fallen up the stairs.

Depending on how tall the person is and/or the steepness of the staircase, one or more unpleasant things can be the result…many of which can be quite painful and bloody. If no injuries occur it’s at least a given that the person will feel terrible embarrassment, possibly blurt out a nasty word, and immediately look around to see if anyone was watching.

Falling Down The Stairs

We lived in one side of a two story duplex. The living room, dining room, and kitchen were on the ground floor. The three bedrooms and the only bathroom were on the second floor.

We were all upstairs getting ready to go out somewhere. I don’t recall where for sure but probably to get a hamburger at the nearby Prince’s. There still isn’t anyplace nowadays that comes even close to making a hamburger equal to what Prince’s made.

As I started down the stairs my foot made just enough of a slip to cause me to lose my balance. I pitched forward and fell down the stairs head first…sort of. It happened so fast I was down at the bottom of the stairs before I really knew what had happened.

My dad had already gone downstairs and was standing by the front door and looking up the steps when I fell and he was amazed at what he saw. When I first pitched forward I had unconsciously put my arms up over my head. I landed on my hands a few steps down and flipped forward to land on my feet. I repeated this all the way down to the bottom where I landed on my feet and stumbled into the wall. He said he’d seen circus tumbling acts that weren’t half that good.

I wasn’t hurt…in fact I didn’t have a scratch or bruise on me.

Needless to say I was very careful from then on whenever I was near those stairs.

The Eagle That Didn’t Fly

He was a golden eagle. A grand example of the species.

At least that was true from his outward appearance.

But this eagle had a secret. He had a tremendous fear of high places. The very thought of soaring far above the land and riding the winds filled him with such a dread that he would shake uncontrollably.

Just hours before his birth his mother had an unexpected encounter with some turbulent air from a nearby 747. It caused her to go into free fall and she was barely able to pull out in time to keep from hitting the ground. The experience had a major effect on her nerves. Unfortunately this was transmitted to her soon to be born eaglet.

As he grew into into adulthood and began to seek his mate this fine looking eagle found his fear of flying to be a source of great anxiety. How would the mother of his offspring react to his problem?

He found out quite soon. As they searched for the perfect place to build their nest he kept choosing spots very close to the ground. When she asked him what he had against the top of the tall pines he finally had to tell her about his phobia. After he finished she shook her head and said it was just her luck to fall in love with a penguin in eagle’s feathers.

But they adapted. She let him choose a nesting place that was on the side of a mountain. It was behind a big pine tree but on the ground. Papa eagle concluded that technically it was already high in the air so it wouldn’t be necessary for him to fly.

When they had their eaglets he became quite adept at scurrying about the floor of the forest to procure food.

His mate called him the fastest “chicken” on the earth.

Four People In A Leaky Boat

We arrived early in the morning. The sun was up but hadn’t been very long. At the Galveston end of the causeway we turned left onto the road that led to a bait camp that sat next to the railroad tracks.

There were four of us. My sister, her friend Clara Faye, Clara Faye’s father, Mr. Cannon, and myself. While three of us unloaded the fishing tackle Mr. Cannon went over to the office and rented a boat. He also bought a goodly amount of live shrimp for bait.

We all got in the boat, and let me tell you it was a pathetic excuse for a boat, and after Mr. Cannon attached the motor to the back, we cast off and headed out into the bay. We didn’t really go very far since he wanted to fish near the railroad causeway.

He found a spot that he thought looked good and he told my sister to drop the anchor. She found the rope and when she found the anchor it turned out to be a round hunk of cement with a hole in it. The rope went through the hole and was secured with a big knot. Like I said, it wasn’t much of a boat.

Mr. Cannon baited his hook and that was when we noticed that all the live shrimp were in fact dead. Looked like they had been dead for several days. Anyway he got ready to cast and that was when we discovered that when Mr. Cannon casts everybody else in the boat ducks as low as they can.

We had been fishing for awhile when my sister noticed her feet were getting wet. It turns out that the boat was made out of aluminum and a couple of rivets on the bottom were missing so the owner of the bait camp had stuffed pieces of a paper coffee cup in them to stop the leaks. Clara Faye wasn’t fishing so she had sat there and pulled the paper out, not realizing that would let the water in. We had to quickly get busy and start bailing.

Then I happened to notice that our cement anchor wasn’t holding, probably because the rope was too short. We had drifted into the middle of the Intercoastal Canal and there was a tugboat with some barges heading our direction. I pointed that out to Mr. Cannon and he freaked. He threw down his rod and reel and grabbed the starter rope to fire up the outboard motor. It didn’t start. He kept pulling on it and adjusting the choke. Finally it started and we got out of the way, just in time.

He decided we’d been fishing long enough and we headed back to the bait camp. We hadn’t caught a single fish. Hadn’t even had any nibbles.

When we got back to the dock Mr. Cannon told the owner about the leaks and the owner acted surprised. Said that was one of his best boats.

After we got back in the car Mr. Cannon said if that was one of the best boats he darn sure couldn’t imagine what the bad ones were like. Needless to say we never used that bait camp again.

Now That Is Cold

It was very late at night when we pulled into the motel. When we got out of the car we were stunned by the intensely cold air.

After we registered we walked over to our room, turned up the heat, and then went to the car and got our luggage out. Since there wasn’t a parking place any closer to our room we just left the car parallel parked near the office.

By the time we got back to the room we were really feeling the cold.

After we warmed up for awhile I took a quick walk to the soft drink machine I had seen outside. That was when it struck me just how cold it really was. The cold drink machine actually had a heater blowing on it to keep the cans from freezing.

Now that is cold.

Chased By Something Unseen

It was close to sunset when Nan and I began our drive up the mountain. Part of the way up we pulled into a scenic turnout and and got out of the car to watch the sunset. The view was incredible.

As we enjoyed the beauty, I suddenly felt something strange nearby and I turned around to face the east. I couldn’t see anything but I could feel a presence approaching us. I felt very uncomfortable with this and anxious to be somewhere else. I turned to Nan and told her I thought we needed to get away from there. One look at her face told me she was feeling apprehensive too.

As fast as we could we got in the car, turned around, and headed back down the mountain. The sunlight suddenly failed completely and darkness descended on us like a snap of the fingers.

Whatever was out there was very close by. We could both feel it. I had to really fight to keep from giving in to panic as I drove down the twisting mountain road.

The presence stayed with us all the way down the mountain and into the outskirts of a small town, where we finally felt it suddenly depart. Nan, who had said nothing since we had jumped into the car and literally fled, looked at me and asked what that was. I told her I did not have any idea but I was certainly glad it was gone. Since we both were completely unnerved and exhausted from the experience we decided to drive some distance away from the area and find a room for the night.

What was it that chased us that night? Even after many years I still do not know. We have since been back to that same mountain and driven up that same road with no problems. We did make certain not to stop at that same turnout though.

Beauty In A Colorless World

I stand on the bank of the river watching the cold water flow by. The overcast sky and the snow on the ground combine with the dark water to present a mostly colorless world of white, black, and assorted shades of gray.

Most would call it a dreary scene and for a moment I feel a wave of intense loneliness and melancholy. So much unhappiness in the world. Such bitterness and hate. So much misery. What a sad state of affairs.

I am suddenly jolted out of my reverie by an icy blast of wind blowing down the canyon. “Wake up…wake up,” it seems to say. “Look around you! Open your eyes!” I look closer at the surrounding scene. Even in its nearly black and white mode I realize I am still in the presence of the endless beauty of God’s Creation. It fills me with its happy sights and sounds. The chuckling river. The whistling of the wind as blows through the tall pine trees.

I feel a rush of energy and love lift me up. I also feel chilled. The wind is getting colder and flurries of snow begin. I pick up a small rock from the edge of the river and gently touch it to my cheek. I carefully replace it and make haste to return to the car. The storm is arriving early and I must leave here quickly for the road will soon be closed by snow.

Just Around The Corner

It was getting dark and he still had a couple of blocks to go before he got home. He had been late leaving work and now he was paying a price. He didn’t know why but he was apprehensive. Something didn’t feel right.

About halfway along the middle of the final block he abruptly stopped. At the corner of the building ahead something lurked. Something awful. He couldn’t see whatever it was but he knew it was there. Waiting for him.

What to do? He had to go home and there was no other way for him to get there.

Why was he so unnerved? Suddenly he knew. He’d had a horrible nightmare during the early morning hours. He had come awake with a sudden jolt, gasping for breath and shaking all over. He couldn’t remember any details but he knew he had awakened just before the nightmare had ended…so he hadn’t seen how it ended. Now he felt a knot of dread growing in his stomach. He was going to come face to face with whatever he had missed at that early morning moment.

He slowly moved closer to the corner of the building. He got so close he felt that if he tried he could probably hear whatever was waiting for him as it breathed. But he didn’t. Before he could completely lose his nerve and flee in the opposite direction he took that final step and turned to face what was waiting.

And…nothing was there.

Stuck In The Sand

In the late 1950s I picked up my grandmother and we headed for Galveston. Back in those days the two of us regularly made spur of the moment trips together.

When we arrived on the island I decided to turn on Stewart Road and head for west beach. At this time there were no developments on the west end of Galveston so after I turned off of 61st Street we quickly left civilization behind.

This was quite a few years before the bridge across San Luis Pass was built and my goal that day was to get as close to the pass as possible and hopefully be able to see the treacherous currents that flow between the Gulf of Mexico and West Galveston Bay.

Now it wasn’t the world’s best maintained road and as we drove further west it got somewhat worse. Finally I turned off onto a sandy track that led to the gulf. Once on the beach the sand was firm and after traveling a mile or so I could see water in front of us so I knew we were close to the pass.

Suddenly the firm packed sand became deep and loose. I slammed on the brakes but not quite soon enough. I put the car into reverse and tried to back out. No luck. We were stuck. We got out and looked. Fortunately, when I had realized we were in loose sand and couldn’t back out of it, I had quit trying so we weren’t in very deep and it wasn’t far to where the beach was firm.

I looked around and found a couple of planks that had washed up during high tide. I scooped out the sand behind the tires all the way back to the firm beach. Then I jammed the planks under the back tires.

I asked my grandmother to stand over on the beach near the water where she wouldn’t be in any danger. She told me if I got the car moving to keep going until it was well away from the deep sand.

I got in and started the car. I put it in reverse and let out the clutch a little. When I felt the back tires bite into the planks I hit the gas and popped the clutch. Sand went everywhere and I practically flew out of there.

My grandmother hurried over, got in the car, and suggested we find a paved road to drive on. I totally agreed.