That northern howl was blustering through the pine trees, over the Snake River causing white topping in the already aggravated flow.
Colby was seated, just like me, on an escarpment, looking down on the violence, hearing the waters trying to punish the rocks, while the windswept our hair and our clothes back and forth. The exposed skin was probably changing colors as I shivered and expected the same from Colby. But, he was older, tougher, his early years truly brutal for him.
Others on that bluff would have found cover from the noise. Colby and I grew up in it, the white capping, the violent flow, water was thrown much higher than the rocks, the roar of the water just seemed to natural to us, while commoners might have viewed it for a few minutes only to retreat as far as possible when they could.
“You know, I never had anyone in my corner? Not a Ma, or a Dad, a brother. There was no one that I could depend on as long as I can remember. The bruises I took, the blood spilled, it was me, against them!”
This one sort of hurt me.
“Well, Hell, Colby! I have been here. I have fought with you! What about me?”
Colby never turned an eye towards me, but said, “Hell! You don’t count. I am a cockroach, but you are cockroach shit! At least I can I.D. my old man in a police line up, but you can’t! You have no idea whether he came from here or Chicago. Nope, you are just one more bug in the mud, like me. I have a future from nothing, you are no better!”
“But, I dreamed of someone learning me how to swim, how to fish, how to fight! Someone that actually wanted to help me!”
At that, my eyes got full, and I knew I was going to let those overflow if I stayed there.
“Well, fuck you, Colby! I can do better than you, just as well! I can leave this town, I can find some other place, somewhere no one knows me or my family, or you!”
Colby was quiet for just a bit, but when he spoke his voice was low, just above the roar, though we were only inches apart. He was speaking like he was stroking a dog.
“You know, that would be the best you could do. Shake the dirt from this place, put on fresh clothes, and a new smile, find somewhere else to see. Hell, if you try hard enough, you might find a husband, that will give you things because you are pretty and smart. Maybe, you might have a couple of kids and a nice house with running water and a big bathroom. Plenty to eat and laughs!”
“If you try hard enough, you might actually fix some of the shit done to you!”
Now, my eyes and heart were full, and the pain was so bad.
“Damn you boy, I put my hope in you! My future in you! My breath in whatever you wanted! You and I grew up the same, I was yours and you were mine to hide from the shit!”
Colby stared out over that wonderful river, turning, churning, destroying anything not strong enough to survive for millennia.
“Yeah? If I really believed you saw nothing but me? I would just jump straight over this bluff, and let the Snake River take me under and forever. Do you know why?”
This time Colby did look at me, finding my eyes, drowning in the depths of his own soul, losing all of his hard and angry nature, and letting me see his heart, buried beneath rock, dirt, clay, and stone.
I saw him.
“You deserve so much more of this world than I can ever give you, or your fake Pa, or your worthless Mother, or that shit for a brother you think is kin. I would kill myself before I would tie you here to me!”
Colby saw the hurt in my eyes, and knew I was about to deny him,
“Do not test me! I am ready to die! You get out! You forget where you came from, you forget me! If you can do that, I will die happy!”
Things were hurting in me that words could not explain, and my mind was lost in a swirl just like the Snake River, churning down the Canyon walls, without one thought of what the shores thought or cared about.
“Dammit! How can you treat me like this? I have never been mean to you!”
Colby said, pointing way below us, “See that water? Watch it punch the rocks, watch it rise up and spray the air. That river is doing what it is supposed to do! You! You need to do what you are supposed to do and I have no hand in it! I am more like that rock down there, stuck in place, while the water hammers and runs past me. You are more like the river, flowing from one place to another, sometimes in mud, sometimes rocky shore, but you move and you change things.”
“You have to go and forget the rocks in your life, like me, that you cannot move and will always be in your way. ”
I wish I could say that I did leave Colby, the Snake River, and rocks, but truthfully, I never found anyone in my corner like him. Only rocks.
Though I did try to get out. I tried a new town, a new job, new people, but somehow I kept missing the roar of the river. A quiet city gave me too much time to think and wish. After a while, I found needles that would fill my veins with the river again.
So, I found the belt again, I found that needle, filled with my River of dreams. I will let the River run through my veins one more time.
I hope my last time.
I think I did enough this time so I can truly run downstream and hammer those rocks, just once more, because I never found anyone in my corner and Colby is gone.