Wednesday, July 8, 2015

THYME Magazine: The Bridge Builder's Tale XI

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

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I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day" -- Abraham Lincoln

What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and walk humbly with thy God" -- Micah 6:8

Approaching Big Diomede, the BSB rises on suspension cables for another ship passage. On the old Eastbound span this suspension span was fairly short, resulting in the only blind descent in the whole system. Engineers calculate such features to save money and regret doing so for years afterward. Chris geared down as he climbed, but kept momentum. Surely the lead truck was on the island by now. Once clear of the big spans, convoy restrictions were eased. Chris and Joe bantered about a coffee stop and dinner when they hit the end of the safety restriction corridor.

Chris was caught up in elsewhere thoughts when he topped the rise. DAMN!, the fertilizer hopper appeared suddenly. The young driver must have jackknifed. His rig filled both of the lanes. No time to stop! all reaction. 'Joe, STOP ! BRAKES!!!,' Chris screamed into the phone as he slid out of control. Metal ground upon metal. What happened in seconds seemed like an eternity. As Chris' rig folded the two masses collided like pool balls, the ricochet sent the collected mass through the wall of the suspended tunnel, tumbling over the guardrail into the inky blackness of space.

FALLING! Falling into blackness! A blanket of blackness rushed up to meet him. Cold blackness!, a flash of light and then darkness! Funny, Chris had always dreaded drowning. He could work himself into a weird frame of mind and keep awake just by contemplating it. Now he was enveloped by the deepest darkness. But it was more like that of a womb, there was no gasping for breath, no swallowing of cold saltwater, but an eerie calm. Chris seemed to be floating effortlessly.

A light shined above him. Chris seemed to float toward it, upward. Light rippled as he remembered swimming under the surface as a child! in fact, wonderful sensations, suppressed in adolescence began to fill Chris' soul. There was that feeling, like the night before a wonderful anticipation of Christmas, where some wonderful expectation would soon come to be reality that one could hold in one’s hand!

Chris found himself lying on the bank of a small pool in a lovely woods. Light now filtered through the leaves of majestic oaks. It was a morning light, rich in it’s goldness. He could have rested there for hours, days even, he thought. There was no desire he felt compelled to fulfill. Chris pondered: "So this is what contentment feels like." Yes, he'd peered into the eyes of a few people who seemed to know the secret of this place. A lone figure moved silently toward Chris. Here was a man who made no sound as he walked. Here was a Man so lovely it did not seem odd to want to fall prostrate before him.

It seemed like a long time that Chris lay speechless in the soft grass. Then a hand touched Chris on the shoulder: a wounded hand, and then a voice, kind and gentle,, yet firm as a mountain said: "Come see what ‘I’m working on!"

Joe had ground his rig to a quick stop, painting black stripes on the pavement with his tires. He came to rest, his trailer awkwardly jackknifed across the now clear highway. A few pieces of wreckage lay about and there was a gaping hole in the side of the structure, the slab below Joe still oscillated from the force created by the impact. The tube's lights flickered and died as a conduit bent beyond its design limitations. A sea breeze rushed in through the wounded travelway's shredded wall. Joe quickly punched the in-cab button that would activate a warning system. Traffic would stop now. Soon the BSBS would arrive to secure the scene and perform their investigation.

Joe peered into the inky void in the wall of the tunnel. Chris was gone. There was the overwhelming rush of deepest sorrow. He lost track of the next minutes, but found himself being held by a man who had apparently driven up unseen. Joe always had a hard time letting go of those people he deeply loved, yet there was a profound feeling of peace. He sobbed unrestrained tears, wanting to get that out of the way before the tough BSBS team members arrived to investigate with their steely eyes and sabre mustaches, but inwardly he sensed a rejoicing; odd, but it seemed that this was not a blind hope, but a sure knowledge that Chris was in the hands of one who could finally answer his questions.

All the late-night arguments and coffee conversations seemed now to have been directed by an unseen hand. The investment of time was not wasted. The predawn light was splashing a bit of rose lightly over the grey sea. Gulls called to one another. Morning was waking at the end of the world.

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(to be continued) [click to read]

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