Memories : Good Old Mark (2)

Good Old Mark struck
Many times on that trip
To Syria.

There was the day the group
Made the trip
To the swimming hole
Up in the mountains.
My little Pinto and me
Leading the way.

It’s interesting to lead the way
When  you have no idea
Where the heck you’re going.
Even more so
When you don’t get lost,
And drive right to the place
Using only the instructions
Someone gave to you.

Like I said.
It’s damn hard to get me lost.

As we walked the trail
To the swimming hole,
No one really said
A single word to me.
Funny thing about that.
I had to be out front
Of the entire group.
Leading the way
To that dang place.

Hell,
I didn’t even want to go.
Had no intention
Of swimming at all.
But, at least I could
Climb around on rocks,
And in the mountains
For a bit.

All alone.

Just before you get
To that swimming hole,
You have to climb a slope.
Climb being the word.
It’s about a 70 degree steep hill.

Even I needed to grab
The occasional tree.
It’s sort of like
Going uphill
On your hands and knees.

Of course,
Statistically speaking,
Everyone should understand
That going up is the easy part.
Going down’s
Where people get hurt.

I have always wondered
About the intelligence
Of people in a group.
And I wondered much
About it on that day.
What can you think
When you deal with people
That jump head first
Off a rock up in the air,
Into a pool of water
In the mountains.

“It’s deep enough,”
They all said.
Yeah right…
At least no one wound up dead.

I spent that entire time
That they were at the swimming hole,
Climbing around.
I was the only person
In the group
That climbed to the top
Of the little water fall
That formed the hole.

It was a pretty view
From up there.
I got to see a pretty mountain stream
Flowing through the trees.
With many shades of green
From all the leaves
Reflecting off the water
As it flowed.

I got to watch
The patterns in the water
Where it flowed
Over big rocks.
It’s always mesmerizing
To watch the water flow
Over the rocks.
Making patterns
That are ever changing.

I got to see the way
The color of the water changes
As it flows.
Going from shallow areas
To deeper ones.

No one else
In the whole group
Got to see what I saw
On that day.
No one else cared to.
They were having fun
Being social
In a group.

What’s that all about anyway?
I don’t know.
I never have.
Most likely never will.
It’s one of those big
Mysteries of life
To me.

I do know, though
That sometimes people
Do some stupid things
They would never do
If they were alone
When they’re in a group.

I wonder lots about that too.
Why things are that way.
That’s yet another
Mystery to me.

The leader of the group.
The one that held the meetings,
To work out all the plans
For the entire trip.
Decided it was time
For us to head back to
The retreat in Syria.

She headed toward the hill
That lead back to the trail
That we’d followed
To the swimming hole.

You know dang well
That I went right along
With her.
See.
There was that big damn hill
That we’d had to climb
To get to the swimming hole
In the first place.

I loved that lady dearly.
To be sure
I loved everyone
In that entire group.
Even though sometimes
It felt like they hated me.

But the leader
Was a friend.
She’d taken time
To talk with me
Every now and then
Over the years.

And I knew
She wasn’t the most coordinated
Person that I’d ever met.
So I knew that it made perfect sense
For me to climb down
That big hill
With her.

Couldn’t let her get stuck
On that hill you know.
Or maybe slip,
And hurt herself.
Nope.
I took care of my friends
Back then.
I still do now.
Even though sometimes
I just doesn’t show.

We took it nice and slow
Going down that hill.
I stayed right with her
Every step of the the way.
I could tell
That the descent
Made her nervous.
It was an observation thing.

The way a person moves
Very cautiously.
Very detailed.
Making sure their feet
Are always someplace safe.
And their hands
Are holding on
To something.

I could tell too
That she was glad
To have the company
On that climb
Back down that hill.

Hey.
It’s what I do.
What I’ve always done.
What I always will.
I try my best,
And always have,
To take care
Of all my friends.

That’s how friends
Are supposed to be.

As we got to the bottom
Of that steep descent.
She relaxed a lot.
I could see the stress
Fall away from her.
She had a smile
That was to die for.
And such pretty eyes.

‘Course,
Being me, and the way I am,
I never mentioned that
At all.
Not even once.
In all the years
That I knew her.

Hell,
I didn’t know how.
Not back then.

We smiled at each other.
The way friends do.
The way friends are
Supposed to.
Especially when
They trust each other.
Like we did.

And she said to me
Right then.
“Good old Mark.
Thank you.
Just for being you.”

It took me many years
To understand
Why she said those words
That I hate so very much.
“Good Old Mark.”
God, but I hate those words.

It’s alright.
She didn’t know.
I never told a soul
What those words
Meant to me.
How much they cut
Into my heart and soul.

I know she didn’t mean
To cause me any hurt.
For I know
She thought of me
As a friend.
As someone she could
Always depend on.
In that group of people
On that trip.

And I know
That she meant the words she spoke
As a compliment.
And a true
Thank you.

It was her way
Of thanking me.
For taking the time
To make sure
She got down that hill
Safely.

And it was perhaps
An acknowledgment
Of how much the entire group
Depended on me
On that trip.

Even though no one
Spoke of it.

I remember her
Very fondly.
One of the few friends
That I had
Back in those days.

Hell.
I’ve had so few friends
In my life
Anyway.

When I close my eyes
And think of things
From the days back then.
I can still remember
The texture of her
Blond hair.
The magic light
That I saw in her her eyes.
And the beauty
Of her smile.

And I still wonder sometimes
If she ever understood
How much I hated,
And still hate,
Those simple words,
“Good old Mark.”

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