The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006
and Bedroom overlooks were also possible sites.  All too soon I would know exactly.

I had been en route from the computer lab, having just finished some last minute MVG meeting stuff, when the message came.  I had meant to be at Sloan’s the evening prior but, as usual, things took longer than anticipated.  When Diane received the phone call, she did not recognize the voice on the other end, as she had never heard such gravity in this very familiar voice before.  She called out to me from the patio as I was getting out of the car. 

The message had said that the rescue was at the Post Office entrance, so I phoned Dorothy Casada [pronounced Cassidy] immediately.  After a dozen or so rings on my second try, Dorothy answered out of breath, evidently pulled away from the rapidly densifying matrix of rescue activity.  But she did not know any more of the situation than Diane’s note had revealed, and she did not know who had called.  J.R. Jones (her son-in-law and a good friend of mine) had searched for my number but had been unable to locate it.  It, of course, did not really matter who had phoned, but still it was a needling mystery.  I asked Dorothy to tell everyone I was on my way. 

Packing was quick and simple:  I took everything.  My dumpster-nabbed postal tubs made for a tidy, timely getaway.  I did not waste a minute considering what might be needed.  I knew that I could slovenly outfit a small army of gnomes, if they didn’t object to tatters.  So I loaded up the Nissan to the roof, bummed gas money from Diane, and sped down 75 in the bumper-to-bumper weekend crush.

I bellowed show tunes and operatic arias, conjugated Russian verbs, chattered aloud in merry gestalt with imagined sophists; anything to keep my spirits high and

 


my mind distracted from the grisly proceedings ahead.  (Mind you, I was steeling myself for Retrieval.)  Despite my lack of sleep, I knew that when the time came, I would exhibit the proper demeanor, maintain the requisite stamina.  I had been tested recently by less meaningful matters and had given my all.  I had no doubt that, presented with a task that actually mattered, I would respond with whatever it demanded of me.  In the meanwhile, I was not going to depress myself with morbid fantasy.  Still I did not know that there were friends of mine down under, that the brother of a friend was lying crushed upon the cold grit of the cave floor, that a close friend had witnessed his fall and had been the unrecognizable voice on the phone to Diane, bidding her tell me come, come right away, rescue in progress. 

But when I arrived at Post Office, I was dumbfounded.  There was no sign of life; no cars, no people, no lights, nada.  It seemed very improbable that the rescue was over—could it have been a hoax?

When I stepped out of the car, a figure emerged from the shadows, made all the more eerie by the unexpected hush.  Stepping into the light, the uniformed man asked, “May I help you?”  I explained to the approaching deputy my potential utility to the rescue effort—which was indeed in progress, he said, at the Garbage Pit entrance.  To his knowledge, the fallen man was still alive.  (The Garbage Pit entrance had been wisely chosen as the preferable locus for staging the rescue effort.  There is electricity on site and ample room for personnel, equipment and vehicles; but more importantly, it provides the most open and horizontal route of the cave from the Big Room.)

The deputy got on his walkie-talkie, eventually

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