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,
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
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.
message had said that the rescue
was at the Post Office entrance, so I phoned Dorothy Casada [pronounced
immediately. After a dozen or so rings
on my second try, Dorothy answered out of breath, evidently pulled away
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
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
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
bumper-to-bumper weekend crush.
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
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
fantasy. Still I did not know that there
were friends of mine down under, that the brother of a friend was lying
upon the cold grit of the cave floor, that a close friend had witnessed
fall and had been the unrecognizable voice on the phone to Diane,
tell me come, come right away, rescue in progress.
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?
I stepped out of the car, a
figure emerged from the shadows, made all the more eerie by the
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
alive. (The Garbage Pit entrance had
been wisely chosen as the preferable locus for staging the rescue
effort. There is electricity on site and
for personnel, equipment and vehicles; but more importantly, it
most open and horizontal route of the cave from the Big Room.)
deputy got on his walkie-talkie, eventually