Wings of Change
By Andrew G. Carson
As he lay there bound by pain and damp by way of a Misty Scottish rain, James Batchelor had many thoughts running a competitive marathon through his mind. Was this the end to his legacy? Was this what he would be remembered for? After all he was the man that aged nineteen climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzmania all nineteen thousand three hundred feet of it. He had conquered the great Kanchenjunga in India all twenty eight thousand, two hundred and eight feet of it just two years later.
He then moved onto Rainer and McKinley in the US, Logan in Canada and Popocatepetl in Mexico before the age of twenty four. Later he moved onto his greatest accomplishments in the form of Lhotse, Makalu and the pinnacle of all mountaineering.... Everest when he reached her peak on the dawn of his 30th Birthday. Six months later he conquered K2 in Kashmir to round off the set and equal the great climb of his hero Sir Edmund Hillary a man, a great man he had the privilege of meeting only a matter of weeks before his death in 2008.
To go from all these great achievments to finding himself sat in a puddle filled with his own blood pouring out of the various wounds occupying his twisted lower limbs. Seated at the foot of a Scottish mountain for which he didn't even know the name of. A mountain he would call a mud hill, to him this was no mountain and for this to be the mountain that finally beat him in the deadly game of chance was unacceptable.
The thought of the World wide roasting he would experience at the hands and mouths of his rivals was bad enough but the ridicule that would be unleashed upon him by the British tabloids was enough to make him hope he would remain unfound, he was almost praying the reaper would pay him a visit first.
The fact atop this mountain there were sheep grazing was not something the great James Batchelor could find amusing no his ego would not alow that. He had been the greatest mountaineer of his generation this World had to offer leading him to be compared to his hero by a great many people not just the lazy tabloids or the trying to be hip broadsheets but by many in the mountaineering community who regarded his immense talent only matched by his immense self opinion. After all he had been known to boast to all within hearing distance that he conquered all the big climbs by a younger age than any other a statement that although may have been true was still far from modest and not in the nature of the greats that had preceeded him.
James stared down towards his frayed blood soaked rags covered legs both of which were visibly broken, bright white bones brighter than he could ever have imagined they could be stabbing through defeated skin and tattered trousers. No doubt in his mind that his pelvis was also the result of the two to three hundred foot drop. He had climbed bigger mud hills than this when he was thirteen, hell by the age of fourteen he had climbed Ben Nevis these silly little Scottish mud hills didn't impress him these were biginner climbs no match for the best of the best that he was.
The sharp pain in his pelvis was the only thing now keeping him awake and possibly alive as the blood loss from his lower extremeties had now become excessive. 'Why God, why me? What the hell did I ever do?' James asked aloud. 'I will spit on your face if this is how you end me, I will spit on your face.' Lashing out at a God he doesn't even beleive in James lay in a puddle filled with a mix of Scottish rain and Kiwi blood and was loosing his mind, his eyes loosing focus.
How long had he lay here? How could an experienced climber like himself loose there grip so readily? Why the hell did he pull his car over in the pouring rain? Why did he jump the small roadside fence? Why did he walk the steep incline too the foot of the mountain and begin to climb unaided? What did he have left to prove to himself? He found himself pondering as the icy rain eased off he closed his eyes and quickly faded away to slumber.
James awoke to a voice echoing in his ears but as he opened his eyes he could not find the owner through the haze. He found the sharp pain in his pelvis had now faded to a dull twinge. 'Mister can I help yae?' the voice shouted once more. James realized the voice sounded like that of a child's. 'Are yae all right doon there?' the voice inquired. James looked skyward to the heavens and found that above him on a small ledge maybe five hundred feet up stood a boy of maybe ten years of age.
'I need help, get an adult'. James replied as loud as he could. 'My Da is away tae get 'em rescue guys.' The child shouted down with relief in his voice. 'How did you get up there?' James asked with a now evident rattle in his raspy voice. 'I climbed up wi' mae Da.' the youngster replied with great glee in his voice before turning around and disappearing from sight.
Time passed strangely for James as he awaited his rescue from the boy and his "Da", time almost seemed to stand still. He contemplated what the boy had said about climbing up with his father and James found himself remembering back to his own childhood when he too climbed mountains just like this one with his own father. The joy he experienced from those adventures led to the development of his passion for the bigger climbs and to discovering the legacy of his Hero Sir Edmund Hillary. The flashbacks also unvieled to him the day he told his father that his lack of skill was holding him back from his destiny and that he no longer needed him on his climbs.
Remembering that moment caused him more pain than any caused by his various injuries, how could he have been so stupid? How could he have let his ego get so out of control all those years ago? James found himself remembering back a few hours to the questions that had flooded his mind, why the hell did he pull his car over in the pouring rain? Why did he jump the small roadside fence? Why did he walk the steep incline to the foot of the mountain and begin to climb unaided?
He now knew the answers to those questions it was due to the fact that twenty two hours earlier he had watched his father's coffin lowered into his final resting place without James ever getting the chance to tell him how sorry he was for all the things he had said. He never got to tell him that the fondest memories he had of his entire life were those spent with his father climbing those mud hills.
James looked down at his mangled lifeless lower limbs knowing that he would never walk again let alone climb and knowing this he smiled, he smiled knowing why he travelled to this mountain. He knew why he stopped his car. He knew why he jumped the small roadside fence. he knew why he walked the steep incline to the foot of the mountain and began to climb unaided. He did all these things because this was the first mountain his father brought him too, the first mountain they climbed together and the first mountain upon reaching the top his father had told him how proud he was of him. He came to this mountain because he wanted no needed to hear those words once more.
The Housebound Writer