It all began with a roaring noise as if a Saturn five rocket was preparing to lift off from my head. Having a rocket blast off from my head wasn’t painful, though. Nothing was painful, despite my having just taken a nasty tumble down a boulder strewn slope of Pike’s Peak. I thought the noise might have something to do with the gash a particularly abrasive rock took out of my scalp. Perhaps that’s what it sounds like from the inside when a skull is cracked. Who would know?
I attempted to feel the top of my head with my hand, but my hand wouldn’t move, as if it were someone else’s hand I had no control of. The need to move my hand proved moot, for a moment later, I was able to see the top of my head and examine it myself. It was a nasty gouge, which would require many stitches, but the gleaming skull bone that it revealed was fully intact and no moist grey brains winked at me. Quite a bit of blood ran out onto the Barr Trail, cut a channel through some sand, and cascaded down some stones. It mixed there with a puddle that had formed from the rain, tinting it a girlie pink.
I had an odd sense of detachment from my own body. Not only could I not move it, but I was also looking at it from afar, something I had never been able to do before. Moreover, it was like my body no longer belonged to me or had become irrelevant to my concerns.
Having been a fat man, and not particularly attractive, I seldom looked in the mirror. Oh, I shaved sometimes and brushed my teeth. I had a little gizmo that was supposed to trim my nose hairs and ear hairs, but really only yanked them out. I took a glance after Natalie died my hair. I regularly used the mirror, but I never really looked at it. Consequently, I didn’t know what I looked like, particularly the back of me, and I was generally surprised on the few occasions when I saw. I mention this because it might account for my detachment from that ungainly heap of flesh bleeding all over the Rocky Mountains, but I don’t think so.
I actually think that my body seemed irrelevant because it had become irrelevant. That sound I heard was my soul freeing itself from corporality. I guess it takes a lot of violence, like an egg being opened from the inside. Once disentangled from the body, I didn’t miss it and couldn’t even tell you why I ever cared about its comfort and feeding.
My old cell phone started to ring insistently, disturbing the serenity of the woods as much as a car alarm in a church parking lot. I might have answered it if I still had access to hands. I might have said, I’m sorry, but I can’t come to the phone now, my soul has left my body. You can leave a message, but I won’t get it. Your call is really not that important to me anymore, and you wouldn’t think it was important either if you understood the big picture. Anyway, thank you for calling. Beeeeeep.
I decided to take my soul out for a little spin and see what this puppy could do. It turns out that it could fly, just as they say. I used to dream of flying, back when I had a body and would dream. Now I don’t need to dream because everything is a dream. You know those flakey existentialistic potheads who seldom washed their hair and said things like: I don’t know if I am a man dreaming of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of being a man, dreaming of being a butterfly… Well, it turns out they were on to something. The dream world is the real world and what we’ve always called the real world is actually just Cliff Notes.
I landed on an overhanging branch, not because I needed to rest, but because I thought I would make like a bird, birds being the only model I had for flying. I don’t consider traveling in airplanes to be flying now that I’ve done the real thing. Traveling in airplanes is being shot through the air in a metal tube. When they are shooting you through the air in metal tube they do everything they can to pretend that you are merely sitting around in your easy chair in your living room. That’s so you don’t freak out. You would really freak out if you actually flew.
Flying reminded me of skating, skating in three dimensions. That’s what it’s like; except it isn’t. Come to think of it, I wasn’t actually flying. It’s not like I had to flap my wings or anything. I could go anywhere I wanted to and didn’t have to worry about falling because I didn’t have a body to get hurt. I could even go through doors if I had a mind to.
A bird was already on my branch before I got there. It looked a little uneasy, sidestepped away, cocked its head a few times before he could be sure of what he was seeing, and flew away, proving, once and for all, that animals are in touch with the spirit world.
I watched a party of Boy Scouts hiking up the trail looking very happy until they came upon my old body. They immediately got to work earning merit badges. One with cobwebs in the corners of his mouth flipped me over and commenced CPR. I was very glad I was not there to taste it. Another fished around in his pack for bandages and a third tumbled 911 on his cell phone. The rest, earnestly directed by the Scoutmaster, began to cut poles to construct a litter.
Something caught my eye on the next mountain and I flew up higher to see better. Great balls of fire consumed the mountainside and the wind launched evil sparks towards Colorado Springs. I might have flown on to try to find a way to warn the unsuspecting inhabitants, but no one likes a busy-body ghost. Also, I thought that maybe I wasn’t supposed to leave my old body. I had heard something about that, but they don’t exactly give you a soul’s handbook when you croak.
I would’ve rather the Boy Scouts leave my body alone and not try to revive it. Believing I was bird-like enough, I went on a couple exploratory bombing runs in an attempt to drive them away. However, it turns out that souls can’t shit. I could only helplessly hover while the sour-mouthed boy pounded on my chest to save me.
In the end, my soul gave a sigh and returned to the body the way it came. There was another loud crash, as if a door was being slammed. I groaned and shifted because the rocks were sharp on my back.
The boys cried jubilantly, but their work had just begun. They groaned, too, when the Scoutmaster told them they would have to carry me down the mountain.