There it was.
Devil’s Causeway !
Pvt. Benjamin handed Wilson off to the first Black Knight,
and he took off to cross over Devil’s Causeway.
The other Knights followed.
Benny took off to the left and downhill just at the beginning of the crossover. Sarge and I brought up the rear.
For some reason I was anxious that El Segundo hadn’t caught up.
“You and I will wait here for El Segundo. He won’t be long.”
Now this whole Flattops area started with a few volcanoes.
Then some massive lava flows.
Big Marvine peak is the remnants of one of the volcanoes.
Then the whole ‘shebang‘ uplifted.
Where the lava was not,
glaciers and regular erosion weathered and washed away
around the lava flow.
Eroding down some thousand-foot valleys and cirques.
It’s a gorgeous area. Like I said, I spent thousands of hours in these mountains and woods.
And counting hours in a canoe fishing, I gotta count the lakes as well – Meadow Creek, Stillwater, Heart, Deep, Marvine, Bear, Trappers Lake.
What makes Devil’s Causeway unique,
is a narrow strip of lava that is eroded big-time on both sides.
This thin strip of dirt and rock connects two lava caps.
Evidently we needed to get to the other side in order to make our escape.
It was only hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of feet on either side, straight down that we had to worry about.
The last of El Segundo’s men started to cross over.
As he did, Benny crawled up out of the drop-off,
looked our way,
paused for just a moment,
and then, with a closed fist, her palm toward her chest,
pounded her heart twice and pointed at us.
Sarge reciprocated with the pounding of his chest.
And pointed back at her.
“That’s my girl.”
You mean . . . “
“That’s right. She’s my daughter.”
“So, . .
“Where else would she learn it?”
“Say no more.”
We turned around to see El Segundo finally making it.
“Okay. I got my end taken care of.
Tonto won’t be getting here anytime soon.”
“You didn’t . . “
“No! Of course not!
We were mates. We were brothers-in-arms.
We may be leaving.
We may see things differently right at the moment.
But, I wouldn’t do unto one of my brothers.”
“He’s blood of my blood.”
“Ooh rah.” Came out of Sarge.
I gently nodded my head in acknowledgment.
“Your daughter got the fireworks set?” El Segundo asked.
“Like the 4 of July!”
“I would’ve expected nothing less from her.”
“She’d never let me down.”
“You better go join your men.
And you take care my little girl.
“Like she was mine.”
And El Segundo was gone.
“Well, you ready?” I asked the Sgt.
“You and I aren’t going.”
“That’s right. You and I have a date with the 4 of July.”
“What the hell are you talking about?
What is this thing with the 4 of July?”
“We’re gonna blow Devil’s Causeway.
I mean, we’re gonna blow it up.
And my daughter’s made an explosion such that everybody’s gonna think it’s the 4 of July.”
“She absolutely loves blowing things up.”
“Yeah. Okay. I get it.
We gotta keep the General and the rest of his army on this side of the Causeway.”
“You got it.”
“But we gotta get on the other side.”
“No. We stay.”
”You and I have to blow it from this side.”
Just the way it’s gotta be.”
“I came all this way to be with my friend.
To rescue my friend.
Only to have him leave me again.?”
“You know I’m going to have to go after him.”
“I know. But later.”
I breathed out, my shoulders slumped, and I looked over the Causeway.
El Segundo was just making it to the other side.
Pvt. Benjamin had taken Wilson into her arms.
They both looked back at the Sarge and I.
I was mad. And I stretched out my arm and open hand toward Wilson.
Wilson beat his heart with his fist twice and pointed at me.
All I could do was the same.
Sgt. York beat his chest.
Pointed at his daughter.
She did the same.
The Sarge said,
“Let’s light this sucker up!”
“Why not!” said I.
We hustled over to where Benny had set up the plunger.
Sure enough. There it was.
We looked across the other side,
and saw El Segundo and his men, Pvt. Benjamin and Wilson,
heading to higher ground to watch the fireworks.
I sat there in silence. Stared out at nothingness.
All I could think of were moments I shared with Wilson.
“Amen”, echoed Sarge.
Our moment of contemplation was brief and broken.
By the sound of the General.
Behind him was Tonto. Behind him was the Rossi brothers.
And B Company and C Company.
Sarge stood up. I stood up with him.
The General stopped. As did everyone else.
Sarge pounded his chest and pointed at the General.
The general and everyone behind him reciprocated.
Then the General and his men beat their chest
and pointed across the Causeway.
To El Segundo and his men.
I turned around just in time to see the unknown Black Knights
pay the General the same respect.
“You best hit the ground now my friend.” said Sarge.
And with that, down came the plunger.
And up went the 4 of July.
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