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A Certain Verified American Life Fiction

ON THE WAY DOWN

A short story by Morgan Phillips

It’s an early afternoon in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Two friends are hiking along a thin ledge when they slip and fall to their death.

CIRCA 2004 

This is their conversation on the way down. 

14,000 Feet and falling

Well, here we are.

Yep.

I guess you were right, it’s beautiful on the way down. I’m seeing much more this way.

Yeah it’s beautiful.

I wish I brought another pullover.  It’s a little chilly.

It’s nippy… should we talk about anything or just enjoy the view?

I don’t know.  How high up did you say we were?

The guide said Fourteen thousand or so.

Wow…Is that the highest you have ever been?

Yeah, and you?

Definitely… I think the highest I’ve been is Eleven thousand.

So…What do you want talk about?

Forget about any religious or political topics. Takes up to much time and energy.

Too much! 

We could say a pray.

Cool, how about later though.

How about….The meaning of life? 

13,000 feet

OK…slow down mister, let’s keep it light.

Cool….Hey….quick look out!  Watch that cliff edge.

Wow!  Thanks, man,  that was close.

What were we saying?

I was talking about keeping things light.

You’re right.  How about we get that prayer out of the way?

That might be a good idea.

Do you know any?

Not really.  I didn’t ever ask for much.  I figured he would like me better if I didn’t bug him.

Man, you should know he will listen to you no matter what.

I know.  I just figured I’d give him a little break from me.  It would be one less person for him to deal with.

That’s cool.  I didn’t really ask much either but felt like I should at least keep in touch.

Great, now that you said that, I’m begining to think that I caused him more trouble by not staying in touch.  It probably took more time for him to check on me than it did for me to check in with him.  

I think you will be OK.  What’s done is done. 

You think? 

Well it’s a little late now.  I guess you will find out real soon.

Do you think we should go ahead and check-in?

I guess we better.  Couldn’t hurt.

OK, well, you start and I’ll follow.

I don’t have much to say.

We don’t have much time.

Umm…God bless us.  OK, that’s it.

Cool…Amen then.

Glad that’s over.

Me, too.

12,000 Feet

I think I just saw a llama.

Really, where?

Back up there.

I see it.

How fast do you think we’re going?

I think I heard that ski divers go about 120 miles an hour.

Really?

Sounds crazy….

Hope I don’t hit a bug.

Me, too.  It would be a real mess.

I wonder if any one is watching us?

It’s possible.  Maybe some of those gorillas we were told about are watching.

Maybe.  I was hoping we would run into some.

In a strange way, I kind of did also.  I wonder what they would do to us?

Maybe they’d take us hostage and hold us for ransom.

That would have been scary.

Do you think it would be scarier than this?

Funny you say that…I was thinking that I’m not really scared.  I mean,  I probably would be really scared if I were by myself.

Really?  I’m a little scared.  

I think talking on the way down has made things a little easier to deal with.

I think so, too.

11,000 Feet

What did you think of this country?

I was contemplating moving here.

What would you do for a living?

I think I’d start an advertising agency.

An ad agency? I would have guessed a scuba diving business.

Hmm…That does sound better.  What would you do?

I think I would start the first ever blues & jazz restaurant in Lima, where you could bring your hungry diver customers.  Of course, you would always eat for free.

How do you know it would be the first?

I don’t;  I was just dreaming that it would be.

That’s cool.  What kind of food would you serve?

I don’t know.  What would you serve?

You could be the first blues & jazz sushi bar.

What about the people who don’t like sushi?

Screw’em.

Do you think?  Maybe, just a good old hamburger and fries?

Yeah, that could be on the alternative menu.

If we only had it all to do over?

10,000 Feet

I wonder what’s going on back in the States?

I saw a newspaper before we left.  I couldn’t read it, but it had a picture of the president on the cover.  He was shaking his fist, and smiling in a black Cowboy Hat.  

Some people hate him and some people love him, but I think that he’s accomplished the impossible.

Well, one thing is for sure: our country is safe now.

Sometimes it really makes my head hurt talking about politics.

Some people would say that is unpatriotic.

I’m always thinking about what my place is in this world.  What do you think?

I know what my place is.  It’s to help people.

Cool.

I figured the more I know about this world the better I can understand and help people.

You’re right.

I bet you know your place.

Are you trying to help me?

Well, only if you want me to.

I want to help people, but I just don’t know how.

What ways have you thought about?

This may sound weird, but I want to help people through entertainment.

What kind of entertainment?

With movies,  not documentaries, just movies.

What kind?

That’s what I haven’t figured out yet.  I don’t really want to make the standard underdog to hero movie.  It’s only has a one message.  That good prevails.

Maybe that’s all that’s needed.

Maybe, but I guess it doesn’t really matter now.

No, not really.

9,000 Feet

Did you talk to your parents?

When?

Anytime before today?

I talked to them before the trip. I haven’t since then.

Me neither.  I hope they will be OK.

My parents thought I was crazy.  They said this was dangerous.

My mom was also worried, but she was more excited than nervous.  She is happy that I‘m seeing the world.

My parents toured the world a few times.  They say our country is the best in the world, and that I should be happy living and seeing everything there.

That’s to bad.  There is a lot out there.

I think that it’s too much for them.   They’re happy living in their own little world.

I think I just got a chill.

8,000 Feet

These Andes Mountains are cool.  I bet the Incans didn’t get to see them like this.

Maybe a few of them did.

Their little secret will never be revealed.

What do you think we are doing? 

Well, I guess we are making our own little secret.

We not revealing the secret?

I guess, but it’s ours.  What if that Inca was murdered?

Murdered? 

Nothing…My mind was wondering.

Do you think people will know what happened to us?

Well, I didn’t tell anybody that I was going to be blown off a cliff in the Andes.  I certainly didn’t think about it when I woke up this morning.

Should we write a note to our families?

We could, but I think it would be to complicate to explain.

How about we just keep it our little secret.

That works for me.

We’ll make the news all over the world.  Some people will think we were murdered.

Some might think that we planned it.

I guess we’ll be the only ones who know what really happened.

Let’s talk about something else.

7,000 Feet

I guess we could talk about sports.

I’m not too much of a sports fan.

Me neither, but I do keep up just in case I find myself in a situation where I need to know at least the big news..

I don’t really bother.

My dad and brother, more so my, brother are real sport fans.  I like talking to him about them.  He is one of those situations.

I have a couple of friends who are big sports fans.  They’re always quoting the stats.

Ahh….the good old numbers and stats.

6,000 Feet

Well, one good thing, no more numbers to worry about from work.

Yeah, I hate numbers.  I’m not a salesman.

I did love helping our clients though.  It made my day when someone was really successful in something that they truly worked for.

And,  what about the ones that didn’t have that same success?

I helped them all.  No matter what, even if they were not successful with everything, relatively speaking, they all achieved something.

Cool, man.

What do you think they will say about us?

Does it really matter?

Not really, I guess.  I do wonder, though.

I guess I do, too.  I know one thing is for sure, a memo will be sent around.

I think I hate memos, too.

Especially the ones that say memo on the top.

Yeah, talk about redundancy.

5,000 Feet

I wonder what will our friends say?

You know man…I really don’t have a whole lot of friends, just a lot of acquaintances.  I do hope that the friends that I do have will say good things.

Having a lot of friends is a lot of responsibility.  True friends anyway.

I know what you mean.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have a lot.  I don’t want to let down the ones that are true

It does take a lot of time to have friends, but it’s worth every minute.

I think in my next life if there is one,  I will work on making a lot of good friends.

It’s my number one priority.  I love all the people I know.

When do you know they are true friends?

I don’t think there is ever a specific time.  They just seem right.

That’s great.  You have an unbelievable capacity true friendship.

I never put fences up, I just keep the door open.

I’ll try and keep that in mind.  In fact, I think that I’m going to take down all my fences in my next life.

Just remember one thing.

What’s that?

Everyone will make mistakes and you have to give empathy.

All right then….

4,000 Feet

I wonder what my cats are doing?

I know mine are sleeping.

Yeah, they’re probably sleeping or eating.  Do you think they miss us?

If they could miss us, then they probably are.  They are in good hands though.

What was your first pet?

My mom’s cat.

Me too, I did have a hermit crab for a while.  It was my first real pet.  It was pretty cool.  It didn’t do much though:  It crawled around a little when you took it out to play.

Cool.  My friend had a lizard.  It was really cool.  And super fast.  I remember one time when he lost it for a week.  He was sad.  We thought it escaped out the window.  If it did it must have liked it in its cage because we came home one day and it was miraculously back in its cage.

Wow, that’s crazy.

Now that I think back on it, I bet his mom did buy him another one.

Probably… It would be really cool if it did come back on it’s own, though.

3,000 Feet

So do you think there’s an after life?

I thought we were going to keep this light.

This is light.

I think if we are apart of a solar system and our solar system is part of the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is part of the Universe, then I have to wonder what contains the Universe.  I mean, if the Universe is expanding, then what is it expanding into?  With that thought, I think anything is possible.

So you think that there could be an after life?

Sure, and if that’s the case, then as soon as this is over, we’ll be sitting in our rocking chairs, on the porch of our beach house in Figi.  We would be talking about our travels and wondering what will become of the world after we leave.

In an alternate Universe?  What if we turn out to be flies or city rats or cockroaches?

In that case, I would like to be a fly on the wall when JFK was with Marilyn Monroe in the White House.

Yeah, I think that I’d  want to be a fly on the wall when Hitler finally realized his time was up.

That’d be really cool.

Maybe that would be a movie in the alternate Universe.  Like everything here on earth was a movie in another dimension.

I would write it and you could direct it.

I don’t know anything about directing.

I bet you know more than you think.

2,000 Feet

I have an idea. Do you have your camera with you?

Yeah, hold on, here it is. Why?

So when they find us they can see our last moments were happy.

Cool idea.  I hope I can smile.

Me too.  OK, I’m going to fly over to you. Get the camera ready.

It’s ready.

OK, I’m ready.

Smile!

Cheese!

OK, now how do we protect the camera?

Maybe if you put it in your backpack it will be ok.

All right, then

1, 000 Feet

Do you have anything to drink?  I think my bottle fell away when we first went over.

Here you go.

Thanks.

Hey, do you have any more of those coca leaves.

I think I do.

Cool we can have a snack.

Cheers!

Cheers!

We’re getting closer.

Yeah, I can see the ground.

It’s almost time.

Yep.

Any regrets?

Yeah, you?

I wanted to see China. And you?

Yeah, I forgot to tell her that I loved her.

Well, It’s all good because we’re probably just one giant simulation and the artificial intelligence will take back over at some point in the future.

THE END

Alternate story:

Damian – Oh Shiiiiiitttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!

Fabain –  Fuccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!

THE END

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