View Full Version : Sun Mountain - Updated - 2,116 Words - Minor Language

November 13th, 2014, 06:43 AM
Feedback much appreciated as usual!
Still working on an ending.

One Friday during chemistry class Rick was called to the office. In the foyer, he found his brother Eric grinning about “an appointment.”
“What appointment?” Rick asked.
“You don’t remember,” said Eric. “I was supposed to pick you up and take you to Dr. Lin.”
They hadn’t seen each other for two years, hadn’t spoken except through motherly mandated birthday and Christmas calls, but the brotherly short-hand remained. Dr. Lin? Right. No medical check-up today. As Eric put it when they got in the truck, it was a return to an old routine. Father and son, now brother and brother, following a life-long ritual, the menfolk of the Stevens’ clan faced away from the city and headed north. Out the lobby doors, shutting closed behind them loud enough to unsettle the courtyard sparrows.
They took the ferry to Powell River and headed inland up the Eldred River Valley on dirt logging roads until they made it past Mount Wilfred. They took a dead-end side road and lost two hours retracing, finally encountering the Gervase Inlet and following it south to an old cabin, belonging to a friend of Eric’s, at the junction to Prince Ludwig Inlet, in a semicircle of snow-capped Rockies, Douglas firs and sun beams.
They unpacked the truck and Rick put on coffee. They ate beans, toast, and kippered kipper on the red cedar wood porch.
“I remember there being a trapper’s cabin on the trail up to Sun Mountain,” said Eric. “We’ll stop there on our way up tomorrow.”
“Sure,” said Rick. “I feel Canadian.”
“Aren’t you?” said Eric. “Let’s go out on the lake soon.”
“You want to fish?”
“Fly fish, yes,” said Eric.
“I’d like to catch some salmon,” said Rick. “Or trout.”
“There might be steelhead here.”
“Maybe up by the stream.”
Eric, being older, chose the bed, which wasn’t much of a bed anyway, Rick thought. On the boat, they were soon past the rapids and fly fishing at the mouth of the inlet. Trout surfaced and jumped. Mist gathered among the mountains.
The nearby Valletta Club was now being used as some sort of a non-denominational Christian youth camp. A group of kids moved about on the grass clearing, building lean-to-shelters and practising kindle strategies, log-cabin, teepee, and the hybrid temple, and crafting aboriginal medicine bags to store pebbles they thought looked cool.
“How’s uncle Will, eh?” said Rick.
“I don’t know,” said Eric. “You see him lately?”
“Came down for Christmas.”
“Talk about me at all?”
“I didn’t hear anything, “Rick said.
“Well fuck it.”
They said nothing for a while.
A trout took to Eric’s line. Mechanically he fought it into the boat, smashed its head and gutted it. At the landing dock, Rick hosed off the blood.
Afterwards in the cabin, they said very little. Eric cooked the fish and they drank beers from a pack in the cooler. A picture of a saint was nailed to the wall near the door. Below it, Rick warmed his feet beside the cast iron wood burning stove. There was a small sink with good running water and a closet filled with Cowichan sweaters knitted by an old native woman.
As the day faded, they relaxed into asleep, Eric on the bed and Rick on the chair by the stove.
The brothers awoke early next morning. After eating breakfast and drinking coffee and beer, they took the boat and glided along the shore to the opposite end where the dock was, trolling the way without success. They tied the boat and started up the forest path. Moss grew everywhere, every tree trunk, every patch of earth, glowing. Grey boulders stuck up here and there like icebergs. The trees towered like their own mountains.
The trail threaded under the canopy, leading them west until they reached steeper hills, and upward to where watch posts stood like windows to the wilderness, placed there by government park council members a couple years before. Eric stood at one of the posts, carving the wood with his hunting knife and pissing at the view, trying to flood the valley.
The old trapper’s cabin was down a diverging path in a little outcrop of light overlooking the inlet. They found the door unlocked and the place in alright condition. Leaving some of their stuff inside, they found their way to the main path and headed up Sun Mountain. In places, where rock climbing was needed, Rick clung to the mountain like a barnacle as he built up a charge of courage to continue on, making his way to Eric beckoning on the other side. The sky towered and the rainforest below joined the sea of green along the inlet and down the valley. They soon approached snow - dirty and hollow and clumped into patches, crunchy remnants of the winter. One more push and they reached a moraine to a glacier and small mountain-top lake, clear as vodka.
They stood on the crest and looked out at the range, all the way to the sea gleaming along the horizon. Rick beamed. Eric caught his breath and laughed towards Rick.
“Good job,” said Eric. “Nothing’s better, really.”
“Yup,” said Rick.
“That lake’s going to be freezing.”
“Almost,” said Rick.
Eric removed his pack and started toward the small lake. Rick called to him, “What are you doing!” Eric whistled a tune in reply. He reached the crystalline water, threw off his clothes and dived in like a guided missile. Rick squinted, grimacing in the sun.
“I guess I’ll just go down and look around,” he said, a little annoyed, maybe confounded.
He stepped off the moraine and walked along the crest to the other side of the summit, looked over to the East and found the Sea-to-Sky highway from Squamish to Whistler flowing sporadically with traffic, but soundless. From somewhere above, Eric yelped “cold, cold.”
Rick had the feeling his brother would vanish under the lake, down some underground stream from the Sun to the Pacific, and be gone for good. Two years and barely a word. Two years and now here they were together on top of the Rockies. If he could show up unannounced, without a signal, like a projectile flying faster than its own sound to become a portent of itself but in reverse, could he leave in just the same way? Why not?
Eric’s earlier question about their uncle, Will, was still in his mind. He did remember something, small. It was last Christmas Eve and Will had just come through the door. After the greeting and hugging and handshaking routine had settled, Rick noticed his uncle pulling Cynthia, their mother, aside. From the shadowy living room, he saw them talk in whispers, saw her expression subtly change and her closed mouth move a little as she bit her tongue. His brother was there somewhere behind it all, his brother he had not seen in two years.
Back on the moraine, Eric was drying off with a towel he had packed. Rick took out a single-burner portable camping stove and heated up a can of beans, handing his brother a share as they stared towards the inlet. The kiddie camp was just visible at the junction to the larger Gervase inlet. Mist seeped into the hollows; a red-tailed hawk found and ascended an updraft; sunlight reflected off cobwebs and grass still dewed over from the night; deer grazed among green openings in the canopy.
“It was going to be some big shot’s resort town for yups,” said Eric.
“The inlet. I looked it up. Some aviation guy around World War Two.”
Had he spent time at the archival library, going through histories and property records? Yes in fact, all the way back to George Vancouver in the late eighteenth century, who came down the Gervase Inlet, found the entrance to Prince Ludwig Inlet, but decided not to enter as the tide was ebbing through the rapids.
Some fifty years later a Captain George Flickard surveyed and mapped the area, named it after the Bavarian aristocrat and godson of Louie XVI of France, hoping it would lead to the interior of the province, which it didn’t. By the onset of WWII there was rumoured to be a homestead at the mouth of the inlet, near where the camp was now, belonging to one Roy Caspar. One day an American aviation executive, looking for a fertile patch to grow a series of themed luxury resorts for yachtsmen and Hollywood celebrities, came up on his own yacht Valletta and introduced himself to Caspar, who was preparing for a day of crawdad hunting up the stream, as Donovan (Propeller-Head) McCoy.
Call me Don.
Good ‘ol Don knew that Caspar had no legal hold to the land, that he was a squatter, that he could force him out if he need be. But Caspar was also a true rugged outdoorsman and Don was not up for a fight, so he waved around four or five hundred dollars - more money than Caspar had seen before - and soon enough construction of the Valletta Club had begun. Caspar left the inlet, joined the war, died of dysentery (not before acknowledging his profound mistake), and was for the most part forgotten. Pieces of mesh from his crawdad traps could still be found along the stream, little pieces of Caspar’s ghost scattered by the water finding their way to the sea.
As for Don and the resort, well, that didn’t turn out quite as planned, either. The Valletta Club was the only building erected and was shut down after a polio outbreak and subsequent quarantine, not before the attacks on Pearl Harbour drew Don back to the States where he worked to place himself firmly in the circle of Hollywood elite. He scored a role in a 1965 comedy called The Flying Machines, acting alongside Red Skelton, in which a 10,000 prize is offered to the winner of the Daily Post air race from London to Paris, a video tape of which also happened to be available at the library where Eric absorbed all this information.
By the time the film was released, Don McCoy had sold the Valletta Club and surrounding area to the government, which leased it out now and then to youth organisations both religious and secular.
What Eric saw sitting there in the library was a series of tenants, usually white and male, of the land. A land which was in fact, as the Aboriginals already knew, owned by no one, no matter what some piece of paper said.
A woman about Eric’s age approached, saw him going over a topographic map of the area, said hello and introduced herself as Ashley. That was a few weeks after Eric left his construction gig in Bella Coola (whose general contractor was his uncle Will).
Eric and Ashley never got to a stage anyone would call a ‘relationship,’ but there was something between them, however fleeting. They wound up watching The Flying Machines together after signing it out with Ashley’s library card; saw Mr. Propeller-Head himself, briber of the naive, dreamer of luxury, winning the race.
She got him a job at the public gym across from the library. And then, well, he didn’t say anything more to Rick about it. He was working at a gym and then he wasn’t working at a gym. Ashley, with a whole interesting story herself, now a passing side note. And here they were after it all sitting on the Sun.
“Why don’t you come home?” Rick said suddenly, the question on his mind since the school lobby meeting the day before, and before that too, but an answer here was at least possible. Yes, Eric had seen something looking into the history of the area – had seen recordings of how time makes palimpsests of the land, of how indifferent the process can be, of how there really is no way to stop folks from taking advantage of others in the gasping strive upward, and of how the land stands through it all, moving slower than glacial speed.
Looking down the mountain, Rick wondered how his brother viewed him. Was he just another step in a directionless process? What did he want? “Cause honestly I’m starting to get sick of your shit. So come home if you want to, or don’t.”
Eric took the can, finished the rest of the beans and then stood up on the rocky crest. “Come on.”
Rick didn’t press it. The sun was well along its descent, too late in the day to do anything more. They began their trek down the Sun, back to the trapper’s cabin.

John Oberon
November 15th, 2014, 03:30 AM
Well, it sure meanders, that's for sure. You've got some 13-jointed sentences in there. You seem to want to cram large chunks of time into one sentence. I read everything, but caught myself wanting to skip sentences...a LOT. That's usually not a good sign. It indicates too much dead wood. too much unnecessary detail and commentary. I'd ax most of the history lesson, unless that's somehow important to the story, in which case I'd cut it way, way back and expose the needed point quickly. You could ax a lot of this and improve it quite a bit, I think.

I guess my overall opinion is that you know how to string parts of speech together, but your thinking is muddled, which often makes individual sentences, not to mention the story as a whole, incoherent. Take that leviathan sentence with the gold-plated word sticking out of it like a rusty nail:

Yes, Eric had seen something looking into the history of the area had seen recordings of how time makes palimpsests of the land, of how indifferent the process can be, of how there really is no way to stop folks from taking advantage of others in the gasping strive upward, and of how the land stands through it all, moving slower than glacial speed.

Care to explain what that means? Because I have no idea what you're trying to say or why you're trying to say it, and I think I could make a good case for that sentence being a contradiction or at minimum, a misstatement. Several of your sentences are like that. Seems to me like you need to invest more mental consideration to instill a little more clarity and purpose in your language, because right now, it strikes me as a mish-mash, a "directionless process".

Victor Anderson
November 15th, 2014, 09:42 AM
I would have to agree with Mr. Oberon, the story as a whole was... slightly hard to follow, enjoyable, but the sentences seemed jumbled and off to me.

Edit: Despite my complaint, every author has their style, and perhaps this is yours.