A Lesson Learned by Eric King - HTML preview

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By E. King and Langdon Hues
1983, Honduras

“Do you think were prepared for everything?” The question, uttered friend to friend in a rattly single-engine
seaplane, was about the only thing that could cover every possibility
of what they were about to do.
The pilot of the plane is the one who asked. His name is Eke–
pronounced like his initials – E.K. Who knows how he got the name.
Eke didnt. He just talked shit about it, made up stories to
compensate for the odd name. “My parents drank heavily when they
named me that,” he told people. His parents, though, didnt drink. Eke
did. Or at least he used to. But thats a long story and part of it has to
do with him being here flying with his childhood friend, Bill, over the
Patuca River next to the Sierra de Agatta mountain range deep in the
Central American country of Honduras.
Honduras. It wasnt like their homeland, back in Massachusetts. It
wasnt Massachusetts, sweet home Massachusetts. No. This was
different, very different. This was actually Honduras. Look. There it is.
They looked. Yes, Honduras.
Theyd dreamt of it for years. And now they were flying.
Bill smiled at Eke and answered the question the best way he
could: “Theres only one way to find out.” And then he pointed down. “There it is. Thats the bend way up there in the river. Take her
“Here we go,” said Eke, as he tilted the nose down towards the
river. “Looking for adventure.”
“Thats right, brother,” said Bill. “Looking for adventure. Whatever
comes our way.”
“Amen to that.”
And the plane lowered towards the river. As it did, Bill, the bigger
of the two, looked at the mountain next to the river that was to
become their new patch of land. Paradise is a journey. Thats the
thought. That and more. This was going to be an adventure. For the
first time in their lives this was going to be a true adventure. Not a
rock concert, not a fishing trip. They were looking for life or death.
They wanted to really experience life. Yeah, something like that.
Dreams are funny things, how they can gnaw at you. For Eke it
was like that his whole life. This idea of adventure had pulled at him.
Barely 120 pounds soaking wet, he wasnt the biggest guy in the
world. But he had big dreams. Yeah, dreams that in the past had
somehow been derailed. Somehow? Well, sometimes he drank his
dreams away. And sometimes he was unlucky. And sometimes both. But now? Now, he was flying into the junction of land where tropical
forests, mountains, and pine-laced savannahs meet.
What the hell? Thats how dreams are, though. This one was the
biggest one of all.
Bill was almost a foot taller with the blue eyes of a Swede.
Reminiscent of a young Nick Nolte, his long blond hair was feathered
back wildly like a lions mane. He was loud and boisterous, social and
strong-minded and always willing to share an opinion.
They were an odd pair, the two of them. One was tall and loud.
The other was short and quieter. The tall one still watched cancerous
amounts of cartoons. The shorter one was a dreamer in a different
way. He wrote. Yes, Eke was a romantic dreamer, while Bills head
was grounded in the realities of every day life.
Yet they hit it off right away. Theyd met way back when they
were 14 years old– that impressionable age when the roots of youth
compete with the wings of growing up– and they found common
ground in their quest for entertainment. They rode bikes together,
played baseball, went fishing, and then when they were older they
partied a lot together, but their friendship wasnt just about entertainment. They were kindred spirits – always seeming to want,
somehow, something that they couldnt get.
And now: Honduras.
They got what they wanted this time but they, especially Eke who
was more reserved and introspective, wondered if the old adage of
“Be careful what you wish for” was true.
With the flaps lowered and the throttle maintained, the plane
glided down with the nose tilted up. Eke had flown before, but not
under these circumstances. His palms were sweaty. The plane sunk
into the rivers natural tree corridor and then past a set of rapids while
Eke played with the rudder pedals to adjust his lateral axis and center
the craft. Just past the rapids, 50 feet from the water, he disengaged
the clutch and the engine purred idly as the plane lowered to the
water and sent a huge splash up each side as it slowed and then
finally settled in the toiling river.
Honduras. This really was Honduras.
They each opened the side doors to the plane and climbed out on
the side floats. “Thats one small step for man,” said Eke, smiling.
“And one giant leap for us.” Bill smiled back. “We did it. Can you
believe it, man? We did it. Check it out.” Eke, in a sense, couldnt believe it. He scoped out the scenery.
Lush. Different than back home, thats for sure. And that, Eke knew,
was the whole idea. Different than back home. Honduras. Yes, pretty
much different.
Just then, the water broke. A fish jumped.
It smelled different too. Rich. Thats what Eke smelled. Earth.
Rainforest. Lush.
Really rich, as Eke quickly learned. A mosquito landed on him. He
flexed his muscle to try to get the bug caught helplessly in his arm,
but all he really did was attract more mosquitoes. They were having a
party and he was their keg. Welcome to the tropics. Great.
He swatted his friends away and then climbed back in and guided
the plane towards shore. Then he cut the engine. It glided while Eke
reached into a compartment in the back of the plane for a chainsaw.
He then sprayed himself with mosquito repellant and lit a cigar. Bill,
meanwhile, hopped onto the float and began using a pole to push the
plane the final feet to shore.
Eke made the small jump to land, then started the chainsaw. As
he did, he thought to himself, “Let the revolution begin.” What a funny thought. He laughed at himself. And then he began attacking the
brush with the blade. Vrroooom.
Soon, sweat poured down his body. This was a new kind of
humidity. Thick. Whew. He looked around and everything was so…so
green. Vrroooom.
After a few minutes, he stopped and wiped his brow. Bill came
over. “Hey, give me a hit of that cigar,” he said. “Shit, I didnt know
you brought cigars.”
Eke handed him the blunt. “This stuffs thick, man,” he said,
pointing to the brush. “I dont know how were going to get all the way
up the hill to the clearing.”
Ah, the clearing. The magic clearing at the top of the hill was the
place of their destiny. A hillside cabin in the rainforest was to be the
dream project.
But just getting there would be a bitch.
“Dont worry about it,” said Bill. He smiled. He knew that was the
phrase that Eke had grown up worrying about the most. Ekes mother
had always believed that when someone said „Dont worry about it, it
was time for concern.
Eke smiled. Back then, there was nothing really to worry about. But she
worried. Led Zeppelin. She worried about Led Zeppelin. Why? Only
because the two boys secluded themselves away for a playing of all
nine albums – a Zeppelinathon of epic proportions. And she was
worried that the boys were in there doing drugs or something. She
had nothing to worry about. The boys were in there eating mass
quantities of magic mushrooms that make your stomach quiver and
your mind float effortlessly but that wasnt anything to worry about.
Was it? All these years later, Eke wondered.
The jungle lay in front of him. Jimmy Pages magic guitar sang
and then roared in his internal memory while he started up the
chainsaw. He pretended, for just a moment, that it was an instrument,
playing with the engine speed. Back in the day, he thought as he
started carving at the trees, woods meant partying. They would go
and party in the woods. What times they had. What times. Vrroooom.
Now, they werent talking about dreams and this wasnt a party. They
were trying to carve out a campsite and a path up to the eventual site
of their hilltop cabin– which they had to build from the forest around
them. Back in the day when Robert Plant was spinning a yarn about a
stairway to a couple of young men on mushrooms, the stairway
seemed like it could have been, well, right here in the heaven that is
Honduras. Heaven? This jungle? Back then, who knew? Its how
dreams happen– unreal visions. And John Paul Jones driving bass
backed by John Bonhams manic drumming all added up to
something bigger than four men with instruments and microphones.
The sum was greater than the parts. Thats how it was and, listening
to them, thats how it felt to Eke and Bill. Together, they could do
great things. Vrroooom.
Eke continued to clear and sweat and think all this through.
Theyd been running together since they were 14. Even during the
decade that Bill was married and Eke was drinking, they still
managed to get out fishing, hunting, partying and talking crazy
dreams. And, as happens, eventually crazy Bill got divorced and the
old friendship resumed, just like in the old days. Except by then, of
course, Eke had to quit drinking.
Thats when his dreaming became bigger. Instead of drinking,
hed write, and write, and write whatever came into his mind. Then
one day he had this idea about evolution, past, present, and possible future- he then wrote what came into his head. Though it was self
published, it was picked up one day by someone visiting his
hometown bookstore (the owner was a friend and agreed to put five
books on the shelf) who happened to write a science column for an
academic magazine. The columnist hailed the book as written by a
non-academic with an interesting academic idea. And though his
fame didnt go much beyond the world of evolution fanatics, it made
him enough money to finance this dream move to Honduras.
Evolution. Vrroooom.
He and Bill remained friends and continued to talk about
adventure. It had always been a common theme for them. When they
were both in high school they were going to volunteer for the Marines
but just then the Vietnam War ended. Unlike many of their
generation, they wanted to go to war. But when the war ended the
chance disappeared - the chance for real adventure seemed to have vanished forever. But now they were in Honduras.