Man was meant to soar. Whether going down the highway at 100 MPH on a hog or flying through the sky in an F15, man was meant to soar.

So I ran. Up in the mountains, I had found myself a spot. One foot after the other, I gained speed, and then I jumped. In the air, the split second before my wing caught the wind, I felt rabid. No thoughts, just instinct: just adrenaline. Then came the tugging at the straps around my shoulders and I was flying.

Below me, I peered down at the lake. Candy colored Jet Skis circled each other like figure skaters, leaving white trails in the dark blue water. Behind me, pine covered ridges. In front of me, dry hills that lead into desert. And above me, a lighter blue sky.

Snug in my harness, I pulled the breaks to change direction. Car parked down by the lake, near the field I was aiming to land in, I was in no hurry to get there. I’d stay up as long as I could. Looking for more lift, I turned back towards the mountains. I certainly found it, too, but not the steady ridge lift I was hoping for. Instead, it was a large gust that set me off course, pushing me far from the lake.

I was speeding down the valley. Below me was a freeway lined with little insect-looking cars, and on my sides were rocky hills covered in sharp trees. I was high enough up to not be immediately worried, but I needed to start preparing for the inevitable descent. The last time I lost control of my flight, I had landed in a soccer field. So I looked for the closest residential area. But as I reached one, and began to slowly circle downwards, thermals got me. Columns of rising air pushed me away from the suburbs and towards the mountains.

Not wanting to be impaled on a pine tree, I looked for the closest flat land. Off in the distance, I spotted something better: a stretch of sandy hills and two men pulling dirt bikes off the back of a white truck. That would be my ride.

I started circling as the two bikers buzzed off into the distance. Ten or so minutes later, I was coming down onto the dirt, a few meters from their truck. Hitting the ground running, I came to a quick stop, unlatched my wing, and started to pull it in. I just needed to wait for the riders to return. No way they wouldn’t help out a fellow thrill seeker.

After packing everything up, I sat down in the shade of the truck. My lips were dry, so I started to drink from my thermos, and before I heard the motor of a bike getting closer, I was all out of water.

Standing up, I saw that only one bike had come back. I greeted the rider with a smile and a wave.

He slowed the thing down and pulled off his helmet. Tanned brown skin and short brown hair gave him a uniform look that made it hard to differentiate his features, especially with the glare from the sun. “Where’d you come from?”

I laughed and held up my wing, then pointed towards the sky. “I was gliding, down near the lake!”

“No shit? I thought I saw something in the sky. You need a ride? I was about to head home. Where’s your car at?”

“Right near the lake, and I would love a ride. One time, I came down off course and had to hitchhike. Ended the night with a car full of cabbage! That was a long story. Anyways, name’s Ricky, by the way. Ricky Rodriguez.”

“Scott. Nice to meet you, Ricky. Throw your gear in the back and help me get this bike up there.”

After everything was set, we got inside and Scott started driving back towards civilization. That’s when it struck me that he must have forgotten the other rider. “What about your buddy?”

“Buddy?” Scott gave me a look full of twitches. His veins were making their presence noted. “Only buddy I got here is you, Ricky.”

“Heck, then who was that other rider?”

Scott stopped the truck. “You saw us from the sky?”

“Just for a second, yeah.”

“Well, that was just Tommy. He, uh…he wanted to stay out a bit longer is all.” Scott rubbed his chin. “But you’re right, we should go get him.”

“Oh no, it’s cool. No need to ruin his fun. I shouldn’t have pried.”

Scott tapped his fingers on the wheel for a while and looked like he was thinking something real deep. “Listen, Ricky. I don’t want to have to drive out and then drive back again. That’s a lot of driving. So I’m going to go back and get him right now. Cool?”

“Alright, yeah. That’s cool, too.”

“Alright.” Scott turned the truck around and started heading through the hills.

“If he’s not your buddy, who is he, then?”

“Guy I work with. That’s it.”

“Where do you work?”

“I’m a firefighter.”

“Firefighter? That sounds pretty thrilling. What got you into that? Save any babies from the crib or anything like that?” I chuckled to myself.

“Family. Pops did it before me, and my pop pop, his pop did the same as well.”

“That’s gotta be nice. I wish my Daddy did what I do. I’m a stuntman, or I was. Bit too old for it now. Can you guess my age? Bet you can’t. But I’d wager I can guess yours. Mid-40’s, is that it?”

“Ricky, anyone ever tell you that you got a bad habit when it comes to questions?”

I laughed. “I have heard that before. But I like to know things, and you can’t ever know something you don’t know without putting your foot out there, you know?”

“And why exactly do you like knowing things?”

That stumped me for a second. Hadn’t ever really thought about it. “I suppose that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?”

“You never encountered something you wish you didn’t know?”

“No, not really. I mean, some things are kind of sad, like you when you find out someone you trusted is actually a liar. But it’s better to know the truth than to live a lie, right? Nothing worse than lies.”

“What if the lies are the only things keeping you happy, Ricky? What if other people’s happiness is dependent upon you believing the lies?”

“Don’t know if I can relate to that. But I’ll say this, if someone else needs you to be mislead, for you to be in the dark, in order for them to be in the light? Then that person is no good and they certainly don’t deserve to be happy.”

Scott pulled the truck to a stop. “I agree with you there, Ricky. I agree with you there.”

We were on the verge of a change in scenery. The dirt was harder and the drop-offs were steeper. More cliffs than hills at that point.

“This is where we were going to meet once he was done. Mind helping me open up the back of the truck for his bike?”

“Not at all.” I stepped out and went around back. Didn’t take more than a second to snap open the bed and get the ramp ready. Struck me as a little odd that I couldn’t hear even the faintest buzz of a bike motor in the distance. But being finished, I just walked back to the front to see what Scott was up to.

He was already out and pointing a pistol right at my face.

“Woah, man.”

“I’m sorry about this, Ricky. You seem like a good guy.”

“Sorry about what, man? You’re going to shoot me or something?”


My heart was starting to beat. I hadn’t counted on anything this exciting being in the cards for the day. “Heck, you mind telling me why?”

“Because you asked too many questions. You saw things that you shouldn’t have seen. It’s not personal.”

“Not personal? Scott, is there anything more personal than a man’s life?”

“Yeah, a man’s wife.”

“I don’t know your wife.”

“Well, he did. He knew her way too well.” Scott nodded his head towards one of the drop-offs. “Knew her better than I did. Better than I wished to know her. But now I know her, and the things I know, I can’t let my daughter know. Some things should just stay hidden.”

I got the picture. “That’s unfortunate, Scott, but I don’t know anything about that. So why don’t we get back in the truck and head over to the lake. You’ll never see me again. You’re right, I should have minded my own business.”

“I wish we could do that. But I can’t trust you. A man who doesn’t believe in lies? Lies hold the whole world together, Ricky. Without them, what the fuck are we? Fucking animals? Just pissin’ and shittin’ everywhere we go?”

“I don’t believe that for a second.”

“Well, I do.”

“So you’re going to shoot me then?”


“Dang, guess I won’t try to argue. No one lives forever, right?” I tried to smile.

Scott’s hand was shaking something fierce by that point. “Fuck, man. Why can’t you just be a prick?”

“I can’t be what I’m not.”

“Of course not.”

“I’d just like to ask for one favor.”

“What’s that?”
“If I gotta die here, then I gotta die here, fine. But I’d like to go out another way.”

“What other way?”

“See that drop-off over there?”

Scott glimpsed over at it. “Yeah.”

“Let me jump. It’s the least you can do.”

“That’s it?”


“You’re crazy.”

“I’m not the one aiming to end another man’s life.”

Then Scott pulled the trigger. First shot missed.

I didn’t stick around to see if the second one would do any better. I started to run. One foot after the other, I gained speed, and then I jumped.

Below the cliff were dozens of little ridges, way down there, formed around what looked like an ancient river. That split second in the air, before I started falling, I saw it all. The millions of years it took to form that landscape, the tribes that came and went, the animals buried deep beneath it all. Then came the gravity and the adrenaline. I went rabid.

Flying straight down towards my destiny, I wasn’t thinking a thing. I didn’t cry, or scream, or wish for my momma. But right before the end, as the pebbles below were starting to look like boulders, I did have a thought.

Thank you, Lord, for letting me soar one last time.