Electrifying

by Jonah

I did something exceedingly stupid today. And because the parties who
forbade this excercise from taking place already know about it, there’s
really no use in keeping it a secret anymore.

Alabama Power is putting up a row of huge towers to support some power line
going to Mississippi. Or something like that. There’s a substation just to
the north of us, so power poles go from all directions from it. Especially
now. They bought some land from us near the back corner of our property to
make way for this monstrosity. If we hadn’t have sold, they would have taken
us to court and then bought it for whatever price THEY thought was fair. We
didn’t think it would be too bad, because we have woods back there to
separate us from the lines. But one of the main power towers is so tall that
it sticks out above everything else around it. There’s a nice reflection of
it in our lake.

They’re just starting to put the wires up for the electricity. The cables
are still attached to the spools they were wound from lying on the ground, so
they’re not juiced up. Yet. I know this because I went back there this
afternoon. I had on my BDU pants and was carrying my blackberry picking
bucket and club, but that was only for show. My main purpose in taking a
walk back behind our house was to climb the tower.

Dad expressly forbade us to do anything of the sort a week ago. I decided
Sunday would be the best time to do it because there would be no Alabama
Power people up on there yelling to each other as they worked on the wires.
And it was empty when I reached it. But that particular tower is in plain
sight of our house, and I really didn’t want to give my dad, who was cutting
down even more privet bushes, a heart attack. So I cut through the woods to
get to the next tower, not quite as visible from our house, but there just
the same. As soon as I entered the forest, I was accosted by several flies.
They tailed me, and something even nailed me right on the forehead, till I
emerged from the woods. There it was. The tower.

I went up to one of its four legs. Bolts were screwed into hole of the metal
all the way up, just like a ladder. I gripped one of them and hoisted myself
up, then on up to the next bolt, testing each one to make sure it was screwed
in well. The thing about climbing is that it’s fine to look downward, just
not focus on the ground. I had to look to see where to put my feet every
step I took, but the ground simply looked the same distance away each time.

Finally, where the four legs and the connecting struts stopped converging and
then spread out again to send out horizontal beams to hold the cables, the
bolts ran out. I could have shimmied up around on the struts to wear they
started up again, but by then I’d looked down to see just how far I’d come.
It was a long way down. Nice view of the surrounding woods too. I thought
about what someone had told me about not dying any time soon and decided
against continuing upward.

The flies tormented me all the way home.

I climbed the near tower tonight with someone else. Bolts ran out again near
the top. Fireflies flickered in the distance. A sattelite passed overhead.
And the ground was invisibly far below.

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