The Crate - part 4 - the end

     Fidget stopped grasping at the strip of cloth and offered the narrow end of it to Cramp with his mouth and nodded for assistance. When Cramp drew it away Fidget said, "Oh, the crate? why? You think it will be the end of us?"
     Cramp looked over the ledge and squinted. "It's likely. I wouldn't ask, I mean under normal circumstances." They both hissed painfully from the humor of it, "But we're so close now, and I don't feel like we'll make it, not after that bear, not with this." Cramp toed the crate, "Look at us."
     "Foolish, I suppose. We should be near, wouldn't you say? Seems like maybe a few miles will bring us into contact."
     "I agree. Maybe hours. Unless...."
     "you'd figure we'd see planes, lights, something. We still have the flares..."
      "We do, but still," and they came back to the crate.
     Fidget limped up to the ledge, leaned against the crate and in doing upset a small tuck of stones beneath it. The stones clattered down the rocky cliff, echoed into an easy quiet. The crate shifted.
     "Okay then," said Fidget, mustering up something that looked like gladness. "Here it is, I was waiting until we were rescued, until we finished this, but since it might finish us first," Fidget fumbled with the latches, clubbed and clawed it a  bit. When he finally threw the lid open it flipped hard, and Cramp stared in wide eyed disbelief as Fidget said, "It's a present! A present for you! A welcome home gift! Can you believe it!" And fidget turned to the crate to stare with disbelief too as the crate rocked forward once and back, right off the cliff.
     "A what, did you say that was?"
     "A gift," said Fidget," leaning over the ledge for a look.
     The crate careened down the side of the cliff, they could hear it and the contents shattering into ever smaller pieces as it descended.
     "You had me help you carry a gift for me? Through this?" Cramp swept the air above and below him.
     "Of course," said Fidget plainly, "Who else would have helped me?"
     Cramp chuckled as he sucked at the tears in his lips. He edged his nose over the ledge. Darkness. Then he began to laugh. Fidget laughed a little too, still shaken from watching the crate vanish like that. But he laughed and tears welled up in his eyes, and when Cramp saw the tears he laughed more and made to slap his knee but couldn't due to the pain. And as they both laughed a terrifying sound rose up from beside them and grew to deafening in mere seconds, so much so that when the lights slashed flashing, radiant, arcs across the sky they found themselves in a tangle against the hard earth, both men having had the same irrational thought, which was: Bear with flashlight!  
     By the time they'd sent up he flare and the real rescue had begun, Fidget and Cramp had forgotten about the crate almost completely. It wasn't until later, once they were safe, when the rescue team had told them that the helicopter found them after the pilot spotted a firelight descending the dark mountainside.
      "You boys were lucky! A needle in a haystack! If old Doc hadn't been mak'in that pass on his midnight flight, you'da been finished! Nothin out there but dead 'n wanna'be dead!"
     Cramp looked at Fidget. "So, what was in that crate again?"
     Fidget pushed up he bandage over his eye a bit and scratched the sutures in his head. "Well, I was telling you, before all this... " he waved about a bit. "I guess it was a welcome home present, and as you know, we hadn't any candles, so I guess it was the flare... That was mostly a joke really... And well, now the rest if it, heavy as it was..."
     "Some Mighty present indeed!" interrupted the deputy sheriff, "you got a box full'a saved your life is what'cha got there! Box'O Save U Life indeed!"
     Fidget poked at the clean hospital linoleum with one bootied toe and thought of the others, the span of their battle, the losses. Cramp followed with his eyes and his heart and the moment passed.
     "Thats what it was," said Fidget, gently. That's what it was indeed."


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