Clif Hangar lay in bed, scissoring his legs in the air, but it wasn’t enough. His restless leg syndrome propelled him from the boutique hotel’s memory foam mattress onto the natural hemp carpet, making him pace. However, the room was too small to take more than a few steps in each direction, so he swiveled more than he paced. Not particularly satisfying. What was worse, because of his superior sense of smell, the room reeked of curtain mildew and Pall Mall cigarettes. Clif pulled on his true-khaki athletic fit Chinos and burst out of the motel room into the semi-darkness of the Olympic Rain Forest.
The hotel lights backlit the ferns and evergreens, creating an eerie tableau. As he lumbered through the undergrowth, he pondered the name of his illness. Restless leg syndrome. A ridiculous name for something that caused so much distress. Too buoyant, too catchy for the devastation it wreaked, driving a wedge between him and any love interest. It gave him insomnia and caused his legs to piston at night, and no woman had ever put up with that for long.
He also pondered his struggles to make a comeback. Several years earlier he was the world’s most famous nose model. Now, at thirty, he was nearly forgotten. A side note in history. He’d come to the hotel to clear his thoughts and plan the way forward.
The motel light faded behind Clif, but he forged ahead, the need to move propelling him like a ship in the night—a cruise ship, perhaps, or even a tanker, but definitely a ship and not a boat. There was a difference. He stiff-armed bushes as he moved through what was now pitch darkness.
Too late, Clif remembered that he’d chosen this hotel for its view. His foot stepped out onto nothingness. “I’m plunging downward,” he thought, so distraught that he barely noticed that the word plunging already implied downward, and therefore the two words were redundant. As he fell into the void, he flailed wildly. His hands scraped against the rough cliffside, then grasped a sapling, arresting his fall.
As he dangled, Clif pondered the irony of his situation. People always thought his name, Clif Hangar, described a situation in a novel or a movie where the hero figuratively dangled over a cliff. But his last name, Hangar (shortened from Hangarsteinkopf), was spelled with “ar” and not “er,” meaning a building that houses airplanes; and Clif was short for Clifton, which meant a town near a cliff, not the cliff itself. But now he was in fact a cliff hanger, exactly what people misunderstood all these years.
Clif also pondered his predicament. Although he couldn’t see it, he knew that directly below him was a tourist attraction called “Hell’s Rocks.” This natural feature was composed of sharply spiked obsidian daggers that would turn him into a human shish-kabob were he to slip loose from the tiny, insignificant sapling. “No,” he thought. “I can’t let that happen. The headline of my obituary is not going to be ‘Has-Been Nose Model Skewered for the Last Time.’”
But the sapling Clif hung by was getting looser. It wouldn’t hold much longer.
Will our hero fall to his death onto Hell’s Rocks? Will his comeback as a nose model end before it even begins? Tune in next week to find out.
Now available: The Climate Machine–A Novel