Kevin Ferring had surfer-blond hair and was speckled with freckles on every surface he had ever exposed to the sun. Kevin was also ten and my best buddy. He joined Joe, Mike and I on our lizard hunts and was a pretty good skateboarder to boot. Harper always had an excuse to blow off climbing to the top of “S” Mountain, claiming he had done it once, and that was enough. Kevin was more than up to it and said he hadn’t yet and always wanted to. That week we planned the expedition out in every detail. Kevin would bring first aid supplies consisting of band-aids and a bottle of Mercurochrome in case of a rockslide or getting scuffed up running from coyotes, they lived up there. Joe brought an official Scout snakebite kit and a flashlight to signal a search plane at night should we get lost. I packed my knap sack with provisions of sodas, a can opener and an assortment of baloney sandwiches.
When the day came, we started out at the crack of dawn because the summer heat could be a problem by late afternoon. The plan was to get to the top by mid-morning and back by early afternoon. We made our way up the zigzagging east side trail, pacing ourselves as we went. It was a pretty tough trek, but my skinny legs were Schwinn-toughened so it wasn’t something I couldn’t handle. There were plenty of distractions along the way, so it wasn’t a straight up climb. Animal carcasses, unexplored caves and lizards pulled us off the trail here and there.
The sodas were gone by the time we were halfway up the mountain, so was the sugar rush when we reached the summit. I was disappointed when we got there because I expected the top of the mountain to have one central peak where you could plant a flag or a plaque, like Pike’s Peak. It was actually more of a long spine of rolling hills and chaparral. (Chaparral is a fancy word for a dense thicket of shrubbery and small trees, primarily evergreen Oaks common in Southern California.) After a good walk, the trail widened to the size of a road as other trails fed into it. We found a good view on the far side and sat under the shade of an evergreen Oak tree. We ate our sandwiches as we stared in awe at the ultramarine blue expanse of the Pacific. What a spectacular sight it was!
“Over that way is Hawaii,” Kevin pointed out.
“Yeah, Don Ho lives there, right?” I said knowingly.
“Who gives a shit about Don Ho?” Kevin asked.
“You do. Everyone knows you dig Ukulele music.”
“You know, Joe and I saw Ho driving by us in Arkansas.”
“Who gives a flying-shit?” Kevin said.
“S” Mountain was the first mountainous summit I conquered. Not many people I knew could say they climbed a mountain, so I felt proud we accomplished something so noteworthy. We didn’t have a flag or plaque to leave for posterity to celebrate our amazing feat so we left our mark in another way. We climbed to the top of the biggest rock and pissed off of it. Something was strange; Joe’s piss shot out in a double stream.
“What, do you have two holes at the end of el pippi?”
“Yep, guess so.” Joe said. “It’s always done that.”
“You better tell mom.”
But he eventually he did. It was impossible for Joe to stand and go because he left a big mess from the errant flow. If he was at a school urinal it wasn’t a problem, but at home he had to sit on the toilet seat and pee like a girl. His pippi problem was a direct result of the slipshod circumcision by the butcher of Belgrade. Scar tissue formed within his urethra, blocking his passage. A Urological specialist re-cored his urethra and poor Joe had to endure a painful ordeal while it healed. I heard him screaming when he went to the bathroom.
When we discharged the last of our fluids we stood and watched as it quickly evaporated on the hot rock. Kevin busted the Mercurochrome bottle on the rock, leaving a deep orange bloody splash that stained the stone, maybe forever. It wasn’t an obvious graffiti like “Kilroy Was Here,” or the bright white spray painted “S” below us, but we left our mark on the mountain, just the same.