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.”
“Yeah, right…”
“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.”
“That’s weird.”
“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.