The rock holds its secrets tightly, but if you are respectful and listen carefully, you can hear it whisper.
No, put your foot to the left.
Yes, your weight will hold.
Go here and you'll have to backtrack.
Any mountain worth climbing had more dead-ends than a wealthy suburban neighborhood. I didn't mind. My goal was never to break speed records; it was to decompress. My job title was the euphemistic Director of On-Site Logistics. What I really did was handle risk-assessment for Doctors Without Borders. I was vital, but the position was as low-visibility as possible. If you had someone in risk-assessment at a directorate level it indicated that lives could be in danger, and that wasn't the best message for recruitment.
If I made the wrong decision, people died. So, finding time for solitude was something I made time for, and it doesn't get more isolated than hanging off the side of a mountain. Unlike a marriage, a mountain was forever.
There was no mountain; today was a cliff. Shifting my weight, I released my left hand and stretched my fingers. After a moment I was back at it. At the top was a mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean owned by Deacon Mulgrew. Like my title, his was misleading. He was the chief advisor to Bishop Lindor, and the deacon was in his multimillion-dollar home fucking the bishop's daughter, my wife.
Cameras covered the sides and front of the home, but who would bother covering the cliffs? Have you heard of affair fog? It's a thing; look it up. If my wife were thinking clearly, she might have been concerned. This was child's play.
At the top of the cliff, I caught the brace for the deck and climbed. There they were, the glass walls hiding nothing. Naked as the day they were born, the dutiful daughter and the religious icon were committing adultery. Clamping down on my emotions, I took photo after photo and used the parabolic microphone to catch as much of their passion as possible.
He degraded her, calling her his bitch, prompting her to insult me and her father as they fucked. This was going to destroy him, but he was a pompous prick who had looked down on me for a decade. The bishop treated his own wife as chattel. You reap what you sow.
Two hours later I was in my car with a roiling stomach, a broken heart, and wet Five Ten Adidas. I trusted no one and nothing, so I uploaded the photos and audio to four different secure sites.
A week later I was standing outside the Splendid Cathedral, his mega-church where he held his revivals and they did the filming. Despair had turned to loathing. Jason, his PR man came outside, plastic smile on his face and handshake firm.
"Good to see you, Gary! The bishop is caught in meetings and will be counseling parishioners this afternoon. He's flying to DC tonight, but might have time to see you during the drive to the airport. Can you stick around?"
"Afraid not, Jason. Tell him I need to see him now."
"I'm really sorry, but that's not going to be possible. Maybe you could come back or we can get you an office if you want to get some work done."
"I wasn't asking, Jason. Tell him if he doesn't see me, the editorial board of every major paper in the country will via Zoom within an hour. I'm divorcing his daughter."
The bishop and I were in a room within minutes. His smile was as fake as Jason's but more predatory.
"What's this all about, son? This is horrible timing. We're in the middle of an offerings push. I'm sure this can be fixed."
"She's cheating on me, it can't be worked out, we're getting a divorce, and you're going to ensure that she doesn't touch my money."
The smile dropped and he sat up straighter. "Listen to me, you jumped-up insurance agent, you don't take that tone with me. Work this shit out. She's stepping out? I'll put an end to it, but there's not going to be a divorce."
"Yeah, there is." I dropped the folder on the table in front of him. "And you're going to need to do some firing."
That felt good. I walked out into the sunshine, fingers flexing. My phone was already ringing. Sadly, reception sucked on a mountain. Getting back in my car I headed to Yosemite and El Capitan.
My thanks go out to the members of the Accepted Acolytes and to Brad, Jerry, Adam, Andrea, Mr. Z, Leon, Phillip, Zachary, Laurence, and Ken for their generosity.