In Due Time

Article Index

ROBBINS. O tell me before we go, who was the best of them all, the lead in the show?
CHORUS. O you Royal, O you.
CHOUINARD. And who the most casual, and exhibitive of finesse?
CHORUS. O you Yvon, O you.
HERBERT. And who the most human and filled with jest?
CHORUS. O you TM, O you.
ROPER. And who the most gross?
CHORUS. O you Steve, O you.
FROST. And who the most saintly and the least verbose?
CHORUS. O you Tom, O you.
PRATT, more quietly than the rest. And who the most sober?
CHORUS. O you Chuck, O you.
HERBERT, rising. Will someone remind me why we are here? I have wife and child below, and lots of cold beer.
ROBBINS. We have vowed to end it all. Please recall, please recall. The humdrum, the tedium, the slippery crack, the breaking back, the hauling of an enormous sack! Where is the meaning for us? Hammered thumbs, bloody puss! A glorious ascent is no accomplishment. It's all undone by some younger one. Here's our chance to be brave. It's the image we must save. Come on now, let's not hedge-off the edge! Off the edge! He points westward to the darkening void.
FROST. O happy days. O happy days. He rises and shuffles a little two-step. Everyone rises looking befuddled.
HERBERT, quietly to CHOUINARD. Frost is gone.
CHOUINARD, somewhat dazed. We will glide and arch and be pretty to the end. To PRATT, becoming wide-eyed. Practice the many ways to stream the air. Like eagles... like eagles.... and O! What should I wear? He stands and assumes a diving posture.
PRATT, stumbling away. Where's my bottle?
ROPER, sarcastically. I thought we were here to dump to our heart's content off the Nose. Pointing to CHOUINARD. But not to pose. Not to pose.
ROBBINS, with relish. Exactly! But to dump ourselves! It is time. Do you not hear the tolling of the bells? Everyone listens, then looks to one another questioningly. Never mind. Never mind. I will you no jibes. Merely think on the hordes of young climbers. And none take bribes!
PRATT, approaching ROBBINS, bottle in hand. Then tell me you fool, why did you open the climbing school? The climbing schools and climbing shops have flooded the Valley and flooded the rocks! Smiling sadly, he strokes ROBBINS' head. They break into a scuffle, but are separated by FROST, who kisses them. Meanwhile, CHOUINARD, standing apart, is testing various gliding postures. .. arms up, out. .. hands opened, closed.... Suddenly, from the cliff's edge, there is a loud hammering, drilling and whirling of tarps, bags, pitons, hooks, umbrellas and ropes. HARDING, in a massive tangle of slings, hammers, nuts, bolts, cameras and wine bottles, flips up over the top. He has a Christian Brothers label stuck to his forehead.
HARDING, eyes rotating, hair standing out like weeds. What a farcing expedition! I've bolted all the way, top to bottom—an absolute first. Nowadays, the way to glory is not by the best route, but the worst. Takes stamina! By the way, where's the TV camera?