his leg, of course, with protruding bone and little blood, strangely, as
though the bone had burned the skin when it came through, as though
it cracked hot and came through skin on fire, and the sharp edge of
a bone sticking out now was like a kind of perforated tusk, but there
were also his hands grabbing at his midsection: when Kieran lifted his
shirt there was a darkening bruise around his harness, along his abdomen, from the long fall and the harness whipping when it caught him.
The two hikers, one of them a cute blonde girl in pigtails (how could he
have even noticed such a thing?), wearing shorts and hiking boots and a
plaid shirt, very attractive and very concerned, who would later become
Kieran’s granola-girl wife: neither could get cell-phone service. Kieran
did not have a cell phone. He didn’t even bother to ask Brennan. What
he did was, he told the blonde granola-girl with pigtails and her friend,
a man named Kyle, to walk behind him. Walk behind him and steady
Brennan’s leg. He was going to carry him down. At least until they got
into cell-phone range. And this was what he did. He carried Brennan,
who was thankfully in shock, down the mountain, with Kyle and the
granola-girl, later Anne or Annie, she liked both, walking behind and
trying their best to steady Brennan’s leg—it wouldn’t have worked,
but Brennan was in shock and there was so much adrenaline coursing
through his body that he seemed less in pain than simply gone. Until he
wasn’t gone, and the screaming began again, but a kind of low-mewled
screaming, not a groan or moan but a low-cat-mewling from deep deep
deep inside Brennan. After some hiking, though, they had gotten their
cells working, so they set him down like setting down a porcelain doll.
And so this was part one of how Kieran got Anne: the pigtailed granola-girl. How Kieran got Anne part two was much more sinister and
manipulative and narcissistically motivated. Forget that the entire event
now seemed terribly clichéd and filmic to Kieran; all of that was out of
his control. It was what happened after, Kieran knew.
After they got Brennan down, some twenty minutes of hiking, they
were able to use their cell phones. After this, after Brennan was carted
away, they went back and got their gear and got down the mountain
and followed Brennan’s ambulance to the hospital, where they sat in the
waiting room: after all this, Anne asked how Kieran had done all that so
fast. I would have panicked, she said. How did you keep such a cool head?
And what he said! What he said! What he said was, You have to have
one. You have to have one? You have to have one! You have to have one.
Her eyes were like widened tunnels, like blown holes in a mountainside.