New Year’s Eve day, pale sunshine and no snow. So, JJ and Carl hiked from the farmhouse to the top of the mountain.
“In 2015, I plan to honor my inner Stalin,” Carl said.
“That’s your resolution?”
“Yeah. I plan to honor all of me, the light and the dark.”
“Will that make you a better person?”
“I think so,” Carl said. “It will make me a more complete person. I think we repress the dark stuff and that’s where we get into trouble. It’s still in there and needs to be recognized.”
“But what about the genocide? And the Cold War paranoia?”
“Don’t you sometimes wish you had the power to wipe out certain people? Or populations? Aren’t you paranoid and suspicious?”
“All the time.”
“Well, there you go.”
JJ looked out over the town. They sat on a cliff above the valley and no leaves on the trees meant big views all around. Too many people and houses down there, even in this smallish city. Too many people burning fuels, making trash, fucking up the planet. Many just worthless parasites, taking up space.
“But,” JJ said. “You can’t just declare yourself and start the process. You need a plan.”
“I’m talking about my inner Stalin. The psychopath inside. I’m not going to hurt anybody. On purpose.”
“What the hell have you been reading?”
“Emerson. His big thing is that there’s Jesus in all of us. There’s Socrates in all of us. There’s a poet in all of us.”
“So, there’s a dictator in all of us, too.”
Some images of Stalin came into JJ’s mind. Uncle Joe at Yalta, sitting smug with a regal FDR and a fading Churchill. Military Stalin, pockmarked with that moustache, iron-willed and cruel, watching the tanks parade in Red Square. Hitler, with his fussiness and silly moustache seemed like a jester in comparison.
JJ said, “My resolution is to not live in comparison.”
“In comparison to what?”
“Other people. I’m sick of giving a shit what other people think.”
Silence, except for the distant and constant hum of cars on streets, cars on highways, and a few stray horns. “I didn’t think that was a problem for you,” Carl said. “You’re one of the oddest people I know.”
“There’s things I want to do. But I always talk myself out of them.”
JJ looked out over the town and thought of taking a stand about something. A nameless dread about the Other was always with him and something or someone out there was to blame. Rich people? Religious fanatics? Patriots fans?
“Maybe I’ll start a Gulag,” JJ said.
“There you go. With my inner Stalin and your lottery money, we can make some changes around here.”
“Then you can have me shot after it’s up and running.”
“I’m way ahead of you, man.”
“Happy New Year, asshole.”
“Same to you,” said Carl. “And many more.”