Tag Archives: ESP

Escape Dunes

This is the ninth installment of a series about the Mountain Dude, a wandering guy with an ESP-like “gift”.  The Mountain Dude, some readers may recall, made a few enigmatic appearances in JJ in the 21st Century.

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When driving on the Medano Pass Primitive Road (four-wheel drive), the Escape Dunes and Ghost Forest can be viewed approximately 1/2 mile up the road. Here, shifting sands have crossed Medano Creek to form new dunes. The “escape” dunes create “ghost forests” where trees die through suffocation and starvation.

So I’ve heard that question a lot. “Can you control it?” The short answer is, “sometimes”. Sometimes I can batten the hatches against before the spigot flow starts. But it takes vigilance and conscious effort. Once the flow starts, it can’t be stopped except by moving away from the source. At least I haven’t found another way.

That’s why I keep moving.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

It doesn’t happen with everyone. Some people are closed to me, thankfully. I saw this therapist once. He tried to believe me. He listened and nodded and tapped his pen against his lower lip. When I finished, he leaned forward and said, “Man is the God who shits.”

“Huh?”

“Think about it,” he said.

I’ve certainly thought about it over the years, especially after shitting all over someone or being shat upon by life. But it came up again when I walked up into the mountains, away from the main dune field, and came upon an area of escape dunes and the resulting ghost forest. There was a photographer up here, tripod and all, and I sat in the sand and watched him. He was a restless middle-aged fellow, fidgety with his camera gadgets, worried about the sand getting into his various apertures. He had a remote shutter release and he was setting up for a shot down to the dune field from up here in the escape dunes. It was getting late and soon the dunes would explode into an orange umber blaze as the surrounding foothills grew dark. I’ve seen this happen and it’s captured in my mind, this image of something as close to the divine as anything is likely to get.

I approached the photographer cautiously. No ESP flow from this dude. At least not yet.

“Hello.”

“I was wondering if you would walk over,” he said. “You live out here?”

“For a few days.”

“Well I’m torn about that. I envy you, of course, being out here away from all the…all the…”

“Bullshit?”

“Worse than bullshit,” he said. “Vitriol. Hate.”

“Sounds about right.”

“But then you also must miss a lot. I mean, most people are still good.”

“Hmmm.”

He finished some final adjustment and made sure the cord for the remote shutter release wasn’t tangled and he stood next to me looking out over the dune field. A few minutes maybe until sunset.

“My wife thinks I’m crazy coming out here all over creation to get pictures of beauty. I suppose some people fish or hunt and they feel this way, but I don’t want to hurt any animals. I need to be out here or out there or wherever. I feel like I hunt this natural beauty. It’s always available. And it’s free.”

“For now,” I said.

“We can create so much. We’re freer than we think. We can move around and think and try to love.”

“But we succumb.”

“Yup,” he said. “We succumb. By commission or omission, we still succumb.”

“Man is the God who shits,” I said.

“That’s pretty pungent. But I know what you mean.”

We watched as it grew dark around us up here in the ghost forest. The dune sea blazed into coral and a fine haze in the air gave everything a dreamy feel. He pushed the button and the camera clicked.

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The Baggage

This is the sixth installment of a series about the Mountain Dude.  The Mountain Dude, some readers may recall, made a few enigmatic appearances in JJ in the 21st Century.

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I hate the term ESP. It evokes images of second rate documentaries, complete with gauzy slide shows projected into the mind of a paranormal freak from his spooky muse. I may be a freak, but I don’t feel like that kind of freak. Abnormal, maybe. Unsettled, yes. But, look around. Who the hell wants to be normal these days?

Plus it doesn’t come to me in visions. It’s more like a knowing, like when a word or memory goes missing then comes back, emerging from the blank place fully formed and plain as day. You know the blank place? It’s not a there/their/they’re sort of thing. It’s like when you forget how to spell a common word like “restaurant” and you spell it “resturant” and it looks wrong on the page, feels wrong, but you can’t pull the correct spelling from you brain. It’s in the blank space. Then you remember and it’s there again, unblemished, plain as day.

That’s how the sense about people emerges. The knowledge breaks the surface like a sea creature, a roiling of the water then a sudden appearance.

An example from college. A class in 20th Century European literature. The professor, a younger man with strong opinions passing for passion. He tries to compensate for his lack of gravitas with the affects of the academic. Long hair cut to shoulder length. The glasses. The sweater. The vague smell of pot and cats.

The secret undergrad girlfriend.

How do I know? Because I was in love with her, too.

We were in a class discussion about Thomas Mann, “Death in Venice”, and listing the portents of a descent into fluid unreasonable fetid passion when something was triggered and I just knew that he was sleeping with my friend and secret love Alex. I knew because I felt his worry that she was not in class that day, but his worry had nothing to do with her health or well-being. His worry had everything to do with a recent spat and what she might be doing that very moment that might lead to discovery, humiliation, and termination of his employment.

That son of a bitch.

Standing up there holding forth on these old world authors. Sleeping with my Alex. (Granted, she was no one’s Alex, would never be anyone’s Alex, and that’s one of the reasons I loved her.)

Clearly something had to be done.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that a proportionate response to a common human foible might include sidling up to Professor Pompous Ass after class and just letting him know that I know thus increasing his worry, making him squirm, but not destroying him or his career.

But, I didn’t know about proportionate response. Or about careers. I was just all thwarted love and impulse.

So I followed him after class.

It was midmorning and, sure enough, he headed over toward Alex’s apartment just off campus. There weren’t too many people around, too early for the lunch rush, and I ducked behind a thick tree when he comically turned to scan behind him before entering the building. I waited a few minutes before following him in. At Alex’s door, after pressing my ear to the door, but before barging into the apartment, there was a vague sense that I should just walk away. But…

ESP plus poor impulse control. Not a good combo.

They weren’t having sex. They weren’t embracing. Professor Pomp sat on the couch, leaning forward with his head in his hands. Alex (my Alex!) stood in a bathrobe near the window, smoking a cigarette and looking down at the Professor. It looked like a photo with streaming sunlight from the window, cigarette smoke in the sun rays, her in profile, him straight on in misery. A photo entitled, “The Breakup”.

Of course they were surprised to see me. My righteous anger dissipated almost immediately upon entering and I just stood there and we all looked at each other before I backed out and closed the door and fled.

He kept his job. Alex never spoke to me again. I tried to apologize, once. She said, “Fuck off, creep”. I dropped 20th Century European Literature and then transferred to another school in another state at semester’s end. I moved on.

I’m always moving on.

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