This is the fourteenth 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.
When I finally arrived at Kat’s cabin, she was out. This was a major disappointment. I don’t get excited about much these days but as I walked up the long dirt driveway, I had this giddy mix of exhaustion and expectation (with a dash of lust, honestly). So when the door went unanswered I just kind of slumped down on the porch and looked out over the land. I felt like crying, there was pressure right behind my eyes, but I was all dry and empty from the journey to get here. Plus, I had this feeling of unease, like something was gaining on me. It was getting cold, it was really grey, and it smelled like snow. In fact, flurries were already falling.
The door was locked but I knew I could get in. I had done so in the past with Kat’s blessing. But here is how our last encounter ended:
“You’re just like all the rest,” she said.
“All the rest of what?”
“Men. I thought you were different.”
“Just because I’m a little jealous?”
“You love the picture of me just sitting up here waiting for you as you do whatever. I’m supposed to be chaste and watch for your return like some quivering helpless damsel. Well fuck that. Men owning women. That’s the kind of shit I left behind.”
“Come with me for a few weeks.”
“I said no,” she said. “I have work to do and your need to keep me close by isn’t a good enough reason to leave. I’m building a life here.”
“With your parents’ money,” I said.
A menacing silence.
“That’s none of your goddamn business.”
But I knew it was a sore spot. So I poked again.
“So rebellious,” I said. “So independent and principled.” In my best taunting falsetto I said, “I hate you mommy and daddy, but can you send $50,000 and leave me alone?”
I think I had it coming. I’m pretty slow to anger but then I stab. It’s been a problem in the past.
That’s how our last encounter ended about six weeks ago. So I didn’t want to break into the house like I had any right. I took off my boots, unpacked my sleeping bag and got in. Then I leaned back against the cabin wall under the porch roof and watched the snow flurries and the trees. I dozed off.
Car tires on gravel coming up the driveway. I looked as the car approached. Two shapes in the front seat, a driver and a passenger. I think I heard myself groan. The car stopped below the porch and two people got out, a man and a woman. The woman was Kat. They went to the trunk and grabbed bags of groceries. The trunk slammed and they came on up the steps.
“I’m going to grill up all this chicken,” the man said. “We’ll have some tonight then I’ll make chili with the rest.”
“Mmmmmm,” Kat said. “Sounds great.”
Then they saw me there, reclined in my sleeping bad against the front wall of the cabin.
“Who are you?” the man said.
“Oh shit,” Kat said.
“Hi guys,” I said. “I like chicken, too.”
I might as well guilt a meal out of them before I hit the road again.