Tag Archives: pure evil

Face to Face

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“What’s your name?”

“Haven’t you guessed?”

We sat face to face under a cottonwood in the wash as the morning grew and the rocks turned from gray shadows to red yellow gold all around. A beautiful canyon on a beautiful morning as I sat with evil. We sat cross legged facing each other as if for a powwow. There was no peace pipe.

“Evil Man,” I said and I could feel this opening inside, an unclenching, fear dissipating and replaced by an acceptance of what was next. It occurred to me that something, some inner grip, had been clenched in me for a long time, but only now as it was being released. I felt open and ready for this.

“Evil, yes,” he said. “Power, yes. I am Satan, Santa, and Stalin come to earth to help those with certain gifts. To show them the way. You, my friend, have one of those gifts.”

“The ESP.”

“ESP,” he laughed. “Those are just tiny initials for a gift beyond your understanding that could change the world. Yet you run from that power. Why do you run?”

“It causes too much pain. I can’t be around people. At least not for long.”

“That’s because you shy from the power. No pain no gain. You’re playing a small game when you have the skill to play the biggest game of all.”

“What’s that?”

The sun was cresting the edge of the canyon and the orange light fell on his face. The skin was close shaven and smooth, rosy cheeks and thin prim lips. I could not see his eyes because of his sunglasses but I could see my reflection looking at his face. Him and me right there in his glasses.

“The biggest game of all,” he said. “The biggest game of all, and I don’t want to overwhelm you but I think you can handle it. You may even know it already. The biggest game of all is the battle for the souls of human beings.”

“That doesn’t sound like the kind of game I want to play.”

He sighed. “People for the most part want to be told what to think and what to do. They just don’t know it. They think they want freedom, but they can’t handle it. You have the power, the obligation, to help them to the right way.”

“I’m obliged?”

“Yes. Otherwise you will continue to wander aimlessly and fruitlessly from place to place, heartbroken, fleeing your obligation to help.”

There was a splash from upstream and a man appeared walking in the streambed. He came down the stream peering at the canyon walls and cottonwoods, a camera dangling and floppy hat flopping. Homo Touristicus. I couldn’t tell if I was happy to see him or if I should warn him away.

“Let’s see what Joe Blow from Idaho thinks,” the Evil Guy said.

The tourist heard the voice and turned toward us. “Hey there,” he said. “You fellows having some kind of powwow?”

“You could say that. We need you to settle an argument for us.”

“Sure,” he said. “Name’s Joe. From Idaho.”

“I’m the Evil Man,” the Evil Man said.

“Mountain Dude,” I mumbled.

Joe looked at both of us. “Those are some strange names. More like descriptions. I think I’m going to move on and get more photos.”

“Come sit, Joe. We won’t keep you long.”

Things seemed to slow and I felt stoned like I was observing this scene from up above on the canyon rim. It seemed like I couldn’t move without the greatest effort. Joe plopped down between us in the sand. “That was weird,” he said. “It’s like I was pulled down.”

“Let’s begin,” said the Evil Man with a thin smile.

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Desert Solitaire(?)

This is the twentieth 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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Have you ever been to Arches National Park? I have. It was made famous by Edward Abbey in the book Desert Solitaire, one of those foundation books for grouchy wilderness wanderers. It was a foundation book for me. My favorite line? “To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he’s a liar.” Don’t worry, I had to look up “solipsist” too. (remember paper dictionaries?). Then I laughed.

Edward Abbey would hate the park now, I’m fairly certain. He would hate most National Parks. Paved roads, ease of access. Not Edward Abbey’s vision. People, all these fuckin people from all over the place. All these cars. They don’t belong here. So what do I do about it? Avoid. Reduce contact. Circumvent. Above all, avoid parking lots. That’s where humanity is at its worst. Parents and kids, both crying sometimes, as the kids get wrestled into car seats. Kids don’t like to be restrained, go figure. Parking lots are full of anxiety and impatience, men tapping steering wheels with barely controlled rage while waiting for old couples to move (MOVE!) so they can pull in and release their children from the restraints and walk across the searing hot pavement to a polluted bathroom and linger linger hurry up and wait.

Hey people! Staying home is an option too! It doesn’t look as good on social media, but think of all the people you haven’t pissed off by just staying the fuck home.

I digress.

I do not enter the park through the main entrance. This is an advantage of not having a car. I hike up Courthouse Wash and camp (illegally) in one of the side canyons below the Petrified Dunes. It is calm and mysterious down in here. There is water in the wash and shade and many little birds flit among the cottonwoods. Something near to peace descends for the first time since leaving Colorado.

Very early the next morning I hike up the wash intending to hike clear across the Park. There is a main road with a parking lot that I must cross and I hope to do so quickly and anonymously just before dawn. I emerge and cross the road. In the parking lot there is one car. I know immediately

It’s the black BMW with tinted windows.

I turn to head quickly back across the road and down into the wash. But he’s standing right there in the road behind me.

“Come walk with me,” he says. His voice is warm. His clothes are vanilla neat, fitted polo tucked into tapered khakis. He is fit and tan like a golfer and looks completely lost in this Utah desert. But he doesn’t act lost.

“Come on,” he says. “You might want to hear what I have to say about your…power.”

“My power?”

“Your power, your problem, your extrasensory perception.”

We stand in the middle of the road in the dawn gloaming. The sky is reddening in the east. The Courthouse Towers loom nearby like some mad monument to a Martian God. Headlights approach from the south.

“There’s nowhere to run,” he says. “Just come hear me out.”

I think of that preacher back in Salida. “You don’t want to see his face,” he said. I could just start to see the rosy close-shaven cheeks, flushed with success. “Don’t get caught out in the open with him,” the preacher said.

“Cmon,” the man says. “I can help you lose the power. Or use it.”

“Allright.”   I follow him across the road and back down into the wash.

I never did listen to preachers.

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If it keeps on rainin’ …

This is the fifteenth 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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Sven could cook, I’ll give him that. That was his name. Sven. Originally from Sweden. A tall and rangy and golden-haired Scandinavian. Manly. Capable. I felt like some renter from the fields come up to the castle to ask for a new plow blade. Sven was completely confident in his position in this love triangle. Or completely oblivious to my role as potential interloper. And why not? He was established in the house while I was dozing on the damp front porch like a neglected pet. It was Kat who kept up a nervous chatter and kept throwing me sidelong glances.

“Yeah so Sven set up this cistern system to catch rain water so we could irrigate the vegetables,” she was saying.

“That’s so hot,” I said.

“Don’t,” she said.

I didn’t. I was surprisingly happy to be warm and indoors.  The rain had picked up.

They were nice to me. They fed me. Roasted free range chicken and roasted garden potatoes with some nice herbs from the cistern-watered garden. Delicious. It was understood that I would stay for one night.

Sven rolled a fat tight joint after dinner. He was good at that, too, the bastard.

We smoked and I leaned back on some cushions near the wood stove.

“So, uh, Sven,” I said. “What are your thoughts on pure evil?”

“I’m not sure what that means.”

“Let’s not,” Kat said with a little giggle. “Let’s not get too deep here.”

“Let’s go real deep,” I said. “I’ve been thinking lately that there’s this reservoir of evil in the world. Depending on the weather up here on the surface, sometimes it’s full to the brim, sometimes it gets low.”

“Oh, you mean something like original evil,” Sven said.  “The serpent in the garden.”

“Yes,” I said. “Something like that.”

“The reservoir seems full,” Kat said. “Overflowing. All the things that are happening. That’s why I came here.”

“I think it’s a cycle,” Sven said. “Progress, then reaction by those left behind. Some people are left out. Like this era, with capitalism and markets. People get…what’s the word?”

“Resentful,” Kat said.

“Yes, resentful,” I said. “They’re suspicious because they’ve been burnt before by scumbag elites. Then they react. The reservoir of evil fills and more can drink.”

“And we three retreat to the mountains and get high,” Sven said.

That was funny. We were quiet after our little laugh. Outside, raindrops pattered the roof.  A vehicle ground by on the gravel road, heading up the mountain. Did it slow a bit as it passed Kat’s driveway?

“Anyway,” Sven said. “If the dam breaks, there won’t be any safe places.”

“If it keeps on raining, levee’s goin’ to break,” Kat said.

“And if the levee breaks,” I said. “Momma you got to move.”

“What are you guys talking about,” Sven asked.

We all laughed some more. We were high and cozy and fed in a mountain cabin. What’s better than that? I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was gaining on me, but it was in the background now, a memory of chill and unease.

In the end, they let me stay two nights.

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Brush with Evil I

This is the tenth 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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Earlier, I mentioned Johnny Smith and The Dead Zone. I too have encountered evil with my “gift” of perceiving the character and notions of others. You know evil when you feel it. There is the normal stew of human ways of being- sad, optimistic, arrogant, angry, happy, gloomy. Usually, underlying all, is the sludge of fear. In my experience, the most happy-seeming people are also the most terrified. After all, have you looked and listened these days? Have you read the signs? If you’re happy all the time then you’re either willfully ignorant or stupid or dead.

But real evil lacks fear. Or maybe it’s pure fear, untainted by the desire for something warm and noble, only concerned with its own preservation. Real evil sees the world simply, as prey and predator. It has no choice in the matter. Real evil is ice cold, like reptilian eyes regarding you with primordial intelligence. Am I giving you the idea that these Rocky Mountains are a paradise full of well-meaning hippified outdoorsy types and beleaguered park rangers? There is evil out here too, just like everywhere else.

Salida, Colorado may the most Colorado place on the planet. The Arkansas River runs right through the center of town, the headwaters in the nearby mountains. White water rafting, mountain biking, mountain climbing, hang gliding, moose wrestling. If you can think of an outdoor rush then, “Right on!”, it’s here or nearby. There’s a US highway that skirts the quaint center of town with it’s upscale eateries and galleries. On the outskirts are the motor inns, pawn shops, liquor stores, gun stores and churches. You know- The Great American Cultural District. I walked on the shoulder of the road through this fringe wasteland. Cars whizzed by or turned into parking lots in front or behind. All except for a black Lexus with tinted windows that slowed and followed me, matching my pace, half on the shoulder. At first I thought he was turning or rolling to a stop from car trouble. But then I could feel the driver and knew he was fucking with me.

I could feel that he was grinning.

This was not some dumb-ass teenager throwing a beer can out the window and yelling something crude. There was a cold-ass motherfucker behind that windshield and I wanted to get off that road quick as I could and be around some other people.

I was in front of a church. A tough choice loomed. The church? Or tangle with the evil motherfucker following me with ill intent?

I turned up the walkway to the church door leaving the highway behind. The car stopped and I could feel him watching me. Then it accelerated away on the roadside gravel, crunching a memo that time would be bided, that I couldn’t hide forever, that there was nothing for him to do but watch and wait.

I lingered in the church doorway until the chill passed then started back down to the road. I wanted to get resupplied and back to the wilderness ASAP. I felt out-in-the-open and exposed like the slow gazelle in a nature show about lions.

A voice from the church doorway behind. “Changed you mind?”

Shit. Church person.

“No. Yes. Gotta move on.”

“I felt him, too.”

“Him?”

“The guy in the car. Did you see him?”

“No,” I said. “Tinted windshield.”

“You don’t want to see his face. That means you’re too close.”

“What’s it like?”

“Clean shaven. Rosy and boyish. Smiling. Always smiling. Successful.”

“You survived it. Evidently.”

“Barely,” he said. “And then, only because of Jesus.”

“He showed up?”

A wry smile. “My faith in Jesus. My faith always shows up.”

“Hmmm. Sometimes I wish it were that simple for me.”

“There’s nothing simple about it,” he said. “It’s a relationship that needs cultivating. Like any relationship.”

I was feeling nothing specific off this earnest and frank churchman, just a general feeling of security. No, that’s not quite it. Serenity maybe?

“Do you pray?”

“I walk,” I said. “I wander the land.”

“That’s faith, too,” he said. “Wandering is a kind of prayer.”

“What about that evil motherfucker?”

“Avoid him,” the churchman said as he turned to go back in. “Don’t get caught out alone in the open. He feeds on the isolated.”

That’s when I knew I was headed back north to see my Mountain Girl.

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