Tag Archives: Sven

Winter’s Coming

This is the seventeenth 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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Cast out. Admittedly deserved. Sven drove me all the way down the canyon so I didn’t have to hitchhike, thereby depriving me of an angry aggrieved retreat and leaving me in his debt forever. The conniving bastard.

“I know this was bad,” he said as I got out in a supermarket parking lot. “But I wish I could’ve got to know you.”

“Please,” I said. “Let me walk away without a hug.”

“Just so you know. I do love her.”

“Well, good luck.”

It was cold as I shouldered my pack and headed into the market to get some supplies. After the rain it turned clear and dry and cold. My plan was to head west and south. Southwest. To the canyon country.

Maybe I could even shake off pursuit. Like a desperado.

In the store, I located the granola and dried apricots and almonds and jerky. My traveling food. I grabbed a fat bottle of red PowerAde because the color made my mouth water. I felt mean and wretched. It came to me then, a voice in my head. From God? My mother?

“Stop being a dick,” the voice said.

And I realized again why I live the way I do. That two nights at Kat’s cabin with her and Sven? That’s how it always goes when I get too close. I become a dick. The Dick. It just floweth from me, the dickishness. As long as I can remember. I want what I want when I want it. I expect things to be a certain way. They never are. Never. So I act out, trying to leave a mark. The ESP doesn’t help. The people I can’t read, like Kat, I pursue and cling to until they tell me to go the fuck away. I run them to ground. Then they turn and fight me off. The ones I can read, they’re easy. I can avoid or engage or provoke or comfort so easily. It’s the ones I can’t read that give me all the trouble. This ESP, this dubious power. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

This cycle of thinking is running through my head for the thousandth, ten thousandth, hundred thousandth time.

And, “Stop being a dick!” from somewhere higher and deeper then the thoughts in my head. “Just stop!”

“Can I help you?” the cashier asked. She was a short lovely blonde, just plain and plumpish and lovely and sad, in her early twenties. I approached and got a big blast of a disappointed life, images of a college quad with hurrying students, a beaten-down car driving away, and an overweight mother in a trailer who forgot how to smile.

“Listen,” I said. “I know you think you’re helping. But it’s out of your hands. You’re powerless. Please go and live your life.”

She stared at me and the tears welled. “I can’t,” she whispered. “She won’t let me.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “You can’t go anywhere and I can’t stay anywhere. I guess just do the best you can.”

She sniffled and started scanning my items. “Isn’t that what we all do.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But it never feels like enough.”

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“If you’re not broken, you’re not trying”

This is the sixteenth 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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The reason I stayed two nights and not one or three is that we all got along on the first night and we didn’t get along the second day. The reason we didn’t get along on the second day is that I was an asshole. The reason I was an asshole was that I used my ESP on Sven and discovered he was a decent loving person. I got images of a man rowing a boat over placid waters, a bunch of roses in his lap for someone he loved. Kat. He loved Kat.

God how I hated him.

There is nothing worse than feeling like a wretched outsider and encountering a loving and generous heart who has taken your mountain girl away. I really was grateful and appreciative that first night. But then my inner Destructor got going.

He was cooking a frittata and I hated him for that. What the hell’s wrong with scrambled eggs?

“What the hell’s wrong with scrambled eggs?”

“What?”

“I mean, a frittata? What the hell’s a frittata?” I gave him my best deadpan vacuous face, basically my natural resting face, and he couldn’t tell if I was serious or pulling his chain.

But Kat could tell.

“You’re going to come in here and start shitting on us?”

I pointed at Sven. “He’s not wounded!”

“What? So what?”

“That’s suspicious,” I said.

“Not everyone is haunted,” she said. “Not everyone is broken and lost.”

“If you’re not broken,” I said. “You’re not trying.”

“This frittata is ready,” Sven said. “Try some. It will make you feel better.” He approached with two plates and he actually had a an apron on. An apron with a picture of a moose!

It smelled really good. It tasted really good, light yet substantial and savory.

It did not make me feel better.

            Later that afternoon we walked up the mountain a ways. I really wanted to get closer to Kat and at least find out if I should bother ever coming back. But Sven was always there. It seemed that Kat made sure that he was always there, that we were never alone. Even when Sven went off to take a leak behind a tree, I turned to talk to Kat and she had wandered off. We hiked up to this outcropping of rocks with a good view of the canyon below. It was still cloudy and misty but not raining anymore.

“We might as well have this out now,” I said. “Do we have a future or no?”

Kat looked at Sven who looked at her. Then they both looked at me.

“No,” Kat said. “Since we’re being blunt.”

“Listen…”, Sven said.

“No, I get it.” There were tears in my eyes. The view, the travel, the wandering. The denial of a safe homey harbor. “I did this. I get it.”

“That’s the problem with you! It all about you! You didn’t do this or not do this! Me and Sven are doing this!”

“Evidently.”

“Hey, listen…”, Sven said.

“You just show up and I’m supposed to be waiting for you? Fuck that! I’m not waiting for anyone.”

“I can see you’re angry.”

“You wander around and you think like that’s honorable or something. Like you’re fucking dignified or something. That’s fine. But don’t expect me or anyone to love you for it!”

“Ok, I got it.”

“You got it? Good.   Then get out of here!”

“Well let’s just walk down,” Sven said. “And see how we feel.”

We didn’t feel any better after walking down.

I slept on the porch that night.

The next morning, Sven drove me to town.

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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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