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.
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.