21 October, 2011

21 October 2011

Eying the tracker suspiciously, Einar took half a step back, leaning on an aspen in an attempt to remain upright--awfully dizzy all of a sudden, and he supposed it might have something to do with that blow to the head—and taking a firmer grip on his spear, which Kilgore had returned to him after helping him take a seat. “Nothing much to talk about Kilgore, unless you got some intel you want to pass on about this search. I’d really like to know whether or not I need to be making plans to move real quick, leave the cabin before the baby comes.”

“You mean you don’t already have them plans? Would have figured you as the sort who’d be half an inch from acting on three or four different escape plans at any one time, especially with what’s going on out here…”

“Of course I have the plans, was just hoping real strongly not to have to put them into effect this fall with the little one about to come, but from what I heard your two friends down there saying earlier today, sounds like they may be onto us, may have heard some things to get their suspicions up. What can you tell me?”

“Nah, they don’t know where you kids are. Haven’t got a clue, or they’d have blasted the place with a couple Hellfires by now, no doubt about it. They want you gone, man! And don’t plan on taking any chances with letting you slip through their fingers again like you have…oh…five or six times, now? If they do get a bead on ya, there won’t likely be any time to put those escape plans of yours into effect, even if you got ‘em. But like I said, they don’t have any solid idea of where to go looking. And will have even less of one by the time I get done with them. I’m gonna run them around real good, let them come just close enough to think they’ve covered this area real thoroughly and then move ‘em along out of here to continue their winter-long wild goose chase through the mountains. Wild coyote chase, more like it. Man, you’re one mangy old coyote, but you’ve become a major thorn in their side, let me tell you! I’ve never had more fun in my life. Well, almost never. There was that one time when…”

“Heard them say something about reports of smoke. Sounded like that was what drew them to this area.”

“Oh, yeah, that was from some wildlife survey a couple weeks ago that reported seeing smoke a couple of times in what they thought were odd places, considering that hunting season hadn’t started yet at the time, but they couldn’t really pin down the spot, and when the Task Force asked me to work on pinning it down, well, this valley’s the place I showed ‘em. After lots of careful study and interviewing all the surveyors, that is. Some of them twice. Woulda liked to keep them farther away than this, but like I said, any further and they might have become suspicious, or at least started to wonder about my mapping and navigation skills…”

“This is far enough, long as they don’t get too much closer. It’ll do. Maybe let us stay put for the time. Be rough on Liz to move right now, with the baby so close to coming.”

“Probably be rougher on you, much as I know you wouldn’t want to admit it… So now. Back to the talk we were supposed to be having.”

“We just had it. I needed intel, you gave it to me. Good deal. Now you better get back down there to those Boy Scouts of yours, before that poison wears off and they wake up to find you missing. And better come up with a pretty good story to explain that busted lip, too… Thing’s looking pretty ugly.”

“Yeah, you may think you’re a master of evasion, but you’re not gettin’ around me on this one, Asundson. So. What’ll it be? You gonna start taking care of yourself, by which I mean eating more than once or twice a month and not doin’ whatever it is you’re doing to keep getting yourself banged up so doggone bad, or are you gonna check out and leave that lady of yours all alone at eleven thousand feet up a mountain with winter breathing down her neck and a kid on the way? Which one have you picked ? Cause you sure can’t have it both ways.

Einar was angry, half wished one of the dozing agents down there in the meadow might wake just so Kilgore would have to take his leave of the conversation, but it wasn’t happening, and he spoke. “Doing my best for Liz and the little one, but sometimes I…” he looked at the ground, didn’t want to say it but felt backed into a corner by the tracker, nowhere to turn. “Sometimes it just doesn’t seem things can be right again unless I…die like he died. The way he died. Just can’t make it right without that, and I know it’s not logical, not right but man, it’s so real sometimes and every time I get to thinking that way, which is most of the time lately, most of the time for the last few months, really, it seems I just can’t bring myself to eat, don’t want to eat, guess I’m somehow trying to…I don’t know…be back there, in every way I can, put myself back in something like that situation and keep pressing it ‘till I got nothing left, test myself, endure to the last…got to know I can do that and yeah, I know it’s not gonna bring anybody back or make any real difference, but I just don’t know what else to do. How else to live with…I want to go back, Kilgore. Do it again. All of it. Do it different.”

Yeah, don’t we all. But that don’t matter here. It’s beside the point. “If you don’t find a way to turn things around real quick Asmundson, you may just end up getting your wish. To die like Andy, weakened by starvation and dehydration and tortured to death just like he was, like you very nearly were too, before you busted out of there, except this time you’re doing it to yourself, aren’t you? That’s what this is all about. And I understand it. And maybe would even be doing it myself, if I was in your position. Would be struggling with all of it, for sure. But you know what? It’s not gonna change what happened out there, none of it is, and even if you’re looking at this as a way to redeem yourself somehow, pay for the things you did…the ones you didn't do would be more like it, yeah? Fact that you didn’t find some way to get him out of there? That, or stay and die with him if it came down to it…yeah, I know how it is. I lost folks over there too, you know. Good men, some of whom I was directly responsible for and I wonder every day of my life if there might’ve been more I could have done, some way I could have or should have fixed it so it was me and not them who didn’t end up coming home, because you know we would have done it if we could have…yep, I’ve been there, and like I was saying, if you see this…sacrifice you’re making now as a way to punish yourself for the way things turned out, a way to earn yourself the right to go on living, maybe, by assuring yourself that you can and would stand up to anything they could throw at you, I’m not gonna tell you you’re wrong there--even though you probably are, and we both know it--because I’ve had similar thoughts myself, from time to time. We’ve already talked about all this. No sense in my repeating it. I mean, I could tell you that it wasn’t your fault, that you did the absolute best you could do and conducted yourself honorably, that God forgives you and so do I and that I’m even pretty sure Andy did, himself, before he went--you would have in his position, and you know it--but you’ve heard it all before, and it’s all beside the point, anyway. Here’s the real deal, though. Even if you’re dead convinced you did wrong out there in leaving him, well, two wrongs don’t ever make a right, and you’re about to leave a wife and a child behind here in this high, desolate county with little more chance of making it than Andy had, and I just don’t think that’s something you want on your conscience. That’s not the kind of man you are.”

Einar looked confused, broken, shaking his head and rubbing a fist so hard against a nearby aspen that he bloodied his knuckles before he could bring himself to speak. “But I have no intention of leaving them! That’s not my intention here, not what I’m trying to do!”

“But you’re going to. You’re killing yourself, man. Body can only take so much, and though yours sure can take more punishment than the average, far as I can tell, it’s gonna give out on you one of these days pretty soon here and then it’ll be too late for any more arguing and contemplating and such. Gone. You’re gonna be gone, and them left behind to face the consequences.”


  1. come on Einar! get busy LIVING!!!! Leave the dying for the dead! Be alive! and FREE!!!

  2. If Einar named his son Andy, would that help him reconcile to himself I wonder?