Liz had been hanging back, allowing Susan to have her say and hoping very much that some of it might be sinking in for Einar--who, despite what had seemed to her their rather encouraging talk out in the snow after he recounted some of what he had learned from the debriefing documents, was appearing just as lost as ever, on some matters--but when Bud made his move and appeared ready to take violent physical action against Einar, it was all she could do to restrain herself from jumping in between them. Will helped, the fact that she was holding him and knew she must not put him in that position so she stayed put, and Bud did not pounce on Einar and begin beating him into the floor as she had perhaps feared. He was, himself, in no shape for pouncing, and could see that Einar was no more equipped to receive than he was to give at the moment, so he settled for pinning the man down by sitting firmly on his legs, grabbing his shoulders and shaking until his head hit the wall.
“There, that get your heart rate up at all, or do you need me to do it again? ’Cause I’d be real glad to oblige, if it’s the only thing that’s gonna help out. Look, Asmundson. You know my lady’s right about what she just told you. You’re not immune to all the stuff that makes up life and death for the rest of us, the things that make the difference between the two, and there’s nothing really to be gained by your convincing yourself otherwise. Yeah, bet your heart’s beating a little faster now, isn’t it? Little bit closer to normal, whatever that may be… You know,’ he cracked his knuckles, looked Einar over appraisingly and glanced around the cabin as if taking inventory, “I bet we can get your heart rate up so high you’ll feel like you just climbed to the top of the ridge at your best speed, got chased around for a while by a bevy of choppers and then ran all the way back down, all without you ever leaving this cabin. You know I’ve got ways, and I don’t have to go into the details for you to be sure of exactly what I’m talking about. I can already see you sweating, can’t I, just thinking abut it? How does that sound? Want to go for it? Oh, it’d do you in, almost certainly, but that’s kind of the point. Save everybody a lot of trouble when it comes to going out in the snow and searching for your body and dragging it back down as they’re otherwise going to have to do pretty soon, because you’ll be right here and we can just haul you out after it’s all over, scratch you a shallow grave in the frozen dirt. Yep, save a lot of trouble, and I figure we might as well get it over with. Quit prolonging this thing, not for your sake, because I know you get some sort of satisfaction out of it, but for your lady’s. Give her some certainty in life, a little predictability. Don’t she deserve that? She and the kid?”
A reluctant nod from Einar, who was still a bit cross-eyed and befuddled from his sudden contact with the cabin wall, a shrug, and Kilgore continued.
“Yeah, then live like it. Which--if you don’t want me to go ahead and end this for you--means choosing to go on living, in the first place, and while it’s probably still a matter of choice for you at this point, I can pretty much guarantee you it won’t be for too much longer. Now I’m not gonna sit here for a month making you behave and tell you step by step what to do….we’d kill each other before that was over, I got much better stuff to attend to and pretty soon here a plane to catch, and besides, you already know what’s got to be done. Gonna be mighty rough, awful lot rougher than lying down and finishing dying, especially when you get to reading them papers again and thinking about all that and wanting so badly to go out in the snow and just have everything stop for a while like I know it does for you out there, but you never were one to take the easy path, were you? So I can be pretty sure you’re not intending to do that this time. You with me on this?”
Straining, struggling, Einar sought to free himself from the tracker, trapped and not at all liking it. “Doggone it, man! Yeah, if it’ll get you off my back--and off my legs…can’t feel the things anymore, with you sitting on them like this…then sure, I’ll take the hard path. Never intended on taking any other, and I still say that the biggest problem here is you folks refusing to see that I’ve got this thing under control, have no plans to go anywhere but out on the trapline here pretty soon and I don’t need your fussing and prying, don’t need anything at all other than to have you back off and quit poking your noses in where they got no business being. All of you.”
Wrong answer, and instead of letting him up, Kilgore adjusted his position so that Einar was even more firmly trapped, pinned to the ground by the man’s much greater weight, and it was hurting him. Liz could see it in his eyes, wanted to go herself and push the tracker out of the way she did not, and of course Einar had no intention of saying anything about it, was even managing, somehow, to contain the anger that always seemed to rise so strongly in him the moment something left him feeling trapped, nowhere to turn, and he kept still.
“Fooling yourself, man. You’d never let anyone else fool you, not even close, as wily and cautious a critter as you are, so I’m wondering how come you find it perfectly acceptable to fall over and over again for your own lies and half-truths. Those’re the worst kind, you know, because they’re the hardest to resist, to refute, and before you know it they become a part of you , taken for granted and stridently defended if anyone should attempt to unburden you of them. And I don’t think in this case you ever really wanted to resist them, did you? Even when you still could. Huh. I would have expected better of you, but now I see what you really are. What you’ve become. You’re so doggone afraid of life, of really facing the things that’re crowding in around you, that you’re willing to do whatever it takes, including going against your own principles, just to go on not looking at that stuff. Even if it kills you, even if it leads to your abandoning your infant son. How’d it come to this, Asmundson? What’re you so afraid of? The stuff in those papers? Ancient history, several decades gone? Surely that can’t be it, can it?”
Einar had no answer, sat silent with head bowed, no longer even caring that Kilgore had crushed the feeling out of his legs and seemed little inclined to move even now that he’d had his say, the two of them remaining stolidly in place until finally Liz and Susan had to come to them, urge the tracker to find someplace else to sit. Even better than sitting, Susan quickly decided, would be for the two of them to take a little walk, get some fresh air and allow Bud to stretch his injured leg a bit, see how it might be faring so they might know something of what to expect when the time came to meet Roger and his plane. And, most importantly, the walk would give Einar some breathing space in the cabin, leave him and Liz to their own devices for a time, when surely they would benefit from the ability to have conversation in private. Assuming, Kilgore could not help but remark silently to himself, the fella’s able to get himself together and have anything to say. He does tend to go awful quiet at times like this. Looks like the Mrs. might have to pull out that rabbit stick of hers, if she wants much of a response… If any such was to happen, however, it was to be out of the sight of the Kilgores, as Susan was even then urgently pulling him towards the tunnel.