25 April, 2012

25 April 2012

This time, Einar wasn’t going to let him do it.  The tracker always seemed to get the last word in these recent encounters of theirs, steer things the way he wanted them to go and for the most part Einar had allowed it, had been glad, in the end, for the man’s presence, even if his methods tended to be anything but pleasant, at the moment.  But not this time.  He wasn’t surrendering those documents, and neither did he have any intention of reading them with or in the presence of the tracker, knowing from recent experience the sort of thing which would likely  ensue when he finished that reading and not at all wanting witnesses.  Not even Kilgore, who had seen so much, knew so much…perhaps especially him.  Couldn’t bear, somehow, to have anyone see that.  Would make it more real, in some sense, leave him unable to push it all aside, leave it under a tree and go back to the cabin as he believed he could do if wading through it on his own.  Couldn’t take it back there with him, must not.  His son was in there, and Liz, and they had to be protected; he just couldn’t bring it all in there to them.  Would rather not go back in at all, rather not exist, if that were possible, than to further contaminate the place in that way.  All of which was were probably just excuses, and he knew it.   The tracker, too, knew all of these things, dimly perhaps and without their full detail but he could read in Einar’s face the outline of the thing, which only increased his certainty that Einar had got to be talked into retrieving those documents, and getting through them once and for all.  Now.  Bud Kilgore had no intention of leaving until he’d got his way on this one.  Time for a little provocation.

“This isn’t just about Andy anymore, is it?”  He asked, stacking his abandoned load of firewood one piece atop the other, balancing them.  “Now that you’ve had a peek at that transcript, its also about you being scared out of your head about really facing up to what happened to you out there, isn’t it?  Not much you wouldn’t do--and probably not much you haven’t done, either, over the years--just to keep yourself from really thinking about that.  Looking it straight in the eye, with nothing to soften the blow.  Because a lot of these things you do--keeping yourself so busy with work and climbing and trapping and all in your life before, and now the freezing, starving, all the stuff you put your body through--that’s their real purpose when it comes down to it.  So you’ll have something to stand between you and the thing you don’t want to look at.  Strikes me as pretty funny that you’re choosing as your distraction things so close in nature to the ones you’re trying to avoid, but seems like that’s the way it goes, a lot of times, and besides you’re one unusual sort of critter and have been from the start, haven’t you?”

No answer from Einar, and Kilgore shifted slightly where he sat in the snow, watching the man with a cautious, measuring gaze.  Danger, but he could handle it.  So far.

“Oh, I see what’s behind them dead-flat snake eyes of yours right now.  You’d like to kill me, wouldn’t you, for stepping where I got no cause to step?  Pound me until nothing’s left but some little smears of pink snow here and there, would feel mighty good I’m sure and I wouldn’t hardly blame you, but you’re not gonna do it, because you know I’m right.  And I know you value the truth, no matter what’s being talked about.  Hey, look at me, Asmundson.   I know you don’t see any of this the way I’ve just put it, aren’t consciously trying to get away from anything or make things easier on yourself.   You’d never do that, we don’t do that, and knowing you, you’d probably go stand out in the weather and wind for a week right now without moving, just attempting to make up for what you’d see as your own weakness for trying to do so, if you had any suspicion that such a thing was going on.  But I’m telling you, I can see it.  You’re scared.  Backed up against a wall with nowhere to turn and that old abyss just staring up at you out of the blackness with nothing left to block your view anymore, none of it’s working, and you’re probably pretty sure right now it’s gonna swallow you up.  And maybe it is, but I don’t think things have to go that way.  Now will you go on in there and get them papers from wherever you’ve got them stashed, so we can get on with this thing?  I only got a few hours left here before I got to climb that ridge.”

No, Einar would not.  Sat in half-stunned silence at Kilgore’s words, almost willing to consider the possibility that there might have been contained within them some shred of veracity, but he was in no way willing to back down on his stance regarding the papers.  They stayed, and when the time came for him to read the remainder of their contents, he would do it on his own terms, and alone.  It was the only way.  He rose, bracing failing knees against one another in an effort to prevent Kilgore seeing the extent of his struggle, got a hand up against the woodshed and steadied himself.

“Best be on your way then, because the way that leg’s looking, trip’s gonna take you some longer than you might think.  Wouldn’t want to miss your flight a second time.”

Kilgore shook his head, joined Einar in standing, not having the easiest time of it, himself.  Leg was better, but still sore with use.  Well.  Looked like this was one he really wasn’t winning, as he was flat out of ideas.  Asmundson was a real puzzle, just strong and stubborn enough, even still, to keep pushing back when he ought to have been able to recognize that he was at the end of his rope and really ought to consider any and every option presented him for getting to a better place, some more steady footing.  Not happening, the tracker could see.  The very thing that kept him going appeared to be working against him now, and with the time rapidly approaching when he and Susan must leave to begin their climb, it was looking like he would have to reluctantly leave Asmundson to his own devices when it came to picking his way around the yawning chasm of the abyss whose presence stood reflected in his eyes, in their emptiness.  Tough.  But, life sometimes is tough.

The tracker wouldn’t have regretted it so, his seeming inability to gain any purchase on the wily fugitive’s equally intractable soul, had it not been for the kid.  And his mother.  Half wished--treacherous though, and he supposed Asmundson might do him in right then and there was he able to read some hint of it, guess at its presence, and didn’t figure he’d blame him much if he did--they could persuade the two to come away with them, leave Einar to his solitary struggle for a time and return, perhaps, when he’d got things straightened out a bit with his spooks and was a bit more like himself once again, but he knew they’d never go for it.  Any of them.  So, there they were and unless struck with some sudden inspiration over the course of the following hour or so, it was looking like his part in the thing was pretty nearly done.  Done what he could.  Time to go back in and finish packing.

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