"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

29 September 2013

Slow Turn

A couple of evenings ago, snow flew at ninety-one sixty, leaving barely a dusting on the grass. Barely worth the notation, other than to say it was the first snow and a harbinger of things to come. I made chili.

The next day was warm with a breeze. That wacky Colorado weather-wait five minutes. I could've worn shorts. So it goes.

It's been a slow turn toward autumn. The aspens are just now getting underway. Maybe they'll peak this week. Perhaps next. I don't pretend to know. The days are still warm enough, and the nights, whilst cooler, have not dipped into the bite of a hard frost just yet. We can still grill, which is the dinner scheme for the evening.

Slow though it is, I can sense the seasonal wheel turning. My tea consumption goes up as it gets cooler. The day is probably not long in coming when there is a snow, Himalayan in its countenance, of which I'll be brewing lapsang souchong to be in context. There'll be magic then too; when the world sheds its skin between green and snow-covered, it becomes a different landscape of white from year to year. You can bet I'll be out exploring. As the hip kids on the street would say; that's just how I roll. 

24 September 2013

Epilogue; The Education of the Serpent

After the incident with the Wolffe brothers; witnessing a murder, being kidnapped, having her arm broken, and almost being raped in her sleep, Sydney found it odd that she didn’t have nightmares. In fact, the nightmares which had plagued her for years no longer haunted her sleep. She found herself feeling strangely...freed. Still, this newfound freedom troubled her.

At first, she didn’t talk about it, speculating the trauma of the incident hadn’t truly hit her yet. Then, as the weeks turned into a couple of months, she started mentioning what she noticed. It was Bast, during a breakfast at Ira Milligan’s Café, who offered a possible answer.

“You saw a demon out there, near the Dragon’s Teeth,” she said. “One from your past. One of whom was far more frightening than the monsters who held you.”


The facility was outside Denver. It was a gentle autumn day. Looking back toward the mountains, there were the first dustings of snow upon the very highest peaks.

Sydney sat anxiously in her chair, unable to read the magazine she had taken from the table. Her eyes went to Lankin, who stood staring out the window, his eyes riveted to the mountains. Finally, she stood up and walked up to him.

“I want to thank you again for coming with me, Lazarus,” she said, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“This is as far as I go, Just Sydney,” his voice was just above a whisper. “I once told you this is something from which I cannot rescue you. This is something you must face on your own.”

“I know,” she said softly, placing a light kiss on his cheek. “Thank you for coming with me this far. Thank you for waiting for me to come back."

“Miss Pollack?” The man in a white coat appeared as if on cue. “We’re ready for you now.”


She sat in a chair, bound at her wrists and ankles, swaying side to side slowly. Her amber eyes, while still reptilian, seemed duller than Sydney remembered. She realized it was drugs. The woman in front of her was surely almost always in some state of sedation.


“Jackrabbit?” Her voice had a slight slur to it, confirming Sydney's supposition. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you,” Sydney replied simply.

“Why?” Darcy hissed, leaning forward. “To gloat? I’m going to get out of here soon. Then I’ll finish what I started with you.”

“No, you won’t,” Sydney said flatly. “That has been seen to.”

Darcy sat back, letting out a disgusted hiss. The jackrabbit was no longer frightened of her, and that was frustrating. Insulting. This made her feel powerless; not the drugs that dulled her senses, not the restraints which held her to the chair.

“Then why are you here?” The hate in her voice was a tangible venom.

“You hurt me, Darcy,” Sydney replied coolly. “You frightened me. You tried to take everything away from me. Tried to break me. Make me a victim. You wanted to kill me.”

“But I failed…”

“You did,” Sydney Said. “What you did to me taught me not to be victim. Not to be scared.” She leaned forward, meeting the reptilian amber eyes that used to stalk her dreams “You’re the most hateful, angry, evil person I’ve ever met, Darcy, but I owe you something.” She then pressed her lips to Darcy’s brow. “I owe you my thanks; thank you for teaching me to be strong.”

Sydney pulled away and walked out of the room with a sense of purpose and confidence that radiated around her. Darcy watched in disbelief, finding herself feeling that she was somehow now in the debt of the jackrabbit.

20 September 2013

First Frost

There was a thin sheen of translucent white across the grass. My breath was quite visible as I ran the hounds and noted a cold full moon setting in the dawn's early light of Sunrise Peak. I had to fish out the scraper out of the backseat to use on Old Scratch.

Despite this, I wore shorts. Meteorological prophecy foretold of mid-sixties and light breezes. I had my vest, and learned from the time I was caught upon the tundra in a graupel storm; as long as my core is warm and I stay in motion, I'll be fine. The sun was starting to flood into the valley.

The aspens will start turning very soon. Those first flakes a nearer than further. I will be snowshoeing and not wearing shorts before long.

But, not yet. Not yet...

18 September 2013

Trekker's Pilgrimage

Yesterday was the first day in a week I was able to wear shorts. You have no idea how thrilled I was by this circumstance. We were lucky; the maelstrom that made national news was an upslope. At ninety-one sixty, we got our fair share of rain, but we were up top. The river swelled but one night like early runoff and then it was murk and dragons and rain like Africa.

Since it was the first day it didn't rain at all, and, of course my solitary walkabout day, I fucked off for the outback. The Rosalie Trail runs along the southwestern edge of the Mount Evans Wilderness, from which one could trek as far as Abyss Lake-a commitment I'm up for, it's just finding the time. Were I given to pride-a sin, I've heard, there was even a film about it with Brad Pitt-I'd be proud of myself for keeping my bastard new year's resolution.

Looking down along Scott Gormer Creek...

 I have never been one for titles, finding labels to be oh so limiting, creating a social expectation-and we all know I'm no good at being social or doing what's expected. Be that as it may, I could not help but wonder if with recent walkabouts I could call myself a trekker or mountaineer, but perhaps I give myself way too much credit. I like to walk. It's meditative.

Today Sabina and I mean to wander Butler Gulch. Woods, tundra, and mine ruins. Everybody wins. A week to the day we made our annual pilgrimage to the Great Stupa. We got home just before the maelstrom truly hit. The stupa was one of those places that was cut off by flooding. We were lucky.

And we are lucky enough to go on walkabout. Just as we are lucky enough to live in an extraordinary place that others come to vacation at and be acquainted with extraordinary people. As we finish breakfast and get our packs together, I cannot help but muse how as we head into the Backcountry we are once again going on pilgrimage, and such a thought pleases me.

15 September 2013

The Gentle Art of Dismemberment

Thomas Wolffe was in a foul mood. His jacket had been burnt in the fire and his jaw ached from where Sydney had punched him. Instead of chasing after her, Christopher made them break camp and start out for the Dragon’s Teeth in the dark. As the first light of day colored the sky, Thomas; cold, hurt, humiliated, and angry, muttered curses under his breath well aware his older brother could hear them.

“One more word outta you, Tommy, and I’m gonna whack you upside your head with the Louisville,” Christopher said finally, with a motion to the baseball bat sticking out of his pack.

“Just can’t believe you let her go, Chris.”

“Me neither,” Byron chimed in. “Especially the way you were going on about her after that night at Magpie Jack’s.”

“Plenty of other bitches out there,” Christopher muttered.

“Bullshit!” Thomas snapped. “You took to her because she was Lazarus Lankin’s girl! And now you’re afraid ‘cause he’s coming for her!”

Christopher roared and punched his younger brother, sending him sprawling across the ground. In a single fluid motion, he pulled the baseball bat from his pack and twirled it in his hand before pointing it at Thomas’s face. He grinned with satisfaction as his brother bared his jugular in submission.

“Fuck you and fuck Lazarus Lankin!” Christopher growled. “I’m not afraid of him, but of course he’s gonna come for her. In fact…” he paused to sniff the air. “Yes! We’re being followed.”

He began walking in slowly-growing circles, twirling the bat. The other Wolffe brothers started to fan out, flanking Christopher. In a voice laced with homicidal malice, he began to sing.

“The cat came back
the very next day,
The cat came back
they thought he was a goner,
The cat came back
he just wouldn’t stay away…”

There was nothing but the early-morning calls of birds. Christopher growled again, the head of the bat smacking absently across his palm. He scanned the lessening shadows, knowing someone was out there.

“Here kitty, kitty…”

“Such a lovely singing voice you have there, Christopher,” Lankin appeared at the top of a rock outcropping. He hopped down, landing inches from the eldest Wolffe brother, his trek pole held down like a baton. “A crooner like you could’ve seduced Just Sydney with your voice instead of resorting to savaging her arm with a baseball bat.”

“That why you’re here? Tell me how to pick up a woman?”

“We’ll discuss that later,” Lankin said off-handedly. “What I really wanted to talk to you about was your assault on the Queen of Marrakech.”

“Ira got in the way,” Christopher said coldly. “Collateral damage is all.”

“Same goes for Connelly?” Lankin inquired, his voice dropping to a low growl. “Just got in the way?”

“Fuck Connelly!” Christopher snapped. “He had it coming from when he was with the sheriff and they busted me for shoplifting.”

“You were fourteen when that happened, Christopher,” Lankin shot back. “Holding a grudge like that for over twenty-five years isn’t healthy.”

“After that, him and the sheriff; they were always after me! Me and my brothers.”

“It is not as though you didn’t give them reason,” Lankin’s gaze shifted to Thomas and Byron, assessing their positions. “Any of you! Would you like me to cite particulars from your respective records?”

“Fuck you!” Christopher snapped. “You got it coming too, you know!”

“Because I was sharing my company with a girl you took a shine to?”

“Because you let our father die!” Christopher roared. “You didn’t even try to rescue him!”

“Your father went skinny-dipping in Deneb Gulch at the height of runoff!” Lankin retorted. “He was the kind of drunk that made Donnie Tabor look like a teetotaler! What he did was suicide; plain and simple, and you fucking know it!” He chuckled. “It’s really no wonder your mother ran away to Arkansas the first chance she got.”

“I’m tired of this shit and I’m tired of you, Lazarus Lankin, you self-righteous cocksucker!” Christopher snarled as he closed the distance between them. “It’s just you and the three of us out here now.”

There was a deafening crack as Lankin’s forehead smashed down across the bridge of Christopher’s nose. He drove his trek pole into Christopher’s belly, and snatched away the baseball bat before the man had hit the ground. Already, Thomas was coming at him.

Using his trek pole, he caught Thomas behind the knees. He fell backward, his head crashing against a rock. Upon seeing Thomas was unconscious, Lankin chuckled. Something which sounded like a growl bubbled in the back of his throat as he started to stalk toward Byron.

“When faced with greater numbers, go after the mouthy one first,” Lankin said casually. “That is most likely the brain, and the body cannot function without the brain. Although, the muscles might still spasm, which is why you go after the biggest one next. That leaves the heart; seat of the soul and the well of emotion.” He raised the bat as he got closer. “How about it, Byron?”

Byron dropped to his knees, baring his jugular. Lankin was almost satisfied with the thought of surrender when he noticed a glint in the other man’s eye. Spinning around, he saw Christopher coming at him. It was the sudden thrown rock smacking into his temple and dropping the Wolffe to the ground that stopped him. Sydney stepped out of the shadows with Tarot following close behind.

“Very nice, Just Sydney,” Lankin said. “I am impressed.”

“Didn’t I tell you I was the pitcher on my high school girl’s baseball team?” She asked somewhat playfully. “Good thing I’m a southpaw.”

“Holy shit, I can’t believe this is happening!” Tarot said. “But we got them!”

“Oh, it’s not finished yet, Jimmy,” Lankin said, once more turning his attention to Byron.

He stopped. There was the distant, but familiar thwock of a helicopter. Lankin turned back to Sydney and Tarot with a puzzled snarl.

“I got a signal and I let the sheriff know,” Tarot said, not backing down from Lankin’s stare. “You know, ‘Beware the monsters we fight’...”

“Lest monsters we ourselves become.” Lankin finished. “You did a good thing, Jimmy, although it is unfortunate…” he looked at Sydney. “…for us.” Then he looked back at the Wolffe brothers. “But exceedingly fortunate for them.”

12 September 2013

Shadow Salvation

She had no idea how long she had been running. How many times she stumbled over the uneven ground, causing her to nearly fall completely. How many times she kept checking to make sure her clothing was on correctly because she could still feel Thomas Wolffe’s hands on her and smell his breath on her face.

Every so often, the idea of exhaustion set in. Her arm was screaming in fiery tones and her lungs burned as she kept running. Still, she didn’t dare stop. Anytime she considered it, she thought she heard other foot steps, other voices. She was sure of it; she was being followed. Hunted.

Along a turn, she felt her foot catch a root. Her balance was gone. She tired to brace herself, hoping not to land on her broken arm.

Suddenly, she was stopped. A strong arm encircled her waist and drew her close. Another covered her mouth, stopping the yelp springing from the back of her throat. A set of lips brushed her ear. Hot breath, of which she was intimately familiar with spoke in hushed and urgent tones.

“It’s alright, you’re okay,” Lankin whispered. “I’ve got you. I won’t let you fall.”

Sydney spun around and threw her arms around his neck. Her right arm cried out in pained protest, but she squeezed as tightly as she could. Over Lankin’s shoulder she could see Tarot watching them. There was a look in his eye suspended between elation at seeing her and fear of what had happened to her.

“Glad we found you, Syd,” he said.

“Me too!” She whispered back. “You have no idea. Are we safe?”

“Relatively speaking,” Lankin said impassively. He was studying Sydney’s broken arm. “This is not set right, you know.”

“Yes,” she replied. “Either from when it was first broken or when I punched Thomas to get away.”

Lankin drew her close and pressed his lips to hers. At first, she was completely shocked; getting kissed, especially with the tender intensity he reserved for when they went to bed together, given the circumstances, hardly seemed right. She started to pull away, but, it was Lankin, she found herself being absorbed, like pine needles and dry leaves in kindling flames. Then, as unexpectedly as it started, he pulled away. There was an expression in his gray eyes she Sydney only rarely saw; that of regret.

“I want you to know how deeply sorry I am…”

The sound of breaking bone echoed across the darkened expanse of Backcountry. White-hot flashes of pain strobed across her vision as she dropped to her knees. Tears streamed from her eyes. A scream raced out of her mouth, but was intercepted by Lankin’s hand.

“It’s alright, you’re okay,” he hissed. “Your arm is set correctly now. The endorphins will start shortly, helping to mitigate the pain.” His eyes moved to Tarot. “Get some painkillers from your first aid kit, Jimmy, and make her a sling."

“Right now, I hate you only slightly less than the Wolffe brothers,” Sydney panted as she stood up.

“Understandable,” Lankin said off-handedly. “But you realize it needed to be done. Perhaps someone else might have cooed at you more, but the result would’ve been the same.”

“You should have warned her, Lankin,” Tarot said, handing Sydney some aspirin.

“I did.”

“Now what?” Sydney asked.

“Jimmy is going to get you back to Marrakech,” Lankin replied. “The Wolffe boys and I need to have a…conversation.”

“What?!? Lankin, are you crazy?!?” Tarot exclaimed. “It’s the Wolffes! They killed Connelly! They almost killed Ira!”

“I know. That’s precisely what I mean to discuss with them. At length.”

“Lazarus, listen to Tarot,” Sydney put in. “There’s three of them!”

“Your advice is duly noted, Just Sydney,” he said wearing an expression of mountain lion stalking its prey. “Don’t worry; I’ll provide them an opportunity to surrender.”

10 September 2013

Trekking Amongst the Dragons

Kearney Gulch as seen from twelve and thirteen thousand feet en-route to Grizzly Peak...

The day before, the sky turned the color of tar and slate. Dragon clouds slithered and coiled along the high peaks. Then, with a roar of sound and fury, the sky opened up. It rained like Africa. Borneo. Brazil. The dragons roared and growled way into the night, the sky illuminated by great flashes of false daylight. Perhaps the summer monsoons going out with a bang rather than a whimper.

I was not terribly thrilled to wake up to overcast and drizzle. There were places I wanted to go. I went about my morning; checking meteorological prophecy, feeding the hounds, making coffee and breakfast, the whole time, watching for a break in the clouds. A window in which to do what I wanted.

Auspiciously, eye for the main chance came about when I was wanting to leave anyway. I wasted no time getting to the summit of Loveland Pass. Even then, there was mist and rain amongst the fleeting shards of turquoise sky and sunlight.

What does that matter? I have a hardshell and a rain-fly for my pack. At nearly twelve-thousand to start, the breeze had a nip to it, making it my first walkabout in several months for my to wear my beanie; a black affair with African colors interspersed and tassels strung with Andean beads. Fucking fantastic.

For the first bit of the trek, the dragons curled about me, their foggy breath misting my spectacles now and again. I didn't mind their company. There was something memorizing about watching them slither and coil and frolic across the highest peaks and rust of the season-changing tundra.

Looking down at Grizzly Gulch...

I had a break in the clouds when I reached my stopping point. It is doubtful that either words or images could do what I saw justice. I would've stayed longer, but to the west, the sky was black. The dragons had been merciful during my trek, but that could change without warning. It would be hubris to assume the weather, though wet, was mild, just for the benefit of my walkabout.

An arrogant man would claim kith or kin to dragons. I've met those cats. As a joke, I could say because I have a tattoo with a pictogram for the word demon to correspond with the other pictogram for Man that further link with the mantra across my back; I and the Beast are One was a reason for the dragons being the way they were, respecting someone who endeavors to see to it that instinct and intellect work in concert, not conflict. In truth, it was most likely blind luck, and by virtue of oxygen deprivation I saw Chinese dragons frolicking across the high peaks in fantastical and sometimes ominous ways.

I suppose in making that observation I've removed any sense of whimsy from this meditation...

Heading down, the world would sometimes be enveloped in mist or opened up by high breezes. I was more often hot by virtue of exertion, than chilled by the weather around me. It didn't bother me. I got to hang out with the dragons. Though they sometimes obscured the peaks around me, they provided me a phantasmal perspective all their own.

05 September 2013

The Damsel and the Dragon

During the altercation at Ira Milligan’s café, her lower right arm was broken by the baseball bat, which Christopher took with him as a weapon. Taking her jeep, they drove to far edge of Gaia’s Backbone. She overheard the Wolffe brothers talking about making for the old ghost town of Hell and Gone. Lankin had told her about the place once. He promised to take her there someday.

Exhausted, they stopped at sunset, the Dragon’s Teeth only a few miles away. Strangely, Sydney was not truly afraid. She had been truly afraid before. By way of comparison, her situation was merely worrisome. That was probably why, coupled with the exertion of their hike and the pain of her broken arm, she found herself drifting into sleep.


When she saw the familiar face, the familiar set of reptilian amber eyes, swaying before her, Sydney moaned audibly. If Darcy was at all offended she made no indication. Instead, she pushed herself closer, pulling herself on top of Sydney.

“Hello, jackrabbit,” she hissed.

“Oh, fuck you! Fuck you!” Sydney snapped. “Like I need you showing up in my dreams right now! If I ever doubted it, this proves it; there is no god!”

“My, my, jackrabbit, you’re awfully riled up,” Darcy persisted, pushing Sydney onto her back. “You’re in trouble again. Trouble seems to love you.”

“Oh, you’re an observant one.”

“You know he’s coming for you,” Darcy said coldly, leaning closer. Her wieght and the heat of her breath was so very real. “An Interested Party. I’m sure that excites you.”

“Fuck you!” Sydeny spat squarely into Darcy’s face. “Yes, I know he’s coming, but it has more to do with what those fuckers did to Will and Ira than with me.”

“Does that hurt your feelings?”

“Why should it? I didn’t enjoy being a victim when you found me in Leeds, and I don’t like the idea of being the victim now.”

Darcy’s face hardened and then screwed into a malicious smile. Sydney felt a hand being jammed up her shirt and another working its way into her pants. Darcy leaned in so close their lips brushed together, her breath stank of cheap liquor and rotten teeth.

“Then pull yourself together, jackrabbit!” She hissed. “Stop being the damsel in distress and become the fucking dragon!"


Her eyes flew open to Thomas Wolffe on top of her, groping at her. She spat and screamed. Her right fist connected firmly with his jaw, sent him flailing.

“Get the fuck off me!” She shouted, biting back the exploding pain shooting up her arm. “Don’t you ever fucking touch me!”

Before Thomas could do much more than wipe the blood from his mouth, Christopher was between them, flanked by Byron. He regarded Sydney with twisted arousal as she tried to readjust her clothing.

“I have dibs, Tommy, we discussed that,” Christopher said calmly, not even offering his brother a sidelong glance. Slowly, he stepped forward. “Spunk, fire, that’s what you got. I like that. A lot.” He licked his lips. “When we get to Hell and Gone, me and you…”

Whatever he was going to say next was interrupted by the impact of the toe of her boot against his testicles. Even as he doubled over, Sydney pushed him into Thomas, who then rolled into the fire. She didn’t see what happened next. Before she even fully realized it she was running through the new moon Backcountry shadows with the sounds of the Wolffe brothers howling and yipping behind her like feral dogs.

03 September 2013

Selfish Gift

Hell's Hole. Who knew Perdition could be so lovely?

The day before was my forty-first birthday. I had obligations. It was amusing and annoying to explain why traffic was so bad to travelers when they sure as fuck were not part of the solution.

We grilled. I had my lobster tails, a rib-eye steak, and corn on the cob. There was my favorite dark beer from Sri Lanka and wine. Sabina suggested watching a film or concert footage, but I had other ideas.

So, we read the bible and drank lemonade. Seriously. Why doesn't anyone believe me when I say that? It's not like when I say I'm reading the bible and drinking lemonade what I really mean is...

Stop fucking snickering...

With the exception of grilling me some lobster tails, it was just a quiet night at home. Nothing special, which was kind of what I wanted. A nice birthday.

Miguel Loco had told me about the Hell's Hole trail over in the Mount Evans Wilderness about a year back. It was about the time I was noting I'd pretty much gotten to where I'd all but memorized all the trails in our region of our Sahel. He reminded me there was more to the county than just the west end.

The problem I saw was Hell's Hole was a popular trail that started out of a campground. A whore. Pretty well any time during tourist season I'd run the risk of a conga line, and that's not what I go into the Backcountry for.

So, today, the day after my birthday, what would have been my grandmother's ninety-first, I gave myself a little present; I went on a walkabout to Hell. Why not? I live in Heaven. Let's see how the other half deals.

Lucky fuckers...

Because the trail is a whore, I still encountered people; five. Oh, and two dogs. All of them were coming down as I was headed up. It was beautiful. There was nothing of even my genus, let alone species, anywhere for miles as I trekked. It was exactly what I wanted.

I thought of how, in that past life I remember but you do not, I wandered the length and breadth of the greater metroplex. I would walk out in the badlands of Eastern Colorado and rural North Carolina. It got me to think of a Buddhist saying Sabina's fond of;

"Before enlightenment, chopped wood. After enlightenment, chopped wood..."

I would never be pretentious enough to claim any form of enlightenment, but it seems I've always walked...

At the end of the trail as I let the tundra sun wash over my skeletal frame, I contemplated a brief nap-Muir or Abbey might've done it-but decided against it. There were dark clouds in the direction of Evans and it was later in the afternoon than I should've been above treeline for.

"Time to go," I whispered to myself. "There's beer and chicken wings at the end."

So I clambered back and took myself to the local brewpub for a rye porter and chicken wings. A splurge for myself given the context of surviving an orbit and righteous hike. The beer was great, the wings were a case of it is what it is, in this context, a guilty pleasure; not a lot of organic, natural, raised by faeries and read bedtime stories by unicorns-mindful livin', bitches!-farms do exclusively packaged chicken wings for me to make in Texas Pete hot sauce and butter, thus I occasionally go to a gin joint for them. So it goes.

Home now, one Sri Lankan beer and a glass of wine later, I get ready to contemplate making something Ethiopian for dinner. Part of me just wants to curl up on the couch, if not just in bed, and sleep the sleep of the just, if not the dead. Sometimes that's one and the same.

It's been a great day...