Chapter 1: Retard

Call me retard. That’s what they called me in the only school I ever attended.  Boy, those kids were mean.  They didn’t care, even when I cried from all the beatings and the nasty name calling.

Call me retard. Because that is what the world calls me now, outside of calling me a trickster, a phony or fake, a false prophet, a drunk – a dipso. But I never told a lie, the world’s perception of me was the lie, told by no one but themselves.

The mean kids at my grade school called me “retard”, because I couldn’t speak well. I was put with children that had mental retardation.

‘Retard’ was the frequent noun form of their insults, whereas ‘mental’ was the adjective form for them to describe how I was retarded.  These were the clipped words that came from the popular medical term used in those times, someone who suffered from mental retardation was mentally retarded.  In the case of those kids that made fun of me because I couldn’t talk well, they considered me a ‘mental’ ‘retard’.

For years, I believed I was retarded.  My basic understanding of what it meant to be retarded led me to think that those kids were right in calling me a retard.  I didn’t know it was offensive to call a person with mental retardation a ‘retard’.

I had terrible speech problems as a child.  So bad, that you couldn’t fault those kids for thinking I was retarded (of course they didn’t have to be so mean about it.)  I was barely understood by anyone but my mother who had spent the most time with me.  My father couldn’t even understand me, because he was away on “business” half of the time during those early years.  He had me write things out.  I started writing very early.

If you can think of every kid that you have ever met who had a speech disorder, and put all those disorders and dysfunctions into one measly little child, you’d have me.

Remember the kid who stuttered?  That was me.

The kid who had a lisp?  Me.

The kid, who even at seven years old, made his t-sounds like k-sounds?  Me again.

I was also that kid that mixed up English with the other languages from his household, so even without my lisp or stuttering, you wouldn’t understand my childhood Pigeon language.

My mother spoke Polish and my father spoke Swedish as their native tongues.  Although they spoke to me in English directly (only my father spoke it well), I was still in a lost hope in the ways of speech.  If anyone could decipher what I was saying and knew Polish and Swedish, they would have heard this little brat swearing a whole bunch.  They fought a lot in those early years, mainly about my father’s “business”, so I picked up some swearwords.

Once I found out what I was saying, I was embarrassed and stopped using any swears immediately.

My mother often yelled in her native Polish at my father, and he yelled back at her in Swedish.  Whenever they got angry to the point of yelling, only their native languages came out.  They made several attempts at carrying an argument out in English, but this usually only lasted a few minutes.  My mom would get upset first and start swearing and yelling in Polish then my dad would puff out his chest and glare at her with his crazy one eye and responded in Swedish.  And I would be watching and listening while I pretended to play with my wooden toys (all my toys were ancient, my father did not approve of anything modern).

If you could imagine, this little pipsqueak stuttering and stammering his way through four years of primary school, mixing up his /t/’s and his /k/’s or making /r/ like a /w/,  also with a lisp and a stutter.  And if you could get through the mess of disorders, you’d hear a Polish or Swedish swearword here and there.

It was no surprise that even my dear mother, who spoke my special idiot language, didn’t understand me (and to no fault of her own) for those years I came home saying “kewawg, ge taw ne kewawg”-Translation-> /Retard, de (they) call me retard/.  If I could only have dropped some of those speech disorders and managed a simple “wetawd”, it would have sufficed.  My mother could have understood me saying “wetawd” and figured out earlier what was going on at school.  Or if I would have wrote it down for her.  My writing was impeccable and the school didn’t know it.  I still believed I was retarded anyway.

She finally found out that they thought me retarded.  She was outraged.  My teachers had been trying to tell her for years, but she would have nothing to do with them.  She always pretended like she didn’t speak English, simply because she disliked and distrusted most people and hated speaking English to anyone but me or my father anyhow.

The school’s principal also gave in too quickly when it came to dealing with my mom.  He came from the era where the school was allowed to make decisions.  He made the ultimate decision to put me in with the other mentally retarded children.

My mom didn’t know that I was in a ‘special needs’ class, what they called “Special Education”, until the last and final episode before she pulled me out of school.

***

It was the end of a usually harsh winter, piles of dirty snow melted making trickling streams of water everywhere.    We lived in Upper Michigan, much snow was common in the winter months.

The rivers of melt water flowed like my eyes.  I was crying, walking home with my head down.  After four years of abuse from the kids at my school, I still wasn’t used to it.  “Retard” and “You’re mental, you idiot” wasn’t the only things that came out of these devilish children while they pushed me down and washed my face in the snow.  They called me other dirty taboo words that I didn’t know until later in life.

“Stupid retard pussyface.”  A bully said.

Kot ip kweeze” Translation -> /Stop it please/.  I said.

They’d get five minutes of harassment in before the Special Ed teachers would come to my rescue.

Don’t have pity on me though, my ‘special needs’ friends got it far worse at times.

The leader of those bullies, all four of those dreadful years, was named Edward.  The only name I can remember, the only face.  I’ll never forget that face, especially after out last time seeing each other.  That last view of his face was the opposite of every time before.  He was always scowling, even when smiling or cackling.  He was demonic until our very last meeting, and then his face was a bloodied and broken helpless heap of child’s, no longer a demon.

I walked home that winter’s day and fell into my mother’s embrace.  She always let me walk all the way home by myself and greet me at the door.  She didn’t think me retarded.

I cried in her arms.  “Oh Bozhi.”  She said.

My name is Baldur (my Swedish father picked it out, he was a Norse revivalist).  My mother liked to call me Bozhidar, a Polish name, which means ‘divine gift’, I was her “divine gift” she’d often say.

“Oh Bozhi.  What did they do to you?”  She said.  Her Polish accent was rich.  She learned English during her teenage years in the streets of New York City (probably why she could swear perfectly).

“Mama.”  I said.  The only words I could say correctly were ‘mama’ and ‘papa’.  I cried some more.

“They called me retarded and pushed me down and kicked me.” (I’ll save your eyes the trouble of reading the phonics of what I said).

My mother had understood everything of what I said except for ‘retarded’, she couldn’t ever make out the word ‘kewawg’ or in this case “kewawgeg”.  Then something in her head clicked, maybe by ways of her learning my special little version of language.

“Retarded.”  She said.  Her face twisted with the defensive evil that got her through much of her awful life.  She changed herself back to comfort me and kiss me on the head several times.  She sighed, I cried.

My father was watching us from the driveway.  He was holding a shovel in both hands with a blank look on his face, his one functioning eye squinting in the sun.  I finally noticed him.  He walked as quietly as he was big.  He looked like a Viking, was from Viking lineage, and was damned proud of it.

“Papa.”  I said.  I tried to clear my tears as fast as I could.  My father didn’t like crying in those days.

“Who did this to you?”  He said.  “You don’t have to talk.  You can write it to me.”

What the school never tried to find out, and what I never tried to assert, was that I knew written language perfectly.  My parents knew I wasn’t retarded at all.  Of course they were concerned with my speech, but my parents were old, from a different age.  They let things work themselves out.

My father had commanded it into a law of our household.  “He’s fine.  His tongue will work itself out.  This hardship will make him smarter and stronger than ever.”  He said.

He was right.

***

For several weeks after that day I came home crying, my father was home on “business” leave.  And every day after, he taught me how to fight.  Out of the thousands of skills my father had, this was the one that he knew how to do really well.

“I wanted to wait until you were turning into a man, twelve or thirteen, but now is your time.  Your trial.”  He said.

“Your fists and arms.  Your feet and legs.  Your head and chest.  Fight fair,  if the fighting is fair, but if you are in mortal danger, use anything you have.  Even your teeth and nails if you have to, if it’s till the death.”  My dad said.

This was half of my dad, the other half was gentle and fun if you can believe it.

He held my arms in front of me, turned my body slightly, and moved my feet apart.  “You must have a solid base.”  He said.  He jerked me, checking my balance.

In the melting snow of our backyard, every day after school, until my fists were aching and feet frozen, he trained me in different types of hand-to-hand combat.  A mixture of things he had learned over the past twenty years the military business.

“They’ll never tease you again after you stand up to them.”  He said.  “You’ll be brave.  Bold.  That is your name Baldur.  The Bold One.”

At eight years old, I was Baldur, The Divine Gift of Courage, at least to my parents.  Not at all to myself.

That last day of school is often in my daydreams, vivid as yesterday.

The snow had melted.  Mud and dead leaves blotched the streets and sidewalks which were as dry and gray as the sky.

My Special Ed class went about our usual business, playing games and wandering the halls until lunchtime.  After our meals, all the kids went outside onto the playground for recess.

I had been avoiding Edward and his band of snot-nosed tyrants since the last bullying session.  This wasn’t too difficult to do, I just stayed near our Special Ed teachers.  But that day I wandered with intent.  As far as I could, out of sight of my teachers.  My father said I was ready.

Edward was predictable.  He could not help but stalk in on a helpless ‘retard’ sheep whom had strayed too far from the shepherd, and most of us couldn’t tell on him.

I waited in a muddy patch just out of view of my teachers.

Edward and his gang came quickly to get their free licks in.

But I was waiting, in the pose that my father had taught me.

“Look at this.  The stupid wetawd pussyface wants to fight.”  Edward said.

He came over with his hand forward, ready to flick me in the face.

I unloaded my fists, unchildlike pistons.  One after another, nose mouth eye mouth nose, until I was too close then I tackled him and straddled him then started punching him again, in his ribs, his belly.

His friends were kicking me and pounding on my back.  I couldn’t feel it.  I wasn’t there.  My biggest fear of violence is not being there.

I stopped punching, grabbed Edward’s collar, and started slamming the crown of my skull into his nose and mouth and brow.   I felt teeth prick my forehead.  Edward’s friends stopped hitting and started screaming for help.

“Help, Help.”  In the distance.

Blood and mud melded—more red than brown upon my fists and forehead and upon Edward’s face.

I felt the teacher’s hands pull at me.  I stopped, panting.  I looked down at Edward.  His eyes were swollen almost shut, I could barely see his beady eyes, no longer wolfish but sheepish.

His poor little face, a mangle mess of broken facial bones and skin and teeth.

I started to cry.  I still cry today about his face.

I never fought again after that until my life was truly in danger, and that was near the end of life as I knew it.

They called my parents in for a talk.  An ambulance came to take Edward away.

The school nurse was afraid to wipe the blood off me.  She wished the ambulance would’ve taken me also.

I sat in the principal’s office alone waiting for my parents to get there.

“Sometimes retards possess inhuman strength.”  The principal said.  He was looking at my mother.  My father was too much for him to even glance at.

My mother’s face went wicked.  She took an eternal minute before speaking.

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Non-alcoholic research

Alcoholism (and drug addiction) is one of the motifs of Dipso, but there is a level of sobriety that I need to maintain when writing this book.  This is outside the fact that being sober is also an important aspect of raising kids and being a productive member of a family.

I’m starting to get into my full binge of research to finish the rest of Dipso.  I won’t be posting chapters like I did for the Nanowrimo contest last November, but I will be actively keeping updates on my status, some of my methods, philosophical/ethical drives, and other such stuff.  I’m giving myself a deadline of December 1st to finish the final rough draft in hopes that I can have a decent amount of prints for a book release on Dec 21st.  This is also the release of two fellow author/friends’ books through the new independent publishing house, Three Faced Media.

Today I researched more on Norse mythology, the inspiration of Baldur’s via his dad’s worldview, namely on the giants, the jotnar.  In turn, this mythology/worldview is a common ground that Baldur, through his adventure, uses to match concepts to his life’s chaos aboard ship.  This chaos will be the forces that drive the story to the climax.

Forces:

  • The spherical camera which Baldur names Surtr, after the main giants that brings about Ragnorok,  this camera is used for the reality show that he had agreed to be apart of in contract for funding his research and will be technologically fictitous.  This camera named Surtr will have a very symbolic imprint on the conclusion of the book
  • Alcohol(Baldur) and Methamphetamines(Fetu-see character post) and eventually, in India, the fervent pursuit of Soma (mythical Hindu drug of gods/poets) by both protagonists, these addictions/pursuits will drive much of the failures of the expedition but on the other hand bring much entertainment value and ridicule to Baldur’s character in general
  • Prostitutes, there are many levels to this. To name a few:
  1. Fetu’s flaw is that he loves all women aside from his meth addiction
  2. Baldur cares little for any intimacy for the women they bring aboard but thinks that he is saving them from their fates as victims of sex-trafficking, of which he in some cases is
  3. The fact that they keep loading their ship up with hookers makes their reality TV show (more on that later) a top rating show
  4. It is a major discredit to James Villard’s televangical empire because the show is aired on one of the media outlets that his corporate conglomerate owns, and it is also found out that James himself has been funding the expedition
  • Money, the blank check from Baldur’s newly acquired cancer-having false-father James Villard will get our protagonists out of many illegal and messy situations, a sub-moral of the story-money can buy most anyone
  • Languages, this force keeps the boat at somewhat of an even keel, both figuratively and literally, Baldur doesn’t sway from his obsession to unlock the proto-human language aka God’s Tongue (in Villard’s perception), but there is a shift in Baldur’s judgment on this, he goes from a basic empirical scientific-method approach of collecting data into a delusional and egotistical pursuit of an actual unlocking of all-possible-languages inside his own head

Honestly, I believe I have much more plotting, planning, map-making, and research to do before I start unleashing the last half of the novel.

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Chapter 7: Glossolalia

After my father’s fiery funeral, I had only a few days to stay and help get the boats out of the water for the winter.  I didn’t want to leave.  The place was my home, and I needed my mother more than ever.  And she needed me.  But I had to go back to the University.  I was lucky to take off as long as I did.

“When are we leaving?”  Fetu said.  He was dropping me off at my apartment near the University.

“Leaving for where?”  I said.

“Voyaging.  Maybe sail to the gulf for the summer.”  He said.

“I have to finish out this school year, so end of May.”  I said.

“That leaves me  plenty of time to prepare.”  He said.

“You should stay down here.  You can stay with me and Aliya.”  I said.

“It’s hard to find meth down here.  Anyways, I can’t leave mom alone up there.”  He said.

“You’re right.  Take care of her.  See you at Christmas.”

I watched him drive away.  I missed him.  He had been away for so long.  And though he had been home on leave several times throughout the years, I yearned for those endless days of sailing and fishing and dreaming of sailing around the world.

Not only did he serve several tours with the Marines in Iraq, he followed the path of our fathers, he worked as a private military contractor with Human Conditions Inc, but not in Africa, in Afghanistan.  He had an opportunity to take over the company, because father was part owner it up until his death.  But Fetu surprisingly refused.  He had finally gotten sick of the taste of blood after his last trip on business.  He had grown disgusted with humanity and wished to change that.

For the last few years of his life, my father’s worldview changed.  He had taken a more non-violent approach at life, a peaceful vision came over him.  He became vegetarian, he had stopped fishing and hunting.  Everything he did was harmonious with nature.  He said that he was atoning for his deeds.  He talked about Leo Tolstoy and how he could relate with him besides the Jesus stuff (which my mother pressed on him).

He didn’t feel that all the harm he had done was worth anything to anyone, not even himself.  He said that all of his harm was now echoing through Africa and could not be reversed.  He talked frequently with his Ghurka friend Sarbagya who was in India, and he tell about his conversations with him.

“I called it Glory and Honor, but there was none of that.  There was my Ego and my Pride and don’t forget about the money.  The Money.”  Father said.  He was tending to the beehives.  He never wore netting and rarely got stung.  “I did not follow lagom.”

There were several instances that he warned Fetu of doing the things he was doing.  The last time I remember was when Fetu had just spent the summer at Our Island.

At the end of the summer, we were seeing him off at an airport.  Fetu was dressed in civilian clothing with a climbing backpack for luggage.  He had only been discharged for three months and seemed anxious to leave.

“There is more to being a warrior than being a soldier in a war.”  Father Odin said.  Fetu had just made the decision to go do security in Afghanistan for Human Conditions Inc.

“I know papa.”  Fetu said.  He called his real father ‘tama’, and called my dad what I called him.  “But I am very good at my job, and I haven’t decided what to do with myself when I’m done doing this.”

“So long as you know that this is what you want.  Your tama wanted it too.”

Fetu nodded and was quiet all the way onto the plane.

I was glad he came back alive.  His death was in my head daily.  I could see his tank or jeep or just him walking and all of a sudden everything is blown to smithereens by some bomb, chunks of flesh and metal and cloth raining from sand-clouds.  For the Glory and the Honor.

I didn’t understand any of it, even when my father had fully explained it all to me.  And he was glad that I didn’t.  He was glad I wasn’t at all curious to see what it would be like to shoot another human being.  I always remembered what Edward face looked like when I pulped it.  I didn’t want that.  And as an adult who was trained in all sorts of self-defense, I never wanted to find out what I was capable of.  I never wanted to find out what it was like to make a hundred Edwards’ heads explode from a bullet in a desert where I didn’t belong.

***

I came inside my home to my wonderful girlfriend, Aliya.  She was the fifth girlfriend I had ever had.  She was the only girlfriend that hadn’t drunk themselves into a stupor then accidentally had sexual intercourse with Joe Jock America (or all of his friends in one instance).

This woman was too nice, too beautiful if I can say such a thing.  We never had an argument ever, until the day I left for my world voyage, and that was completely my fault.  In fact, there wasn’t one wrong thing that she had done to me.  But peaceful old me, terrorized her heart.  Lover not a fighter, ha, lovers eventually hurt someone.  And I hurt her real bad.

Her name is Alihelisdi, she’s full blooded Cherokee from an eastern clan.  Most people, besides me and some of her tribe, call her Aliya, including herself.   She, like my parents and grandparents, was born with blue eyes though her hair is black.

It is fabled that my ancestors sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and intermingled with her ancestors.  According to the language evidence, her people could have stayed around the areas that my people could have landed.  No one knows without a doubt, but some believe this.

Aliya had very little opinion about the subject.  “We are all human, what does it matter?”  She told me when I asked her what she thought.  She was right.  What does it matter?  Because when it does matter, deeds like the Holocaust and genocides in the Congo happen.  Aliya was more peaceful than I was, if you can believe it.

She was so peaceful that if you got in her face and yelled profanities and insults to the highest degree, she would ask if she could help you.  I, on the other hand, would have to rebut with my own clever and non-profane set of insults.  I have my limits with being a peaceful loving human, she apparently does not.

She welcomed me with a tender hug and a small kiss.  She wasn’t a touchy-feely person, in fact our sexual relations were few and far between (she practiced sexual lagom I told her).  What I had learned about sex was from my four prior ex-girlfriends that were very promiscuous and aggressive.

I figured that all women liked sexually what my ex-girlfriends liked (though I couldn’t bring myself to say some the vulgarities they had requested of me and sometimes they would repulse me).  Not the case with Aliya.  She wished to be tender, to be emotional, and I had no problem with being emotional.  I just had to tame the beastly forms of sexuality that I had been trained in.

“You’ve been getting phone calls the last few days from a man named James Villard.”  She said.  I had just finished telling her about my father’s funeral and to my surprise, I didn’t cry at all.

“I don’t know anyone by that name.”  I said.

“He said that he was interested in your journal article Tongue Talkers, the one you were working on when we met.”

“Really?  Who would be interested in that nonsense?  Another religious fanatic?”  I said.

I was confused.  The article Tongue Talk made me a laughingstock in the linguistics community.  Only cultural anthropologists and a few Christian linguists had even showed a slight interest.  I had posed some questions that weren’t feasible in the world of scholars.  My writing was borderline religious.

I was studying the Pentecostal sermons in Appalachia and their ‘speaking in tongues’.  There had been extensive research done about the brain patterns of someone speaking in tongues (glossolalia).  I was obsessed with making a connection with the first language (Proto-language) of the first humans and the language of God.   I originally made reference to a Sumerian text that the biblical story about the Tower of Babel resembles, but I changed my mind.  I used the plural word for Gods taken from the Old Testament, but the article wasn’t as extensive as I had intended.  So I went along with the singular proper noun form God because of my study with the Pentecostal Church.  I was atheist if anything at the time so it didn’t matter to me.  The last sentence of the article read:

Is there a keyhole in the brain which can be unlocked to release full understanding of the ultimate language universal, in other words an omni-language code, or the tongue of God?  

Funny indeed.  Laugh as you should.  It was published as an original work, in the scholarly world it had the weight of a poem or a short story, mere entertainment.  And entertaining it was to my colleagues, but not to some people who wanted to know more about what their God knew.

My idea of an internal language that is universal to all humans might have been a laughable seed at the time, but it grew into something serious and rational enough to take it into the scholarly realm.  I had a good dissertation going before I left to see the world, and I made a drunken fool of myself to my colleagues, embarrassing them and the scientific method.

At the same time, I became a prophet, unwillingly.  I refused.  I denied.  I lied, willfully and blatantly lied to prove that I was no prophet.  “I’m a drunk, an inebriate, a dipso.  I’m partially retarded.”  I yelled at a video camera my brother Fetu held when some more proverbial poop was about to hit the fan.  This did nothing.

I became a prophetic profit for a man who wanted to know everything.

This starts the story of how I became the scapegoat for the world, how I became a false god for some, a devil for others, and a messiah for a great many people.

Some called me the second coming of Christ, I told them “No”.  “Christ will deny it.” A few said in response.  I took the blame for the uncontrollable set of World Events, just because I was a nice guy.  I didn’t intend for everything to be thrown into Chaos.

How does a man go about knowing everything?

Where do you start in the universe of everything?  With the Self of course.  But we’re not born with that knowledge, and many humans do not like that answer.  At least the ones that like to watch television.

One man decided to start with me.  One man believed that a God tongue existed and could be found.  Even I, at the point of death, hanging from a tree by my feet in Somalia, starved and parched, believed that such a thing existed.  Many occupants of Planet Earth started to believe it exists, they all looked to me for the answer.  I had the answer, they didn’t like it.

This man’s name was James Villard.

He was a Televangelist preacher and media tycoon billionaire. He thought he was my father, because he spent two weeks fornicating with my mother in Angola when he was away on business.  The bloody business of diamonds.  He never tasted blood, for most of his life until the last days, he also though his hands were clean of blood.

He also had blue eyes.

***

I met Aliya at the 5th annual Native American Language Revival Symposium in North Carolina where I had been studying the Pentecostal ‘tongue talkers’, namely the children.  I showed up to the conference for no other reason than my obsession with anything concerning language.

I had bad luck with woman, or should I say that bad woman had their luck with me.  I never tried very hard to find someone that I really liked.  My girlfriends, prior to Aliya, had found me, sought me out, hunted me down, had their way.  I wanted to turn them down because of their brash aggressiveness but I didn’t want to hurt their feelings so I went along with each of those pitiful examples of relationships.

It’s not much of a relationship when you come home from the bar.  The same exact bar you were just drinking with your supposed girlfriend just two hours before when she mysteriously disappears.  Then you come home to naked Joe Jock America with his crew cut passed out next to your naked girlfriend in your bed.

Time to pack my things, again.  Yes, I forgive you.  Yes, I understand.

Of course, violence occasionally tempted me in those types of situations, and my father taught me more things about self-defense than I ever wanted to know.  But I never got to the point of doing anything about it.  Just thinking about Edward’s bloodied face chased away all the animosity.  After the initial shock, I’d cry to myself quietly as I packed my belongings.  Who was to blame anyways?  I blamed myself.  I always blame myself.

It was different with Aliya.  I should say opposite.  It was the first time I was enraptured by a woman just from listening to her talk, her voice like honey, mellifluous to the poets.  I didn’t have to look at her, her voice was enough for obsession.  Then upon seeing her, I knew I had to meet her, she had a goddess face with sharp and high cheekbones.  She had golden brown skin, and her hair was the black of fertile earth.  She also had blue eyes.  “Skies” I called them.

She was giving a lecture on the use of modern technology to teach indigenous languages to the youth.  I watched, forgetting to breathe at moments.  She was so eloquent and pretty, after we met I used to sit in on her seminars even if I had seen them before.

For the first time in my life, I approached a woman.  I made the choice, unlike my prior experiences when one of those strumpets approached me then took me to her house and pretended to be my girlfriend for a few months.

Aliya was the opposite.  She wanted to talk about language and our pasts and our families.  She liked to hold hands.  I was in heaven, for a while at least.  Like a typical human, heavenly things get taken for granted.  Heaven’s just this thing we want and when we get it, we don’t know what to do with.  We are too used to suffering to come to our senses.

She left her home to come live with me in the Midwest.  She sacrificed a lot for me.  I’m ashamed to admit that I did nothing of the same for her.

***

I call it the 12 steps of Life.  It’s structured like the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but without theological pressure.  Not that I have a thing against God, I have a thing against some peoples’ definition.  It doesn’t take a semanticist to figure out whether or not your words are sincerely remorseful, I believe you and understand you when you say Jesus is going to save you, but in the 12 steps of Life, your understanding of life is the only concern.

When someone is faced with their mortality after nothing but wrong-doing towards others, they do one of two things.  They either accept the fact that they are a horrible person, or redeem themselves of their wickedness by finishing off life with great gestures of kindness.  Because someone somewhere is going to remember them and what they did, bad or good.  They have to face the fact that you had the choice of how people will remember you for however long.

Take me for example, I made the choice for everyone to know me, an awful part of me wanted to be famous.  Unfortunately, when everyone knows you, they expect something from you.  When people expect something from you, you end up disappointing them and they blame you for their miserable lives and how you didn’t save them from Life.  I told them, but they didn’t listen.  I also made the choice to not stay home and be with a beautiful girl who loved me purely.  Those were my choices.

James Villard wanted to be remembered just like anyone on Planet Earth, (no one wants to be forgotten.)  So when he was diagnosed with cancer, he had to confront the reality of what legacy he was going to leave behind.  At the time he called me, he hadn’t yet realized how awful of a person he really was.  I can say with a straight face that at that time he had never done one good or honest deed for anyone on the whole Planet Earth.  But when he faced his death, he started his recovery.  He wasn’t aware that he was on The 12 steps of Life, but he was.

Like the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 steps of Life give you a paradigm for recovery, but instead of going sober, you get yourself ready for Death by realizing Life.

Mr. Villard was at Step 2.  He accepted that there was one thing that he was not controlling in his life, it was his death or how he was going to die.  Though he could have put a bullet in his brain or a knife in his belly (or better yet jump out of his skyscraper), that was just his control, the kind of control that he had always had.  But when he found out that he had cancer, and that all the money in the world was not going to save him, a portion of this control is lost.  And to a megalomaniac, this small portion is humungous.

James Villard had to do some self-reflection.  The God that he preached for and about (and didn’t believe in) wasn’t going to save him from death.

In this moment of grief, this loss of control, he thought it was a grand idea to call me.  I was this unconscious itching “what if?” at the back of his denial-laden brain.  What if it was he who got my mother pregnant?  This question found its way to the part of his brain that might feel bad just before his life ended.

The more he thought about it, the more he thought he was my father and intended to find out.

He didn’t decide to tell me any of this until he have me driven to New York City (I am afraid of flying), and put me up in a fancy hotel with all expenses paid (I drained half of the suite’s liquor cabinet in the three days I spent there).

I called him back the day after I got back home.

“Do you know who I am?”  James Villard asked.

“No sir, I do not.”  I said.  I was supposed to, lots of people did, but I shut out most of the media world in those days, still do.

“I am the pastor of Lifeternal Ministry.  Televangelist preacher if you will.”  He said.

“I’m assuming that you read my journal and think that a God language can be found.”  I said.  I had calls from other religious zealots that took my sentence far too literally.

“Yes and no.  I want to privately fund your research.  If there is anything I have in this world it is money.  And I would like to use it for a good cause.”  He said.

“I wouldn’t know where to start.  There isn’t a neuro-linguist that will ever partake in such a research even if it was fully funded.  My research has taken a more scientific approach, and though it includes language concerning God or any other deities for that matter, it does not concern anything religious.”  I said.

“Everyone has a price.”  He said.

“I, sir, do not have a price.”  I said.

“Okay, but will you come to New York and hear me out.  Everything will be paid for.”  He said.

“I’ll have to get back to you sir.  I teach all this week and I’m coming off of an absence.”  I said.

“A close relative of yours died?”  He said.

“Yes.  How did you know?”

“Just a guess”, said James Villard, the liar.

I wanted to tell him no and never talk to the man again, but I have this problem with trying to please everyone that I am able (like my libertine ex-girlfriends).  I had even considered some of the other preachers that wanted to support me, just to be nice, but I knew it was impossible research to perform without money and more laughter and mockery from my peers.

***

I was inexplicably nervous sitting there drinking fancy booze (cognac), Louis XIII de Remy Martin to be exact, in a giant suite wearing one of my boring suits.  The room was covered with fancy everything. I was reading through an article about Mayan glyphs.  I didn’t feel like grading my students papers.

James Villard owned the building, a hotel called the Le Clou Rouge.   “Order anything you wish.”  The airport greeter holding the sign BALDUR ANKURSVARD said to me after handing me a credit card right when introduced myself.  When I got dropped off at Le Clou Rouge, I did, I ordered a bottle of Louis XIII.  Pocket change to someone like James Villard, I figured.

“So this is New York effing City?”  I said.  I was asking my mother in my head and the greeter.

“Yeah, it effing is.”  He said (with a real f-word though).  His accent changed from Standard American English to the working class New York accent.

My mother never ever wanted to go back there.  It was a part of her life that she didn’t wish to revisit.  I had never had any intentions anyhow.  I was not a fan of large cities regardless of their depth of dialects and accents and intermingled cultures.  I felt bad that I didn’t call her before coming.

James Villard owned a few buildings in the part of New York they call Manhattan.  All I knew about the place was that rich people lived there and that there is a tasty drink named after it (I drank several Manhattans in Manhattan), and that it was home to historical landmarks of the American Nation.  It was hard to fathom someone owning such lofty objects considering I only owned books and clothes before I inherited Our Island and Our Cabin and my father’s Viking yacht Hringhorni.

Beyond the insane amounts of money and stuff Villard owned, he owned most or all of the shares of several different companies.

Only three are important here.  Deumond Mining Ltc. which was in possession of a mine that my father had secured in Angola during their secession from Portugal and subsequent revolution.  Liverternal Ministry was the ministry that he founded and led, and God’s Eye Broadcast was his not-so-religious broadcasting company.

He was apparently a fan of portmanteau words, maybe because he was Televangelist which comes from ‘television’ and ‘Evangelism’ that he thought to name his companies so cleverly.

The word ‘deumond’ from Deumond Mining Ltc. seemed to me to come from the Latin word for god ‘deus’ and the English word for ‘diamond’.  If anything, James Villard was a clever man and for most of his life he thought everything was a joke, that life itself was a joke in sickly humor.  Like my father Odin, he had lost faith in humanity and would eventually get it back (if he ever had any at all to begin with).

Villard’s ministry, Liveternal Ministry, is another portmanteau word which comes from ‘live’ and ‘eternal’ and is pronounced /LIVE-ter-nal/.  This was his weekly show that his worshipping fans tuned into once a week to watch James Villard tell them how to live according to the Bible.  They all sent him their money to show their faith in God and Jesus.  Mr. Villard was not like other Televangelists, he did not scam money like other Televangelists, he had enough of that.  What Liveternal Ministry gave him was another source of power more than his money.  It was power over people, his favorite.  He liked to be worshipped too, contrary to what the Bible says about worshipping false prophets.

God’s Eye Broadcast or GEB was his huge media conglomeration.  Despite the name of the company, the TV station was quite secular.  The Liveternal sermon that James Villard preached wasn’t even broadcast on there, it was done on through a sister station called Apple Eye Godcast, which made up for his secular station both in content and his penchant for portmanteau words with the use of ‘godcast’ which apparently blended ‘god’ with ‘broadcast’.

I knew none of this before going into Mr. Villard’s high-rise office, most of my attention went into the study of languages so I naturally was very ignorant in the rest of the world.  As much as language gives you knowledge, studying language doesn’t necessarily make it so.  I could get so deeply tangled in the web of language that I might miss the meaning of everything you were saying, if I happened to get stuck on certain sounds you make that are unusual.

The things James Villard owned were the least of my surprise.

“I think I’m your father.”  James Villard said.

That was my surprise.

We were in his high-rise office which had floor to ceiling windows that offered a view of the Manhattan Galaxy and all of its artificial stars and comets, the twinkling lights of people making busy their lives.    The inside of his office was minimally decorated with artifacts and some books and liquor bottles.  Naturally, as an alcoholic I was drawn to the liquor then as a linguist to the artifacts.

He sat at his grand desk.

“Why would you think that?”  I said. I took gulp of the Manhattan drink he had made me.

“I knew your mother.”  He said.

“That may be so, but I already have a father.”  I said.

“Yes, I know.  I knew him too.  I heard about his death.  My dearest condolences.”  He said.

“Thanks, but I don’t understand why you think you’re my father.  And even if you were, what does it matter now?  I’m thirty years old.  I’ve lived half of my life and you’ve lived more than your half.”  I said.

“It only matters to me, because I’m dying, or should I say I’m getting closer to death.  I’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I’ve been confronted with what I’ve done in my life.”  He said and slammed down the rest of his three million year old Scotch.

“What have you done with your life?”  I said.  I was a little shocked, but I didn’t really care either.  This was a complete stranger.

“I’ve lied.  Everything I’ve said or done has been a lie.”  He said.

“That’s sad.  I feel bad for you.  I really do, but why couldn’t you just tell me on the phone instead of flying me here.  And why stop lying now?”  I said.

“I wanted to see you with my own eyes.”  He said.

“Here I am.”  I said.

“Here you are.”  He said.  I felt no sadness or remorse from him at that time, he was still in his conditioned state of indifference.  It would take a lot more than a diagnosis to make this man cry.

“So, why the charade?  Why the interest in God’s language and my article?”  I said.

“I’m still interested in that.”  He said.

“Really?  You don’t seem very religious for being a preacher which makes sense I guess.  Jim Jones didn’t believe in God.  He thought himself a god.”  I said.

“I don’t believe in God, you’re right, but I’m trying now.  I’m a farce, I know.  But I am interested in helping you in any way I can.  If I could just hand you and your mother tons of money, I would.  But it doesn’t work that way with the extremely wealthy.  There are expectations of the elite society I live in that must be upheld.  ”

“And you don’t want people to find out that you sowed a wild oat in your youth?”  I said.

“Yes.”  He said.

“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll go tell the world everything you’re telling me now?”  I said.

“No.  It doesn’t work that way, I have too much power.  And I know you wouldn’t.  You’re mother hasn’t.”  He said.

“You’ve talked to my mother about this?”  I said.

“Not in a long time.”  He said.  “She won’t talk to me.”

“You’re right that I won’t say anything.  But how you know that, I don’t understand.  Maybe you should be a psychic too?”  I said.  The booze was hitting me, I was uncomfortable.

“Maybe.  I could if I wanted, and people would believe me.  People are stupid and gullible, why do you think religion is popular?”

“I disagree.  I don’t think people are stupid.  Gullible yes, but people are very smart.  Some just make poor choices in which knowledge they are interested in these days.  Even then, who am I to judge what somebody wants to know or not know.”  I said.

“Do you believe in God?”  He said.

“Yes and no.”  I said.

“How so?”  He said.

“I believe in God in definition as a universal embodiment of eternal everything, Time and Space and Matter forever.  But not as a separate entity, unless I am talking of ‘gods’, which are in other words, the personified abstractions of the human psychology.  In that case I believe in every single god that has ever existed or will exist.”  I said.  “As far as faith goes, I only believe in the faith of one’s self.  My father taught me this.”

“You sound like your father.”  He said.

“I am my father’s son.”  I said.  “So why is it that you think that I could ever be your son?”

***

Before Odin Ankarsvard met Nastasia in Pub Regal, she had just ended a tryst with the young James Villard.

The met at the mission that Nastasia worked at.

James Villard was there on business, he was the heir to the largest American owned diamond mine in the world.  This was in Angola.

James Villard had just taken control over all of his inherited companies and was in the middle of changing all the names, firing and hiring new executives, and the rest of his business goings-on.

Word in the jungle was that revolutionary fires were started in Angola.  This is always dangerous for any company that owns anything of value.  To protect assets, such as diamond mines, mercenaries were and are often employed to defend or take over points of interest.

James Villard and his newly named Deumond Mining Ltd. had hired an upstart mercenary company called Human Conditions Inc. which was founded and led by an ex-Ghurka veteran named Sarbagya.  This Nepali mercenary was tried and true as death itself, something which he had no fear of.

There is a saying about Ghurka warriors:  “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Ghurka.”

Sarbagya was not afraid of dying, and neither were his mercenary comrades.  They were a group of men who, for different and similar reasons, abandoned their cultures and militaries.  One reason shared amongst them was that the cultures they were born in could not quench their thirst for blood and the romantic notion of being a soldier of fortune.

Their training and combat experience made them ideal to take on the brutal and lucrative exploits of the Dark Continent.  Sarbagya knew there was a pretty penny to be made, or in this case a pretty diamond.

They called him Sarba for short.  There was such a high demand for mercenaries in Africa that Sarba created his own unique outfit that he personally handpicked.  The two men that he trusted the most were Odin Ankarsvard and Afi Malietoa.  They had been guns for hire in the Congo and shared a blood bond.

James Villard hired Human Conditions Ltd. to protect his diamond asset.  Weeks after I was conceived, my father Odin, Fetu’s father Afi, and their comrade and leader Sarba were discussing security logistics with James Villard.  Small world, one handed down to me.

***

Meanwhile, my mother was finding out that she was pregnant.  Laden with morning sickness, she cried.  She was a bit old to be starting a family, she thought.  And there were two men that could possibly be the father.  Odin, she cared for but was off in the heart of Angola with his life at risk.  The other, James Villard, was suave blue blood that had temporarily melted her heart only to turn out to be a selfish and vain prick that she was certain now that she had no feelings but anger for.

Months later, my father Odin showed up at the Catholic mission.  My mother greeted him warmly with hugs and kisses, full of surprises.  One of those surprises was the fetal version of me.

“The child might not be yours.”  Nas said.

“The child is mine.”  Odin said.

“How are you sure?  I slept with someone two nights before I met you.”  She said.

“That doesn’t matter.  The child is ours and that is all we need to know.”  He said.  “You already told me you were with an American before you met me.  That doesn’t bother me.  Anything you’ve done in your past doesn’t bother me, because I love you now, as a person.”

Odin slid a ring on to Nas’ finger.  Hugged and kissed her.

“It’s beautiful.”  She said.

It was not a diamond ring, my father had learned to hate diamonds.  It was a ring he carved out of wood, dark red.  Afi taught him how to carve things, rings, figurines, fishing hooks, et cetera.

“When can we leave Africa?”  Nas said.

“Soon.  Very soon.”

***

Before my father got the news, my mother had called several numbers to finally get through to a line that connected to James Villard’s office.

“Hello.”  She said.

“How did you get through to this number?  Nevermind.  This better be important.”  He said.

“I’m pregnant.  But I met another man so the child might not be yours.”  She said.

“Why would I care?”  James said.

“I just wanted you to know, in case it is yours.”  She said.  Her accent switched to the working class New Yorker accent.

“If you think it is mine, get an abortion.  On second thought, you should abort even if it isn’t mine.  You’ve probably have had several being a hooker and all.”  He said.

She hung up nearly breaking the phone.

“That’s that.”  She said to herself.

***

“I’ll be back for the birth, I promise.”  Odin said.

“You better be.”  She said.

“I will be.  Our fortifications are strong.  We’ve easily defended against the attacks.  Both rebel groups are poorly trained and unorganized.”  He said.

“I’ll hate you if you die.”  She said.

“No you won’t.”  He said.

***

I made myself another Manhattan, this time with brandy instead of whiskey.

“Your mother’s hatred for me is so deep that she wouldn’t even take money, let alone anything.  And I wasn’t trying to make amends, or make up for anything I missed.  I just wanted her to keep our secret to herself so my reputation would be harmed.  She never told anyone and denied all gifts I offered.

“I never told your father that I knew Nastasia.  She apparently never mentioned my name either because he never confronted me about it.  Some things are better left unsaid.  And even if he did know and wanted to do anything about it, I had knowledge of many illegal things that your father was involved in.  It was always within his interest to work me.  And I always paid his outfit well.”  He said.

“So why do you think I’ll take a handout from you.”  I said.

“I wouldn’t consider it a handout.  I want to help you reach your goals.”  He said.

“Instead of funding research, can you fund an expedition for me?  Consider it a research expedition.”  I said.  I don’t know why I asked.  It could have been the Manhattans’ I had been mixing for myself, but I never blame the booze.  The fact that I didn’t eat since I arrived might have been a factor for how drunk I was feeling.  There is a line of drunkenness that I cross that distorts my speech in bizarre ways.

“Of course, I can fund anything you have in mind, so long as it is somewhat productive and doesn’t compromise the values of my companies.”  He said.

“You own a miamond dining company, which values are those exactly?  ”  I said.  “Nevermind.”  I often times produce Spoonerisms (metathesis) when I’m a little pixilated.  Once I started it was hard to stop. But I was done talking with him anyway.

I rarely met people I didn’t like, James Villard was one of them until he redeemed himself.

He laughed.  “You’re right about the diamonds.”  He said.  “I have an idea.”

“What’s that?”

“How about we make your research expedition into a television series, reality tv?”  He said.

I squinted at him, focusing.

Tan we calk about this tomorrow?”

Chapter Six: Ship-coffin on Fire

Swords of flame waved at the morbid sky, burning embers floated and squelched on the abyssal waters of Lake Superior.  We were adrift on a rowboat watching my father’s body and boat burn in the haunting night.  Dazzles of green light waved on the flat horizon of the lake, the magical blanket of the northern lights fed the fiery funerary boat.

My mother was singing in Old Norse.  I was pounding a deerskin drum to the rhythm of my heart.  My brother Fetu was there.  He was playing the panpipes.  I was the only one crying.  My mother had been crying for the last three days and was dried up.  Fetu didn’t cry.  The last time he cried was when his father Afi, my father’s best friend, died in Namibia.  He didn’t even cry when his grandmother died and he had to move from Samoa and come stay with us.

He was sad but only showed it with his body language.  He paused from the playing the panpipes to lay a hand on my shoulder.

My mother’s Old Norse was horribly mispronounced, but it didn’t matter.  This is what my father requested of us on his deathbed.  So she had only three days to memorize the verses (on top of being blitzkrieg drunk mind you).

I peered through tears into the distorted flames of the Frigga, the first Viking longboat my father built with the assistance of his best friend Afi, his Samoan comrade and co-owner of the mercenary outfit Human Conditions Inc.

The ship was a third of the size of the ones used in the Dark Ages, but it was built for this exact occasion though we never knew it.  Every boat we built after that one was modern.  He had plans for his funeral long before we ever knew.

“He is with us, Baldur, and my father too.  They’ll always be with us.”  Fetu said.  I was trying to stop crying, I was such a crybaby.

Usually I would respond with some smart-alecky comment about ‘nothing consciously existing after death.’  But I knew he would respond with something about people existing in the living conscious of our own heads.  And then I would agree with him and say he is right.

“They are here.”  I said.  “We are here.”

***

Fetu was Samoan.  His mother had died at an early age in a diabetic coma, so he was raised by his father and his grandmother.

His father, Afi, was gone on business half of the time, just like my father.  And he was always with my father.  They were tied to the hip as far as soldiers go.

A few years before my father met my mother in Angola, he was introduced to Afi who had just got done with three tours in Vietnam as a Recon Marine.  Afi, like my father, had tasted blood several times and liked it.  He was proud to be a fighting warrior, though the Samoan culture still harbored this warrior aspect, he felt that something was missing, the danger and the delivery of death.  He didn’t have to be drafted to go to Vietnam, he enlisted when he was seventeen.  He couldn’t wait to taste blood.

The Vietnam War was coming to a close and he was honorably discharged with many decorations from combat.  He loved his home, the islands of Samoa.  He took a year off and met Fetu’s mother, Moana.  Afi, again like my father, was an avid sailor and traditionalist.  So naturally, my brother Fetu, was also conceived on a boat like me, but he was born in a hospital while Afi was away in Africa.  Fetu’s mother Moana hated him for that.  On top of being pregnant and all the suffering that goes with that, she was in a constant state of worry that her newfound lover was dead and being cooked on a spit somewhere in the wicked jungles of the Congo.

Afi came home untouched, but it didn’t matter to Moana.  She was passed suffering, she couldn’t bring herself to even kiss Afi.

The baby seemed to be grief-stricken also.  Fetu was a serious human from the start.  It is fabled that he didn’t even cry when he was born and the doctors spanked his bottom.  Moana said that she had taken all the crying from Fetu all those months that Afi was away.  “I took all of his tears.”  She told Afi.  “He won’t be crying for you Afi.”

“One less thing I have to teach him then.”  Afi said.

Moana was perpetually depressed after that.  Her family and friends didn’t know how to deal with it.  She kept gaining weight by eating junk food, far from the traditional diet she was reared on.  She died from diabetes when Fetu was three years old.  He did not cry then.

Fetu confessed that when he cried when his father died, he wasn’t grieving for his father’s death.  It was a warrior’s death, a good death for a Samoan.  He cried for his mother, someone he could barely remember but felt so much pain for.  “My mother died of grief.”  Fetu had said after Father Odin’s funeral rite.  “She grieves still.”  If he ever had ever cried again, he would be thinking of his sullen mother eating junk food watching TV detached from her family and friends.

His grandmother became the caretaker when Afi was away in Africa, and she eventually died of diabetes too.  She ate much modern food.  After her death, Fetu refused to eat any type of processed food until he joined the Marines where he had no choice but to eat the MRE rations or whatever was fed to him in the mess hall.  If Fetu had an opinion about anything, it was diet.  He was obsessed with the evils of the modern food industry, and considering the deaths of his mother and grandmother, understandably so.

Fetu was fourteen when his grandmother died, and Afi had already been dead for more than a year.  His relatives wanted him to stay on the islands, but Fetu had other plans.  He wrote my father a letter.

It read:

Odin,

                May I come live with you?

                Fetu

Fetu and I had met several times before he came to live with us.  Afi and Fetu always vacationed with us.  I always talked his ear off and tried to get him to drink alcohol with me.  He always refused.  He didn’t care for alcohol.

I felt like I annoyed him when we were kids, and when I’d ask him he’d say:  “I don’t get annoyed.”  He was always nice and never got angry or irritated.  He was the kind of guy that you want to give a big hug to.  He was a big muscular guy, just like our fathers.  He never showed it, but he cared.

“Teach me Samoan.”  I’d say.  “Come on Fetu, teach me some Samoan.”  When I got a grip on my native languages (and my second and third), I became obsessed.  I was a raven about languages, to the point of annoyance.

Fetu had a great many talents and skills, like our fathers.  I was too much of a bookworm to learn half of it.  He was a far better sailor than I, he could navigate by the stars without any equipment.

He had a major flaw after his years of soldiery.  He was addicted to stimulants.  Methamphetamines were his favorite.

He spent the three days of my father’s funeral rite high on meth while my mother and I were drunk as skunks and crying.

We were on two different planes of existence, his far faster and clearer than ours.  We danced and sang and yelled and fell around the column-fire.

Fetu danced with fireknives through the night, he spun wheels of fire around a central pillar of flame.

***

“I wrote you all a list requests for my funerary rites.”  Father Odin said.

He was on one of his two death beds.  He said this on his outdoor one, a webbed hammock strung between two pine trees.

“Fetu will do the things that will bother you, Baldur.”  He said.

My father was dying.  I had refused to accept it.  This man was the epitome of strength in my world, he couldn’t simply die off in my eyes.  But my mother had sent for our doctor friend, a medic whom my parents had met and been friends with ever since their time spent in Angola.  “His heart is going to burst, literally.  If he wants to live, we have to get him to a hospital.  I can’t treat him out here in the woods, on this island.  Apparently, we can’t convince him to do that.  He’s prepared to die.”  Dr. Johnson said.  He was right, and I had to accept the fact that papa was going to die here on Our Island.

My mother and Dr. Johnson went on and on with loads of medical jargon which I considered hocus-pocus.  (In my head, it was hocus-Pocus right down to the etymology. Possibly metathesis of the Latin hoc est corpus.)  They may have well been magicians to me saying “here is the body”.

Just like when Father Odin was healthy and doing everything under the sun, he only went to his indoor deathbed except for that last night.  He refused to go inside.  He wanted to christen the new boat we had built.

We had been working on this boat for the last two years on our mainland property right on the coastline of Lake Superior.  My father named it Hringhorni, after the ship that the mythical Baldur was ceremonially burned on after his death.  Fetu and papa did most of the work, I only helped in the summer because of school.

“We haven’t properly christen Hringhorni yet.  Take me sailing for one last time boys.”  Father said.

I wanted to cry so bad, but I didn’t want to be selfish.  I knew my dad wanted this to be a happy moment.

“Are you coming with Nas?”  He said, waving at my mother.  She was slumped up against a tree.  She nodded and watched us help him of his death hammock.

Papa grabbed me up once he got to his feet.  He had aged quickly.  Twenty years in the last months.  I hugged him and was choking on my urge to cry.

“Papa.”  I said.  I stuttered like a struggling boat motor.  I hadn’t been drinking since I got to Our Island.  I had just started my fall semester of teaching and dissertation work when my mother called and begged me to come home.  “Papa is ready to leave this world.”  She said.  “He’s going to God soon.  Please come home.”

“That’s my brave boy.”  He said, in Swedish.  “Fetu, could you grab some bottles of mead for all of us.”  In English.  “The wind is nice.”  He looked to the sky with a great breath.

We all had to help him walk, he didn’t mind.  Years prior, no one was allowed to help the man.  But he had become so wise and humble that he welcomed our assistance.

We tromped through the trees to Our Dock.  Hringhorni rocked as if impatient to sail.  She was beautiful, built with the fine shipwright craftsmanship of papa and Fetu.  A perfect paradigm of lagom, the traditional wonder of the ancient ancestors melded with the efficient genius of modernity.  A Viking longship as a keelboat yacht.

“You break the bottle, Baldur.”  Papa said.

In that moment I was happy, though on the verge of having the dams break in my lachrymal ducts.

I broke the bottle of the golden nectar of our ancestors, /skáldskapar mjaðar/ The Mead of Poetry, my father’s delicious honeywine.  Wine and glass trickled down the stern.

“Let us sail.”  I said, in Old Norse.

We helped him aboard, seated him at the helm.

My father had told us for years to create our own rituals, because we had none in this modern age.  “If we don’t have it, let’s make it ourselves and give it importance.”  He often told us in one way or another.

“I wrote down a list of ceremonial tasks for my corpse.”  He said and handed me a parchment of handwritten rules.  “Drink some mead and read it aloud.”

I swallowed strong on the bottle, the dry bite of mead squelched my throat.  I hated stuttering.  I had to be away with it.

***

The Funeral Rite for the Odin of the Clan Ankarsvard

Nastasia-Give me Last Rites

I know you are not ordained to do so, but I know how you feel about the Church.  And you know how I feel.  I will be Christian for you in my death, it is the least I can do for you.  I want you to die peacefully knowing that you will see me in your afterlife.  My convictions are not strong enough to deny you this, and I love you to death.  I always told you that I would do anything for you.  This will be my last deed.

Baldur-Recite the Völuspá

When my heart stops, read this over me.  Never forget that when you need me, I will support your courage.  I will always be in your head whenever you need me. 

I know you have that poem nearly memorized in the old tongue.  Read it off the parchment you made for me when you were twelve if you must.  It is with the rest of my sentiments in my chest. 

Put it back in the chest when you’re done.  The chest will be burned on Frigga along with the other offerings and my body.

Fetu-Remove My Sentimental Anatomy

This is a task that only you can stomach.  You know how queasy Baldur gets when he guts a fish.  And my wife will be bereaving.  Take my eye out and burn it with some Ash-wood then give the ashes to my wife for she is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.    

Take two braids of my hair and give one to Baldur and one to yourself.

Remove my exploded heart and burn it with Ash-wood.  Take the ashes and make ink.  Give Baldur a tattoo after he crosses the equator, the sea turtle in Samoan style and tradition.

All-Leave my Body for Three Days

Let my body sit for three days before you wrap it in oil-soaked cloth and cast me aboard Frigga.  Drink and be merry.  Dance and Sing.  Realize Death.  Live.

***

I read the requests without stuttering or crying.  Fetu was tacking the mainsail.  Mama sat snuggled up by papa as he held the tiller.

This was our last time together with papa, on the gently cresting lake in the brisk wind of October.  He had a swan song.  It was silence, peaceful.

But a word echoed in my head from his parchment.

Live.

Tagged

Chapter 5: Dipsomania

For all the good things someone can say about me, something good is not what you’ll hear.

First thing you’ll hear out of their mouths is that I’m an alcoholic.  That I’m a lush, a wino, a guzzler, a souse, a rummy.

Guzzler maybe, when I accrue lots of money and get to buy myself a fine bottle of cognac, such as Louis XIII de Remi Martin, sure go ahead, call me that.  But never call me a lush, I’ve never begged for anything.  I only take what is given.

Wino, sometimes, but only when I’m doing linguistic field research with the American homeless under a bridge somewhere.

Call me souse.  It’s fine, but it’s like calling me a pickle (one who gets pickled by booze).  Be creative, use your language, fine by me.

Most of the time, they don’t know what they’re say anyway.  Forgive them Father for they know not what they say.

Call me a rummy if you’re American, and if you’re British, you can call me the adjective rummy.   I’m both meanings.  But don’t go calling me a sot or a binger, I’m always on a steady flow.  So you can call me a professional, in the slang sense, because I do not make money for my drinking.

Do not call me a pisshead, unless you’re British.  It’s taboo for me (at least the first half of that compound word is), and upsets me.  By all means say it but please don’t call me taboo words in Swedish, Polish, and especially English.  When I get too upset, I cry.  At the drop of a dime, I cry, like a little baby (or rather a little child that everyone picks on because they think he’s retarded because he can’t talk well).  Have you ever seen a grown man cry so much?  Probably not.  It’s not a bad thing, because I don’t get angry.  I’ll never drop a nuclear bomb on your country, heck, I won’t even give you a noogie or a wedgy.  I could, if I wanted to (my father taught me well), but I never want to.  Hurting things, hurts myself, and besides for the negative effects of drinking, I don’t like hurting myself.

What you can call me is an inebriate, though I prefer dipsomanic.  And if you’re into clipping your words (don’t worry, it’s popular), you can call me dipso.

Second thing you’ll hear is that I’m a phony or a fake.  This is entirely untrue.  Half of Planet Earth, or the English speaking Christian part of Earth at least, was waiting for me to let them know what God’s language is and how to speak it.  And I did just that, they just didn’t like my answer.  No one likes Truth, and they call me a liar.  I told them the truth from the beginning.  It was their own choice that they heard something different.  They chose what to believe and hear, even see.  Not my fault, but I was to blame.  The world needed a scapegoat, they found me, Baldur.

***

I started drinking heavily at the University.  This isn’t uncommon (go to any American University and see for yourself).  But when I say heavily, it doesn’t mean drinking a case of watery pilsner that has an alcohol content of %4.0 and a few shots of some popular anise-laced digestif dropped in a legal version of liquid crack-cocaine in a rocks glass which is called a bomb (in bars and in war, shots and bombs will waste or annihilate you).  What I mean by heavily is that I was consuming more than what I was when living with my parents and my adopted brother.  To the average college schmo, I could drink you under the table.  Maybe it is true, but it never concerned me how much I could drink.  I had my reasons for why I drink the way I do.

My parents allowed me to drink consistently when they found out it helped with my stuttering.  For some magical reason (there’s science behind it, but it’s all magic until I understand things myself like gravity for example), drinking alcohol completely ceased my stutters.

But it wasn’t like I was drunk all of the time, my parents were good parents.  In fact, I believe I had the best parents ever.  They allowed me enough to hold a decent conversation.  I didn’t always want more.  And when I sneaked and took more, it would make me ill, and very temporarily did I learned my lesson.

I had been taught moderation at an early age.  In Swedish, there is a term lagom.  My father often stressed it.  There isn’t a word to word translation in English, but the phrase “just enough” is close.

“Lagom.”  Father Odin said.  He raised his drinking horn full of mead and took a sip then passed it to me.  “Drink, just enough.”

“Lagom.”  I said.  He wasn’t wearing his eye-patch and had started growing a beard.  He was smiling at me, we were sitting around a fire.  We had just moved to Our Island.  He was happy, smiling and singing all the time, far more than before.  Mother was happy too.

He told me in Swedish that the word came from a term the Vikings used to invoke moderation.  (‘Laget om’-> /lagom/transl.->’around the team’).

He said that they would pass a horn of mead trusting each comrade to their own fair share.  “Your comrades have to trust you.  There is no trust in being greedy, having too much when someone has too little.”  He said.  “There’s no trust in someone who doesn’t share.”

When I was a grad student, I looked up the word origin.  I never had the heart to tell him that the etymology of the word lagom was a folk etymology which meant that someone made the origin up.  This happens often, in English there is a taboo word for feces that has a folk etymology.  Some clever chap (or lass) made up the story of the abbreviation:  Ship-High-In-Transit.  Not likely.  Lagom on the other hand is far more convincing than S.H.I.T.  You don’t even want to know how many of these exist for the word that was folkishly abbreviated as Fornication-Under-Consent of the- King.

“Lagom.”  He said and took another drink.  He had been talking to me much more in Swedish at that time.  It had been half a year after my motel frenectomy from my mother and I had been talking much better, or actually talking.

“Lagom.” I took another drink.

“Here.”  He said, pointing around Our Island.  “I’ll teach you everything I know.  Some of it, I know you won’t like it.  I know many violent things, and I want you to know some of them.  A large part of me, in here…”  He put his hand over his chest.  “…wishes that you will never see what I’ve seen.  But the cycle is ending.  Ragnarok is coming.  Not word for word in our ancestors beliefs, those are symbols, but in reality.  These symbols of a never-ending cycle are showing themselves again.  Instead of gods and giants, we will have leaders of nation and people who will obey and fight to the death for them.  So Baldur, for as much as I wish for you to bring peace to this world, I wish you to be strong and able to face all hardships.”  He said.

The sun had fallen long enough that there wasn’t a trace of it the sky save the sliver of moon.  Our boat was anchored off shore, and he intended for us to stay the night.  We had been working on a cottage for most of the summer and though it wasn’t ready for the winter, we had the preparations for a cold autumn night.

He reached across the fire and handed me a different horn full of mead, a smaller one (I was hoping it was grape wine, it took me a few years to appreciate mead).  Orange and yellow flapped in front of his face, menacing but with a genuine smile.

“Tomorrow, we’ll build a forge.”  He said.

“Forge?”  I said.

“You’re grandfather taught me how to forge iron.  He also taught me how to smelt it.  To extract it from the land.”  He said.  He waved his hand around.  “This place sits on an iron ore belt.”

***

My English was far better than my parents knew, and my word confusion with Swedish and Polish were easily remedied.  My Swedish and Polish were lacking but not by much.  And with the alcohol, I didn’t stutter like a broken record.  I felt more normal than ever before, I didn’t feel ‘wetawded’.  I still had problems with some phonics (and some phonological flaws but nothing that she thought couldn’t be fixed), but my mother was training me for hours a day with that stuff.

My mother confessed that she didn’t understand everything I was saying for those years.  She knew what I was saying, but most of it was intuition.  She felt God was helping her, and God would work it out.

“You know Bozhi, God will not do it for you.  I realized that when I found out that the school thought you were retarded.  I knew I had to do something.  So we took it into our own hands.  Some people I help at the parish think that God is there to help you and give you rewards for doing something nice.  There are no rewards beside the action itself.  And we as humans, must do for ourselves, that is what God wants.”  She said.  She was holding flashcards with symbols them.  “Now let’s work on dental fricatives, starting with voiceless.  TH-E-T-A.”

“Data.”  I said.

“Do it again.  You’ll get it.”

Chapter 4: The Warrior Poet

In the beginning of 1975, a broad shouldered and handsome young man docked a small rented sailboat in the port of Luanda, the capital of Angola.  The sunset was brilliant, a bursting cornucopia of pinks and oranges washed in blue.

He had drunk the day away on the sea casually tacking the sailboat in the zephyrs.  Smiling and singing along the coast, sailing was his absolute favorite thing to do.  His second favorite thing was his job, and he was finally going back to work.  Business was going to be picking up.  He could feel worth something to someone again.

My father, Odin Ankarsvard, was thirty years old the year he met my mom.  He was still delusional about what it was to be a man, to be a warrior.  He owned and worked for a mercenary outfit called Human Conditions Inc. that operated out of South Africa.  The proverbial poop was about to hit the fan in Angola, and his outfit would be one of many blades in that fan.

He walked through the sultry Luandan night.  He sang a ballad in Old Norse.  It was about warriors that didn’t keep homes and fought for riches and glory.  He had plenty of riches, but no glory yet.  Glory would be something he would never find in battle and not for lack of valor or might.

His hotel was next a night club that attracted tourists and locals alike.  The women there were fancy-free and in love with tourists or anybody with a pocketful of cash.  But Odin had had his share with loose women for the week.  He wanted a woman to he could talk to, one he could hold.

Not long after perusing the smoky dim-lit nightclub, he had a small gaggle of girls huddled around him at the bar.  Same scene, he was tired of it.  He had already spent more money than he wanted waiting around for someone to let him know what was going on.

Odin was a nice guy though, he couldn’t tell them to shove off.  So, he told them stories and was as witty as he could.  They giggled and touch his arm, some didn’t even understand him.  He didn’t speak Portuguese either, so there wasn’t much two-way conversation.

A petite and pretty blond woman glared from across the bar the money-hungry strumpets surrounding this handsome Norseman.  She was angry and drunk and had been shooing off all the dogs looking for a good time with blond girl.

A man, whom she had just fallen in love with, had left her high and dry.  She in turn went on a three day bender to pickle herself into a coma.  She was regretting ever coming back into the city.

My father noticed her.  My mother was a wreck.  She had been drinking and crying and yelling for two days straight.  She was also low on money and was considering whoring herself out for the night, that was until she met my dad.

My father approached her.  The music was loud, a mixture of disco and African drums.

“May I buy you a drink?” Odin asked in English.

“What?”  Nastasia asked in Polish.

“What?” He asked.  “Oh, I don’t speak Polish.”

“But you understand it?”  In Polish again.

“What?”  He asked.

“What did you ask me the first time?”  Nastasia, in English.

“May I buy you a drink?”  Odin said.  He leaned over to her ear.

“Yes, yes.  You have to speak up.  And do you speak anything else besides English?”  Nastasia said.

“Swedish, German, and Afrikaans.”  He said.

“Never speak to me in German.  I may as well feel the same about the Dutch.”  She said.  “So I guess English will have to do, just like everywhere else in the world.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, unless you are German, but I assume you’re a Swede.  And don’t be so shy.  All you Vikings are the same, really loud and strong when you’re fighting or drunk, but you turn soft when you talk to women.”

Odin shook his head.

“So you are looking for some vagina for the night?”  She used the word pussy. I can’t call it the p-word, because in Polish there is a p-word like the English f-word (the p-word has more uses if you can believe it).

“No”.  Odin said.  He shook his head waving at the bartender.  He was hiding his blush.  He had plenty of vagina all week.

“Yes you are.  Be honest.  And stop being so shy.”  She said.

“I am being honest.  There are plenty of girls here for just that.”  He said.

“So you just want someone to talk to?  I doubt that.  You’re a man.”  She said.  “I’ll take a triple of vodka.  He knows what kind.  They don’t even sell Polish vodka here.”

“I don’t want to talk.  But I want someone see me off when I leave.”  He said.

***

My father came from a long line of soldiers that had been fighting for whoever wherever they could or wanted.  Sweden hadn’t been involved in a war since 1814, and naturally there are some men like to use knowledge that they’ve gained, Sweden no exception.  This goes for my father, his father, and his father and so on.

Some men are uncomfortable with peace.

My grandfather’s heroics were in World War II.  He was always proud of helping the Finnish defend themselves against the Russians, but he never talked about fighting for the Germans.  If he ever was, he never expressed it to anyone.  My father didn’t think he was embarrassed at all but could never be sure.

What my father did know was that no one else talked about grandpa’s involvement in WWII because most of the family was embarrassed.  Grandpa left his neutral Sweden to go fight for the Waffen SS out of Norway.

The Nazi’s cared so much about blue eyes and blond hair that they had developed foreign military sections for that specific type.

My grandfather, Gustav Ankarsvard, cared nothing for blue eyes or blond hair, but what he did care for was reviving the Viking culture of old, before Christianity.  What this meant was that he denounced Christianity and took up believing in the gods and myths of old.  He also took up sword fighting and boat building.  He could also smelt and blacksmith in the ancient tradition and beekeeping.

Around the time of the rape of my grandma Adamczyk, the Soviet Union invaded Finland.  Gustav was leaving the Swedish military at the time Hitler and his army invaded Poland.   He believed that it was a perfect opportunity for him to be a real warrior, one who actually fights and dies on the battlefield.

He had taken up believing in the religion of his ancestors.  So in order for him to stand in his version of Paradise, Valhalla (or Folkvagnr which some Norse revivalists have no interest in), he would have to die in battle with courage.

And he tried.  He volunteered with several of his friends to help their Finnish neighbors with the Russians.

He proved his valor in what is called the Winter War.  If he was proud of anything he had ever done as a soldier, it was fighting in the Winter War.  Not only did he shoot some Russian soldiers, but he survived in a brutal climate, and all for a good cause.

But what was a Swedish soldier to do after that, wait for something to happen, wait for an invasion?  He had tasted blood and wanted more, a feeling he’d regret later in life.

He didn’t care about any of the politics, my father had said about grandpa.  “I was the same way.”  My father told me on his deathbed.  “He gave up any of his opinions, just to have an enemy and a war.  He found it.”

He joined the Waffen SS with a bunch of his comrades from the Winter War.  The Nazi’s created a special division for Scandinavians like my grandfather, the Wiking SS Division, his being the Nordland Regiment.  That is all that was known about my grandfather’s involvement as a Waffen SS soldier.

My father was born the year that World War II ended.  America dropped a couple atom bombs on Japan, some papers were signed, and some bandages were handed out then it was back to business as usual, making better weapons for the next war.

Odin was the only child that took to his Nordic revivalism, and he was the only one with a non-Christian name.  My grandmother Ankarsvard hated it, she had my father baptized as an infant with a Christian name.  She loved her heritage and history but would never give up Christ.  My aunts and uncles became the same way.

I had only met them once, and I knew it would be the last time.  It was my grandpa’s funeral.  If it was anyone else, we wouldn’t have gone.  Father wouldn’t have risked it, most of Europe wanted him arrested.

Grandma showed me no interest, and I couldn’t talk anyhow (she probably though I was retarded too).  There was nothing wrong with his siblings, but my father didn’t have anything to say them.  He had his reasons to not want to keep in contact with your siblings (even though they aren’t very good ones).

He felt that they treated my grandpa poorly in life.  My dad was the only one that would do ancient stuff with him.  The rest of them hated it.  His brothers stopped helping him smelt iron ore.  They said “no”, when he asked.  His sisters stopped helping him harvest honey, and though they learned to knit with their mom, they did care much for that either.  They hated living in the country and moved to the city as soon as they were able.

My father felt that they loved the modern times too much, and he believed that this created a void between grandpa and himself.  He once said that my grandma would have divorced grandpa if she wasn’t such a devout Christian and that she wouldn’t have liked him at all if she would have known that he had fought on the side of the Germans.  She didn’t find this out until after my father was born.

She forgave him, but they weren’t a cheery couple.  She wasn’t a cheery person at least from what I could tell when I met her.  But of course, she couldn’t understand a lick of what I said when I greeted her in Swedish.

My father did have great experiences either.  “She treated me differently.  I was too much like my dad for her to like me.  She loved me as a son.  But she did not like me.  She wouldn’t call me Odin.  She called me Johan.  I was too much like my father and she didn’t like that.  And I can’t blame her, now.”  Father said once.

She loved my grandpa for (what she believed) the wrong reasons.  He was handsome and charming.  She felt that he was a wicked man after getting to know him, and not because he had killed people but because he did not believe in Christ and would never be forgiven until he did.

And he never did.

***

Odin Ankarsvard had made it just in time to go fight in the Congo Conflict.  Sweden hadn’t been involved in a war since Napoleon and they had troops involved in one of the many bloody conflicts in Africa after colonialism.  Though the Swedish casualties were small in comparison, there was still blood spilled.  Blood spills there still.

My dad got the chance that my grandfather had to go to another country to find.  He got to go fight and be a warrior.  He got to taste blood, and like his dad before him, he liked it.  For a while, at least.

“Then you meet a person…that changes your entire life.”  My dad said, we were sailing one day.  He wasn’t talking about my mother.  He was talking about Sarbagya, the man that got him into mercenary work.  “Then you meet another person that wants to change it back.”  That was my mother.

***

“Do you want to go to my boat?”  Odin asked Nastasia.

“Yes.”  She said.  “Do you have booze on your boat?”

“Yes, of course.”

That was the night I was conceived, though my father really had no intention for vaginaHe really wanted someone to “see him off”.  He was going off to do inhuman things and needed to do something humanlike before he left.

Then he did, and they made me.  On a boat.

I was conceived and born on a boat.

Almost died and probably will die on a boat.

And most certainly my body will be ceremonially burned with a boat.

Tagged

Chapter 3: Nasty Naz

Believe it or not, people on Planet Earth really care about such things as skin and hair and eye color.  Some people so much so that they will hurt and kill people who are different.

Believe it or not, some people hate each other because of religion.

If you could ever imagine, some people even hate each other because they live on a different side of the same town.

Silly I know.  Hard to believe, I know.  But believe me, there are many of the people on Planet Earth, much hatred in their hearts and for their nonsense reasons.  But it’s the terror inside them which they can’t face really.

My mother was as Arian as one can get, more than Nazi’s could ever ask for.  This was not because of some freak genetic phenotypical accident.  My grandmother was raped by an SS soldier.  Sounds shocking, but this was fairly common during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.  Rape of blonde hair blue-eyed women was a Nazi promotion of the so-called Arian race.

I have blue eyes and bleach blonde hair and pale ghost skin.  This was a big deal for certain people during World War II which is painfully embarrassing for me sometimes.

This is why.

***

Once upon a time there was a pretty Polish girl of sixteen years old.  Her homeland had just been invaded by cruel tyrants, The Reign and The Leader, who sparked a Great War throughout the Planet Earth.

Of these tyrants were special soldiers that bore twin lightning bolts on their lapels.  They had an obsession with blonde hair and blue eyes.

This beautiful girl had the traits that those monsters desired.

Seven of these lightning soldiers had been drinking booze all morning when they passed by this precious girl in the streets.  They called out to her and whistled at her.  “Come here little kitty!”  They said.  She did not come.  She was afraid of the monsters, and it was broad daylight.

The lightning soldiers were not pleased.  They dragged the young girl into an alley way.  She screamed to anyone for help then to God.  But the soldiers were the law and could not be stopped by any helper or that helper would be shot without question, and they were immune to anything her God could do in that moment.

Along with her clothes, her skirt, her blouse, her bra and panties, they stripped her of her virginity and sacred innocence.  Blood and semen and laughter and tears and sobs on the cobbled alleyway.

They left her there, for dead or living, it didn’t matter to them.  They had no soul.

That innocent girl forever cursed her eyes and hair, that day, the lightning soldiers.  But this beautiful girl aged one hundred years during those eternal twenty minutes.  She was able to pull one blessing from that dreadful day, the gift of life.  The life of my mother.

As if her life couldn’t get any worse, the trouble had just begun.  Her church was shut down and her priest imprisoned till death.

This girl with a gravid belly had only her parents, and even the lightning men stole them away and executed as conspirators to The Reign and its all-powerful leader.

She had no one except for her God and my fetal mother.  She begged for food and shelter where ever she went.  She survived.

This brave young woman with the blue eyes and blonde hair bore a wonderful babe in a poor farmer’s barn.  Her wails were not of pain, not of grief.  She was telling God that she’ll be fine.  She was thanking God for the only solace for her on Planet Earth.

Five years later she died of consumption in a breeding facility that was made for such mothers and children with the longed-for blond hair and blue eyes.

My grandma had a swan song:  Love.

She died happy, holding my mother’s little hand.

***

My mother was born Nastasia Adamczyk.  She was lucky to have kept her Polish name until five years old when her mother died.  She was also very lucky to learn the Polish language first.  The Nazi’s did not like Arian tots running around with Slavic names speaking Slavic languages.  They disliked it so much that they resorted to stealing so-called Arian children.

After my mother’s birth, my grandmother checked herself and my mom into what the Nazi’s called Lebensborn (trans.-> Spring of Life).  This is where women and children could find a safe haven if they bore or would bear children with the Nazi Party’s favorite features, blond hair and blue eyes.

The story, as it came down to me from my mother, was that my grandmother could not bear scrounging for food in the streets or fields or trash.  Since all of the churches had been shut down, the Lebensborn facility was rumored to be safe.  And lucky for her, it was.

They resided in the smallest Lebensborn facility in Poland and were treated relatively well.  That was until my grandma died and lucky for her she did (as shameful as it is to say).  They would have taken my mother from her not long after, and that would have destroyed my grandma.  Arian children that the Nazi’s controlled went through a process called Germanisation.  They made a tremendous effort to make these little Poles into Germans.

And people wonder why I say I am human, nothing else.  To know how awful people can be to each other over nationality or skin color or whatever, has made me cry a thousand times.

They called mother Greta Kopp in the Germanisation camp.  She was forced to speak only German and learn only “German” things.  She suffered about a year of this before that horror war ended.  She only confessed her German name once, that happened on her death bed not long before her swan song.

“Everything that has happened to me, I have done to myself.”

World War II ended and my mother was one out of thousands of orphans of Europe that got sent to America.

“They treated me better at that damned German camp than they did at that God-forsaken orphanage.  American Dream?  Land of Milk and Honey?  Not for everyone.”  She told me on her death bed.

She never admitted to me what age she was when she hit the mean streets of New York City.  “That’s a secret for me and God and your Father.”  She said.  And she was not prude by any means, but whenever it was, she started prostituting shortly thereafter.

I figured she must have been about fourteen years old but I hoped for sixteen.  She was my mother after all.

She was drawn to everything that parents wouldn’t want their kids to do at such an early age, if not ever.  By the age of twelve, she was a professional thief and pickpocket, drank too much liquor, smoked cigarettes, lost her virginity.

“More than once,” she said and laughed.

“Jesus mama, I didn’t need to know that” I said.

“You’d find out in my journals anyhow, and don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.”

She had no shame of prostitution until she was older.  The conditions were so poor in the neighborhood she group up in.  These so-called immoral ways to make money seemed natural when you know nothing else.

“It’s the world’s oldest profession.  Gives a woman power for once in her miserable life.  And it’s fun.”  Mom said.

“Jesus mom.  Really?”  I said.

“You won’t cuss but you’ll toss around the Lord’s name like a devil.”  She said.

“Sorry.”  That was the last time I said ‘Jesus’ in such a manner.  I was obsessed with eliminating all use of taboo words in any language I spoke.

She worked for a Russian pimp named Banya (his real name was Igor, but he ran several bathhouses besides his one brothel so his Russian friends called him the Russian word for ‘bathhouse’.)

Besides Germans, mom also hated Russians.  She refused to teach me either language.  “Those languages you’ll have to teach yourself.  I refuse.”  She told me after I asked when I was fifteen.  My father helped me with German.

Some of the scumbag johns that frequented my mom’s services called her Nasty Naz.  How she hated that when she heard it.  She didn’t care about the ‘Nasty’ part, she did not like a shorten version of her name bearing too close of a resemblance to the word ‘Nazi’.  Because I’m talking about my mother, I won’t tell the story about a man who called her that.  Two words can sum it up anyhow:  penis and teeth.

Along with turning tricks in Banya’s underground bordello, my mom went to school and led a whole other life.  She also put herself through medical college and became a nurse.  She was the poster child for the inhumane people that believe in Social Darwinism, Nazi’s for example.

She had her fill with America after college, at least with that worn down neighborhood in New York City.  Americans were third on her nationality hate list, half of the time.  The other half of the time, she had some endearing things to say.

“Too many sexual deviants there, at least in New York (f-word with -ing) City.  What the hell did the Puritans do to that culture to produce so many closet sexual weirdoes?  And they all seemed to gravitate to Banya’s Banya.”  She said.

“Wow, mom.”

After leaving the Land of Dreams, she moved around Europe, nursing where ever she could.  Those were her “simple times” as she called them, no grief, just caring for people.  She kept her mother’s swan song at the tip of her tongue always for the vulnerable and sick, the women and children, rarely men.

She had very few sexual relations during her simple times.  “All those years of random penises everyday made me not interested in sex, until I found love of course, your father.”  She said, (she used the Polish swear word for penis).

“Mom.  Do you have to talk like that?”

“You didn’t say the Lord’s name this time.  Good.  I’ll soften my words then Bozhi.”  She said.

My mother didn’t spend as much time talking about herself as she did my father, she adored him.  She made me read her journals which I found easier than listening to all the sexual things she had to say.

She met my father in Africa.  She started doing work for churches, for room and board and that led her to doing work for Catholic or any Christian missions.

This is how she met my real father Odin who was there as a hired gun, and my supposed biological father James who was an oil and diamond tycoon.  (I just call him Jimmy because he hates that).

Angola is a haven of diamonds and oil and people that either benefit or die because of such things.  My father and Jimmy were profiteers of such horror and wealth.  My mother was a bandage.

The year was 1975.  The year of my conception and birth. Angola declared its independence from Portugal a month before I was born.

Chapter 2: Ankyloglossia

As I said before, my mother cursed perfectly in English.  The streets of New York City were not kind to her.  Life was not kind to her, until she met my dad.

Every swearword blasted out of her petite mouth.  And before her fists could do the same, my father grasped her shoulder and said.  “Nastasia.  It’s fine.”

The principal contained a chuckle.

“He’s not retarded, you idiots.  Haven’t you tested him for reading and writing?  You’re the ones who are retarded.”  Mom said (some f-words in there.)

The principal was spooked.  “You must leave or I’ll call the authorities.”  He said.

I’ll call the authorities.  Something is wrong with this school.  This isn’t how it should be.  Something is wrong with this whole town.”  Mom said.  (F-words were used where ever they could be, as participle adjectives and adverbs using –ing(and even adverbial proper noun intensifier that didn’t use the –ing marker e.g. “the f-word wrong.”)

We left the principal’s office.  My mother was swearing under her breath.

One of my Special Ed teachers, the not-so-nice one, decided to be brave and say something to my mother.

“Your son is definitely retarded Mrs. Ankarsvard.  And you and your family should seek professional help.”  The teacher said.

Too quick for me to follow, Mom punched her in the face, the nose to be exact.  Blood spurted downward.

Screams and screeching from the office ladies filled the room.  The principal yelled about calling the police.  My dad grabbed mom with one arm around her waist while she kicked and screamed more swears, this time in Polish.

***

Before the police came to take my mom to the station, my parents had the biggest fight I can remember.

I didn’t bother with playing with my wooden toys in the living room, I went to my room and listened to their jumble of English and Polish and Swedish.

“Odin.”  My mother said.  Her voice loud and thick.  “You mustn’t go.”

Yes.  My father’s name was Odin.  His father, Gustaf Ankarsvard, was even more fanatic about the Norse cultural revival.  My grandpa wanted his son to be a leader of gods and men.  Lo and behold, he sired his own god amongst men, my father.

“Nas.”  Father said.  This was his endearment name for mother (always an s-sound at the end, unlike the z-sound that the men from the streets of New York City called her, Nasty Naz to be exact.)

“Nas.  I have to.  This is the last time.”  Odin said.

“No you don’t.  We’ve saved so much money.”  Nas said.

“I know.  But I promised them one last run.”  Odin said.

“I can’t live like this anymore.”

“Like what?”  He said.

“Like I’ll never see you again.”  She said.

“I always come back.”

“What if this is your last time?  What the hell am I supposed to do then.  Your son needs you, now more than ever.  I need you.  And if you go there to that land of death, you may not make it back and you know it.  You know it more than anyone.”

“I have to.  There’s no more argument.”  He said.

“Says who?  You?  Why is there no more argument?  Why don’t I have a say in how you risk your life?  A life that is your family depends on.”  She said.

“There is much money saved.  You’re taken care of.”

“I don’t care about the money.”  She said (f-word +ing before money).

Mama yelled more and more in Polish with a mix of English swears (and a few Swedish ones too).  Papa stopped talking.  Mama was yelling so loud that I put my head under my pillow.  I heard mama throw a dish then something else that smashed then some pounding on something hollowish, probably papa’s chest.  I started to cry.

The racket calmed.  The police had arrived.

Mama came into my room and lifted my pillow gently and kissed my head.  “I’ll be home soon Bozhi.  I love you.”

The police hauled her off without handcuffs.  Mama had calmed, and the police must’ve thought she wasn’t a risk.  Lucky for everyone, she had calmed herself down.

“Papa.”  I said.

“Yes son.”  Papa Odin said.  He was sitting at the kitchen table with a hand on his chin (he didn’t wear a beard back then).  He passed me a notebook.

                How long will mom be gone?  I wrote.

“She’ll be back soon.  They’re just bringing her down to the station to write her a ticket.”

Am I going to another school?  I wrote.

“Yes son.  We are going to teach you at home.  We are going to fix these speech problems of yours, no matter what it takes.  I’m retiring from my business in three months.  And we’re going to move to Our Island.”  He said.

***

For years there was talk of Our Island.  My father had been saving all of his money from his business in order to buy an island in Lake Superior.  He had his heart set on a different one in the Baltic Sea, until he became on bad terms with his homeland Sweden (and the whole of Europe for that matter).

Father settled on a new one in Lake Superior, Little Tree Island.  But he never called it that.  It was either Our Island or Yggdrasil Island.  He also named the biggest tree on Our Island, Yggdrasil, the World Tree in Norse mythology.

Father was gone for the three months that he had been contracted for.  Mother and I spent those three months in a motel far enough away from our old town where nobody would recognize us.

My mother was persistent if anything.  What she wasn’t though was a speech pathologist or a teacher.  She earned a nursing degree in New York, so she could take care of me if I got hurt, but she didn’t know how to help me get over my speech deficiencies.  But she knew where to start, the university library.

We were staying in a motel just outside of Marquette in Upper Michigan.  Northern Michigan University had a library with the books my mother needed.

“I need to make it up to you Bozhi.”  She said, shuffling through a card catalogue.

We were standing in front the stacks, a labyrinth of books.  I was surprised that they were on shelves, because when mother kept saying “got to go to the stacks and find some speech books”, I thought that the library would have literal stacks of books.

“I can help you Bozhi.  I know I can.  I’ve been neglecting you for all this time.  I was so worried about making up for my sins that I forgot to help you with the thing you needed most, talking.  And you had to suffer because of my hatred of people and this world.”  She said.  She marched me by the hand down the stacks, huge shelf after shelf.

She put too much blame on herself, till the day she died.  She nurtured me more than anyone I have ever met.  She never forgave herself for her lack of communication with my school and that she didn’t give me speech therapy early on.  I never blamed her for anything, and I always made sure that she knew that.

I learned soon after her death in one of her journals that she was paying penance for the years on the streets in New York City when she was selling herself sexually to survive and get through school.  She wrote about how she hated herself for those years regardless of how much my father didn’t care in the least.  It was her issue with God and herself, and even with God’s forgiveness, she would never forgive herself.

The time I spent in school, she volunteered helping sick and old people at a Protestant church.  She wasn’t fond of the Protestant faith, being Roman Catholic and all, but she had even had issues with the Catholic Church.  She could sniff out hypocrites and liars anywhere, especially a clergyman.

I stood next her in the silence of the stacks.  She fingered through a medical tome.  “I can do this.”  She put it back and marched me to another stack.

She pulled out three books side by side.  “Forgive me father.”  She said (in Polish).  She genuflected and the books into her handbag.  “Now let’s go see what we can do about your tongue.”

On the way out, she put a wad of money on at the book checkout counter.  “For the books.”  She said to the woman.

***

“First off, you have ankyloglossia.  You’re tongue-tied, literally.  Stick your tongue out.”

Mom had a splay of medical supplies on the motel desk and a couple bottles of vodka.

“I should have known this was a problem.  You were terrible at suckling as a baby.”  She said.  “Stick your tongue out.”

I was trying, I couldn’t.  She touched the web of my tongue and the tongue itself.  “This has been hurting your speech.  Bozhi, understand?  I have to fix it.”  She said, in her endearing Polish accent.

She was prepping me for what physicians call a lingual frenectomy.  A minor procedure where the frenelum of the tongue is snipped.

She poured some vodka in a small paper cup.  It was Polish vodka, I was familiar with it.  My parents raved about how supreme is was to vodkas anywhere, especially Russia.

I smelled the rim of the cup.  It was awful and burned my nostrils.

“Just shoot it down.  Don’t think about it.  Close your eyes, pour it down your throat and think of fire.”  She said.

I closed my eyes and shot it back.  Fire.  Numb.

“How do you feel?  Little dizzy?  Not yet.  Have another.”  She said.

This wasn’t my first experience with alcohol, my parents gave me a beer or wine on holidays.  This was the first time for liquor.

I shot another back.  It burned less.  My vision changed like the times I tried wine.

“Good?”  She said.

“More.”  I said (sounded like /mo/).

“One more Bozhi and that’s it.  I can’t have you passing out on me.”  She said.

I was fine, no, great.  I had no fear of what was coming.

She raised the scalpel and held my chin with her powdery rubber-gloved hand.

Blood and saliva trickled down my chin.  I felt like I could embrace the world.

Mother finished up and took a moment to stare at me.

“We’ll get you talking in no time my dear boy.”

Tagged

Charted Course

I’m fairly certain that my creativity will start drying up at about the second week if I were to race to the climax.  So I definitely have to pace myself.  Here’s a layout.

Charted Course (very flexible and rough):

  • First Day Intro – will consist of Baldur’s childhood, bird’s eye view of who he is and how he got that way
  • First Week – I’ll deal mainly with some back stories of all the characters though some will be interjected later to break the monotony of the journey
  • Second Week – I want to have the journey started and moving with Fetu and Baldur in either Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Samoa, or Papua New Guinea
  • Third Week – I want Fetu and Baldur searching and finding Sarbagya in Kathmandu
  • Fourth Week – Climax and tying up loose ends

Tricks to keep the flow:

  • Fact Check Later – Cannot be concerned with factual inconsistency – linguistic, historical, scientific, et cetera
  • Don’t know it?  Make it up
  • Don’t read, talk about, or watch anything that does not have anything to do with the story unless it is a must
  • Write at any free moment
  • Have life support – friends to talk to that will keep you going till the finish
  • Be crazy – yeah, no one wants to hear about your shitty novel but screw ‘em, you have to listen to all their sports jabber with feigned interest, they can return the favor
  • Write in one line summaries of things that can be written later and keep that next to the monitor in case there is any moment of writer’s paralysis

The one thing I can say about this writing adventure, I’m attempting to accomplish what took me years to do with my first (solo) novel.   

 

Morals of the Story

In literary fiction, morals and philosophical concepts are crucial for driving the story.  Characters must learn something about life and living.  What’s the use of a well developed character that isn’t put to the test?  You can endow all your characters with whatever moral stuff you want, but without a trial of that stuff, your story can dry up.

The spectrum of morals and philosophies is vast, so it’s easy to get lost if you go searching.  And philosophers of all ages make messes of concepts that should be intuitive to the average person that lives in the world.  Deep concepts can be expressed smoothly and simply, this is the job of the writer.  It is the job of the reader to read the words and understand the meaning.  If the reader doesn’t not understand a concept, the story should still go on entertaining.  Philosophical mumbo jumbo is for philosophers, not for a reader trying to enjoy a good story.

I won’t spend all day explaining the myriad philosophical details that I have planned for this story.  Most of what goes into my head as philosophy is placed in my stories as a shiny coin.  Take it or leave it, regardless, someone will pick it up.

Basic Philosophical Concepts:  A low down on my characters’ belief systems

  • Baldur – Baldur begins the story as a nihilist.  Much of what his father Odin has taught him has rubbed off on him in as apathy.  Baldur is nice and loving and harmless, but what he isn’t, is a believer none whatsoever, not even in himself at times.  Baldur will have to reconcile this lack of belief, first with himself and then humankind.  He will come round in the end with a faith in people, that can overcome their awful ways of life.  More main morals: some things cannot be repaired by compassion or reconciled by guilt, don’t wish ill on yourself, it will happen regardless, doing no harm doesn’t mean not being harmful
  • Odin – Despite the transference of apathy to Baldur, Odin doesn’t feel apathetic to the state of the world.  In fact, he relishes the ending of a cycle.  Religiously, he will come off as a Norse pagan, much of what will come out of his mouth will reference some Norse myth.  But what Odin really believes is that all of these depictions of gods are simply manifestations of the human psyche.  If you ever caught him praying to Odin, it would be himself.  Odin in his later years has a moral breakdown with war and violence.  This is not unlike his comrade Sarba.
  • Nastasia – She believes that God is everything, down to that very statement.  She’ll have an occasional issue with the way Odin flings the word ‘God’ around as if there are many, but he’ll never argue outside of saying “out of one come many”.  She believes all of her loved ones will be saved, regardless of what they believe now.  After the capture of Baldur not so long after Odin’s death, Nastasia will devote herself to Christ as missionary and work/pray her days away.
  • Fetu—believes wholeheartedly in the gods of Samoan tradition, his father had taught him to be this way and he never abandoned it, even at twelve when his dad died.  Everything he does is associated with his belief.  He makes spiritual ritual of even the most mundane of chores.
  • Sarba—believes in all the aspects of Hinduism, but much like Odin associate the deities and stories with a true relation to the self, spiritual and physical.  Some of his conveyances will be harder to understand than any other character, but this is the nature of the teacher.  Sages aren’t often understood by their pupils, and since the protagonist is in the first person, the reader can relate to some of this philosophical confusion.
  • Jennifer—will have simple but grievous lessons:  being nice and compassionate bears no reward but the action itself, and some heartbreak cannot be repaired
  • James Villard—Also a nihilist in the beginning of the story although he is a televangelist preacher.  His money and his power over people made him faithless and apathetic.  He has a major suppression of guilt which is cracked by the knowledge of Baldur’s existence.  His initial interest in Baldur’s language project is for more power, but after he is discredited and made a fool of, he has an epiphany.  He restores his faith in Christ, and denounces his money empire, he gives all of his money and possessions to the world’s poor people.  Becomes a street preacher.

Tomorrow I have to evaluate the way I’m going to deal with this one month deadline.  I need to have techniques I can turn to in order to keep writing fluidly.

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