A Viking in Wellfleet–short fiction

Tom thinks that every Viking ever born, by design or desire, by chance or by choice, is a complete fuck-up. Complete, he says. No exceptions.

So a picture appears in the papers this morning—a strapping chunk of a man with a broad fierce face, his horned helmet covering a solid block of head, his clothes fashioned from some beast who’s still vaguely recognizable and who appears to be only recently dispatched or perhaps not even entirely dead yet, his muscled body in motion, shimmering and rippling as he swings over the side of his ship with a sword the size of a tree in his left hand, blue eyes flashing, red mouth open in some sort of exuberant cry I imagine—and a positive accompanying story about the fellow’s accomplishments: the extensive plundering along the coast including a meticulous accounting of cities ransacked, homes pillaged, cattle fleeced, graineries emptied, youth kidnapped, woman swagged, virgins despoiled, villages looted and left smoldering. It’s really quite a story: lavish and awed and congratulatory, filled with complex characterization and vivid description, compelling and convincing. And wonderful.

I delicately place the paper, the picture, the story next to Tom’s coffee so he’ll see it as soon as he comes downstairs. A complete fake, he says the moment he picks it up. A piece of contemptible puffery placed in the unsuspecting paper by the puny but aggressive pro-Viking lobby.

There are other incidents and anecdotes I could relate, a steady stream really of instances and examples I could trot out as illustrative, but what’s the point? That dismissive response is typical of Tom—utter antipathy toward all things Viking. Now here’s the really weird and slightly scary part: Tom is pure Viking, all the way through.

I’m not Viking myself—not a drop—but I am open-minded, and, I suppose, sympathetic in my own way—the sea, the ships, the robust vitality. There’s some good there.

You’re romanticizing, Tom says. Barbarians, he adds.

I want Tom to accept certain things, but he won’t. He’s just so damned insistent.

Still, he seems happy enough in his life: he likes his work, he loves me, he functions well in the given world. He doesn’t seem to want more.

I worry. The little termites of self-hatred may be working their insidious paths through his deep structure, undermining his very foundation. One day he could break down—total collapse, catastrophic implosion. I hate thinking that.

So I turn my mind instead to those picaresque ships—like the fragile hand-carved wooden trinkets sold now by the wharf-rat boys by the bay—riding the North Atlantic swells and accepting the crash and crush of cruel or indifferent waves, and I think, too, of the yearning, the impulse to explore, the drunken, dream-soaked journey undertaken with arms outstretched and hopeful. And I feel glad.

2 Responses to A Viking in Wellfleet–short fiction

  1. Roy says:

    Fuck you scumbag

  2. devildoc says:

    You are part of the problem in America. When you were declaring revolution on the one country in the world that embraces freedom, millions were being slaughtered under the cruel dictators of China, the USSR, and Cambodia just to mention a few. Yet you and the dirtbags in the Weather Underground declared the USA the enemy. No other country has fought so hard or given so much in the name of liberty and justice throughout the world. The Weather Underground itself was an evil and vicious product of America’s heroic efforts to ensure liberty. Was America perfect in the 1960s and 70s? No, of course not, and it still isn’t perfect because perfection is unattainable. However, no other country has and continues to work harder to enact positive change for the welfare of its citizens and the rest of the world. That you and the rest of your group aren’t all rotting in prison is perhaps the greatest injustice of your actions and that period of American history. Well, if you can’t rot in jail, by the grace of God may you rot in hell.

    I am writing this commentary here, since you don’t provide an open forum for comments. Of course this shouldn’t surprise anyone, that you only provide a forum for your warped and twisted Marxist views. This is typical of those who oppose honest and open dialog, isn’t Comrade?

    God bless America!

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