Black dog

Odin is taking a walk on his lunch break. He’s skipping lunch today, so he tries to avoid crows as he walks to the tobacco shop to buy lottery tickets, because he doesn’t want to disappoint them, or make them feel rejected, talking on his mobile phone to his wife, mostly about how hard he is to hear when there’s wind, and something about their daughters.
He sees no crows on his way to buy lottery tickets. On the street that goes downhill past a guarded embassy and a school, he begins to think about something he thinks about a lot. He thinks about the phenomenon of misunderstanding one’s situation, of overestimating one’s success or good fortune. He wonders if he overestimates himself, or if he cripples himself by fearing he might be overestimating himself. He wonders if there is a name for this; how this relates to imposter syndrome; and if this misunderstanding of what is going on is limited to him, or rare, or common. On the one hand, Odin supposes not even George Clooney is as suave as George Clooney believes. On the other hand, Odin has to think about the black dog in a photo his parents took of him as a child. In the photo, a grinning Odin is holding up his arms. He thought the dog was dancing with him. What a clever dog!
Odin’s parents thought it was so funny they took a picture instead of shooing away the strange dog that was trying to fuck their child.
Odin thinks about that situation a lot.
Odin always asks himself, what is the black dog now?
Now what is the black dog?
There is a long line at the tobacco shop. They run Odin’s tickets through the machine, nothing. He buys two more for the next drawings and goes back out into the wind.
The black dog is not imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is, you think others think you’re better than you really are. The black dog is, you think you’re not as great as you think you are.
Odin can’t decide if it’s better or worse.
On the way back to the office Huginn, the grey one, lands on the grass strip between sidewalk and street and regards Odin.
Sorry, Odin says. Tomorrow. Then he says it in German, just to be sure.
But Huginn follows him for a while.
Odin wonders what sort of structure would make the best hideout.
Any structure where you’re not expected, he figures.
Odin is dizzy from not eating.
Tomorrow, he promises the crow.

Everyone needs a secret life

It’s not raining but Odin needs an umbrella anyway because the leaves are wet and they drip when the wind gusts. It’s cold too so he is not expecting the crows when he walks back to the bench from the deli with a ham and cheese sandwich, but there Muninn is on the roof of a yellow Volvo. Then he sees Huginn eyeing him from the gutter. The crows just appear, like one of those pictures you stare at until crows appear.
Odin is not very hungry so the crows do well. Muninn hops up the grass strip between sidewalk and street and hides some of his sandwich under leaves. Huginn buries his under leaves in the gutter. Do they find this stuff again? Odin wonders. Do they remember where they hide everything?
Odin watches them eat. They don’t like tomato, and they look at the arugula like, are you trying to poison us or something?
I am the man who has lunch with the crows, thinks Odin. This is the sharp tip of a secret life poking into my regular life.
What say the hanged?
Huginn tells him.
So this is what it comes to.
Why was not part of the equation.
It’s about time.
Huginn goes on for a while. Odin doesn’t even notice him stop, he finally sees him poking around in the gutter a ways up the street.
What say the slain?
It was a good, round life, they say.
My only wish is to feel the soft muzzle of a horse one last time. That velvet and the smell of horse.
Muninn looks at Odin.
Everyone needs a secret life. A great, abandoned room with a bed in the middle that no one knows about. A table to write and a view of water. A rusty lock with a secret key. A shower.
A place to go sometimes when everyone thinks you’re somewhere else.
When in fact you’re someone else.
Odin gives the birds the rest of the sandwich and goes back to the office.
Getting cool, he says to the receptionist.
Cold, she agrees.

Bug Book Blurb request

There is a very good chance I will be publishing the old Bug comix that originally appeared on this blog in book form very soon. If any of you would like to contribute a “blurb” for the jacket, please contact me at metamorphosist (at) gmail (dot) com. (Can’t guarantee they will be used, depends on space, but I will do my best).

Odin, it is said

Odin, it is said, feared Huginn might not come back, and feared even more the loss of Muninn.

Odin sits on the bench and wonders if he let too many days go by without sharing lunch with the crows.
Today: some sort of coldcut sandwich. Some incarnation of pork.
Huginn comes from the word for thought, Muninn is associated with memory.
Odin thinks about his uncle, calling his (Odin’s) niece and nephew “little girl” and “little boy” because he had lost their names.
Odin thinks about trying to remember a word in the car on the way into town this morning, and making light of it with his daughter. He still can’t recall what the word was.
He curses and an elm tree bursts into flame.

It’s not much of a sandwich. Odin finishes it and some honey-roasted peanuts and walks back to his office.
Near the office is a crow, but it is the wrong one and flies to a nearby roof and caws.
Today, the weather is still.
Like the calm before a great storm, but the weatherwoman on television, the one who wears different shoes every day, mentioned only the possibility of drizzle.
Zero percent chance of Ragnarök, she said.
But you might want to take an umbrella, just in case.