John had always been a particularly unnerving man. So much so, that if you were a twelve year old boy standing in the walk-in-pantry, facing the wall when the door to the kitchen opened the hair on your arms would raise straight up in the air. Goosebumps would form and ripple across your whole body. Before you could turn around to see who opened the kitchen door, you would already know it was John. Which is exactly what happened to Edgar, who feeling his uneasiness reaching an insurmountable level turned around to see who had opened the kitchen door. “Ahh,” Edgar yelped as he jumped back. “Err, hi Uncle John,” he added as he straightened himself out.
“Hello Edgar,” his uncle replied as his eyes sized the child up. Edgar was also searching his uncle. His uncle who had been standing so close to him that Edgar was amazed his skin hadn’t slid off his body prevented what it would feel like if they had accidentally touched. Edgar switched the weight in his foot. There was really no room to pass without Uncle John moving or him having to brush against him. Edgar waited impatiently.
“What do you have there,” his uncle asked him? With a knee jerk reaction, Edgar took a step back into the pantry nearly dropping the jar John was leaning in closer to examine. “Come, Edgar. Don’t be so clumsy,” John said reaching out to save the jar and the child. “It appears to be marmalade. It’s lovely on toast. Sit, I’ll make some toast for us.” Edgar got a grip on himself. He had just been startled by his uncle’s presence. He knew from his mother that John had been going through a hard time at home. Which is why he was staying with them in the first place. His cousin, Glenda, John’s daughter and only a few months younger or older than Edgar. He could never quite remember which, but he did remember that she was the reason that sometimes John seemed to get too close, to be too helpful. At least that’s what his mom said. Weird, yes, but completely harmless – or so the family had determined of their mother’s second cousin.
John didn’t have to work, so he certainly had time to have toast and marmalade with Edgar. The arrangement between himself and his wife was very simple. He would go and stay with the family they had in Alaska, while she and Glenda remained in the continental US. They would remain married, as their loyalties remained with each other. She would send him a monthly sum to cover his rent and expenses, and keep him from having a full time job. She would be able to live her life and continue to provide only the best for Glenda. It was unfortunate really, but in the end, it was the only way for everyone to have their own happiness. Not seeing Glenda on a regular, or any, basis was hard. Mrs. Loeber and Glenda used to fly out once a year to see him for a full month. The past two years Mrs. Loeber had still come but for three weeks instead of four or five. Glenda hadn’t come at all. She was in middle school now – she was in scouting, the school play, choir, and a competitive league for fantasy game of sorts. She couldn’t take a whole week away to come see her father. But every month she sent him a photograph, a handwritten letter, and some type of memorabilia – a playbill, a ticket, a program, a craft – something to make him feel as though he was still there attending the events that made up her life. John knew that it would probably be a few years before Glenda made it out to Alaska to see him. If she was this busy as a preteen image what she would be like in High School, especially when she started dating. That would be a tough pill for him to swallow, but he knew it would be coming soon. Based on her last picture the shyness and shame she felt for her gawky frame and skinny figure were disappearing. She was wearing her height and and her weight well. Her long mousy brown hair that was tangled in some type of frizzy ponytail was laying lose far past her shoulder, down around her budding breasts. It wasn’t straightened, nor was it as carefree and fluffy as it was previously. He would have to line up her pictures later to track the changes as they were happening. “Uncle John?”
“Oh yes, please. I’m sorry. I thought I had answered you,” John replied to Edgar.
Edgar got up from the island that sat in the middle of the kitchen and walked around to where John was waiting at the counter for the toast. He seemed to be looking through it as opposed to watching it. Edgar wasn’t sure that John had even heard him ask him if wanted orange juice as well, but he had answered. Edgar went to the refrigerator and got out the large jug of homemade orange juice, and put it on the counter. Then he turned back toward the window, he studied John for a moment. He was still standing there, facing the toaster, silhouette against the window, his hand was resting near his front pocket. Edgar turned to face the cabinet. While John hadn’t done anything wrong, Edgar was a young man, not just a little boy. He knew things. He himself felt things and even did things when his urges took over and no one was around. Not knowing quite what to do with himself Edgar poured two juices and returned the jug to the fridge. By the time he was done John had returned to being himself, he was never what one would consider normal, and was seated at the table with the toast and the marmalade.
“Well, that was nice,” John said when they had finished their morning snack.
“Yeah, it was,” Edgar said. His weariness of the early part of the morning forgotten to homemade marmalade.
“If you’ll be a good boy and clean up, I must go and get ready. Not sure if I mentioned it, but Mrs. Loeber will be coming in this early tomorrow morning and I need to pick her up from the airport. I won’t be back until sometime tomorrow as she’s flying into Anchorage.”
Edgar looked up as John stood and walked away from the table before he could respond.
John had driven for just about 19 hours, and that wasn’t including the time he stopped over near Dot Lake. Nor was it including the time it would take him to get to the airport to pick up Mrs. Loeber and return back to the cabin. He could barely remember anything from the drive up, but had been sure to jot notes at every stop, including crossing the Canadian and American borders. He could always review his notes later, but the last solidified memory he had was leaving Edgar sitting at the table sometime a few minutes before 10:00 AM. John had wanted to get on the road between 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM. He glanced at his watch; the time read 5:28 AM. Approvingly, he nodded to himself. He thought once more about Edgar, while it wasn’t the young man that caused his erection, having him so near only solidified John’s hardness and made him have to sit at the table sooner than the had intended. John felt a wistful feeling beginning to take over him, once more he glanced at his watch. There was no time to think of Glenda or Edgar, he barely had time to think of the work ahead of him. But there would be time. Once he had brought in his kill, skinned it, butchered it, and set it up for use three weeks from now then there would be time. John changed removed his clothes, folding them neatly and placing them onto the rocking chair in the corner. He glanced over toward the bed and once more down at his awakening penis. No time, he reminded himself. Nothing had been set up yet anyway. He then proceed to put on his rubber gloves, shoe covers and spandex bodysuit with head covering. When all was said and done John had about 2 pounds of meat a week for a whole year. He would still make a trip every three months or so out to Fairbanks to check on his cabin, pick up some more frozen meat to bring home, and just to get away from civilization. Juneau might not be New York City to all people, but for John it might as well have been. He much preferred the quiet, less assertive sense of living. No need for a hundred television stations or dozens of radio stations playing all the time. Just being in the family room, surrounded by family, books, newspapers, and soft music playing on the gramophone.
John finished boiling a large metal tub filled with water. He always impressed himself with his ability to think about something so important while completing tasks completely unrelated. Most other people he knew could barely figure out how to grab the pot from the outside shower, filled it in the kitchen, and boil it in stages over the fire. Once the pot was left near the door, still inside his cabin, John went to go grab one more thing before heading to his shed. As a final touch John added his recycled medical scrubs which he had gotten when he and Mrs. Loeber had gone to visit her eldest daughter – the dirty one, the one from another time and place altogether, in the hospital to his ensemble. She was very clearly in the psych ward, though friends and family believed she had had an accident and was in general care. It was embarrassing that Glenda had to share a fraction of DNA with that creature. But after years of being together, high school, grammar school, family parties, their mothers (twins) were even pregnant at the same time by the same man who believed in continuing the traditions their family had started years and years ago. Mrs. Loeber had run off with Edgar’s mother the weekend of their senior year of high school for their own version of a Rumspringa as if they were part of an Amish family instead of the Florin clan. After she become impregnated, married, and abused Mrs. Loeber returned to her family pleading the life of her baby and for help. The family had helped her, but under the condition that she raise her unborn child within the tradition of the family and that she do the same. Mrs. Loeber was happy to return. She liked the life and traditions she was raised in, and she did not like the beliefs and behaviors of those too far outside. While it was true that only John and Mrs. Loeber had conceived Glenda, John still felt that there was impurity left upon Mrs. Loeber’s womb. With a violent effort John separated a shoulder from the socket. The blood from the initial cut had shot up over his head hitting the tarped ceiling. He hadn’t to remember that dirty slut and her disgusting father. Especially right before Mrs. Loeber would be arriving to visit.
It took a little over an hour for John to breakdown the entire body and to set up the drying process. As always he would have liked to allow the body to cool for a full 24 hours before the butchering and aging process began, but with the Canadian border cutting through his trek to the cabin and airport twice he could only allow the carcass to sit cool for 16 hours or so. John looked at his layered body. He still had another hour before he had to head out for the airport. Heading back in from the shed he stopped at the outdoor shower. Being so far north it wasn’t really a shower, but more of a stall where if he remembered to boil water before he got to butchering, he would be able to bathe himself with the lukewarm water when he was done. John peeled off his rubber gloves, opened the door, and reached in to grab the water. Returning to the stall John removed all of his layers directly into the firing pit and began to wash his body. It was too cold for him to show his delight in his work, but he did still have forty-five minutes or so before he had to leave. All he had left to do was to take two Shepherd’s Pies out of the freezer – his and the one he made especially for Mrs. Loeber and get that fire going to take away the chill he had acquired while bathing. Surely he could take a few minutes for himself.
John had done just that, and was back on the road at 8:13 AM. Assuming the trip went the way it always went he would be arriving at 2:05 or so. Mrs. Loeber’s flight was scheduled to land at 1:45 which meant that she would be waiting on her bench, the same bench she waited on every year, for him. He would get out of the car, open the passenger’s side door for her, put her luggage in the back seat of the car, and then they would drive to his cabin. They would discuss the weather, her work, her health, and then for the remaining five hours they would discuss Glenda.
“Here we are, dear,” John said as he parked the car and killed the lights.
“Lovely. Dinner is defrosting next to the stove, I presume,” Mrs. Loeber replied.
John nodded yes, “I’ll bring in your overnight bag. The rest we can unpack when he get to Juneau. Does that suit you?”
“You know it does,” Mrs. Loeber said with a smile.
John watched his wife waddle her way inside the cabin. She was only a yearly visitor her, but she remembered every step as if it was only a few weeks ago. She even knew when to stoop forward to avoid hitting her head on the branches or the front door frame. John had been taken by her height since middle school, and all these years later the interested had never waned. Originally John was supposed to be paired with Edgar’s mother. John knew it was his responsibility to follow the path created for him, but felt an immense relief when she had broken away for good. John had always preferred Mrs. Loeber. Edgar’s mother was still involved with the family, as most members of the Florin clan had continued to carrying most of their traditions, but with members outside of their family who they married and later with, breed. John dropped the overnight bag in the bedroom and made his way into the kitchen of his cabin.
“Now, which pie is which,” Mrs. Loeber asked as John hugged her from behind, the top of his head just touching the top of her shoulder.
“This is the Shepard’s Pie with ground beef, no scallions, and extra butter,” John said pointing to the pie on the left. “And this,” he continued walking around the front of Mrs. Loeber leaning into admire the pie on the right, “is the Shepard’s Pie with aged Native American boy approximately 16 years old, with no scallions or any extra butter.” Mrs. Loeber looked at her husband’s pie, “hence the Hummingbird symbol on top!” John detected the note of sadness in her voice.
“Yes,” he began and he reached under the sink, “but these are for you,” he continued as he procured a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
“You’re so sweet, Mr. Florin,” Mrs. Loeber said admiring her flowers, “you’re just so sweet.”