Here’s my second Underdog story to be written. The first, if you didn’t read it, is “Tale of an Underdog” and takes place when Jonathan is 10. This one takes place when Jonathan is 27, so there’s a lot of gaps that aren’t going to be filled except with a few mentions in this story. Don’t worry about it.
WARNING : This story contains extreme amounts of adult language and some violence.
It is true that most of Canada’s population lives within six hours of the Southern border, and the barrenness of the area only supported this theory. Twenty miles the two military jeeps had to drive from the nearest town — if you could call it that — deep into the wilderness before their dirt road path led them to the destination.
The scene was rather idyllic — a quiet, well-kept cabin, isolated by pine trees. Nearby a minor tributary to a larger lake passed by, probably conveniently the hermit’s supply of fresh water if something was wrong with his pipes — after all, who knew when a repair man could make his way up there? There was even a waterwheel, maybe to provide electricity if the lines went down. Also beside the hut were a series of stumps and newly-felled trees, indicating someone had recently been doing some chopping rather recently. In the distance a bird chirped; nothing else.
The man beside the driver in the first jeep stepped out, his boot crinkling on fresh pine needles. 30-ish with neat black hair and wearing an American military uniform bearing the rank of a lieutenant, he removed his sunglasses and glanced around.
“Think he’s here?”
The driver, only a private, shrugged as he got out. “Should be, sir. Place certainly looks like someone been living in it.”
The Lt. nodded, and made his way up the front steps. There was no doorbell, but his fists created enough of a sound against the hard wood door to warrant anyone’s attention.
The Lt. shouted, “Jonathan Weissman?”
“This is Lieutenant Patrick Johnson of the United States — ”
The door swung open six inches or so, “I thought I told you guys to fuck off!”
Johnson staggered back from the surprise of the voice’s bluntness, but quickly regained his composure, “Mr. Weissman, please — ”
The voice’s owner allowed the door to slam back as he — a dawg of beagle breeding — stepped further out, now into the sunlight, “I’m safe from you American assholes here — didn’t you realize that?”
The private, sensing the dawg’s enraged and defensive manner, reached for his sidearm, but Johnson held his hand up, “No private –he’s right. Canadian law protects him. But we’re not here to arrest him.”
The dawg snorted, “That’s a first.”
Johnson stepped back again, this time only to get a better look at his childhood hero. Jonathan Weissman — Underdog — was not the same character who seemed to glow with goodness under the camera flash in his school’s more recent history books. The dawg was now twenty-seven. He was slightly taller, his tan-gold fur was messy, and he had allowed the hair in the back of his head to grow out mainly uncombed. His thick glasses were the only item he obviously bothered to keep clean. His clothes consisted of tattered jeans and a thermal shirt, his feet protected by white sneakers almost turned brown that looked as if his toes were about to pop out of the worn material.
“So what the hell do you want?” Jonathan demanded, fury apparent on his face. Johnson, still studying him, also began to notice the dark lines and circles across his face, and the not-so-apparent sickly strain in his eyes.
<I wonder if he’s still schizo> Johnson blinked, “Oh — Mr. Weissman, we’re sorry to bother you, but there’s a situation right now in Washington that — ”
” — that you want my help on?” Jonathan laughed, but it was a sick-sounding sort of laughter, with an edge of cynicism and sarcasm. “Like *shit*.”
He spun around and stormed away, leaving the front door open.
Johnson took it as the most invitation he was likely to get, and followed him in.
“Mr. Weissman, please — just here me out,” Johnson removed his hat, watching the dawg begin shifting around the bookcase for something, uninterested. “There’s a fleet of alien fighters hovering above the earth right now, demanding we turn over a crystal they left here a number of years ago.” He breathed in, “The problem is the crystal was stolen from a museum in Megakat City in 1985, and it’s been missing ever since.”
Jonathan responded nonchalantly, “So?”
“As you probably haven’t heard, Mr. Weissman, our assiduous government scientists have made great leaps in our technology in the past few years — especially regarding time travel. We think we have a machine working, but — ”
” — but?” he was growing insipid. “Get to the part about me.”
” — the portal the machine creates has a great strain on the normal body. It would take someone with the strength — ”
” — of ten men — and all that shit. Someone like Underdog. I can see what you’re getting at,” Jonathan didn’t look up, but it was easy to hear the anger in his voice. “So fuck off, okay? I’m not into that kind of stuff anymore.” He turned away, not having found what he was looking for on the shelves.
“Mr. Weissman — ”
“I said FUCK OFF!” with shocking malice, Jonathan stomped into the kitchen.
He stopped in his tracks, apparently recognizing the new voice. At the doorway stood a balding, white-haired man in a general’s uniform.
The dawg recovered from his surprise, his frown deepening, and he continued his way into the kitchen.
“Jonathan,” the general gestured for Johnson to leave them alone, and with a specious grin on his face he followed the hermit into his kitchen, “How are you, Jonathan?”
The dawg grunted, and without glancing in the general’s direction began shifting through his shelves over the counter.
“How’s Canada?” the general played facetiously with the hat in his hands, looking around and keeping the cheer in his voice, “They treatin’ ya well up here?” Nonchalantly he snatched up one of the prescription bottles on the counter. “Aldine? This is heavy stuff, Jonathan. You must be pretty sick.”
The dawg, showing strain and frustration on his face, put both his paws on the tiled counter and looked up at the general with his bloodshot eyes, “That’s none of your business anymore, General Tyler. Now if you excuse me –,” he grabbed the pill bottle, opening the refrigerator to retrieve a bottle of water. He popped a soporific pill in his mouth, then raised the bottle of water to his lips.
“You still hearing voices?”
Jonathan lowered the bottle and closed his eyes, hoping to mitigate the turmoil in his head.
“And you think some clinic doctor’s prescription is going to help you? I already spoke with Dr. Westin, Jonathan. You’re sick again, and you need more professional help.”
“I’m . . . handling it myself,” Jonathan said coldly. “*Okay*?”
“No, Jonathan — it’s not okay. Sitting alone in some cabin in the middle of G-dforsaken nowhere won’t make the voices — or whatever you’re hearing — go away,” he spoke with a dogged tone.
Jonathan moaned, leaning with his forehead against the refrigerator. His vision was already becoming distorted, the sickness in him stirred up by the invaders of his solitude. He stood quietly, waiting for things to settle down again. They didn’t, and he spoke to the patient general in a low, weak voice, with an extreme paucity of liveliness in it.
“You can treat me?”
“We can, Jonathan. We can try,” he replied intrepidly.
“I get a full pardon?”
He nodded, “No going back to the asylum. Scout’s honor. You’ll be completely exculpated.”
“And you’ll pay the way?”
Again he nodded, “Its been sanctioned already. The government will fully support you for all of your needs.”
Jonathan turned away, closing his eyes again and balling his fists in frustration.
“I’ll do it.”
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