5.The Mountain Man, Post Script

In the weeks after I left Roy in his sandy dry wash in Quartzsite, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to write about him.  I know I still have a lot to learn as an interviewer and word- portrait artist.  Yet, as best I could, I was determined to share the Mountain Man with my blog’s passengers.

If I didn’t write soon, I might lose the essence of the man.  But, if too soon, the questions I had failed to ask would haunt me or cause me to present a picture that was skewed and had gaping holes.

Roy remembers his high school years when he was a skinny, picked-on kid who learned to love the land. He went to college for a while but became disenchanted with the false causes of students and the apathy of teachers and the absence of meaningful study.  He chose a life in pastures and on the back of a horse in the middle of nowhere.

Roy expressed memories—about the first and last days of his marriage–too personal to be blared on the Internet’s impersonal megaphone.  Our rambling dialogues touched on The Something that inhabits everything and looks after some of us sometimes.  We talked of hippies, a label he avoided back in the days he was mistaken for one.  He wonders about the day if/when he might have to move indoors.   And I never got into his notebooks of mountain wisdom and stories of his life with horses.

After a couple of weeks of reading and re-reading notes, still without a coherent theme for Roy’s story, I called Roy’s daughter.  My conscienceless Droid, pocketed her phone number like a common thief.   Thankfully, she welcomed the call and was easy to talk to.

“Roy and my mom split up when I was only four.  But we would see him often.  We’d go to the pasture where he camped with his horses.  I remember him as big and strong and as a wonderful story teller.”

“He thinks his family is disappointed in him.  Expected more.”  I said.

“What is too bad is there is not a place in our society any more for someone like Roy.  He is a man of the earth.   We may not be able to understand the choices he made, but there is nothing bad about him.  He doesn’t seem to fit anywhere.  I don’t judge him.  I don’t know if anyone judges him.  I am always glad to hear from him and to see him.  He usually spends most of the year in Montana and I see him then.”

She may see him before I do.

I will head back toward Quartzsite soon.  It will look different without thousands of RVs but I will have no trouble finding the spot where Roy was camped.  I hope he is still there but I don’t dwell on its likelihood.

I’d like to read more of his stories, help him get them in shape for publication.  I think he’d take a lot of satisfaction in seeing them published even in this world where author’s voices are tiny and easily missed.

Whether or not Roy and I ever get to sit on a log together again, he got me to think about personal freedom, trust, and family and what they each mean to different people.

Soon, I will go back to Roy’s dry wash and look for a bottle with a note inside.


8 Responses to 5.The Mountain Man, Post Script

  1. I hope you that find that message in a bottle.

  2. karen wittgraf says:

    Oh, so bittersweet. I am dangling here wondering if this will be the “Unfinished Symphony” of your character- your real ife character. I certainly hope not. There is a certain sadness and emptiness in words left unsaid- so I hope you can say them.
    Roy is now a person on my mind, and in my heart. How many “Roys” are out there?

    • allevenson says:

      There is a paragraph that I edited out of the final draft. As follows:

      “Stories are supposed to have baited beginnings, orderly development, and tidy endings. If a story lacks a lesson, at least it ought to have a theme. However, life is not as well crafted as fiction. Endings are not so sharply defined, nor the lessons so easily discernable. For me experiencing and reporting curious encounters is more difficult than creating plot or character for me. And I think that is because real life is richer than fiction.”

      I omitted it at this time because this piece was still about Roy and less about the writer’s dilemma.

      And this is a blog which goes on and can turn back on itself. Were this a book, where which would have a final page, I would have to wrap Roy up a little better or include the para explaining why not.

      So the blog reader can hope for more. I may get to talk with Roy’s daughter again or meet his sister. If so, I can post that.

      Or there may be a post on the topic of the difference between writing about actual reality or created.

      Either way some, like you, will feel like they’ve been teased and want something more and although the Roy well is dry at the moment, the possibility of drilling a little deeper is there.

      Thanks for a perceptive observation.

      AL

  3. Dave L says:

    More value here than the touring guides in your bucket, I’d say, and makes the price of gas less significant. Roy and his mouthpiece, Al, are the reason that author’s voices are not tiny but robust, and certainly would be missed.

  4. Al wrote, “If a story lacks a lesson, at least it ought to have a theme. However, life is not as well crafted as fiction. ”

    How true, but you did “help me learn” (the lesson) a bit more about life and that there are a wide variety of people out there that are “not easy to define or stereotype” (the theme) as so many in the American middle class do. Roy was one of those inviduals unique and apart from the average American.

    I don’t feel teased. I walked away from reading about Roy with a vivid picture…

  5. Roy is a man out of his time. Roy and his horses in 2011, even as RV Ys rumble along in all too close proximity. Yes, his story brings a twinge of sadness to me, but also a wonderful jolt of connection.
    Go back a hundred years-1911 Montana. My own Buffalo Soldier grandfather wrangled wild horses on his ranch just outside of Livingston, broke them to the saddle and sold them to the US Army. Alas, WWI and military mechanization came along, and the grandeur of the military horse gave way to the grind of motorized trucks.
    Grandpa, too, became a man out of his time. But his story, and Roy’s can never be finished for they both are the stuff of American Heroes.
    More tales, Al. They’re wonderful

    Francine
    ps. I’m off to Nashville this Thursday–speeches, book signings for Page From a Tennessee Journal. Wish me luck.

  6. kristi johnson says:

    Growing up in Idaho, I sort of knew Roy. Sheep herders and cowboys had a place in my world and we just let them be. Some lived around their families but very simply seldom coming into town. I tell my teacher friends that so many of our kids today with their disabilities would be so much happier in the world I lived in. They were accepted and not really labeled and the noisy world did not interfere with them.
    Anyway, you were very kind to send me information on a software site to create a blog for my RV journey. I am embarrassed to say that I accidentally deleted it. Could you resend that, please. I am looking forward to blogging my journey, beginning with the selling of my antiques. Thanx.

  7. John Bocks says:

    Al,
    Your story about Roy was so poignant and personal and real. Thanks for sharing your stories.

    John

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