The Silver Year: Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Something in The Sinookas



Walter​​ awoke​​ to the scent of​​ freshly cut timber​​ and pine​​ needles.​​ The ticktock of the train’s wheels hypnotically​​ clapping​​ atop​​ the train​​ tracks​​ had lulled him and Kourtney to sleep,​​ her​​ shoulder serving as​​ his​​ pillow and his​​ head serving as​​ hers​​ during the ride down the mountain.​​ He​​ stayed still​​ not wanting to​​ disturb her.

Outside the​​ train’s​​ window,​​ dewed over​​ from the clouds they had just emerged from,​​ was​​ the rustic village of their Swiss chalet,​​ Lauterbrunnen,​​ a growing nest of pink roofs on an​​ endless​​ throughway of​​ vibrant​​ green. Guarding over the village​​ were​​ the​​ soaring​​ gray​​ limestone​​ cliffs​​ of Lauterbrunnen Valley, a​​ broad, U-shaped valley​​ ploughed​​ into the earth​​ as​​ if dug​​ by​​ a​​ gigantic​​ ice cream scooper,​​ topped​​ with​​ thick, dark​​ forests,​​ and​​ braided with​​ veins​​ of​​ whitewater​​ waterfalls​​ draining from the​​ bleach white​​ peaks of the Alps cutting jaggedly​​ across​​ the sky.

The​​ train​​ had just​​ come​​ from those peaks,​​ or more specifically a glacier saddle between them called Jungfraujoch.​​ Thanks to a nine-kilometer railway built partially into the mountains,​​ the once desolate​​ mountain​​ saddle​​ had been transformed into a haven for tourists seeking a high-altitude adventure​​ without the work,​​ complete​​ with​​ shops​​ and​​ restaurants,​​ an elaborate manmade ice palace,​​ and​​ even ski slopes where​​ Curt,​​ an avid snowboarder,​​ still was.​​ 

The three of them had​​ taken​​ the train up​​ at​​ the agonizing hour of six​​ that morning, however,​​ Walter’s train​​ to Amsterdam​​ tomorrow​​ would be​​ leaving even earlier.​​ He​​ still​​ hadn’t told Kourtney​​ yet​​ because​​ he​​ still​​ wasn’t​​ sure​​ if​​ he was going through with it.​​ Had he completely lost his mind? Was​​ he​​ really taking cues from​​ illusions now,​​ or​​ his encounter with​​ “Fate” as she liked to call herself?

Kourtney awoke​​ and took her neck off​​ Walter’s​​ head. “So beautiful,” she said stretching her arms​​ and​​ looking​​ out​​ the window.​​ “Are you going​​ to​​ the P-Party tonight?” she asked. P was the theme of the night’s costume party​​ and​​ any​​ extrapolation​​ on what that meant was accepted,​​ but​​ pirate, pimp, and policeman​​ were​​ the most popular​​ picks.​​ 

“No,”​​ Walter​​ said. “There’s something I need to do early tomorrow morning. Are you​​ going?”

“What do you think?” she said smiling.

“Didn’t figure you were, but you asked. The​​ parties​​ aren’t​​ as bad​​ as​​ you think.”

“Yes they are. Especially tonight’s.​​ Remember,​​ I’ve been on one of these before, and at​​ the P-Party on my​​ last​​ tour about​​ a​​ dozen blokes showed up with nothing on, taking P-Party to mean ‘penis’ party. Yeah, not for me.​​ What’s​​ so important to get you up early​​ again​​ tomorrow?”

“Well,​​ I’m still not sure if I’m going​​ through with it.”

“You’re going back to Amsterdam aren’t you?”

“How’d you know?”

Kourtney tilted her head and sighed.​​ “I don’t know​​ exactly,” she said.​​ “Just​​ sensed​​ something​​ in the sinookas​​ I suppose.”

Walter laughed. “I see you’ve taken to​​ Cat’s Cradle,” he said. He had given​​ her​​ his copy four days earlier. “And apparently you’ve experienced quite the vin-dit.”

“Yes,” she said​​ laughing back. “For a fake religion built on lies,​​ Bokononism​​ sure speaks a hell of a lot of truth. Because of it—or because I read​​ about​​ it, I realized I might’ve been a wrang-wrang in the wrong direction by convincing you to​​ stay on​​ this tour.​​ Maybe you should do everything you can​​ to find Shiva​​ while you’re still on the same continent as​​ her—or hopefully you still are. It’s actually why I asked you what you were doing tonight. I wanted to talk to you about it.​​ Since Venice, I feel like our karass has been waning into its other wampeter, and now I believe that other wampeter is​​ concerned with finding you love. Not that Curt and I don’t love you, truly we do, but you know, a duprass only has room for one more, and you’re not going to find your ‘one’ with us two.”

“Man, you’ve really gone deep into Bokononism,”​​ Walter​​ said.​​ “And no Kourtney,​​ you were​​ definitely​​ a wrang-wrang​​ in the right direction.​​ I needed these last few days with you and Curt​​ on tour​​ more than you know.​​ But​​ strangely, also​​ in Venice, I​​ felt a pretty strong sensation in the sinookas​​ too.”​​ 

“What was​​ it?”

“Um...” he said​​ drumming his fingers on the wooden train seat.​​ “I’m not sure. I can only describe it as a sign from Fate, or maybe God, or maybe a psychotic episode.​​ Either way, I’m pretty sure it meant go back to Amsterdam—I think—I hope.”

“Well,” Kourtney said​​ smiling,​​ “as Bokonon says,​​ 'peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God’.​​ Maybe you should let​​ God​​ lead​​ the dance.”

“But​​ who​​ is God?”​​ Walter asked.

“God is Love. That’s all God has to be.”

“But what is Love?”

“Love is you. And that’s all Love has to be.”

He​​ thought about it. As simple as it was,​​ other than​​ music,​​ it​​ was​​ an argument for God he couldn’t refute.​​ Maybe God did have a place in life.

“Or maybe God is Kurt Vonnegut,” Kourtney said. “Or just the god​​ assigned to you.”

“It would sure explain a hell of a lot,” Walter said. “Is this elevation making you feel as stoned as me?”​​ 

“Would sure explain a hell of a lot.”

They both fell into heavy chuckles,​​ then fell quiet,​​ watching the village​​ slowly​​ grow larger​​ outside the window.

“So​​ you’re​​ for sure​​ going back​​ then?”​​ Kourtney​​ then​​ asked.

“Well, at this point​​ you’ve​​ convinced​​ me Kurt Vonnegut will have it no other way,” Walter​​ said.

“Yes,” she wiped a wayward tear from her face, “but​​ that doesn’t make it any easier​​ letting you leave.​​ What do you say to​​ another​​ romantic friendship date​​ after dinner​​ tonight?​​ There’s a​​ little lookout point​​ in the valley​​ that​​ would be great for a smoke sesh​​ and​​ some​​ stargazing.”

He smiled. “Somehow you always know the way to my heart Kourtney.”​​ 


After dinner,​​ while everyone​​ else dressed​​ (and​​ yes​​ in some cases undressed)​​ for the P-Party, Kourtney and Walter​​ found​​ a bottle of wine and​​ some​​ flashlights and headed​​ to an overgrown gravel trail not far from the​​ chalet running​​ alongside​​ one​​ of​​ the valley’s​​ cliffsides.​​ The sky was​​ clear and moonless,​​ encrusted over​​ with​​ stars, and in​​ the air,​​ rumblings​​ and mutterings​​ from​​ the​​ nearby​​ Lütschine​​ River​​ and the​​ many​​ waterfalls​​ beating the valley walls.​​ 

The trail​​ began​​ ascending,​​ leading to a​​ rock​​ opening​​ in the cliffside. Inside was​​ a narrow and steep stairwell, and after a long and sharply zigzagging climb, they emerged onto​​ a platform stamped into the rockface​​ behind a gently​​ flowing waterfall. The​​ village​​ now​​ looked​​ like​​ a​​ tiny​​ globule​​ of​​ stars​​ dripped down​​ into the valley​​ from the Milky Way river crossing​​ overhead. Hanging over the​​ globule​​ was​​ what looked to be a low-flying comet, but in actuality​​ was​​ the​​ spot-lit​​ sprays​​ of​​ a​​ waterfall​​ near the center of town.​​ 

“Oh my God,” Walter said​​ leaning over a guardrail​​ and feeling the underside of the waterfall.

“Right?” Kourtney said. “Lauterbrunnen​​ was the stop I was looking forward to most.​​ Did you know​​ Tolkien’s inspiration for Rivendell was this valley?”

 “The​​ place in​​ Lord of the Rings​​ with​​ all​​ the elves?”​​ he asked.

She laughed.​​ “Yes, that place.”

“I can see it.​​ It’s certainly​​ otherworldly, the​​ most beautiful place​​ I think​​ I’ve​​ ever​​ been.​​ And those stars…”​​ He​​ fanned​​ his hand over them.​​ “I’ve never seen so many.”

“You’re always looking at those stars aren’t you?”​​ she said snuggling closer to him on the guardrail.

“It’s the closest thing I​​ have​​ to prayer,” he said snuggling back. “It gives me perspective on things.”

“So it’s where you​​ talk to​​ God​​ you could say?”

“You mean Kurt Vonnegut?”

They again burst into laughter, their chuckles​​ stretching and contracting​​ against the rock walls and​​ the lapping of the waterfall.

“Curt and I​​ are staying in Paris for a week after the tour ends,” Kourtney said​​ once​​ the laughter died. “Promise you’ll come find us if you don’t find​​ a reason to stay in​​ Amsterdam?​​ You said your plane home takes off from there anyhow.​​ Or maybe​​ we can​​ have the best of both worlds and you and Shiva come find us​​ after you find her​​ in​​ Amsterdam?”​​ 

“Wouldn’t that be the happy ending?” Walter said.​​ “Although it​​ could​​ be​​ just as possible I go all the way to Amsterdam only to discover she won’t leave Mags.”

“Something in the sinookas makes me doubt that.​​ But maybe​​ we should boko-maru​​ so we have​​ Vonnegut on our side​​ for a happy ending.​​ You know​​ how much​​ God loves flattery.”

“Yes, but you also know He ‘never wrote a good play in his life.’”

Again they were overcome with giggles, giggles which only grew​​ louder​​ from the strange sound of their giggles echoing back at them in their rocky​​ outcropping.

“Do we even need to get stoned​​ with this elevation?” Walter asked​​ still trying to control his laughter.

“No,” Kourtney said,​​ “this is perfect enough.​​ This is as close to heaven as I think you​​ can​​ get. I love​​ you​​ Walter.”

“I love you Kourtney.”

They shared​​ a​​ long hug and sob,​​ then laid down​​ on​​ a​​ blanket they brought,​​ and​​ took off their shoes and socks. They then​​ kissed their naked soles​​ together​​ for their boko-maru, laughing​​ so loudly​​ it turned into snorting that​​ sounded​​ like a​​ foghorn​​ farting​​ as​​ it shot off​​ into the dark​​ down​​ the valley.


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