Valkyrie: the Riddle, the Ride

notes: “RVAF” is an acronym for a raw foods diet which includes animal foods
           “RVAFer” indicates someone who eats an RVAF diet.


As someone who is very interested I health and who eats only raw foods (a so-called “RVAF” diet), I belong to an e-mail list on the Internet devoted to such topics, where I can discuss fine-tuning of this diet, as well as food sources, with hundreds of other like-minded folks.  On December 20, 2000, it seems that I wrote to the LIVE-RAW FOODS list an e-mail which had been, in hindsight, unusually full of typographical errors and sloppy wording, and, mysteriously, a follow-up message sent by me to the same group several hours later bore the following, somewhat cryptic postscript:

Postscript: Original (previous) letter was written sloppily and in haste due to fatigue; the latter due to the fact that I had been partying all night and ingesting lots of (raw) drugs and (raw) alcohol, in late-night trendy fern bars in Vail, Colorado with a half-dozen nubile European snowboard goddesses/part-time actresses (each of whom also happen to be RVAF raw foodists).  One in particular had caught my eye, a 34 year-old tanned 6 footer whose name seemed to be Gretchen, although I have heard her companions call her by other, stranger, names as well (these I cannot remember).  She was dressed part Gothic (black calf-high boots with a black felt cap on her head),  and part extreme jock, wearing a purple and yellow lycra skin-tight skier’s bodysuit under a parka made of space-age fabric, blue and yellow in the night lights.  I seem to remember that she and I traded glances throughout the long night of carousing.  She has large green eyes.  Ah, the rigors of this life!  My excesses are too extreme!  I am ashamed!

Part I

UPDATE, December 21, 2000
Incidentally, I am now somewhat more alert than I was early this morning in Vail (or was it Aspen?).  It appears that I am now in Key West, Florida, with Gretchen (or is it Hannah?), one of my European snowboard party companions from last night in Vail (or was it Aspen?).  She is the one mentioned earlier, the 6 footer; I would guess she weighs about 170 pounds, almost pure muscle sheathed in weathered and tanned skin.  Gretchen has a broad face, with prominent and sharp cheekbones showing razor definition, as well as a broad and easy smile and wide green eyes, all framed by wild and tangled chestnut hair which drapes below her shoulders.  Despite her apparent origins in Graz, Austria, she looks to me to be partially Native American and part severe Nordic, especially her facial features, particularly the razor cheekbones (but for the tan -- I am sure no self-respecting Nord would willingly sport a tan!)  However, there is a hint of West African in her face as well: a dusky tinge, strong and sensual lips, and a husky strong jaw.

It seems her best friend Buffy (whom she apparently met all of three days ago in Vail) has a Bell Jet helicopter and personal pilot, on semi-permanent loan to Buffy from her wealthy industrialist-tycoon father who lives in Connecticut.  Somehow, Buffy decided to ask her pilot to fly Gretchen and me to Key West "in the fast copter" so we could sober up and find some raw seafood (she gave us as a gift a large quantity of raw oranges and avocadoes as provisions for the flight).  So, here I am, on the beach behind our cottage, working away on my portable notebook computer as my skin turns brown in the early afternoon sun. Gretchen’s long tanned naked frame is sprawled nearby on an old Aztec-patterned blanket, soaking up the sunlight; she is fast asleep, dues reaped from a wild night of partying in Colorado.  I sigh; it is a sigh of despair.. . . The decadence of my lifestyle disgusts me!  I really must change my ways before God strikes me dead.  Perhaps tomorrow I may start anew.

Part II

UPDATE: My Condition (Brain Chemistry), December 24, 2000
Time for an update from the FRONT LINES:  I have received several kind inquiries as to the current status of my brain chemistry after the disclosure of my recent all-night romp in the trendy late-night yuppie fern bars of Aspen (or was it Vail?) and then my eventual "washing ashore" in Key West, Florida with Gretchen (or is it Greta?), one of the European Amazonian snowboard goddesses from the night before.  Gretchen and I fled Florida and our nasty sunburns yesterday, and since late last nite have been in Atlanta, Georgia visiting some friends of mine.  My condition is much better.

In fact, I have typed much of this missive at 3:00 AM in the early morning while sitting at a table in an all-night veggie/organic/health food bar and grill (it is right out of a movie -- it is wildly eccentric and fun) on Peachtree Street [R. Thomas Deluxe Grill, open 24 hours, 7 days a week, all year, 1812 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA; phone 404-881-0246] (I just got a free celery juice for that blurb!).  As I type, I am sipping fresh celery/parsley/carrot juice and munching marinated raw veggies while Gretchen (or is her name Greta?) sits across from me in cutoff jeans shorts (at 3 in the morning of a chilly Atlanta night!) rubbing a stinky herbal balm (a bovine liniment called “Bag Balm” purchased yesterday from the local Agway Feed and Grain Store on Peachtree) into her tanned, scuffed and sunburned 34-year old knees and shins (aftermaths of her surfing injuries and too much Florida sun).

As I sit here, I am reminiscing, with some dread, about how I  sat at this same table 4 years ago on a dinner date with my local friend Terri, a beautiful bodybuilder (and part-time dominatrix), who kept falling asleep during our meal due to her abuse of GHB and anabolic steroids.  She was short, about 5' 2", about 142 pounds of pure muscle and deeply tanned.  Unfortunately, Terri was abusing GHB and an illegal Mexican diet drug to manage bodyfat and lean muscle mass; she kept nodding out in mid-sentence due to a GHB overdose and she kept falling forward, her face continually landing again and again in her plate of food.  It was so far beyond embarrasing that it was hilarious; I could not decide whether to lagh or cry.   Everyone was trying not to stare at us, but was looking anyway.   I decided to just tough it out and send Terri lots of love, so she at least felt safe.  She had also used anabolic steroids for years, but has stopped now, at least last time I hung out with her.  I have since learned not to take Terri to restaurants!

Gretchen (who is acting oblivious to the fact that everyone is staring at her tall tanned frame and stunning weathered face, which sports a faint line of freckles dusted across the cheekbone ridge) says to tell everyone that this R. Thomas Deluxe Grill is the neatest food joint she has ever seen in Europe or America:  Not only is it open 24 hours a day, but you sit at little tables on an enclosed porch, near the road, and the room is filled with bizarre art and findings (including, for some reason, strange colorful mailboxes), as well as a number of large LIVE parrots and macaws in brightly colored cages. (There was abit of an incident an hour ago, as Gretchen, ever an ardent raw foodist, apparently tried to kill and eat one of the large macaws.  The problem was smoothed over with a $300 tip to the waitress who stumbled upon the unfolding gory scene. We have been forgiven.)  Behind and above me, a large propane heater roars in a valiant (and moderately successful) effort to heat the room, and on the vaulted tent ceiling high above me, if I crane my neck, I can see a painted map of the Peachtree Mile 5k Race, which is a famous local roadrace (my ex-wife, now a RAFer herself, ran in it once; however, she is not with us at the table this morning for various reasons; besides, most importantly, she might try to steal Gretchen).  Outside on the sidewalk, even at 3:05 AM, Lycra-clad runners of all five genders jog past in the cold drizzle under yellowed streetlights, many gazing briefly inside to where we are seated.  I think they are wishing they were inside with us, or at least with Gretchen.

Part III

Latest Update from the Front, December 26, 2000
Gretchen (or is it Greta?) and I have returned from Atlanta and the attendant celery/carrot juice intoxication we indulged at the R.Thomas Natural Bar and Grill, to my remote mountain home and laboratory built on a steep forested slope in the snowy mountains of western Maryland.  Not quite so exciting as Vail (was it Aspen?), nor even as Key West, or Atlanta. . .
However, Gretchen has never been here before (since we met only a few days ago in a stuporific haze in a bar in Vail), and has fallen in love with my sophisticated nutrient biophysics laboratory, which fills two rooms, and which is largely dedicated to studying the physics and biophysics of the negative hydrogen ion and its antioxidant activity.   Her awe validates my sense (probably a last-ditch defense of a collapsing personality!) that I am not really a hapless nerd, but a worldly man of science, engaging in cutting-edge research for the benefit of humankind!  Gretchen also likes my handsome hound Toby, and they spend long periods cuddling on the sofa as if they were old friends.

Gretchen is currently lying on a sheet spread on the snow outside (it is 22 degrees and 10 AM, YIKES!), desperately trying to maintain her suntan.  However, spoiled European ski/snowboard goddess and extreme athlete that she is, I expect her to bolt any hour for the airport, enroute to some hotspot destination such as Telluride, the slopes of the Alps, or even Tahoe.  However, maybe I can get her hooked on some of my supernutrient ionized water or Microhydrin first, and she might stick around.

Part IV

Latest Update from the Front, December, 27, 2000
As I write these lines at 1:00 PM,  Gretchen  (that will do, for who knows what her true name is!), the raw-food European snowboard goddess (most recently hailing from Vail), is lying outside again in the early afternoon sun, again trying to maintain her tan.  It is now 20 degrees outside and she has again spread her naked 6 foot, muscled and tanned frame on a sheet lying on top of the snow cover, desperately trying to absorb the rarefied but blessed rays of the sun.  My hound Toby is sprawled contentedly on a towel nearby. .  I lasted but 3 minutes out there when I tried that a while ago.

For some reason, there are three pickup trucks parked on the roadside below my home, and all three of the drivers seem to be examining the mountain slope (two apparently with binoculars) of my yard quite carefully for deer.  I thought deer season had ended two weeks ago, but there must be a brief post-season doe hunt underway, with all this interest in scanning my hillside.   A fourth vehicle, a red SUV, seems to keep passing my house repeatedly; he's passed 6 times as I write this letter.  Must be looking for a safe and legal place to park to go doe hunting.

Gretchen, unfortunately, will be leaving tomorrow for Vail on a commercial flight.  We were served notice by the local police yesterday that she is wanted in Vail for (and I quote the computer printout they left for us): "being an accessory to a felony committed 12/19/2000, a possible eyewitness to a homicide committed by a companion in this district on 12/17/2000, and for failing to report for a court hearing on a misdemeanor charge on 12/22/2000".  Since she and her European girlfriends had been in Vail for only two weeks before I met them, she must have been quite busy!  She has until Saturday noon to turn herself in to the Vail DA before they go after her.  I have also discovered that her real name is Hannah, and that the reason I kept getting confused about whether her name was Gretchen or Greta is that she kept forgetting which alias she had given me, and was consequently telling me both names at different times.  I asked her to tell me a bit more about the charges and her need to tell me a fake name, and she refused, saying only, in her thick guttural Austrian (I assume, sounds like it!) accent, "I guess my karma ran over my dogma!  Maybe I should just go back to Graz, to Europe, or maybe even home.  Ah, but Gendrid is still in Vail."  So now I am left to wonder obsessively and ruminatively: "Who is Gendrid?". There is an unsettled feeling in my gut: even the way in which Gretchen pronounced the word “Gendrid” was ominous.  And what did she mean by “even home”?  I had thought that Graz, Austria was her home. . .  This was getting most curious, and yet I felt amazingly patient about the ambiguities.

Part V

Update from the Front, December 28, 2000
Gretchen/Greta/Hannah (let's choose to use "Gretchen" for now) has been ensconced in the bedroom for over 3 hours, whispering on her cell phone, often in strange languages whose roots I cannot begin to decipher.  I suspect that she is planning to flee the country and return to Austria (or some ski/snow hot spot in the Alps) rather than fly back to Vail to face charges. From what the Assistant Prosecutor (Vail) told us on the phone today, it sounds like the authorities would not be particularly upset if she did that, so long as she stays out of the country (or at least out of Colorado).  Ah, the pain! The ambiguity!  The loss!

Part VI

Final Update, December 29, 2000
Gretchen (if that is her name), the tanned Amazon-like raw-food/RAF European snowboard goddess (most  recently hailing from Vail) left early this morning, as the first faint light of dawn broke  over the mountains.  Apparently, she had made up her mind to return to her homeland and to skip Vail and the criminal charges facing her as well.  The parting was unusual,  to say the least.  Hours earlier, she had offered me some astounding help with a perplexing Quantum Electrodynamics problem (dipole moments of possible H- ion configurations) in the recesses of my remote mountain laboratory as the clock struck midnight, yet had cannily refused to explain how she could have acquired such knowledge.  Did she have an advanced degree in physics or physical chemistry, I had asked?  She had simply smiled and refused to respond, her green eyes wide in innocence.

We had been up all night, first talking, then in my lab, then talking some more.  Gone was the Goth look, and gone as well was the lycra bodysuit which Gretchen had worn when I first met her ten days before. Gretchen was now wearing faded blue jeans, dark hiking boots, a red plaid flannel shirt she had borrowed from me, and a scuffed black leather jacket which seemingly had materialized out of nowhere. She appeared totally relaxed and sure of herself, despite some rather momentous decisions with which she must have been struggling for the past 12 hours.  She had declined my offer to drive her to the local airport (BWI) and instead, at 3:00 AM, suddenly asked if she might "borrow" some transportation, namely, the abandoned, chopped and sprung BMW 750 motorcyle left behind in my upper parking lot three years ago when Astrid, my ex-girlfriend (preppy, peppy,  perky aerobics instructor suddenly turned hard-core biker and darkside Wiccan after we had been involved for ten months) had to leave the area in a hurry after incurring the wrath of a local enclave of the Pagan Poodle Club.  I was astounded that Gretchen/Hannah would even ask to use the old wreck: we had looked at the bike together in the daylight several times during the past two days of her stay here, and she was as aware as I that the battery was missing, the ignition wires were long gone, having fallen prey to vengeful members of the Pagan Poodle Club, and any gasoline left in the tank of the rotting hulk had long ago turned to gum and varnish, likely fouling the cylinders and carb as well.  Besides, the bike had no license plate; the plate would not only have been long since expired, but it had been stolen as well.  On top of all that, the tires were long since flat, a natural consequence of the fact that the bike had been sitting outdoors for over three years.  However, I agreed to “loan” her the bike, or at least, whatever was left of it, sitting in my upper parking lot.  I was amused, and also curious what would happen next: what would she use the rotten hulk of the bike for?

I attempted to remind her of the deplorable condition of the bike, but half-heartedly (for I already knew that strange things were unfolding) and she put her hand on my shoulder and hushed me with a smile.  Leaving the house, she and I had walked together in the night through my yard to view the bike again in the cold night air, her wild and tangled chestnut hair forming a near-halo about her head in the moonlight. We were accompanied on our journey by my bleary-eyed hound; he seemed mystified by this late-night activity, but accepted it.  Once at the abandoned and now-decrepit bike, Gretchen touched it, turned to me and asked "Do you have a pencil with an eraser?"  I replied that I probably had one in the house, and we returned together in the darkness downhill to the house to look for a pencil.

Minutes later, pencil in hand, we were back at the abandoned and nearly-stripped, well-rusted bike.  She took the yellow wooden pencil from my hand.  In the eerie blue-white light of my sturdy and unbreakable solid state LED flashlight, I watched in amazement  as she seemed to grow even taller than the tanned 6 foot frame and 170 pounds of muscle I had grown used to, and her once-dark tangled hair seemed to grow wilder and lighter; it looked almost as if sparks were flying off the myriad tips, or perhaps that tiny glowing snakes were dancing there.  She next did something mystifying and perplexing, yet strangely familiar -- I had witnessed the same methodical performance once in a dream at age 22, while in a trance state (the dreamscape setting at that time had been the disheveled and weedy front yard of an abandoned wooden house in Tombstone, Arizona, also in the wee morning hours; a strange old man squatting on the poch.)  Gretchen tapped the eraser end of the pencil twice on the handlebars, and once on the engine, once on a tailpipe.

Gretchen stepped back, saying only "Oh, it was only a loose wire, it is fixed now!", and the motorcycle roared to life, billowing a healthy cloud of blue smoke from the four pipes.  She looked at me innocently.  I looked at her; she looked calmly back at me. This was totally impossible, there were no wires, there was no battery, no gas!  The engine’s pistons should have been rusted and gunked solidly in the cylinders.   I looked again at the bike. The two tires, totally flat seconds earlier (and indeed for the past two years!) were now fully inflated, appearing fat and bloated in the bluish glow of my solid-state LED lithium-powered flashlight (Eternal Light Model 3M ERGO MARINE LED flashlight, $79; 877-832-4277).  Some intuition nudged my mind and told me that this had indeed all just happened, and reminded me not to judge, not to reject or attempt to edit these perceptions, weird as they might seem.

Gretchen put the pencil deftly in her jacket pocket, and approached me.  She put her arms on my shoulders, looked me squarely in the eyes and said: "Lester taught me that years ago; I visited him in 1980 when I was last in your lands.  It is always only a loose wire!  Ahhhh.. . . But, I must go now.  I must retrieve Gendrin, and return with the silly troubled fool to our homeland."  She paused; I shivered.  The way in which she had pronounced "Gendrin" was terrifying, each syllable sounding more like a thunderclap, massive, ominous.  Even the word “homeland” held endless mystery and possiblities, due in part to her use of the word, and in part to the person speaking it.  I realized with a start, from a very deep place within, that Gendrin was likely not human, but something well beyond my ken and the ken of our race.  I sensed also, with this same deep knowning, that Gendrin was very, very old, a very ancient being.  I wondered now about Gretchen/Greta/Hannah (for who knows her true name?) as well.  And her thick and endearing accent, was it really Austrian, or echoes of a language far older?   I stared at her, bemused and yet slightly amused as well.  This was becoming very interesting!   Gretchen continued "This bike I need. . . for my task.  Tell your silly ex-girlfriend if she wants her BMW back she can find me in the outlands of Aasgaard, between Heaven and Hell.  I am known there. I am, indeed, well-known!"  I suddenly realized, with a tinge of fear and excitement, nudged again by my rapidly-awakening deep intuition, that Gretchen was likely not 34 years old at all, and perhaps not even entirely human.  I decided that her accent was not Austrian after all, but something more alien to our world.

I decided to bite my tongue and let go of all my arguments about how everything I had just seen was impossible, for I had shivers of excitement and awe running up and down my spine, despite my fluffy down-filed nylon parka (Northern Wilds Trekker Model 352-B, Ripstop Nylon/Supplex shell, $189).  Instead, I just smiled and sent her love from my heart, for I enjoyed her and appreciated her immensely.  I was not planning to let silly and strange events interfere with that appreciation.  I simply said "Where will you take your friend? To Europe? To Austria? For that you will still need airline tickets as well!"  With her hands still on my shoulders, she leaned very close to me.  Breathing in my face, her exhaled breath forming fog in the cold night air, and looking straight in my eyes in the faint traces of light of a nascent dawn, she whispered in a heavy yet mellifluous voice "No, not Europe. That was never, never true, had you not yet guessed.  I must return to my homeland now, and none of your airlines can travel there. They never have; they never will.  This bike will take me and my lost-soul friend where we need to go." Her breath filled my nostrils now; it smelled other than human, something primal and yet other-worldly.  She kissed my cheek, briefly.  The recently awkened and re-incarnated motorcycle roared behind her back, as if an impatient steed were summoning her, restless now.

I became aware that the sky behind Gretchen was indeed growing lighter, but it was not the first glimmer at all of a new dawn; it was still a bit too early for that.  Rather, the glow was greenish-yellow, and banded, and came from the North, from just above the horizon.  I realized with a start that I was seeing an Aurora Borealis, and that this was rather impossible; I knew for sure that the Aurora Borealis can never be seen at a latitude below that of southern New York State, and here we were in Maryland, well below that latitude.  A distant memory arose from the small recesses in the depths of my mind: was not the Aurora Borealis seen whenever one of the warrior goddesses of  Nordic fable was about to take flight in the world between worlds?  And, was  that world not called Aasgaard?  My memory was sketchy here, but she had mentioned Aasgaard moments ago, had she not?  Wide awake, I looked again at Gretchen’s face, inches from mine, and wondered lightly, my eyes tracing her cheekbones, from whence she really came, how many years she had walked (or flown?) the paths and trails of life, and whether she was even remotely human or rather, something far greater.

She drew me close, looked again in my eyes, hands still warmly clasping my shoulders, and said "Goodbye.  You will never again see me in this world.  I cannot return.  But, I must tell you:   I am a Valkyrie. I am your female twin.  I am like you, but in a woman's body. You know how to reach me. If you get lonely for a new lover after I have gone I will send to you my friend Callie." (Or. . . did she say “Kali”? For some reason, I felt an ancient stirring at this odd name.)  With that, we kissed briefly; her tongue was hot and quick, her lips soft.  With tears filling her large green eyes, she backed away from me, her wild and tangled hair, no longer dark, now a shimmering platinum blonde and becoming straighter by the minute, was now flowing over her jacket shoulders, limned and shiloutted by the glowing red running lights of the smoothly-humming motrocycle behind her.

Suddenly, she was on the bike and it was roaring down my mountainside driveway to the road below, the brilliant halogen headlamp (where had that come from?) forming a wide white “V” in the darkness ahead.  I noticed, through tears of wonderment, joy, loss and awe that the tail lights, long-since broken and failed, were repaired and working perfectly, and stranger, there was now a clean, new license plate (Montana?) in the rear plate holder which had been empty and crusted with rust a minute earlier.

I felt, rather than heard, a thrumming in the air, and looking up, saw the trees lining both sides of the driveway bristling with many dozens of hooded turkey vultures and black ravens, all facing the driveway solemnly like silent sentinels, each seated firmly and yet beating its wings slightly with a near-silent, eerie vibration, all in unison.  Without warning, as the bike neared the road, it left the driveway, elevating  and climbing rapidly as if toward the treetops a hundred yards away, and then, within seconds, bike and rider faded and disappeared in a shrinking pink glow.  The smell of motorcycle exhaust was gone, replaced by a strange and exotic scent, which whispered of trees, mountains, deserts, beings and beasts which no human had seen in millions of years, if ever.  My hound dog Toby emitted a sound like a moan or a squeal at my side; it sounded primal.   My mind was filled with images of ancient godesses and angelic beings.  The birds, as one, lifted into silent flight and headed due westward as a seamless flock; seemingly, their mysterious vigil was now complete, their task done.


Late in the afternoon of December 29th, my cell phone, sitting on the kitchen stove-top, rang.  The ring was quite a bit louder than usual.  I anwered; the caller was Gretchen, her voice far louder and clearer than I have ever heard any caller on my cell phone, as I have set the volume rather low.  (Incidentally, when I checked the cell phone’s contact log later, there was no record af any incoming call at that time, and there was only a cryptic entry at that time and date in the detail of my cell phone bill, which arrived two weeks later.)  After we exchanged greetings, she said to me “I am back home.  First, I rescued Gendrid from a jail in Colorado.  I think there are two angry sheriff’s deputies out there.  Next, I took us both home, through the outlands.  I will always miss you!”  A minute later, as we wound down the call, she said in closing, “You know, I have been thinking, maybe instead of Callie I will send to you my friend Morrrigan -- do you like fiery red-haired women?”  I was not sure of the name she had said, it sounded like “Morgan”, but it somehow sounded longer than that name.  I replied “Morgan? Is that an Irish name?”, and she quickly shot back “I did not say ‘Morgan’, but I said ‘Morrigan’, you may meet her yet!”, this time deliberately enunciating the syllables of the name; I remember thinking at the time “.... . . . what kind of name is that?” A minute later, after exchanging expressions of affection, our phone call was ended.

This, then, was the conclusion to an event-driven, mystery-riddled odyssey into which I had stumbled a mere ten days earlier while slumming, days before Christmas, in the late-night trendy bars of Vail with a pack of Amazon-like European (in hindsight, were they European, or were they from somewhere far older and far more distant?) snowboard goddesses, having, in my lust, left common sense and good judgement back in my room at the lodge.  Yet, I could not regret this past ten days nor my involvement with this mystery woman; the whole episode, and she as well, was simply too wondrous, magical and indeed, sacred, to dismiss with mere judgement or rejection.

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