Could someone help me with what might seem an odd inquiry? How would a man go about killing a full-grown bear using only his hands? I should add that the man is near the brink of exhaustion and the temperature is minus 30. Many thanks in anticipation.
Thursday 16 May 1996
Dear Mountain-man. Whichever kind of bear it is that inhabits the Baffin Island area of Northern Canada - I didn't realise that there were so many.
Friday 17 May 1996
Dear Rudy. I thought you might care to see a second extract of the novel.
The first the Man knew was the sudden massive blow of the Bear's paw on the side of his head. It sent him headlong, sprawling on his back in the snow. He felt a warm trickle of blood, turning rapidly to red ice on the side of his head. Looking up he found himself staring into the wild eyes of Nemesis. The Bear was just as hungry and desperate as the Man - if not as cold.
Rearing up to its full six and a half feet, its massive bulk poised to put its full weight behind its lunging, sharp-clawed paws, the Bear staggered towards him.
But this time the largest animal in the Arctic had met his match. The Man knew what he had to do; he had learned that the apparently undefeatable mammal had an Achilles heel - in his neck. Taking the Bear completely by surprise the Man sprang up, and buried his teeth in the soft fur an inch below the Bear's left ear. His two jaws met together, severing the animal's carotid artery, and killing it before it even knew that it was under attack.
Now he could take shelter from the cold - but what terrible shelter it was. Dragging his knife from its sheath, he cut deeply into the Bear's warm belly. From the long incision he pulled a dozen yards of steaming entrails. And then, into the stinking cavity, still half-full of warm guts, he crawled. There, literally in the belly of the beast, he found his ease. Darkness came over him, and he slept.
Sunday 19 May 1996
Dear Rudy. So you think my story's implausible, do you? I'll have you know that the information in it was vouchsafed by a mountain-man from Colorado, who had spent much of his youth traversing the Canadian wilds.
But I can take your criticism, for if it's implausibility you want - staggering, ridiculous, impossible implausibility, then listen to this. Do you want to know where I spent last night? In the arms of Hera, that's where. Yes, the same Hera who I have always traduced (and who never had a good word to say for me).
Since Nadine moved out Hera has been coming round, alternately lecturing me on my sexism and offering me comfort on my loss. Anyway, last week she suggested that I might find it interesting to accompany her to a weekend conference of Men and Women against Pornography. So on Saturday we set out in her Deux Chevaux and clanked up the M11 to some stately pile owned by a trade union.
We put our overnight bags in our rather spartan rooms and came downstairs for the first session, which consisted of Barney, a bearded 18-stoner, apologising to us for once having "used" pornography. After a break for tea we were shown into a darkened room with video machine. Hera and I sat there side by side as Barney, warning us that we might find the material shocking, fed the machine with something the label declared to be "fun- girls of Old Copenhagen".
Soon the screen was full of nice looking women and well-endowed chaps doing it. "Tsk, tsk" and "disgusting" was the practically universal reaction to what we were seeing. But while my brain was rejecting the fun-girls, other parts of me were, er, endorsing them. And the more I willed this reaction to cease, the more problematic it became.
At which point, entirely by chance, Hera dropped her hand on my lap. She gave a little squeak, drew her hand away and - in the darkness - looked at me. Rarely have I blushed so furiously.
When the session was over, and several other chaps had confessed to ambivalence - and one had wept (I kept my gob shut), Hera suggested that we go for a walk in the grounds.
When we were out of sight of the house she turned to me, contempt, pity and something else in her eyes. "You have a problem, Digby", she said. "And I think that I can solve it".
Oops, sorry, Rudy, that's the phone. Must go. More later. BBFN.
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