There’s a conspiracy afoot. Don’t think for a moment that I do not know what you all are up to.
The signs are everywhere. I pick up the current issue of Sporting Classics Magazine and there’s a feature by Jim Carmichael on hunting in Russia in the ’70s with officers of the KGB. I’m out today in the flurrying snow for a Frontier Partisan Biathlon and I realize with a chill that I am hoisting a Russian kettlebell.
I’m not blind.
What have I done to deserve this? Have I not been a good and loyal comrade?
I suppose, if I am honest, I must confess that it is all my own fault. I publically admitted my fear of venturing too far into the wilderness of Russian frontier history. I’ve ventured there briefly before and barely made it back. A fur trade even more extensive than that of North America. Woodsmen as keen as any who ever stalked the forests of old Kaintuck. A Civil War of staggering and tragic proportions, fought out with Mosin-Nagants, armored trains and Maxims — and saber-wielding men on horseback.
I was a White Guard, I was a Red Guard, I was the Tsar’s own palace horse guard
When Romanov was murdered in the night *
I was merely acknowledging my own weakness, comrades. For when I become absorbed, I lose all sense of myself. I could become lost, you see.
The moment I expressed these public doubts, I could feel the wheels within wheels clanking and locking into place.
I am being shadowed.
Howard Andrew Jones himself shows up at Frontier Partisans, a reminder that I have never properly saluted the venerable Khlit the Cossack and honored his adventures on the steppe. Dersu Uzala materializes out of birch forests, never saying a word, a silent rebuke to a writer of frontier adventure who has never memorialized the adventures of the native trapper who guided and saved the Vladimir Arsenyev expedition to the Far East in 1902.
The warnings have grown stronger. Lane Batot whispers that I am about to walk down the trail of a Siberian tiger. Craig Rullman mashes down the button on a Defcon One alert that there is a potentially fatal gap in the Frontier Partisans cosmos — for I have never seen Werner Herzog’s “Happy People.” He tried to make it sound like he was alerting anyone who hasn’t seen Herzog’s documentary on the indigenous people of the village Bakhtia in the Siberian Taiga. But I know when I’m in the crosshairs. Don’t tell me I’m paranoid.
Yes, it’s all up for me comrades; tonight I depart on a train into Siberia to palaver with a whole new community of ghosts.
I will send a dispatch if I can…
- Corb Lund, “Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!”