First Meeting with the Devil

My first meeting with the Devil. About 1975?. Looking after the house and crazy dog of Bjorn and Sylvia Andersen, then living in West Van. (please contact me, I can not find your new address anywhere). I asked Bjorn to help me in my furniture business for a couple of weeks, he had just lost his business, and it was like a favour. He worked for me for the next 11 years, a most valued employee, but more a good friend. I volunteered to look after their vicious dog while they were on a trip to Sweden.

The dog knew me well. I was often at their house, and I like all dogs, and they me. They left the key under the door mat and when I came that first evening, the dog did not like my approach to the door mat. It became a truce, I slept in the hammock, just out of reach of the dog, throwing him some bones, and he protected the house and property within the reach of his heavy chain. By the morning we became friends.

The next evening I took him for a walk in the neighborhood. That was a mistake. Even on a tight leash, he bit the ear of a German Shepard that came too close, the owners not happy. I thereafter took him in my car, very late, after midnight, down to the Light House Park,   a nice walk, with a large rocky shoreline, in the view of the lighthouse, and a beautiful ocean, the Vancouver Harbour, English Bay.

This one night here was nobody, just me and the dog. The moon was shining. The water was so tempting, I lowed to swim. I undressed to the way I was born, and dived in. That was a big mistake. When I finally surfaced, I was hundreds of yards out and up the coast. The currents were so strong that I could not swim against it alt all. The undercurrent pulled me down and out from shore. The whole area are steep, high, rocky cliffs. I was dead.

I tried to swim towards shore, now far away from where I dived in. The dog was now howling, trying to follow me. I made it to the rocks, grabbed some seaweeds, each wave pushing me higher, and then pulling me back out and under. I swallowed a lot of seawater that evening. I am/was a good swimmer. The tide pulled me out, another hundred yards from shore by the time I came up. I was young, strong, and had no fear, but, I was running out of strength and options.

One more try. I made it to shore, but, the waves just rubbed my naked body up and down the barnacled cliffs. I bled from scratches all over my body. But hat was not my problem. I had to make it to shore. Alive. And I had no strength to try again. I let my body flow with the ripple tide. Trying to think before the panic took over completely.

For the very first time, the Devil was there. His presence was strong. This first meeting was like a stand off. I have meet him a few times later. It is an unconfortable situation. You have no bargaining position. He holds all the cards, all trumps. You are 25 or so, drowning in the moonlit night, just a howling dog that cares; he now had problems following the shoreline, and seeing me.

I asked the Devil if he wanted me now ? It was a fair question. He had the lead. His (we were on close talking terms by now) answer was: “Hell no ! You are not ready for me yet, by far ! You have a long way to go”. I still remember it as if it was last night. It gave me strength, courage, and a fanatic survival instinct that I have had ever since. Thank Good.

I drifted with the tide for a while, a long while. Gathering strength. Then I started a slow but steady approach to the shore, not fighting the current, using it to my advantage, getting closer and closer. I saw a hollow in the rocks, decided to go for that one, using the power of the wave, flowing up the rocky cliffs, got hold of some seaweed, and held on. The wave went out and came back. I was pushed higher up the cliffs. Grabbed new seaweed, and on the third wave I was as high up as I could get with the help of the sea.

After a rest, collecting myself, shaking the Devil off my shoulders. Because he was there, watching, waiting, curious to see how I made out. I managed to crawl up the cliffs, to a dry safe place. The ordeal was over.

The next thing I remembered, was the dog licking my wounds, for a long time. I was there for hours, almost until dawn. It took a long time to hike back to my clothes. I can not remember a thing. It was like walking on water.

I tell this story seldom, because I am not proud of it. I should never have dived into the strange waters like that. I usually say that the Devil had me in his hold,  and spit me out. It is how it felt. Not nice.

But, as a note, drowning is not a bad way to die. I have been close later, and with people that have been even closer. It is a warm, fulfilling feeling, no flashy lights, no tunnels, just comfortable, as if this is the place for me ? I like it here, keep me, don’t let me go.

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