DURING THE UNEASY PEACE/ MARK SEIDL

Whenever the Viking who lived in 4D was home, he’d invite Brenda over for some horns of mead. He’d talk to her about his raiding expeditions. He was tall & broad chested like a model for athletic wear. Encouraged by his candor, Brenda would lean toward him in an attitude of tender attention & try not shudder as he described his dragon ship gliding from the fog, the villagers—mostly women—crying for mercy. As he spoke he’d keep his eyes on a photograph above the couch, a portrait of a beautiful young woman wearing blond braids and a cone-shaped helmet. Brenda tried leaning closer, but the evening always ended when the Viking stood, shook her hand, & bid her goodnight. Once, when the mead was especially sweet, Brenda drank a fourth horn & then a fifth. She looked hard at the photograph & in her best soprano starting singing to the tune of “Ride of the Valkyries”. The Viking smiled & joined in with a throaty baritone. After a few bars his voice broke into a sob. He stared down into his horn. Brenda felt the urge that often came over her at parties to dab her mouth with a napkin. It happened, said the Viking, the day her opera-singer boyfriend got drunk & drove her car into a pack of black motorcycles.

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