Having been kidnapped by a red-haired Viking berserker and Tui-na master with an uncanny resemblance to Sammy Hagar, I now find myself in the wilds of western Montana, in the middle of the craziest adventure of my life.
Meeting Jesse for the first time was an extremely unsettling experience. I was riding the city bus one Sunday afternoon in 2012, happily absorbed in a book, when a man got on. I may never have noticed him, except that my mother immediately called out a greeting and proceeded to introduce us. She had chanced to meet him once before at a bus stop, and had later waxed enthusiastic about his story of healing by a Chinese doctor and subsequent apprenticeship. My response had been a roll of the eyes, as she had a history of meeting “fascinating” people on the bus, notably overly friendly men a little too keen on her smile.
Smiling brightly now she said, “Rose, meet Jesse.”
I looked up from my book, prepared with the usual polite smile I gave all strangers in whom I had no interest, and was startled to silence. Jesse was looking at me unsmiling with a strange expression I could not read. Tall and fierce with long, curling red hair, he was so unlike what I expected I didn’t know what to think. My first impression was that he did not like me, but I found I couldn’t really fathom him or his reaction to me. We exchanged no words, and after a few moments he sat down and began a conversation with my mother. It was not until years later that I understood what had happened.
Being observant by nature, and a keen judge of others, I was used to seeing others without being seen. Not even my closest friends or family had ever penetrated the veil of mystery and secrecy I lived behind. Twenty years in the making, the wall I had build between myself and the world was strong and impenetrable – or so I had thought. Now with no warning, I had looked up at a complete stranger and, to my utter astonishment, found him looking at me.
Terrified and somewhat indignant at being thus discovered, I instantly threw up additional defenses, which Jesse later told me he felt as a tremendous output of energy so intense it almost knocked him over. Hence the strange look on his face I had at first interpreted as hostility. I must have been 24 at the time. He thought I was 16.
I went back to my book, dismissing the incident with the assumption I would never see the man again. For a long while it seemed I was right. Then, two years later in the summer of 2014, by the strangest chance – or fate – our paths crossed again. But that is another story…
Read more at Mountain Rose Tales.