To Be An Alsatian

by Rowan Johnson

In the village he read On the Genealogy of Morals and considered whether man truly was just an animal with a right to make promises. The Jagermeister bottle was more than half empty when the simple peasant girl joined him on the couch, so they finished the bottle together. Afterwards, she showed him the Alsatians and they took a dog sled ride back to the cabin.

On the sled the girl’s hair had been fantastically black, longer than his arms. He peered over the edge of that dark mountain and wondered how the Alsatians were not getting hopelessly lost. Then Nietzsche’s words came back to him: animals cannot acquire the depth to become truly evil, so could they can never be above other beasts. But certainly tonight it seemed that these vigorous dogs were high above everything else in this dark and swirling night.

Now, back in the cabin, the dogs were howling, far away, and the girl was suddenly gone. The night grew even darker.

All that remained of that peasant girl was a memory of a forgotten surname and a vague telephone number and strands of straight dark hair, found eloquently between the pages of Nietzsche. He played Louis Armstrong, poured a Jack Daniels, and opened the dog-eared copy of the book. He settled near the fire and read over each page again, deliberately, as if studying for a test. The ice cracked from time to time in the empty glass. Louis was scat singing as he considered good and evil and rose for another drink.

Rowan Johnson holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee as well as an MA from the University of Nottingham, England. His work has been published in Two Thirds North, 4ink7, Passing Through Journal, Wordriver Literary Review, GFT Press, and the Writers' Abroad Foreign Encounters Anthology. He has also written numerous travel articles for SEOUL Magazine.