The Wilderness of Mitch Cantsee

Everyone knows what it feels like to be the fish out of water. We are each, in our own unique way, exiles on a planet called Earth. In fact, to be unique is part of our banishment, for were we each alike, we would, perhaps, feel affinity in our sameness.

In The Crippy, Mitch Cantsee is half Navajo, half Anglo. He feels outcast in either world. At home in neither, cast adrift from boyhood without mother or father, he turns to a familiar hiding place: drugs. Mitch grows up in a small desert town called Animas, but feels alone in a place where he knows everyone.

His exile, like all of ours, is internal. Though he can easily point to the alienation he feels as the result of being a cultural stranger and road fugitive, he’s really estranged from himself. While he’s laid up in DOC on a drug charge, he signs away the rights to his children. Though he justifies terminating his own rights as doing his little son and daughter a favor, he comes to regard this is as the ultimate act of cowardice, the final betrayal in a life in which he’s been on the giving and receiving end of multiple acts of treason.  And so this final abandonment of his own kin casts him adrift on the winds of an estranged life. He takes on the career of a small town meth dealer. Until one of his customers, an addicted mother, pawns her 8-year old daughter off on Mitch for a teenth of glass.

Beneath his hide of cynicism, Mitch’s heart breaks for the child, named Sam: if he doesn’t take her in, who will? Where will she end up? He knows all to well from the life, from his own boyhood, what could happen to a child bereft of a protector in the underworld.

Yet when he finds out that the child has a gift for languages, and that as a result she knows more than she should about the secrets grownups keep, he is compelled to protect her from kidnappers. He and the girl set off across country far from a home they both long for. Yet have either of them ever belonged anywhere?

What is home? Where is it?

I’ve never felt at home in the world. Wanderer from career to career, from place to place, lover to lover, I’ve searched all places outside for the place inside, searched the eyes of others for my own soul. Restless in the arms of another, in the cities where we gather for protection from the terrifying thought that loneliness may track us down, Mitch’s story is my own.

Do you find a piece of yourself left behind in someone like him? Are we not all loners in search of belonging in our restless, vagabond freedom? The Crippy is a road tale in which a deadbeat dad and an 8 year-old girl orphaned by the world try to discover why governments, why Men in Black and otherworldly creatures which Sam calls the oglethings are all obsessed with kidnapping her. She seems to have a gift for languages and breaking codes. Is it something she knows? Is it some code, as yet unbroken, which only she can decrypt? Everyone wants her. No one cares about her.

The answer to the outside story of why everyone is after Sam may have something to do with Mitch’s past, his inside story. Besides having elements of fantasy and science fiction, The Crippy is at heart a mystery. It is the riddle each of us has to answer: why are we strangers to our very selves? And can I truly belong to another as long as I cast myself adrift from me?

The reveal in The Crippy may surprise you. In the end, when we yank off our own masks, who we really are beneath the ego will astound us. We may terrify us with ourselves, yet delight us with the surprise of who we really are to no end. To buy, click: https://www.amazon.com/Crippy-Michael-Just/dp/1533034699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518209793&sr=8-1&keywords=the+crippy

© 2018 by Michael C. Just