Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Mjorgonlar, Class of '88

by Brian Winters 

Mjorgonlar the Barbarian was an exchange student during our senior year.

He wasn’t the only one.  Our school also hosted Ana Sophia from Brazil and Joon-ho from Korea, but they were both quiet and reserved.   Mjorgonlar was different.  He brought a lot of noise with him, telling stories about castles he had raided and royal families he had slaughtered. 

While we waited for the Jostens guy to do our senior class portraits, he asked if we knew about the pillaging of Radiskell.


“Surely, you have heard tidings regarding House Einassfar and its ruination?”

“Um, not really.”

“The siege of Loch Morrigan?”


Mjorgonlar may have resembled something out of a Frank Frazetta painting, but once you got past the armor, the eye patch, and the necklace of finger bones, he was fun to hang out with. 

The English club once had an open mic night and Mjorgonlar did a bit about setting a monastery on fire.  During a talent show, he demonstrated his proficiency with a war hammer.  And at a pool party, he cooked three goats and drank an entire keg by himself.   

Coach Armstrong convinced Mjorgonlar to play on our football team and we went to State that year.  An undefeated season.  Mjorgonlar would work himself into a frenzied berserker mode and games almost always ended with decapitations, blood eagles, and Mjorgonlar carrying off the opposing teams’ cheerleaders for a night of defilement.

Academically speaking, Mjorgonlar fared well.  His philosophy of dividing and conquering got him through math classes.  He would laugh uproariously during health and sex-ed, bellowing that life should be lived in the manner of the gods, fearlessly and expectant of death at any moment.  Driver’s Ed sometimes posed a challenge.  “Turn signals, brakes…,” he’d say, “a fine battle horse needs not these things to crush the weak underfoot.”

When it came time to announce the King and Queen of Prom, there was no question as to who the King would be.  When his name was called, Mjorgonlar let out an ear-shattering scream of victory and took his place on stage, seated on a throne that we adorned with plastic swords and papier-mache skulls.  Even though the title came with no royal or legal authority, we still played it up for him, yelling “All hail Mjorgonlar, the Harbinger of Woe and the Bringer of Lamentations!”

As the school year approached its end, Mjorgonlar became a little more subdued, perhaps even introspective. “I will miss the days of camaraderie,” he would say in-between sighs, “because the shores of my destiny are calling, and my return depends upon the will of the gods.”  Then he put a couple of unsuspecting classmates into headlocks until they passed out.

On Grad Night, we all went to Disneyland.  Mjorgonlar enjoyed the Jungle Cruise and the Matterhorn, but he hated It’s a Small World.  During the submarine ride, several of us caught him a little misty-eyed when he saw the killer whale fighting the squid.  It probably reminded him of something he’d seen before, long ago and far away.

The next day, most of the class went to the beach to see him off.  As the late afternoon sun descended to meet the horizon, Mjorgonlar unfurled his sails and set out to sea, waving to us and us to him.  We rallied to give him one last war scream, just like the ones during pep rallies and spirit week.  He responded in kind, and then his lonely ship became indistinguishable from the distant waves.  

Brian Winters generally writes about the restless or the unshaven. He currently lives in Twain Harte, CA with his German Shepard and can be found eating street tacos on most weekends. He owns a hat and smokes a pipe.