Copyright 2002 - 2003 by Nicholas6996@hotmail.com The author retains all rights to this story and requests that you do not alter or post this story in any form without his permission. The following is a work of fiction.
This story will contain gifts of love and caring between a man and a boy. If you don't like love, then stop reading now. If love and caring between unrelated men and boys is illegal where you are, then I'm sorry for you. If you aren't old enough to legally read this story, then I hope someone loves you enough to read it to you. If you know of a Finding Place and have stories about it, please give me a gift and share.
My deepest thanks to Rod, I name him friend and what he's given me helps make this story sing.
To Ganymede and Teglin I thank you for the beauty you have shared and hope this reflects a fraction of the light you shine so brightly.
Part Eleven Leaping Frog
I walked downstairs realizing I had probably never walked these steps before; but had banged down them, skipping, jumping, two or three at a time. My thud upon the landing warned Grandfather and Maria that I would soon explode within the kitchen; ever hungry! Maria would always smile a smile of joy to see me happy. Today I stepped across the kitchen threshold and she gave a start.
"I didn't hear you coming!" was all she said.
I laughed and promised next time to thump my way down the stairs. She laughed and waved me to the table.
I saw the four places set and looked at her a question. She laughed again and told me John would join us as always, Jim, the young farm hand, too. The other place was set for me.
I didn't think I could sit in Grandfather's chair.
I sat in Grandfather's chair and thought of all the times he held me there, at that place, at that table. I waved a honey bee away from near the jam.
Dinner was a mostly quiet affair. John mumbled thanks that I had come, he asked if I had seen Grandfather. Jim sat silent watching me as if the man somehow didn't match the boy he'd heard about. I tried to talk a little to him, but he was far too shy. Maria tried to keep a stream of stories filling the quiet, about the births of colts and storms and price of beef and things inconsequential and so important across the years. She waved the bee away and said, "I think that bee would like to live inside! I haven't been able to get him out now for at least two days!"
Jim stood and said, "I'll get the fly swat, Miss Maria."
She waved him back into his seat. "No, he's not hurting anyone. I just hope he knows the hive is all outside!"
We woke to golden morning sun shimmering above a tiny vapor's mist rising from the prairie grasses. A little fire was making the sweetest smell of frybread. Straighthorn came striding across the prairie his hands cupping something wrapped in plastic.
Cloud Walking laughed to see our morning spikes poking out between our legs and told us to hurry or she would be eating all the honey! Running Deer looked a sly look at me and ran his tongue completely around his mouth. I groaned to think that he might taste me that very morning. Cloud Walking swatted me on the butt. We ran to the nearest bushes and made a bigger cloud of mist; the heat from in our bodies rising quickly from the puddle.
We hurried back and found that Straighthorn had indeed found a hive and brought us fresh honey and comb for our breakfast feast. The taste of honey on the frybread was like the taste of heaven inside my head. I wondered when I'd ever get to taste "Deer Honey" and be like Running Deer, always smiling when he tasted Fox.
The wagon crept across the plains, Running Deer would lead me off to see more babies that had called to him. This day we visited porcupine and prairie dog and even saw a brace of baby mink frolicking on a stream bank. My brother glowed beneath the warming spring rays of Wi. I flashed white as Wi was not yet strong enough to burn me.
That night we stopped again beneath the endless sky and made a simple bed out of our robes. Straighthorn found a sudden need for me to fill the wagon overflowing with nearby downed cottonwood. My brother cooked a stew that I could smell between the sweat dropping off my brow. I ate and fell asleep against Straighthorn's gentle chest. Running Deer must have slept too against his other side. I dreamt of nothing more than gentle wind and happiness within my robe.
Next day at nearly noon we crossed a rise and saw a village spread across the valley. There must have been three dozen tipis just like ours. Another half a hundred camping tents and older beat up trailers told this was to be a large gathering of Lakota. Riders came out to great us, a man and perhaps a half a dozen boys. The man spoke with Straighthorn and pointed across to where I guessed he wanted us to camp. The boys stayed well back but kept fidgeting on their horses as if they wanted to be near us, but at the same time wanted to be far away.
Then in an explosion of dust they all were gone and we plodded that last mile behind our wagon.
As we reached the village there were a hundred calls to Straighthorn. He waved and returned greetings to everyone who called. As we stopped the wagon a veritable army of braves and squaws and twice as many children descended on it and instantly we seemed to have a camp. Running Deer slyly surveyed our standing tipi and then grabbed my arm to seemingly admire my muscle. I batted him away and started to chase him when Straighthorn called us over.
We were needed on the other side of camp to help him with a project. We walked between the haphazard placement of the tents and trailers and tipis. We crossed a giant circle left vacant in the middle. I knew that we would soon see dancing there.
As we walked I noticed everyone would quiet when we were near. All eyes would follow us. A few old men, a squaw or two and a handful of giggling boys would step a little in our path and touch my brother or me as we went by. A simple touch on arm or back. It seemed a way of saying hello more than anything. Like the children in the winter, all smiled to have touched either one of us. At the giggling return to friends and admiring laughter I wondered if the boys were somehow counting coup.
We found a smaller clearing in the bowl inside the valley, near a stream much smaller than the one which we knew to be our own. A pile of willow, another pile of skins and robes. Straighthorn was talking with some other men and then two other boys about our age were joining us. They shyly raised their eyes a little when I offered them my name. They touched my arm, but didn't speak to greet me back. Running Deer reached out and touched each one of them and then for some reason, I did it too. We smiled together sharing touch and secret shy expressions.
Straighthorn suddenly was the only one around. We worked at his direction stripping willow poles and sorting skins and piling all around the circle. Then Running Deer and he were standing at two ends within the circle and willow lengths were bending across space. Soon enough the two of them had made the outlines of a mound. I saw the shape was much like a beaver lodge and sudden knew that we were building a most sacred space: the sweat lodge for the elders. When we were done, Straighthorn led us all inside and pointed where he wanted stones and where buckets were to be placed outside. We finished all at his careful direction and then he stripped his clothes off and motioned us to do the same and quickly the workers were once again just boys splashing and playing in the stream. The cold and bracing shock of water made me think of Small Bear Mahto and his lesson of attention; I thought on the honor were we given in the building of the lodge. The other boys had a quick little talk when they saw the blond hairs standing on the bright white skin above my penis. They were just as brown and smooth as Running Deer. We played and splashed but did not end up touching such that our poles would stiffen.
Walking back across the village, more people braved to touch us.
Cloud Walking had a fire going, the parfleche boxes and tubes arranged against the inner tipi walls. A hanging space of clothes was fuller than I ever saw it in the tipi. The fluttering of feathers drew my eye whenever the tipi flap was raised. We ate a simple meal of frybread in midafternoon. Straighthorn had us tend the horses and lead them to the large brush corral. Several older boys were sitting, smoking cigarettes and ignored us as we entered. Younger boys were playing throwing sticks and chasing all around outside the brushwork. They would grow quiet as we passed.
That evening Cloud Walking called us inside and nodding to Running Deer she smiled him to the boxes. He shyly and excitedly opened one and pulled forth a pile of clothing. He held it out to me, yet looked down at his feet. I took the bundle and set it down and grabbed him in an embrace. "Is this what you've been working on?" I asked him breathlessly.
"Han," he replied looking at me through his lashes.
"Put them on," Cloud Walking grunted from behind us.
I stripped out of the buckskins I had been wearing and unfolded everything in the bundle. I laid them out as if they held me lying on the robes. They were so beautiful I could only stare. It was not a fancy dancing costume, just another set of buckskins, but I could see my brother's love held in every quill and stitch.
Running Deer then started slowly to pick them up and dress me. First the breechcloth, long and slender decorated with a geometric pattern pointing in all the four directions. He tied the leggings on the side, a long and driving row of quillwork thrusting upward on each leg. Then a shirt of softest doeskin. Decorated across the shoulders from fingertip to fingertip. I hummed to feel his touch, I hummed to feel his love, he hummed with me inside.
Then stepping just away Running Deer took off the buckskins he was wearing. I cried to think I didn't have a new set to give him too. Then just as I started to speak, Cloud Walking placed another bundle in my hands. I dressed him as lovingly, as gently as he had dressed me.
Together we walked hand in hand with Cloud Walking toward the dancing circle.
People hushed as we walked past, they did not step forward now to touch us. I realized Cloud Walking had never been greeted by anyone. I squeezed her hand to tell her I loved her too. She led us head up and strongly proud across the center of the circle.
We saw Grandfathers sitting there with Straighthorn and it was all Cloud Walking could do to hang on as we ran to them. Before I launched myself into Grandfather's lap, he stopped me and had me twirl around showing Running Deer's new clothing for me. He hugged me up and somehow did that little dance and traded me to Grandfather Coyote taking Running Deer to himself. We stood in their embrace before the assembling Lakota.
The drums began to beat and Grandfathers guided us to sit down at their sides: the grass dances were beginning. The wild and fancy costumes of the grass dancers flowed and mimicked fields of waving prairie. Grandfather whispered to me that these dancers stomped the grass down for all the other dancers through the night. It was a beautiful sight to see them stomping and twirling and completely covering the circle with their feet.
Then squaws in jingle dancing costumes took their place and tiny bells were singing across the prairie.
The rest of the evening was a whirl of dances honoring family and animal spirits. Running Deer led me from our place and presented me to the elders sometime in the night. He made a promise to teach me and take me into his family to share in everything he had and care for me as one who was born as his brother. Suddenly, with a simple nod of my head, I was Lakota and my brother was in fact as well as spirit.
It seemed as if the entire camp touched us as he danced me round the circle.
Looking up from Maria's table, I asked John if I could borrow a horse. He glanced at Jim who jumped up and practically ran out to the stable. John looked at me and smiled and asked if I thought I could remember the way.
Maria laughed and said, "He could find it in his sleep since he was seven!"
I hugged her close and shook John's hand and putting boots back on I walked across the yard to where Jim waited with the horse.
I rode out on the prairie, I rode back into my childhood, I rode out to the finding place, Grandfather singing deep inside my head.
The smells of Cloud Walking's glorious frybread roused me from my sleep. I stretched and felt the emptiness within the nest. I frantically struggled to put on my breechcloth and burst out of the tipi, desperate to find Running Deer. It seemed as if the entire camp had sent their children to sit around our fire. Cloud Walking and Running Deer were laughing and joking and handing out fry bread in uncountless numbers to a sea of shining tiny faces. Then Running Deer called for everyone to quiet down, he had a story they might like to hear. I sat with all the others, mesmerized by my brother's lilting voice.
He told us the story of the Rabbit People:
"The Rabbit nation were very much depressed in spirits on account of being very obedient to their chief, obeying all his orders to the letter. One of his orders was that upon the approach of any other nation they should follow the example of their chief and run up among the rocks and down into their burrows and not show themselves until the strangers had passed." Then like a master puppeteer he drew two boys and they were hopping across the space and hiding in their hands to show the rabbits' fear.
"This they always did. Even the chirp of a little cricket would send them all scampering to their dens." He made a little face and called another little boy to make the sounds of the crickets. Among the giggling throng he soon had a hundred crickets on one side and quaking rabbits, twitching noses on the other. Then holding out his hand he bade them all quiet once again.
"One day they held a great council, and after talking over everything for some time, finally left it to their medicine man to decide. The medicine man arose and said: 'My friends, we are of no use on this earth. There isn't a nation on earth that fears us and we are so timid that we cannot defend ourselves. So the best thing for us to do is to rid the earth of our nation by all going over to the big lake and drowning ourselves.'"
"This they decided to do; so going to the lake they were about to jump in, when they heard a splashing in the water. Looking, they saw a lot of frogs jumping into the lake as they approached."
"'We will not drown ourselves,' said the medicine man, 'we have found a nation who are afraid of us. It is the frog nation.'"
"Had it not been for the frogs we would have had no rabbits, as the whole nation would have drowned themselves and the rabbit race would have been extinct."
Suddenly from behind us all Straighthorn shouted, "Yelo! Frightened Rabbits all run home!" and a squealing shrieking whirlwind of twittering rabbits disappeared into the camp.
I ran to my brother and hugged him up within the joy of the telling of his story. Just as he hugged me back we heard a little whimpering cry and saw left before the fire one tiny boy with sniffles and tears running from his eyes. Running Deer dropped onto his knees before him and scooped him up and turned and held him too in my embrace. He asked him why he cried. Had the story frightened him too much?
"No," the boy managed to sniffle through his tears. "But I am Leaping Frog and I am not afraid of any silly rabbit. Is it okay if I am brave?"
Running Deer beamed and bounced the youngster in the air. "The bravest Frog in all the world!" He cried and held him up for me to see. When I nodded back the little one's face transformed into a shining dripping sun and he ran off shouting for his friends, "Running Deer and Little Fox say I am the bravest Frog!"
Cloud Walking touched my brother with her hand and turning touched me too. She lead us to the tipi.
Little Bee is dancing at www.netnicholas.com/littlebee