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 Five - Grandfather, Grandfather Coyote and Cloud Walking
I'd be leaving the interstate at North Platte for the last 150 miles or so. The two lane highway would take me North almost to the South Dakota line, to the Valentine Community Hospital, to Grandfather's side. I prayed he still held on and I would be in time. I dreaded that I wouldn't be.
Just as I turned off at the exit in North Platte I shuddered passing once again the Fort Cody Trading Post and Wild West Show Museum. Denver may hold the Wild West hero's bones, but North Platte has always fought to claim his life and legacy; his "ranch" is a State Park on the Northwest side of town. I shook my head to see the tourist trap this place had now become. No, I guess not really now, it had always been this way. Bill himself would probably have approved, he was a master showman after all. The legacy of a life lived large, lived on the pages of the newspapers of the times, within the dreams of young city white boys and the dime novels they sneaked out to the places they could hide. Bill had been the Great Buffalo Hunter, one of the many who rode along the rails and shot just to see them fall; the mounds and piles of skulls and rotting meat. The whole left where even coyote and crows and vultures could not consume it all.
Then when the easy pickings were all gone, starvation hit the tribes. Bill had become the friend of the Red Man and gathered up a band or two and took them on the road. Traveling in a Wild West Show a few had seen the world, had stood before the Kings and Queens of Europe, had been booed and jeered by Eastern crowds, had made some form of peace with their spirit guides to play the native fool, the Demon of the Plains, to wear the sacred feathers and smoke the sacred pipe in a Noble Savage Subdued and Subjugated Passion Play, admittance: one thin dime.
I thought of Grandfather, born just as Cody died. One in the straw and tents of the wild west shows, the other on a prairie ranch. I guessed Bill would probably have wished to share the joyous feel of prairie wind and grasses on his thighs those final days of life.
Grandfather kept a buffalo nickel worn around his neck, he said his father always let the last small herds pasture on his land. "It's really theirs," he'd said, "We just care for it in trust." The nickel had been a spirit gift from Coyote Running when they had been just boys.
I thought of the Chinese "authentic Indian jewelry" being foisted off on the eager public just inside the Trading Post and "Black Hills Gold" and "Semi Precious Turquoise Stones" and other marks of value. I felt sorry for modern kids pulled from their Walkmans or Gameboys for just a moment's glance at history, a passing must-have native trinket. They'd never know the true connection with the universe held in the two or three real necklaces and medicine bags locked in the museum cases. They would never understand it wasn't, "How do I look in this?" Rather a statement, a reverent prayer and thanks held out for all the spirits to see and honor in return.
Running Deer and I stumbled out of our nest and giggled at the dried up Tun upon or pee hard poles. The little sacs of balls scrunched up and stuck together in a clump. I pointed at his splotchy white stained skin. He hooted pointing back. We shot our streams out high and long against the brush corral and almost before the last was dripped we sprinted for the stream. We ended up a joyous bout of splashing, shrieking, wrestling. We collapsed into a giggling mass of entwined boy softly pleasuring dick for dick in shallow water.
"Hau hokshila!" a voice startled us from the bank.
"Grandfather! Grandfather Coyote!" I cried and Running Deer and I launched ourselves across the rocks and up into their arms. Grandfather hugged me close, Grandfather Coyote had my brother. Then in a little secret dance, they traded boys and we were still hugged tight sharing in our love.
"Have these two been having fun?" Grandfather turned and asked Straighthorn standing near.
"Hau!" he laughed in reply. "They have worn me out with all this running in the grass and playing in the stream and telling of the tales."
"Loyachin hokshila?" Grandfather Coyote asked. (Hungry son?)
"Hau!!!" we squealed in unison and scrambling down we grabbed their hands and started dragging them back towards the shack.
They resisted and we had to pull. Then when we finally got close, they grabbed us up again, but didn't go inside. Instead they sat down on the porch, Straighthorn in the middle, me and Running Deer either side, Grandfathers on the ends.
I smelled the cooking bacon and looked startled at Straighthorn. "Uncle, you must go inside, the bacon will be burned!"
"No, Little Fox, I'm fine right here. I think I'll sit a spell."
"But Uncle!" Running Deer cried.
"No, I wait!" he said and settled even more onto the porch.
We looked beseechingly to either side, but our Grandfathers just had that way of looking off in space. Finally I couldn't stand it any more and jumped up from my place. I grabbed Running Deer and bolted from the porch, against the door and flew into the shack.
I stopped dead in my tracks and Running Deer bowled me over. We ended up a pile of boy tangled on the floor. From the fireplace there was a grunt, "Iyotaka, yuta!" (Sit, eat!)
As I scrambled up, Running Deer was plastered to my back hiding from the apparition kneeling in Straighthorn's usual space. An ancient looking squaw was bent to the fire, our bacon pan in her scrawny knurled hand. I knew it wasn't polite to ask a Lakota name or even say one actually aloud. I backed into Running Deer and forced him still behind me round to our chairs at the other side of the table. "Hau, unci," I croaked. (Yes Grandmother)
Her two braids trailed down her back against an old and well worn buckskin dress. There were little sticks and shells seemingly knotted in the braids. As she rose and turned I peeked out through my downturned lashes to see an old and wrinkled face. Grandfather was old, but this squaw must have been among the Wakan Tanka. She looked at our plates and not at us as she doled the bacon out. The pan of eggs was already on the table and she used the bacon pan to push the eggs a little closer to me. She grunted more than said that I should take some now and eat. I dished some out for me and then had to poke Running Deer from his trance to put some on his plate.
If I had thought Straighthorn's eggs were better than Maria's then these were heaven sent. I had never tasted anything so good. A hint of sage, a bit of crunchy watercress, a fragrance I had never smelled before, a little fire in what must have been wild onions, the chopped up meat of pine nuts and mushrooms fried in bacon grease. My eyes were big as plates and I elbowed Running Deer to take a bite. He slowly drew some past his nose and took a little nibble. Then his eyes too grew wide and he went back for a great big bite. We scraped the pan to get the very last. I never thought of leaving some for Grandfather or the others.
When we were done and not quite sure what we should do, she turned from the blackened coffee pot and grunted, "Good, go play."
Running Deer was gone before I could put down my fork. Just at the door, I turned and said, "Thank you, grandmother."
She grunted once again.
The porch was full of sleeping men and we could not get them awake. Our hundred questions were falling on deaf ears. Finally Running Deer's clearly fearful glancing at the door made me nervous too. So grabbing up each other's hands we headed for our sanctuary in the cottonwoods.
We asked half our questions to ourselves, but clearly had no answers. Soon the call of the rustling prairie grass had us off and chasing poor Brother Rabbit once again.
That night we couldn't find any of the men, so crept slowly inside for dinner. Then we flew to our seats because everyone was already there. Places now for Grandfather, Grandfather Coyote and Straighthorn set around the other side of the table. The squaw was bending over the fire and the smells inside the shack were special. We ate in silence a magnificent meal, I don't know what it was. Not really stew, not really meat, some glory in between. The men ate as much as we.
Then after dinner, Straighthorn took our hands and led us to our tipi. We were barely inside when all the hundred questions came pouring forth from both our mouths. He laughed and gave us gentle hugs and told us to be patient. He asked if we liked dinner and breakfast and when we eagerly nodded our head, he laughed again and said, "Yes, Cloud Walking taught me to cook. She makes wonderful food. Yelo!" (It's a fact) Then he led us not into our cave of robes but over to the hanging clothes. Picking a breechcloth he held it out to Running Deer. "Here, dress and help our Little Fox dress, then put on moccasins and join us in the tipi on the right."
We hadn't worn any clothes for weeks and it felt funny putting them on now. For me it was very funny because I had never worn a breechcloth. Running Deer was giggling the whole time and finally just reached between my legs and straightened out the cloth and tucked it up and under its rawhide belt. I had to adjust my poking pole, his hands between my legs had woken it. He giggled and gave it a little squeeze, then he had me slip on first the right legging and then the left and he tied them to the belt too. Quickly slipping on his own and we were looking in the robes for moccasins. He found them near the door.
We must have looked the perfect pair of sun blessed native boys. We walked hand in hand across the space between the tipis. We heard the gentle beat of a drum inside and Running Deer held back a little. He waited till I bent down and pulled him through and we were suddenly inside a council ring, he once more plastered to my back his hands tightly gripping both of mine.
This tipi had no buffalo robes, it's floor was a circle of blankets laid out flat. A ring of stones in the center held a small but blazing fire, the kind for light and not for cooking. The sides were draped with even more painted skins with lots of horses, buffalo and men. Around the fire at the four directions sat Grandfather, Grandfather Coyote, Straighthorn and the squaw Cloud Walking. Straighthorn had a drum between his knees and he was slowly beating out a rhythm. Grandfather and Grandfather Coyote were softly chanting beneath their breath. Grandfather Coyote motioned me and we slid over to him. He pointed either side of Cloud Walking next to Grandfather and he and bade us sit. I didn't think I would get Running Deer unglued from behind my back, but Grandfather calmly petted him and took his hands from mine, he sat him near his knee. He swatted at my butt and shooed me back to Grandfather Coyote's side.
The drumming stopped and Straighthorn passed the drum to Grandfather. Cloud Walking started a chant deep inside her throat and Grandfather Coyote whispered to me that this was a chant for growing. She sang it for the corn, she sang for the buffalo, she sang for Running Deer and me.
I saw Grandfather whispering a little to Running Deer, but he must have known the chant. I saw his lips moving in silent harmony with the words sung by Cloud Walking. Straighthorn got up from his place and offered a pinch of something from his pouch. First to the East, then to the North, then South and finally West. He held one more pinch above the fire and I could smell the fragrant snap of burning cedar. He slowly began to dance.
I had been to one or two dances with Grandfather over time, but I had never seen one this close. Before I thought them random stompings of the feet. Watching Straighthorn dance this night I quickly caught the beat, the pattern of the steps. Then Grandfather changed the beat and Cloud Walking chanted louder. Grandfather Coyote chanted too and I knew the growing chant was done. This chant was more earthy, more driving, faster. Straighthorn's legs were bouncing up and down the jingling of the bells tied to his ankles added a droning higher pitch to Cloud Walking's singing voice.
Grandfather Coyote leaned toward me and said this was a brave's song of thanks and told me to watch Straighthorn's feet. If I wanted I could join him and learn the steps when he asked.
Straighthorn must have danced around the fire a dozen times, I thought I knew the pattern. I could tap my toes on the proper feet when his steps came down. He danced: he stopped his circling right in front of Running Deer. I could tell he was offering my brother his chance to dance, but Running Deer would not look up, sat glued to Grandfather's knee, yet watching Straighthorn's feet.
Straighthorn danced away and made another round or two, then danced in front of me. I looked up and he was asking with his eyes and hands if I would join him. I knew I would and grinning up at him and over at Grandfather Coyote I got up and took my place beside him. I gave a few stumbling starts, but finally got my feet in time with his and then we started slowly moving round the room.
It was exhilarating to dance this dance. I had no trouble matching foot for foot. Then I found there were little things I had not seen, toes out, toes in, a quarter step back on the third beat, a half step forward on the other side. These tiny variations made the turns come round and led the dancer round the fire. He wasn't walking, he was following the patterns in his feet.
My head was concentrating on the steps, the beat, the patterns in my mind and suddenly the tipi wasn't there. I felt I was dancing in the sky, among the stars, among a thousand other peoples. Badger, chipmunk, rabbit, squirrel, coyote, hawk and buffalo were dancing by my side. We praised the Wakan Tanka all together: praised Skan, the moon and sun. We praised the beauty of our sweet earth mother and how we were all part of the whole, part of each other, part of the universe.
We danced a pattern around not a council fire, but another dancer: a boy, shining in the light.
We danced and danced, I had no sense of time. I knew I was part of everything and all of it was glorious. I found myself sitting once again beside Grandfather Coyote, this time on the other side, beside Straighthorn who also had stopped dancing.
The drumming had continued, the beat again a slow and steady pace. I think the growing chant was repeating, I could see my brother's lips calling out the chant. Then Grandfather started drumming faster, this time Cloud Walking got up and began to dance. Grandfather Coyote whispered to me this was a squaw's dance of thanks. If I wanted I could dance again when she stopped and asked.
This dance was a little different. I could still count out the steps, the stomping was not so forceful and I could see the variations were more intricate. I glanced across at my brother and was amazed to see him sitting up upon his knees. He was swaying with the drumming and before Cloud Walking was even around twice, Running Deer was up and dancing after her as if he was compelled. There was no hesitation, his feet matched the pattern perfectly. I looked at Grandfather Coyote who smiled and told me no, Running Deer had never danced this dance before.
Grandfather Coyote took my hand and as we watched he seemed to fill me with the chant. I found the words inside myself somewhere and I was singing too.
I was rooted to the floor and to Grandfather Coyote by our hands as I watched my brother create a beautiful pattern round the fire. I felt him join the stars. I pushed my singing onto him and willed him the exhilaration I had felt.
I could feel my thoughts reach out touching on his skin. I could feel the tingling like when we were deep within our nest. I felt him recognize my touch and suddenly he opened up to me. I tumbled right inside.
Between his steps I felt him reaching down and lifting me. He held me heart to heart never ceasing in his dance.
I was singing in his mind and feeling with his feet and dancing with the peoples circling him.
He was shining for the heavens all about.
He might have danced my heart for days.
We woke tangled, naked in our nest; glowing to hold each other's hearts shining deep within our integral self.
Little Kit and Running Deer links are at http://fdpd.org/www/netnick/