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 Six - The Finding Place
The hours spent driving on the interstate had made me realize how disconnected that straight sure path had made us. The only things remotely seen were interchange gas stations. It was like the countryside wasn't really there. A thing to hurry through, a thing to pass, a thing to curse for stretching out so far.
Now on the two lane highway heading North the country impinged more. Market roads crossed at grade, lanes and driveways broke in along the sides. The stands of trees which shouted WATER were more visible and closer-in beside ranch houses, outbuildings, fields of rusting outmoded implements and cars.
Fellow travelers were probably actually fewer, but the connection to each other more strong. An overtaken truck a more difficult object to get past. The pickup or farm truck coming from the other way actually grabbing hold with speeding air's deflection causing a whoosh and sucking up against my SUV. A school bus bringing everything to stop. Two laughing, poking, flying boys running down the lane to meet it at the road. One dressed in brand new fashion-baggy shorts, the other wearing worn and faded jeans. The rancher's and a ranchhand's boy I guessed, but which was which? I was not so bold as to suppose, the ready money for new clothes might now lie with the hands.
Our day was subtly different after that night of dancing in the light. I don't think we noticed then. We woke, we peed, we ran down to the stream. We splashed, we laughed, we shouted at the sky. We skipped a rock, we hugged each other in the shallows. We grabbed our hands and headed for the shack and breakfast. We went inside, no lingering fear of Cloud Walking. We saw the fire glowing and the ever-present coffee pot. There was no bacon frying, there was no smell of baking frybreads.
Cloud Walking greeted us as soon as we were in and asked us for our help. Our excited boyish minds were eager as always for something to do and we went to her at the table. She handed Running Deer a bowl and bade him stir the batter. I was given knife and pointed at a little pile of onion. She showed him how to add the water a little at a time, she showed me how to hold the knife so my fingers would not be added later. My onions joined his batter, she added a pinch of something from her spice bag. Then we followed her to the fire. She showed him how to warm the pan, how to add a splat of bacon grease, how to spoon the batter in the pan and how to watch it bubble, when to turn the cakes and how to judge them done. All at the same time she bade me warm a pan for eggs, she showed me where to crack one, how to drop it in a bowl and watch for shell and chick! and add it to the grease, how to do it quickly again and yet again until my pan was brimming to the top. She sent me to the table for more onions and to chop the mushroom too, I hurried back and added them to the congealing goo. Then stirring hard I made them scramble all together as she added some white then orangish powder. Running Deer was directed to the can of bacon, he pulled it out and added it to his pan, jumping as it spattered and popped. Then we were done. Turning to the table there was Grandfather, Grandfather Coyote, and Straighthorn waiting, grinning, ready to devour OUR food!
We giggled and shared, there was enough for everyone.
Cloud Walking shooed us all out and we sat waiting on the porch. I don't know what we waited for, but we sat and listened, we sat and watched, we sat and felt the breeze. Finally I could sit no more and slapping Running Deer I cried, "You're IT!" and dashed away from the shack.
He laughed and howled his protest that he wasn't ready, but suddenly tagged Straighthorn and dashed off right behind me.
Straighthorn looked at Grandfather, I heard him say, "You wouldn't dare!" and then Straighthorn was dashing after me, I ran for the cottonwoods. Brother Frog had no fear today, he heard and felt me a mile away.
We played a while and found ourselves deep within the prairie grass. Straighthorn stopped and held his fingers to his lips. We both settled down beside him, arms around each other's shoulder. As we got our breath and quieted I felt my heart beat in my brother's chest and his slowing beat in mine. Our legs involuntarily intertwined.
Straighthorn was listening, cocking his head from side to side and as he found the sound he pointed where we should turn our ears. We sat like Brother Rabbit, still and quiet in the grass. I heard the rustling of the wind, the waving of the tall grass grains, there was a soft little scratching, almost drowned by my own breath.
Running Deer heard it too and then I watched his hand, he moved it slowly in the grass and made a little path. Leaving my side, he hunched down and slowly crawled away. Straighthorn nodded that I should follow and I softly, softly moved within the path. Then my brother was flattened on the ground and across him through the parted grasses I could see an ancient log. I crawled again, he welcomed me on top of him.
We saw a tiny black and shiny snout poking out from inside a cave within the wood. A baby porcupine soon stuck out his head and was looking all around. We watched him sniff and cast around. Deciding it was safe he crawled completely out and started clawing along the log. He poked and prodded with his nails and probed the peeling wood with his snout. He must have found a grub or two, he squealed a little squeal and poked harder once again.
Straighthorn tapped my feet and I knew to back out quietly. Running Deer followed me and we were back among the taller grass away from where we would scare the little one. I hugged Running Deer that we had been so close to see the baby's eyes and hear his squeal and share the joy he found in such a simple meal.
Straighthorn led us silently walking on the plain. We found tracks of deer and raccoon and badger near the stream. We watched brother hawk standing motionless high above us in the sky. Running Deer grabbed my hand, I knew his fear at once. I looked the question at Straighthorn, he shook his head no. Brother Hawk would not harm the baby we had watched, his tiny protective quills would do their job.
We walked back to the shack, Grandfathers were nowhere around. Cloud Walking was seated on the porch and fiddling with something. Straighthorn stopped at the third tipi and fished something from inside. Then he and Cloud Walking were working near each other. How could a pair of boys refuse to take a curious look? Running Deer was near Straighthorn and I was on Cloud Walking's side. She was working with a piece of leather and had a range of colored quills set out in her lap. Straighthorn had a bow and was working on the fletchings of the arrows.
Straighthorn said we needed meat for supper. He'd take us hunting for a hare or goose and we could help him dress it.
Cloud Walking sat and worked her quilling leather.
Asking if we were ready, Straighthorn stepped off of the porch. Running Deer looked at me and answered for us both, "Han! Little Fox will go with you, I will stay and help Cloud Walking."
"Hau!" I added, going to Straighthorn's side.
We walked back on the prairie, Straighthorn showing me about the bow and arrow. I'd played around of course, but this was a serious hunt. We stopped and I would practice shooting at a stick, a rock, most anything. I missed them by the well known mile. We must have been gone hours, I must have retrieved the arrows a thousand times. Surprisingly I hit a stump, my brother sang pleasure in my head. He knew I'd had success, he urged me on from miles across the prairie.
As suddenly, I knew that part of Running Deer's task was finished too. He was happy and I was happy for him. I sent the pleasure back to him.
Then Straighthorn led me softly to a bend far down from where we played in our stream. There were geese by the hundreds. He stopped me, pointed to where I should stand and whispered in my ear.
"Thank your Brother Goose for providing you his life. He will not mind if you honor him so."
I concentrated on the nearest goose, I gave him thanks, I let loose my arrow. He fell dead on the spot, the others hardly noticing. My head was filled with my brother's song in honor of the goose. He sang its life, he sang its loves, he sang its happy end with honor from the hunter. Straighthorn took the bow and told me to walk out slowly, gently, chanting it a song of thanks. I joined my brother's song and sang thanks to the goose people. They shied a little, but didn't fly and I brought our gift back to Straighthorn's side.
He clasped me on the shoulder and asked, "He's singing with you too, isn't he?"
I knew he didn't mean the goose, I nodded and placed his hand against my chest. I don't know if he felt him, he smiled and nodded and took the goose. We walked, his hand across my shoulders, back toward the line camp.
Halfway there I knew that Running Deer was done. I sent him love and sent him peace and felt him smile inside back at me.
When we were close I traded Straighthorn bow for goose and bolted towards the shack. Running Deer was flying across to me. We stopped and held out our gifts, each saying right together, "I have this for you brother." Then Straighthorn and Cloud Walking were beside us. Straighthorn taking up the goose, Cloud Walking taking the beautiful moccasins from Running Deer. Straighthorn took his hand, Cloud Walking took mine and leading us together they walked us to the stream.
Laughing and slapping at our butts, they told us to play and wash and hurry back to help with supper.
We played of course, what boy could ever deny the call of water, sun, and rocks. We tried again to empty one piece of stream bank of its rocks by skipping them across. We lost again of course, Inyan had simply made too many.
Splashing laughing swimming skipping hugging rubbing shivering floating tagging running tickling wrestling kissing splashing once again we never said a word. We had no need to talk, I knew his heart, he too knew mine. We ran circling round each other back to the shack, our path a helix trail of boyfoot prints across the prairie.
Cloud Walking put us right to work. I was chopping onions once again and my brother mixing fry bread. A very large iron pot was nestled in the coals. As my onions were added to the pot I glimpsed the baking goose. His gift to us smelled wonderful as the aromas filled the shack. Soon we had a stack of fry bread and Cloud Walking pronounced the goose as done. Turning to the table we laughed to find our audience waiting, looks of hunger on their faces.
Straighthorn led us once again to our tipi after dinner and asking us to dress again he pointed to my brother's gift of moccasins. I looked at the beautiful patterns of the quill work on top of the toes and smiled my thanks across to Running Deer. He beamed his love back in reply.
I struggled with the breechcloth once again, it seemed a single night of dancing had me no better at figuring out how to put it on. My brother's hands were not so shy as they helped again and my hands jumped to him as we fiddled less with breechcloth and more with what was underneath. Straighthorn came to the tipi's door and grunted for us to hurry up. Giggling we finished with the leggings and dashed out hand in hand.
Straighthorn led us to the outdoor fire within the ring of tipis and we saw that one of the large skins with all the drawings had been hung across a frame. We sat beside the fire, either side of Straighthorn, and while our toes were touching underneath his legs our hands entwined behind his back as he clasped us by the shoulders and we leaned into his chest. I felt my brother softly chant a song of happy peace.
Then Grandfather Coyote was singing more than telling us a tale. I caught that Running Deer had guessed it first, this was a story not of myth and ancient times, but times more closely tied to us.
He sang to us of when he and Grandfather had been boys. Of how they met here on the prairie, in this spot, among our cottonwoods. His father brought him one spring to see this place, this sacred place and they had come the day after my Greatgrandfather brought Grandfather here. They had met while playing in the stream and they had been friends from that first moment.
My brother squeezed my hand to laugh that we had met like this.
The story sang that Grandfather Coyote's Father had told them of the secret of the finding place, of the time before any men alive could then remember, of how this place was sacred to the holiest of holy men. It sang of boys who went on vision quests to find their spirit guides. It told of destined boys and holy men who journeyed here to seek and find. It sang of honor to the Wakan Tanka, of the other peoples who came here too. Of wolves and badgers, porcupine and deer who sipped the water side by side and lived in peace within the cottonwoods. It sang of buffalo who wandered on the prairie, who shared their sacred selves that Lakota might pass the winter on the plains.
It sang of special findings once made here. Perhaps, it sang, the horse was first found here. It sang the many many moons and winters of Lakota and how this place had called to holy men and what they found was life itself. It sang of a very special finding just twelve winters past when in very early spring this place had called and called to Grandfather and Grandfather Coyote. Of how they came far earlier than usual, alone, a day apart again, and how they laughed and played like boys within the cold clear running stream. It sang of how they sat and shared the fire's warmth and glow and each other's love that night.
When morning came a mother fox and deer were lying in the prairie grass waiting for them to rise. When they left the shack and were outside the fox came to Grandfather, the deer to Grandfather Coyote. Amazed, they felt the power of these mother's hearts and knew they were being given a special gift. They followed each their guide and soon they parted at the stream, Grandfather Coyote crossing after the running deer, Grandfather following the fox up this side.
The story sang of never once in all the lives had there been a double finding; never once a finding outside the seven fires of the Sioux. This day was new, this finding special even above the rest. The running deer upon the prairie lead Grandfather Coyote to a hollow log, a nest of fur, a fawn, an infant boy curled close for warmth. The deer walked to her fawn's spotted side and nuzzled him, she turned and looked deep in Grandfather Coyote's eyes then nudged her fawn again. He stood up shakily on his feet and butted up against her tit and suckled just a bit. She shook him free and gazing once down upon the boy, she led her fawn away across the prairie. The story sang of shining light and special gifts and love and something very very holy.
Grandfather quickly took up the song and sang again of laughter in the stream and friendship and special gifts. He sang the mother fox who turned and watched the deer lead Grandfather Coyote across the stream and looking back at Grandfather, she led him farther on their way. She led him to a curving bank, a den cut in the dirt. She gave a gentle bark and suddenly up popped the heads of her three kits, wide eyes looking all around. They spotted her and scrambled up and out falling all over their too large feet then skittered to her breast. As Grandfather watched and smiled to see the hungry kits greedily suckling at her breasts she barked again and somehow he knew that meant he had to look. He squatted down and peering in he saw the matted fur, the places where the kits had slept; he saw the child, the pure white boy, wiggling round to find the vanished kits, but still and quiet as they had been. The story sang of promised hope and special gifts and love and something very very holy.
Cloud Walking now took up the chant and as she sang of shining light and promised hope and special gifts and love she pointed on the picture skin to the stream flowing past a mother fox and kits still in their den, mother deer and fawn beside a hollow log and then two boys, one Lakota, one white, standing hand in hand beside two men, one Lakota, one white, and looking out across the empty space left waiting on the rawhide.
She sang of things not yet come and something very very holy.