Sunday, January 6, 2013

Read Chapter One--Medicine Man I: The Chief of All Time

I am asked many time who I would have play the main character in a movie.  So here he is: Tatanka Means, just so you can picture him while reading.

Chapter One (Excerpt)
Chance by Design

I parked the Jag in the usual spot, well away from the
trees and the unwelcome contributions the birds always
delivered to the reflective midnight-black paint. The front
bumper blocked the pedestrian crossing; recognized wealth
had its advantages. The police wouldn’t ticket the car. From
the sidewalk, I surveyed the small kiosk before me.

For many years, it had been a concession stand serving
those who frequented Lake Side Park. After undergoing
major renovation, it bore the name Salaam’s Kebabs. Instead
of hotdogs and hamburgers, it would now sell gyros and the
side items to go with them: stuffed grape leaves, Greek
salads, rice, and fries. The park offered a good place to try
out this new venture. On a tour of Europe, I couldn’t get
enough of the sandwiches the European kiosks sold and the
wonderful cucumber sauce, tzatziki, they put on them.

A stiff breeze came in off the lake. I pulled my hair out of
my face and dug in my pocket to find the leather lace I
always kept there and tied it back. My father had worn his
hair in braids his entire life. My grandfather never failed to
point out, as a man of the Niitsitapii, The Real People, my
hair belonged in braids. I no longer lived among The People,
much less on a reservation, so I let mine hang free all the way
to my waist.

Dried leaves, now free from a Wisconsin winter’s snow,
skittered across the red bricks of the patio. The benches wore
fresh coats of gray paint. The tables had new matching
surfaces with closed red and white striped umbrellas
springing from their centers. Things looked ready for the
Memorial Day weekend opening when the park would be full
of holiday revelers. I glanced at my watch. It would be more
than an hour before Carlos, the cook and manager of the
kiosk, showed up. I hated any reference to Indian time so I
always arrived early. In life, there might be time enough for
everything, but I saw nothing wrong with the everything
being on time.

Black storm clouds were piling up in great angry layers on
the horizon. An icy wind whisked across the surface of the
lake and whipped the water into a froth of white-capped
waves. The air felt charged with electrical current and
smelled of freshly thawed earth. It would rain soon; most
likely it would be a true thunder banger. The weekend
forecast called for clear skies and sunshine, but I put little
faith in those weather predictors of Television Station,
WTMQ. They were wrong more than they were right.
Near the edge of the lakefront, barely out of reach of the
waves crashing against the shore, a woman sat on the back of
an olive-drab park bench with her bare feet on the worn seat.

Many people sat the same way. Her lack of shoes struck me
as odd since winter still lingered in the chill breeze. The way
she sat puzzled me the most. Her arms were outstretched
and her palms turned skyward. Her oversized red and black
flannel shirt flapped, scarecrow-like, in the breeze. The gray
watch-cap on her head, with her long black ponytail sticking
out, only added to the strange picture.

The seagulls hovering around her hands dashed in to
snap up whatever food she offered them. Occasionally, a bird
would land on her arm and grab more than its share. She
didn’t move and her arm never wavered, as if the weight of
the large birds meant nothing.

A rolled-up sleeping bag, a bulging backpack, and a pair
of worn men’s work boots, sat under the bench. Great. The
season hadn’t even started and already homeless people were
waiting to raid the trash bins.

A huge wave crashed into the breaker rocks. Momentarily
drowning out all other sounds, it sent a spray of water
several feet into the air. One of the gulls squawked and
screeched. The bench-sitter grasped a completely white gull
around its legs. It beat against her arm with its wings. With
an arched neck, it drove its large sharp beak against the flesh
homeless woman killing the bird and eating it raw.

I extracted my money clip from my pants pocket,
unrolled the bills, and peeled off three fives from the outside.
I placed the ones around the hundreds left inside before I
shoved it back into my pocket. With determined steps, I
made my way to the bench. I would offer the fifteen dollars
in exchange for the trapped bird’s life.

At the bench, despite the bird’s upset screams and pecks,
the woman turned to look at me. I forgot what I wanted to
say. She gazed back at me with startling dark brown eyes,
surrounded by a ring of green, set in a face with cheekbones
as high as my own. She’d been without enough food for some
time judging by the prominence of those bones.

I felt like a boy taken by his first crush. My tongue
wouldn’t work. I just stared at her. Cliché lines came into my
head. I refused to utter any of their nonsense. With her
haunting looks, she’d probably heard them a hundred times
before. For a fleeting moment, a smile tugged at the corners
of her sensuous lips. My ribs felt as if they were constricting
the beating of my heart. She could’ve been some legendary
sprite who wanted to steal a man’s spirit away. The wind
blew in from the lake in a sudden gust that gapped open her
shirt to reveal the curve of a shapely breast. I tried to look

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1 comment:

Debby said...

I hope the bird went free.
debby236 at gmail dot com