Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mother's Touch, Excerpt, Part 2

Part 1 is here

My mother found out what he’d already known when I was seven. A young man got himself gored by a bull at a nearby ranch. He was a good worker, and the rancher tried to get him to go to the hospital in town. The injured man went to the Medicine Woman instead. She sent him to Grandpa Bear. We were visiting for a week or two.

The young man stumbled in, supported on one side by his uncle. Both of them wrinkled their noses in appreciation of the smell of whiskey, tobacco, and hides that permeated the three-room shack.

Grandpa Bear asked what happened and why they come here. The uncle did the talking. Grandpa Bear nodded and peeked out the back window where mother was hanging the wash.

He motioned me forward and had me close my eyes. He started chanting, the high, keening, musical kind that white men can never quite get right. The words danced around my head, pushing each other onward, a river of sounds. I began to sway to the music of them.

Time passed on, then time ceased to exist. The words continued, but lost all meaning. My eyes opened but, instead of the three men and Grandpa Bear’s shack, I saw light, swirling like liquid music.

I reached out to a handful of notes that were out of harmony with the rest. I touched them and they shifted, changed. They moved out of discord and I smiled, then the music stopped.

When my mother came in, she frowned at the three men smoking pipe in a circle around me. She didn’t believe what happened until she called the rancher and he confirmed the horrible injury. Even then, she said she didn’t believe it, but we didn’t see Grandpa Bear for four months after that.

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