by Dee C
Set in the Canada in the early part of the twentieth century.
“Can you hear me?”
“I can hear, though the women think I am deaf, or dead already. I heard them say my granddaughter is to marry a white man.”
“I saw him in Ft. McLeod. He is a surveyor for the province - the white men respect him.”
“It must be time for me to die if my old friend Crooked Nose walked all the way from Ft. McLeod on those sorry legs.”
“I think you will live a little while more, and my legs are not so bad if I walk slow.”
“I need to live a little more. When the pain goes away I will rise and kill them both. She would be better off dead and it has been a long time since I killed a white man. The French priest comes by every day now, he brings medicine and reads from the black book until I sleep. I was a man once. Now my belly grows like a woman with child. I travail like a woman. I lie here listening for the wagon that brings the priest and the medicine.”
“ I know that medicine, the blue bottle medicine, white men’s medicine.”
“I do not think I ask for his medicine, but I am no longer sure.”
“ Can you see in this light? Here, let me raise the lamp wick. Hold out your hand.”
“I see it. What have you given me?"
“A piece of money, but it is new money a new thing.”
“ They did that when the fat grandmother died. They put the fat father on the money. Has he died too? Have they found a new fat king?”
“This is American money, new money, a new thing. Can you not see it?”
“ I can see a buffalo. Tatanka, in your father’s time they covered the Earth. The dust of the herds rose and put out the sun. I have not seen a buffalo in many summers.”
“Yes, yes, I know all this. The buffalo is good medicine, but there is better. Better than blue bottle medicine. Turn the money over. Tell me what you think.”
“ I think it is one of the People, an Indian.”
“Look closer at this Indian.”
”It cannot be.”
“Look again, and tell me that!”
“ He is older than I remember. He has lost fierceness for dignity. I heard bad things about him, that he stayed on the reservation and posed for any photographer who had a drink of whiskey. He looks strong here maybe the bad things I heard were not true.”
“So you know him? You remember him?"
“Like I know you. This Indian they have put on their money is Two Moons. Are the white men crazy?”
“They do not know. The men who make money were not there and their old men no longer care. I was just a boy but I remember; I care. What can you remember?”
“Everything. Like it was this morning. I was young. I am for this moment, once more a young man. I feel summer heat; I hear blood sing in my ears; a taste of iron fills my mouth; and all that was then is become now. I see the sloping hill above the Lakota village on the Greasy Grass River, the waters white men call the Little Big Horn. I see horses, blue shirts, and arrows. I watch Two Moons raise his arm, bloody to the elbow, high above his head.
I see the yellow hair in his hand.”
“I told you it was good medicine.”
“May I keep this?”
“I brought it for you. I will put in a tobacco sack and tie it around your neck. It will warm your blood.”
“It is a good sign that you came to see me. I thought it meant I would not live much longer, but it is more. I no longer think I asked the French priest for his medicine. I do not think I have ever asked a white man for anything.”