I try and picture the look on his face when he finds the Rev. His dawning realization when he sees my calling card. I wonder how frantic he’ll get when he tries to reach his crew…and no one answers. He’ll head home. Panicked. And I’ll be waiting.
I watch him from the shadows as he storms into his study, a trail of blood behind him. Must have been a fun ride back from the Rev’s house. I would have loved to have seen his face…but this will do.
He holsters his weapon. Goes to the bookcase. He presses a button under one of the shelves, and the bookcase opens in the middle. He pulls the two sides open wider, and steps in between. There is a wall safe behind them. He opens it, takes out a large manila envelope, goes to the desk, sits down, and puts his gun in the drawer, but leaves the drawer open. Turns his attention to the envelope. He opens it, and shakes five micro-cassettes into his hand. He squeezes them tightly, then puts them back in the envelope. That’s what I’ve been waiting for…his dirt on me…in my own voice…have to find out if he made any copies…I don’t think so, but I’ll make sure…soon.
A shadow falls across his desk. My Shadow. He looks up.
“No...don't worry...you won't make that mistake again...you're gonna meet him...real soon...but not yet.”
He reaches for the open drawer. Tries to pull out the gun. I slam the desk into the wall. Pin him behind it. His hands are trapped.
“No guns. Not this time. You ain't going that easy.”
He’s still pinned by my weight…can’t get his hands free. I grab him by the ears. Slam his face repeatedly onto the desk. Drag him out from behind it.
“Let's go for a ride...don't worry, I'll drive.”
It’s a long drive back to the Rez…lots of time to think. Plan out exactly what I want to do. Normally, I’d make this drive in eighteen hours or so…not this time. I go the speed limit the whole way. In the back country now…follow the trail to Devil’s Mesa…
I was little the first time I went to Devil’s Mesa. It was before my folks came to the mission and adopted me. The bellaganno missionaries wanted to go on a picnic. My acheii and I went with them. They picked the wrong place…grandfather tried to tell them.
“This is a bad place…my people don’t go here.”
Smirking at the old Indian as they spoke…
“Really? Why is that?”
“This is Chindi Dzilijiin…the Devil’s Black Mountain…not safe…especially for bellagannos.”
“But the mesa is red…just like all the other ones around here.”
“It is not called Black Mountain for its color.”
“We want to go anyway…come on.”
Grandfather looked at me. Smiled. I was afraid. Grandfather was the only one I knew who had ever come here. The Dine said this place was evil. We took them up the mountain.
It was a typical summer day in northwest New Mexico. About a hundred and five in the shade. Not a cloud in the sky. Not a breath of wind. The bellagannos set up their picnic…plastic tables and chairs. Grandfather and I sat away on the ground. We ate pine nuts and drank water. We hadn’t been there very long when grandfather tilted his head to one side…sniffed the air. He told me to wait while he talked to the bellagannos. I followed him anyway.
“Going to rain. Bad wind. We go…now.”
They all started to chuckle under their breaths.
“Is that so…when do you think that’s going to happen?”
“When is soon?”
Grandfather never wore a watch. He looked up at the sun…at a tree to our left.
“In ‘bout half an hour…about three.”
“I think we’ll take our chances.”
They were all laughing as they spread their food on the table and began to eat. I had seen the man’s watch…it was 2:35.
Ten minutes went by…fifteen…then twenty. Nothing. They kept looking at him and laughing. A few minutes later grandfather took me by the hand. Led me down the back side of the mesa. That’s when I saw it. A small, dark spot on the horizon…no bigger than a hummingbird. Five minutes later the sky was like midnight…lightning and thunder. The wind was blowing harder than I had ever felt. We huddled into a crease in the rocks. I could see that it was worse on top of the mesa. The tables and chairs blew off…hats and plates spun crazily in the air.
They were coming down in two trucks and a van. The van blew over…rolled down the side of the mountain about thirty feet and landed on its wheels. The rain was so thick you couldn’t see ten feet. The bellagannos pulled their vehicles together…looked like wagons in an old western…hunkered down to wait out the storm.
I don’t remember how long it was like that…too long ago, I guess. After a while, grandfather led me to the trucks. It was still raining, but the wind was dying down. They opened the doors…whitest bellagannos I’d ever seen. They looked at grandfather with abject fear. He just smiled.
“We can go now.”
I remembered all of that as I staked him to the ground on top of Chindi Dzilijiin…sitting close by now next to a small fire. Chanting. Łeeh íyátééh. The death chant. He wakes up. Starts moaning in pain.
“Hurts like a bitch, don't it?”
“What are you doing to me?”
“My Acheii, my mother's grandfather, was a medicine man before the missionaries came. He was old. Real fucking old. Even he didn't know how old he was. Saw a lot. Used to tell me stories. Taught me the old ways. How to smell a storm coming. Empty yourself to find your vision. Call on the spirits. Shit like that.”
“Look, there's more money in this than you can imagine. I'll set you up. You can have it all.”
“Set me up? Bad choice of words.”
“My name is Naaki...Naaki Tslichi. Two Dogs. My mother's grandfather named me. You remember my mother, don't you?”
“Oh dear God, please...”
“Grandfather told me what they used to do with a Black dog. Can't reason with it. Can't cure it. So, they'd stake it out. Cut open it's belly. Pull the intestines part way out. Wait for the wolves.”
“Wolves would try and run off with the intestines...fight each other for them. Eat the Black Dog alive.”
“No, no, you...”
“Don't worry. No wolves around here. Haven't been for a long time.”
He hears growling. Two dogs approach him. Slow sniffing. Hungry. I brought them back with me from the mission. Fourth or fifth generation from my old dog. They’re feral. Only get to eat what they kill. I haven’t fed them since I left to go back to LA. They must be ravenous by now.
“I think dogs will work, though. My dogs. This might take awhile. Hope you don't mind if I smoke.”
“You can't do this to me Jay...I'm your father.”
“Fucking my mother don’t make you my father. That's why I've got some extra shit for you. Gonna cut out your eyes...tongue...ears...and that tiny little dick of yours. My mother told me she never could understand how you ever got her pregnant with that limp, puny thing.”
“No, no, no...”
“Then I'm going to burn them. Scatter the ashes to the winds. Do you know what that means to my people? Your spirit will be left here to wander. Blind... Deaf... Dumb... Starving... Impotent. The other spirits will taunt you. Mock you. Spit on you. Forever. I think my mother will like that. What do you think?”
I light a smoke as the dogs close in. They’re too busy fighting each other over his intestines to realize he can’t put up a fight. That’s good. Means it will take awhile. I sit back and watch. Smoke. There is lightning and thunder, but no rain. The wind is blowing, but it’s more of a howl than a storm. I finish off one pack. Almost finish another before they’re done. They eat slower once they start to get full. They come over to the fire when they’re done and lay down. I go over and cut off the things I told him I would. Burn them. Put the ashes in an old Dine bowl. Time to clean up.
The government still issues lye to the Dine to make their own soap. I’ve brought a few bags of it with me. And an axe. I cut him up. My grandfather told me that some bellagannos tried to prospect here back in the thirties. Lots of abandoned mines. I scatter him in a few. Salt the mines with lye. It helps with decomp. Won’t be long till there’s nothing left. Pack up the dogs and go. One more piece of business.
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