Oh mighty Thoth…prepare the way for my journey home…send Sopedo to guard my path…command Wepwawet to open the doors for me…Am-Heh stands against me…it is Am-Heh who commands the demons of Apep to destroy me…plead with Atum to protect me from the wrath of Am-Heh…for only He can withstand him…without your Light, Oh mighty Thoth, I will become lost…and wander between the Two Worlds forever…
Prayer from the Book of Thoth
I stopped at the mission to pick up my girls, Ruby and Renee, before heading home to Los Angeles. My folks, Skip and Ellen, had been taking care of them while I finished my business with the “late” Captain Brown. One of the schoolteachers had resigned. Left and took her family with her. The place was just too hard for most bellagannos. Not my folks. They loved it…and they loved the Dine. The superintendant asked my Mom to stay and fill in for the departed teacher. Mom was sixty-four then; Dad was seventy-four…but she still couldn’t say no to God…and neither could he.
He helped me pack up the car for the drive home.
“Any problems, boy?”
“Did you use the ratio of lye to pounds of body parts like I told you?”
“You’re sure? I mean, it’s not like you’ve ever done it before…maybe I should go back with you…check on…”
“What’s wrong Dad?”
“You can never be too careful about something like this, son…can’t afford to make a mistake…the consequences…to you and those little girls…”
“I know how to cover my ass, Dad. You taught me. No one will ever find him…or what’s left of him. You, of all people, know how anal I am about this shit. Now, what is it? What’s really wrong?”
“There’s so much about me you don’t know, son. So many things I never wanted you to know. I didn’t want you to grow up trying to emulate me. That’s why I’ve kept so much of my past…my real past, a secret from you. The path you’re on now is so much like mine. Not what I wanted…I’m sorry.’
“I love you Dad…but sometimes you say the stupidest things. You’re sorry? For what? Saving Ruby and Renee’s lives? For saving mine? Thanks to you, I’m not going to have to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder…being scared to death any time the girls aren’t with me that something’s happened to them. They’re safe now Dad…and so am I.”
He carried Renee out to the car across his shoulders. Fireman’s carry. Just like he had carried me so many times…so long ago. Yet, here he was…still carrying me. What a man. Ruby was asleep in my arms when I laid her down in the back of my Blazer next to her sister. Neither of them stirred.
Dad and I stood in the cold. Steam from our coffee cups floated lazily before disappearing. The smell of strong coffee mixed with the scent of fry bread cooking in lard over open fires. Dine women start their work early. There’s a peculiar quality to the air in the high desert of New Mexico in the early spring…just before dawn. The sky grows a pinkish orange on the eastern horizon, while the heavens remain as black as death overhead and to the West. The stillness of the air…as if waiting. Waiting to see if the Sun will once again vanquish the Darkness…or will this be the time when darkness wins again as it has in the ancient past…and plunges the world into the Abyss once more. An ageless battle…and one not yet over.
A joining of hands with my parents. My Father’s prayer for journeying mercy for me and my girls. I took a deep breath. Cold, fresh, pure air filled my lungs…a diver preparing for the descent into the blackness. Yeats was wrong…that “rough Beast” doesn’t “slouch toward Bethlehem waiting to be born.” It slouches toward Los Angeles.
Another man. Another prayer. Six thousand miles away, a man lifted his hands in supplication.
A soldier thought dead for over twenty years. A warrior of the Priests of Thoth. A man who had no confidence in his prayer. He had betrayed his oath. He had betrayed the Priesthood. He had betrayed his God…but he still cried to Him for help. He too was going to the Belly of the Beast. To LA. Going to see the daughter he had left many years before.
Our paths would soon cross…and both would change forever.