Thursday, September 25, 2014

From 'Coyote-Meeter's Abyss'

When Old Joseph meets with a mining company official, he doesn't mince words...

Lockwood watched him over the tops of his glasses. “So, explain again there, Estes, what your business is today.”
“I am here for an understanding.”
“Well, what is it I can help you understand?”
“No, uh, it is about you understanding something.”
“Okay, so shoot.”
“The spirits of our ancestors are unhappy.”
Lockwood scratched his head. “What’s that got to do with us?” he asked.
“You are aware that within rock caves all over the land and in the mountains lie O’odham who have come before.”
“Uh, you mean, there’s people...your people...buried in these places?”
Joseph sighed. “Let me put it this way. All this land is sacred because it is the body of Mother Earth. From Phoenix to the San Pedro River to the Gulf of California...all is sacred.”
“How do you know this?” asked Lockwood.
“I am a makai, Earth Doctor. It is my job to know.”
Lockwood chuckled. “Do you have a degree?”
Joseph pushed on. “This great area holds everything we need to keep life going. Also, when we die, Mother Earth will receive us, body and soul.”
Lockwood was puzzled. “So, what you’re saying is...”
“What I am saying is that Mother Earth holds the spirits of our people, back to the very beginning. Back to when the sky came down four times to meet the earth.”
Lockwood began to shuffle papers on his desk. He pulled open the center drawer and peered inside.
“Are you missing something?” Joseph asked patiently.
“No, no...Go ahead”
“The first time, Elder Brother I’itoi came forth. The second time, Buzzard came forth. Coyote came the third time. All before Elder Brother made us out of clay.”
“Can we, sort of...wrap this up?” asked Lockwood.
“I am sorry, but you asked, and so I answered,” said Joseph. “When I say the spirits are unhappy it is because the body of Mother Earth is sick and injured. You have drained her precious waters, disturbed the places where she guards our spirits, and shown great disrespect by digging in the land... scarring her body.”
Lockwood shrugged. “I’m really not sure I...”
Joseph grew angry. “You are not sure of anything,” he voiced. “But I am sure of one thing. If you do not stop what you are doing, we will all lose our way, and wander for eternity without souls.”
“I think we’re done,” Lockwood responded.
“I will not allow you to do this to my grandchildren,” Joseph growled. “I have tried to show reason, but you do not listen.”
Lockwood hammered impatiently on a call button attached to his speaker phone. A female voice broke in suddenly.
“Janet, come in here, please,” he ordered.
When the woman in the green blouse opened the office door, she came face-to-face with Joseph Estes, tight-lipped and sullen.
“I am leaving,” he muttered.
“Yup. Show Mr. Estes out,” said Lockwood.
Joseph avoided Brad Echevara’s gaze as he stormed across the outer office and out the door. Back in the car, his anger slowly subsided. Still, he couldn’t purge the disappointment from his heart. He sat dejectedly for the longest time, before finally inserting his key in the ignition and starting the engine. On his way back along the rutted road, he thought of Danny and Sophie, and all the children in all the villages on the reservation. There would be dark days ahead, he knew. And only his wisdom, passed down from generations of tribal elders, could be relied upon. He felt suddenly lonely, very much alone.

'Coyote-Meeter's Abyss,' the final novel in my 'Borderlands Trilogy,' now available from Open Books Press Direct, Barnes&Noble Booksellers,, and all Independent Bookstores