Shootin' the Breeze


by "Bummer"

 
 
bummer @ abate

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October 2009

    Well, the trees are showing off their final blast of color. I think one of the best things about living here in Ohio is the colorful leaves in the autumn. New England is known for it’s extravagant show of color, but Ohio ain’t too shabby either. And here in Ohio, ya don’t have far to go to get to many long and less traveled country highways to take advantage of it all.

    Pretty soon Halloween will be here. Of all the holidays I think Halloween is my favorite. There’s no pressure from having to spend money ya don’t have. There’s no hassle of preparing to have guests over for an extravagant dinner ya don’t really feel like having. Ya don’t have to feel guilty for not going to church (if ya ever did). All that ya gotta do is take advantage of the chance to be a kid again. To get into the celebration of a holiday that is by it’s very nature childish and naughty.

    I remember going trick or treating well into the late evening when I was a kid. Halloween is supposed to be celebrated after dark! It’s a damned shame that due to our social fears we now have to insist that our kids go during broad daylight. And I don’t think I ever used a store-bought costume either. It was always more fun to make yer own. And pranks? My first confrontation with the law happened when I was 13 years old. It involved a…..well, I won’t get into all that (but I still laugh out loud when I think of it).

    Anyway, with Halloween comes a very short Halloween story:

    It was a dark and stormy night. Dan Tall Bear pushed his old Shovelhead into the shed beside his house after riding the many miles home from Pittsburgh. His job usually required him to fly to a job location and live in a hotel for a few weeks, but this time the job was close enough he could commute, only getting a room near the site on those days when he was totally bushed. Being a third generation ironworker meant he wasn’t queasy about climbing up and walking on the high iron, but today was a bad one. The weather wasn’t bad enough to cancel work, but it was misty enough to be slippery, and slippery is always a bad thing when you’re 40 stories up in the air connecting iron girders for an office building under construction.

    Dan’s grandfather told him stories of how the men of his tribe realized they could still be the warriors they had been for centuries by becoming ironworkers. The white man might have taken away many things: their land, their independence and most of their entire culture, but not their traditional need to prove their courage on a daily basis. And prove it they did. On sidewalks below pedestrians would often stop in their tracks and stare in open mouth wonder at the men scurrying about on the narrow iron beams high above them.

    He entered his little house, turned on a few lights in the living room and tossed his keys on the table in the kitchen. Sighing, he thought briefly of how different it is to be single again. The constant traveling he had to do for the sake of his job is hard on a relationship, and his latest house mouse couldn’t bring herself to adjust to his many absences. He came home a few weeks ago from Oregon to find a farewell note and his house key on the kitchen table, the same one he now sat at while he waited for the coffee to brew.

    To be honest he really didn’t mind. Ya might say he was used to it. He’s been an ironworker since his father first took him to sign up at a job site when he was 16. Now he’s 35, has long since completed his apprenticeship funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has been divorced twice, and he still doesn’t really know how to cook anything but coffee, as is evident by the left over fast food crap in his refrigerator.

    Dan went to his bedroom closet and removed an old wooden box from the shelf before returning to the kitchen. After he set it on the table, he opened it and pulled out a tarnished silver and bone pipe his grandfather gave him many years ago. It was handed down through many ancestors and was made from a silver medallion given by an emissary from the “Great White Father” in Washington.

    “Great White Father’ my ass” thought Dan as he sat down.

    The coffee started to gurgle as he ran his hand over the etched metal and the ancient bone, and he started to think about his Indian heritage. Most politically correct whites insist on using the term “Native American” because they’re too ignorant to stop and realize that “American” is itself a term that refers to a 15th century Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci. But most Shawnee (like Dan) simply refer to themselves proudly as Indians, and have so for centuries, not even caring how that name came about. He chuckled at all the trouble that names and words cause people, and then he wryly thought, ‘They must not have anything better to worry about.’

    Next he thought about what it must have been like long ago. It’s hard to believe that the city of Buffalo was named for the huge beasts that roamed across the state of New York. Or to believe that just about every river and many creeks here in Ohio were once home to so many tribes that one could travel clear across the state and still find evidence of their settlements. They stayed near creeks and rivers for drinking water, traveling and as every hunter knows, that’s where the most game can be found.

    He then lit the pipe and was visited by the spirit of his clan’s totem and his own personal animal guide the coyote as he exhaled the pungent smoke.
    “What do you want, you trickster? The last time you came to me I almost fell at work. Why are you here?”
    The ghostly figure simply curled and lay on the living room carpet without replying. As Dan watched from the kitchen the creature looked at him intently with glowing eyes, then Dan could clearly hear in his mind, "Do not go to work tomorrow."
    “Why not? The weather’s supposed to clear up.”
    " A bad thing will happen."

    Now, Dan always paid attention to his spirit guide. His grandfather told him his tribe was saved from a massacre once due to an ancestor listening to Brother Coyote when told to abandon their village. An attack from another much larger tribe burnt their camp to the ground, but the people were not harmed.

    Brother Coyote said no more and eventually disappeared.

    The next morning Dan called off sick from work. Later in the day while watching the news he found that a disturbed computer programmer in a neighboring building brought a rifle to work with him and killed six of Dan’s co-workers before turning the weapon on himself.

    We’ve all had “feelings” occasionally telling us that we should or shouldn’t do something. That we should turn right instead of left, or that we should stay home instead of going somewhere. Perhaps we have spirit guides that we’re just not listening to or able to see because it’s not in our culture. You can call them guardian angels, ghosts, ESP, premonitions or inner voices. But in Dan’s case it’s a good thing he listened. Maybe we all should pay better attention to these “feelings”.

    Well, my spirit guides, the Newton Falls Police, just dropped by and told me I’d better sell the truck with expired plates in my side yard. Maybe it’s a sign.

                    Happy Halloween,
                 

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