Novels

Moccasins of Another #2

October 19, 2019

Shrink to the Stars

“Yes, I’d like to make an appointment as soon as possible,” said Sean to the receptionist on the phone. “Tuesdays and Fridays are not the best days but I will take whatever is available. This is sort of an emergency.”

“An emergency? Aren’t they all?” she answered. “Okay, sir, I need your name and the complaint; be specific about your disorder. If you are unclear about the problem, give me an approximation.”

Disorder, he thought? I don’t have a disorder.

“My name is Sean Casey; and don’t you think my problem is a matter for the doctor and me to discuss? This is a private matter between doctor and patient and not for every Jane Doe who answers the phone. Understand?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Casey but we need to get some idea beforehand, so Doctor Smith can research the area of your disorder before you come in; just a hint would be fine.”

“I don’t think this is what you would call a disorder,” he answered. “Just a little something that’s bothering me.”

“Mr. Casey if this is an emergency then it has to be a disorder,” responded the receptionist. “I have to fill out this form or I can’t schedule you for an emergency appointment, please cooperate.”

“I’m not crazy about this but it’s about my dreams,” answered Sean. “Bad dreams.”

“Bad dreams? Can you be more specific, Mr. Casey?”

Like what?” he responded. He could hear her sigh before she continued.

“Are you being chased? Do you feel like you’re falling? Is your mother in the dream? Are these sexual fantasies? Do you have sex with your mother, father, any of your siblings? Animals? Aliens? Are the dreams in color or black and white? Do you have nocturnal emissions, you know, wet dreams? Wake up with an erection or become impotent after they occur?”

“Don’t you think that’s a little personal?” he groaned. “No, it’s none of those. I would still feel more comfortable speaking with the doctor, if you don’t mind.”

“Listen Mr. Casey,” droned the receptionist. “Who do you think fills out your chart and enters it in the computer? Putting that aside, it looks like Doctor Smith has an opening three weeks from this Wednesday at 11:00 AM. Will that be a good day for you or will you need more time to make a list of your dysfunction’s?”

“Nothing sooner?”

“Fruitcake?” returned the receptionist, her voice slightly muted.

“What?”

“Sorry I was talking to another client,” she returned. “She wanted a little piece of fruitcake.”

“Oh.”

“No, there is nothing sooner, sir.

“Nuts?” questioned the receptionist.

“What was that?”

“Oh, sorry again, Mr. Casey I was offering some of our imported pecans and cashews to another patient. They are really quite good.”

Sean heard her clicking on the keyboard of her computer before she continued.

“I doubt there will be any cancellations, Mr. Casey. I’ll try to squeeze you in but Doctor Smith hates to feel rushed with any patient, especially when he doesn’t have my form completely filled out.”

“I really need to get in soon, miss,” whined Sean.

As blandly as before she continued. “I can refer you to another doctor if you wish. This doctor usually deals with sexual disorders but by the sound of it, you have a lot of repressed anger around sex. Though, I’m sure there are other hidden, unresolved issues, as well.”

“I do; I have? Oh, never mind,” he sighed frustrated by some amateur who pretended to know psychiatry. “I don’t want another doctor. Just set it up whenever you can.”

Sean scoffed at the name of the doctor, Bill had suggested, Hiram Smith. The name didn’t sound very professional, nothing original about Smith. However, Smith was supposed to be the top in his profession with a clientele of who’s who; he had read that on the Internet. Sean did not want to play around with second-rate shrinks, who might not be able diagnose the problem, taking months perhaps years to discover the problem. They were the types who saw their patients as clinical case numbers, not people. They published papers for other psychiatric voyeurs, who might snicker over them. Sean was not like any of those people; he was an original, not a type or a group. Being referred to as John Doe, sicko, was not in his best interest.

Later that evening he watched the haze over the valley as night began to fall, the lights below turning amber because of the crappy air quality, politics changed every so often to deregulate pollution, a bad thing for the valley. He didn’t dare go to a party and get drunk; sober and awake was his goal. Brandi was surely, being abused by Tom Pillings, the pervert, which was of little concern to him. Sean spread himself over his couch, staring at the lights as they popped on below, glowing darker orange because of the haze. He wasn’t hungry, which wasn’t so bad, since he hadn’t purchased anything for dinner.

Loud music from a neighbor mingled with the rumbling sounds of jets landing and taking off, comforting in a way. People coming and going, who were sure where they would end up that night or the next morning. These sounds were usual, expected and normal, a serenade of the twenty-first century, tunes written and played with resolution and a planned finale. These sounds, familiar and pleasing, lulled him to sleep to dream once more.

The Hunt

Damn jets are making one hell of a racket this morning, he thought, his eyes slowly opening. It might be a great view from here; but I do get tired of the damn plane noise.

His eyes began to clear.Unfamiliar things passed before him, as he scanned the horizon, filled with dark shaggy beasts running toward him. He found himself crouched on the far side of a shallow rise with several others, poised for some kind of action. The others were apparently Indians. The bow and arrow in his hands felt reassuring, weapons of a long practiced skill. He didn’t know why. Bits of gravel and dirt poked into his skin, as his body pressed against the unyielding ground.

Uh, oh! He thought to himself. This doesn’t look like Kansas anymore Toto.

Instinctively, he backed away staying low to the ground; he sought a horse, his horse; he even knew which one it was. All his comrade Indians followed suit, mounting their steeds, fanning out in a preplanned pattern. Hehaka Najin, from his previous dream, was close by smiling like some idiot kid who found a dollar on the street. Rubbing his eyes, Sean recognized the creatures, real buffalos.

We must be buffalo hunting, he thought. Jesus, Joseph and Mary, they’re huge! They’ll stomp me to death. I need to get the hell out of here.  

He glanced quickly at his shoulder and saw a red scar, where he had been shot. Healed, it pressed out from his skin, evidence of his encounter with the white soldiers. The scar was as confusing as his present situation. Surprisingly, he found that his body knew what to do, even if his mind was dazed.

Hehaka Najin made several hand signals indicating where they should go to intercept their prey, Sean deciding to stick close to him. Other Indians spread throughout the herd, each picking their target with care. Some had guns but most were still using bow and arrows. Arrows flew and the gunfire was dampened by the openness of the prairie, a faint crack in the wind with each shot. There was the sickening thud of large animals hitting the ground in every direction. The bray of animals escaping or dying could also be heard over the din, savage, exciting and necessary for their survival.

Suddenly, the herd turned in front of the two riders, throwing Hehaka Najin and Sean off their horses. A wounded buffalo was dangerous, and one very ugly one was sizing-up the dismounted men. It began to charge. Sean had dropped his bow during the fall, not that it mattered; he had nothing but a cheap knife to battle the buffalo, hardly a weapon to combat something the size of this animal. He bolted into a sprint.

Fear and strong legs carried him quickly. The angered rage and speed of the buffalo would soon over-take him, pulverizing him under hoof. Sean had always thought it would be easy to dodge a large animal but found it a lot more difficult than in the movies. Hehaka Najin was shouting something. Sean wasn’t able to hear because of the thundering noise.With that same sickening thud, the charging buffalo fell to the ground, dead, inches from Sean’s heels, the final breath a rattle of air and blood.

There was a victory yell from Hehaka Najin, who had managed to shoot the fatal arrow into the charging beast. Sean dropped to his knees shaking from a combination of fatigue and fear. Nausea swept over him but he did not succumb to it. The continuing thunder of the beasts made him wary of another attack. Hehaka Najin came quickly dancing and singing, joy peeling from his throat. He reached down and hauled Sean to his feet.

“Your deed will be spoken this day,” announced Hehaka Najin. “Songs will be sung in your honor. Quick let us go before tatanka run too far away. There are not as many this year; we must hunt more.”

Not so many, thought Sean? He must be kidding. It doesn’t look that way to me.

Their horses recovered the men remounted, while others of the tribe came to butcher the animals. Hehaka Najin told people of Heecha Sapa’s brave act, diverting the wounded buffalo, risking all to draw it away from him. That was, of course, not exactly the truth; but it is more prudent to accept praise than clarify the embarrassing facts of Sean’s cowardice. He had learned that long ago in business. When someone’s perception put you in a favorable light, it was best to leave it be.

Hunting had ceased and now it was time to bring the meat to the people. In celebration and honor Hehaka Najin opened the offending beast’s gut, removing some unknown part of it. He sang the praise of Heecha Sapa raising the bloody animal part in the air andoffered it to Sean. Without a lot of explanation Sean understood the meaning of this gesture. The spoils to the victor.

“Uh, I really didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t have,” he announced. “Really, guys; I’m not that hungry. Hehaka Najin should have it for his excellent shot; he saved my life; I didn’t save his.”

The assembled men laughed, joking about how humble Heecha Sapa was, humility respected, as much as bravery. With that Hehaka Najin cut the ugly piece of flesh in half, offering to share the honor. Sean looked ill but bit into it, if only to put an end to the celebratory ritual. The flesh was hot, dripping with blood, slightly giggly and hardly looked edible. This was raw buffalo, not sushi. Sean managed to bite off a small piece before he figured out what the flesh was. He coughed, almost choking on the piece in his mouth.

“Liver!” he shuddered. “I hate liver. I hated it ever since I was a kid and still do. And this isn’t even cooked, which makes it worse, if that’s possible.”

Hehaka Najin laughed with joy, announcing to all, “Heecha Sapa, has not been well lately; but I see his humor has not left him. Laughter in the face of danger, only a brave man can possess such a virtue. We will sing at the feast tonight, songs of bravery, a new song for Heecha Sapa. Perhaps he will tell us of his humble thoughts at waktoglakap.

In order to avoid further consumption of liver, Sean strolled quickly toward the dead beast. He drew his knife prepared to skin the hide off and transport it back to the village, wherever that was.

This is like a bad rerun of Dances With Wolves, he lamented. Ugh! I’ve never skinned an animal in my life. Oh my God, where do I start? He set his knife to work. My hands seem to know what to do. Amazing! It’s Almost as weird as knowing how to ride and shoot. Yuck! Still pretty gross!

Butchering and skinning was a joint effort; everyone took part in it. Sean looked up to see women and children covered in blood from head to toe, no one squeamish about the gruesome process. Sights like this would drive most people into being vegetarians, no tidy packages of meat in the market. He wasn’t sure what buffalo tasted like, but a thick rare steak was nothing he would want to give up quite yet.

An hour later the meat and skins were being transported back to the village, the people singing with joy. Reunions of families were made and the exploits of the hunt were told briefly. Sean was headed back with the rest of the band when he met up with his, so-called, family. Hota Win looked a mess as did her boys. All, including his young wife were covered in blood with much of it smeared on their faces. Even with the blood on her face, Hopa Winyan Wankan radiated beauty.

“My husband, I hear we are to honor you for your bravery,” Hota Win declared. “And also for being a humble man. It surprises me; but I was not there and must honor the words of those who were. One must still wonder whose first arrow was so poorly shot into tatanka, buffalo. It wouldn’t have been your arrow by chance?”

Hopa Winyan Wakan came to the defense of her husband. “Hota Win, why must you be so unkind to our husband?” she scolded. “We are not naked nor do our bones show through our skin. He provides us with a good life. I, for one, will sing his song. I am proud to be his woman; you should be too.”

Hota Win snorted, turning back, leaning into her load, mumbling under her breath the entire time.

“The young do not see the truth because their heart wishes to see, only the good,” she muttered. “With the good, there is also the bad; let us not be too blind. When the wrinkles come into your skin, perhaps then you will understand.”

Hota Win didn’t like the young pretty first wife. The young woman felt only good things for Heecha Sapa, many undeserved according to Hota Win. The man was often lazy, his mind straying from his duties. The older woman chose not to push her luck, remembering his generosity taking her as a second wife. Though it was a common thing to do, some men chose not to marry the wife of their dead brother; there was no law to require it. If no other man chose her, she would have to live off by herself, living off the charity of others.

“True, this is so, Hopa Winyan Wankan. He has provided for us. It is difficult for me to imagine him as good a hunter. As a coupler he seems to practice more frequently than hunting, bearing us nothing but his smile afterwards,” droned Hota Win. “Yet his coupling with you bears no child. Wasted time.”

Hunting is an awful business, thought Sean. First there’s killing something alive then the slippery blood that makes things hard to hold onto. It gets sticky and feels awful on the skin. Now the stuff is drying off, making my skin itch like crazy. I hope I can grab a shower before this big dinner party. Shower? What am I thinking? If they didn’t have toilets or toilet paper, how could possibly have showers? Maybe I should take a nap when we go back and wake up back in California.”

To his relief, several of the men went to the stream near the village. It was too shallow to swim in but did have good clean water. The water became murky and tinged with blood, dirt and sweat. At least it was clean until the men began washing up. Sean noted that they chose a place downstream from the village. That was a reassuring thought when it came to getting a drink of water.

As in all hunts a few men were injured during the hunt. Broken bones, sprained ankles and joints were often the case with numerous small cuts and bruises. Luckily, no one was killed this day. It never occurred to Sean that anyone would be killed on a hunt; he’d never seen that in films. Remembering the size of the buffalo, he understood how that could come about.

Now that it was all over he felt like he had been run over by a Mack truck. Falling off a horse was not as easy as it looked in the movies. A large bruise developed on his hip and shoulder. Stuntmen were trained and even then some got banged up in the process. Several of the hunters in the tribe had experienced the same fate but said nothing of their discomfort, complaints considered bad form, he supposed.

“Damn, I think I mighta broke something,” he grumbled out loud, running his hand on his butt. “There has to be a better way of doing this. Riding a horse while trying to shoot is crazy.”

“Other way? But Heecha Sapa, we have done it this way beyond the memory of our ancestors. This is the only way,” answered one man standing next to him. “How can we do this differently? It works well.”

“Dirt bike with guns, automatics. That would make a lot easier,” blurted Sean without thinking. “Maybe some kind of trap, like a strong corral would work too; trap them and shoot them in the corral.”

 The look on the other man’s face registered shock and fear at Heecha Sapa’s words.

“We have so few guns and not many bullets. I know not what this ‘automatic’ is Heecha Sapa. And what is this ‘dirt bike’ you speak of, some sort of magic to slow down the buffalo?”

Sean realized he had to be more careful about what he said. But on the other hand, it was only a dream so did it matter?

“Never mind, pal,” he answered. “It’s too complicated to explain. We’ll talk about in the next dream. Okay?”

It was a dream, wasn’t it? He reminded himself how he felt the pain of being shot and the pain of falling off his horse. There was the feel and smell of fresh blood, which he will never forget. Of course he had very clear recollections of lovemaking, too real to ignore. That wasn’t bad, at all. In fact, after this party ended tonight, he planned on a little more fun under the buffalo robe with his young wife.

May as well enjoy some of this dream, he thought. That’s something I can relate to.

“Come lead us in the blessing dance,” shouted Hehaka Najin. “Everyone wishes to honor you. You dance well; it will be good.”

Sean heard the drums and the wailing of the singers, a mixture of earthly drums and falsetto voices. He couldn’t understand the words they were singing, though his inner interpreter was able to carry on conversations without a hitch. The words in the song sounded all the same to him. The drums were loud, a constant a pulse driving the people. It reminded him a little of some of the rock bands he promoted over the years. Rock bands answer to any situation was volume, the louder the better.

How was Sean going to dance with these people? This wasn’t a cocktail party in Hollywood, where it was too crowded to move very muchand people were too drunk or stoned to care. This was in the middle of the prairie, a bunch or wild Indians expecting some kind of performance from him.

I don’t know what to do, he fretted. It all looks like a bunch of guys jumping on one foot, then the other; gotta be more to it than that. When I danced at parties; no one watched or cared. The chicks were the ones who needed to show off, shaking their booty and showin’ their stuff. I just hopped around, watching them jiggle, deciding which one of them was going to be the lucky girl that night.”

Sean began bouncing a little to the beat of the music; grateful he had good rhythm. Of course, it could be Heecha Sapa, who had the good rhythm; Sean might be remembering it like riding and shooting a bow. At least he didn’t look too foolish. He could feel his body move easier to the drums and started to enjoy this process; all the men followed him as he entered the sacred circle of the dance. He had to make a complete circle with others following, before all could enter the dance circle.

If I’m such a hot dancer, how come I’m not doing anything more interesting, he asked himself? This is lame simple stuff; I’m sure there has to be more to this. These guys need to break it up a little and boogie; otherwise this party will get dull fast. I’ll jazz it up and show these prairie dogs a few of my moves. What the hell, it’s only a dream, anyhow.”

The circle had been completed, Sean leading the way. Suddenly, he broke into some unusual steps and moves like the moonwalk, hip-hop and a few other things he could remember. At the Hollywood parties he had received several compliments on his ability and ingenuity on the dance floor. Of course, the compliments came from people who had some agenda; Sean had to be cautious when receiving flattery.

All the Indians were engaged in their own expression of the constant drumming mantra, slight variations between them. Little by little they all stopped to witness the bizarre dancing of Heecha Sapa. They watched out of amazement, disbelief and a foreboding; his dancing was nothing they had seen before, a drastic change from what they had always known.

The Lakota Sioux did not take well to change in their life style or dancing. Things were set in a way that allowed them to survive; traditional was safe, change uncertain and dangerous. Change challenged the sacred ways of their ancestors, violated the balance in their lives. Now, one of their own stepped over the line making a mockery of tradition within the sacred circle. But like all things, one had to be careful how to deal with a new situation, especially given Heecha Sapa’s recent strangeness.

Perhaps Heecha Sapa had been injuredwhen he fell from his horse. It had happened to others, who quite naturally returned to their senses in due time. He might be a heyoka, a sacred clown with strange magical powers. If so, he could do bad magic as well as good. Provoking such an individual might present a problem, even be dangerous; they knew the value of being cautious. To act too quickly was to endanger everyone in the tribe. A long discussion would have to take place to consider the recent displays of Heecha Sapa creating safe resolution to this new turn of events.

Sean was completely unaware of the others until the drums became silent, everyone standing still, watching him. Not wanting to break up the party, he encouraged everyone to dance, bowing out of the circle. Slowly the drums started up again, playing a more solemn song.

I don’t know what their problem is, he though. Maybe I showed off a little too much. These hicks don’t look like the type that ‘get down’ much. Oh well, that’s not my problem; right now, I want to go back to my tipi, have sex with my woman and wake up in my real home tomorrow morning. That seems to be the routine in this dream and maybe the best part.”

All the members of his family embarrassed and shocked, quickly returned to their lodge after Sean’s display. They had no idea what to do, what expect. If Sean was a heyoka, as some had whispered, he could bring misfortune upon his family. Conversely, he could bring them special status within the village. It was wise to observe and serve until such a determination was made.

Sean stretched and yawned before entering his lodge. He anticipated a biting, sarcastic comment from Hota Win; she was very silent, her eyes averted. Hota Win’s two sons also looked to the ground avoiding eye contact. Hopa Winyan Wakan acted distant and very different than before. Fear had replaced her adoration for him.

“Okay, so I showed off a little,” he admitted. “Is that wrong?” He turned to all the others adding, “The rest of you don’t have to stick around, ya know. There’s still a party going on outside; go, dance your stupid steps. I’d just like to get a little shut-eye with Hopa Winyan Wakan. I wouldn’t mind a little privacy, if you catch my drift.”

The tipi emptied out as if a bomb had exploded. No one said a word, not even the caustic Hota Win. His first wife remained as requested nervously looking to the ground. She busied herself with small things, tentatively awaiting her husband’s wishes. Sean was confused by this shift in behavior. The last time he came home she couldn’t get enough of him and now it was a different story.

“Hey, why don’t you and I slip under that sleeping robe and have some fun,” he said with a childish grin. “I sure could do with a little heavy-breathing, right now.”

Slightly mystified with his words and manner she removed her garment and ducked under the robe without ever looking up, Sean preparing for another great session of dream sex. But now this woman was like a stranger to him, though he was used to women like that, distant and cold. Usually, it didn’t matter as long as he got what he wanted.

She complied with his every wish but seemed to be emotionally disconnected from the activity, which normally, didn’t mater to him. It reminded him of the aspiring actresses he slept with, who didn’t care about anything except their career willing to get him off without any feelings from them. Hopa Winyan Wankan didn’t want anything; she was his wife, her only wish to please him.

Wife, he mused? Not sure I can get used to that. But what does it matter anyhow?

I’ll wake up, get my head straight and this will be nothing more than a memory.

Their lovemaking was extremely one-sided, he, quickly getting what he wanted without Hopa Winyan Wakan’s enthusiasm, except to be the recipient of his lust. He was beginning to wonder if their lovemaking had been a fluke the time before. Maybe this was the real woman, acting the way she usually did.

There’s no figuring out women, he decided. I don’t understand them and not sure I want to. If banging my old lady doesn’t get any better than this, this whole dream business is a waste. I think I’ll close my eyes and get back to the real world. At least there I can accept the games women play.”

Hopa Winyan Wakan pretended to sleep, her back to Sean, hidden tears in her eyes. He knew the signal, and left her alone. His eyes closed as the drums of the village lulled him to sleep. Sleep to him had been an empty abyss, unfilled by the clutter of dreams. But this night was filled with small segments of past experiences. It bothered him to see the same tormenting pictures over and over again.

The pictures consisted of buffalo hunting, Tom Pillings, Brandi, Hopa Winyan Wakan, Hehaka Najin and Sylvia the receptionist; none of it made any sense. The dreams resisted enough to wake him up. In the state of wakefulness, he slipped out of the sleeping robe to relieve himself outside.

Outside, he realized with dread? Outside the tipi, my tipi? I’m still the dream, shit!

When duty calls in dreams or reality, one needs to attend to it. Holding the still very foreign appendage he considered his fate; none of this made any sense. Perhaps he drank too much water before trying to sleep and that kept him from returning to peaceful slumberland and then home where he belonged. He’ll go back into the lodge and fall asleep, if that was at all possible, waiting to awaken in the right place, the right century.

He looked to the sky while attending to his personal business. He was awe struck to see so many stars in the night sky; there were millions of them; more than in the space movies he’d promoted. He hardly saw stars in Southern California anymore; the smog rarely allowed anyone to view the blue sky, let alone stars at night. The decades of the environmentalists could not reverse this situation because money, big money got in the way. True, it became slightly better but never enough. Fossil fuels still rated as top choice, the oil companies manipulating the public as they had in the past with the help of politicians being paid off, solar energy was kept to a minimum.

After several hours, sleep overtook him, a dreamless sleep, darkness articulated with nothingness, perfect for Sean. Too many thoughts and changes were making him crazy. Getting his head straight needed to happen, and soon; he had work to do. It might do well to see that shrink before he blew it with his clients.

Not Quite Yet

Sean was not a morning person; it took awhile to crack the eyelids open and face the day, wherever that might be. His ‘black out’ drapes made the process a little less painful, designer drapes, of course. This particular morning he was sure, he would see the usual funky haze over the valley, normal things that belonged in reality. Feeling refreshed, Sean was ready to face the real world, no time for the ridiculous dreaming. He felt another presence next to him. It was a female body. He smiled to himself.

Ah, ha, Brandi must be trying to kiss-up to me after she bailed on me the other night, he thought. Maybe she wasn’t sleazy enough for my pervert buddy, Tom Pillings and I’ll bet her deal with Leni fell through; it wouldn’t surprise me. The girl’s not terribly bright; she has a tough enough time reading her phone messages, let alone a real script.”

Instinctively he reached around to cup her enhanced breasts, contemplating a quickie before facing the day, morning his favorite time. The best part of women, like Brandi, was not having to waste time kissing and foreplay; their superficial relationship was understood and accepted. That was the beauty of money and power; women will do whatever, to keep you happy. Was it really wrong that he used her like this? It was sexists and extremely unpopular in present society. But he wasn’t the one who made up the rules in the business; they were made long before he got into the game.

Satisfied with his easy prospects, he touched flesh, a breast. The breasts felt more yielding than memory provided, saggy, in fact. The more he explored, the more he realized other things not as they should be. His hand passed over her buttocks, expecting to grasp the firm surgically augmented bottom. What he felt was a muscular but saggy butt, slightly less than soft.

Sean’s eyes snapped open, removing his exploratory hand from his phantom girlfriend, a minute or two to focus on his surroundings, a stream of light glaring down at him from the ceiling. The smell of wood smoke filled the confined space, as it slowly drifted out the smoke hole of the tipi.

“Tipi? I’m still here?” he cried out loud. “How could this be? I slept; I know I did. I should be in California not here.”

The familiar coarse voice of Hota Win emanated from the female figure besides him. “Why do you talk such strange words; what is this California? I know of no such place. You are here, as always; where else would you be?” Hota Win shifted under the sleeping robe with a grunt.

Heecha Sapa, your young woman felt she did not please you very well, though I am not surprised,” declared Hota Win without enthusiasm. “She asked that I use my skill and experience to remedy that. If you must continue, let us be done with it quickly; I have many things to do. And the sun has been up for a long time now. You may wish to sleep longer; though I see no reason for it.”

Naked, Sean leaped out from under his sleeping robe, shocked at the sight of his second wife making herself sexually available to him. The body of this woman was nothing like that of his first wife, disappointing to say the least. His head still fuzzy from sleep caused him to stare with confused speculation at Hota Win. His waking thoughts of Brandi had created excitement making it appear he was ready to engage Hota Win. A few minutes past before the evidence of his desire diminished followed by a groan.

“My husband, you must not let the moment pass. Perhaps I can give you a son; I am prepared to do what is required,” she insisted. “I may be your second wife but I will do what is expected of me; it is a duty. Please let us be done before we waste more of the day. Surely, it will not take long; it never does.”

Sean grabbed something to put on and charged out of the tipi. Several children giggled at him as he stood outside his lodge, undressed. They scampered away afraid he might use his heyoka magic on them. Fortunately, getting dressed was a quick affair, complaints from his second wife audible from outside. He didn’t bother answering any of them.

This is not okay, he said to himself. Something is drastically wrong; I should be back in Hollywood by now, where I belong. Why am I still in this dream? How much longer do I have to stick around? How the hell do I get out of this dream?

He howled out of frustration, neighboring people peering at him in surprise, convinced Heecha Sapa had to be heyoka.

Heecha Sapa,” announced Hehaka Najin “People believe you are heyoka. If you are, they must know if they should fear you.”

“Fear, me?” returned Sean. “Now that really takes the cake. So far I’ve been shot at, fallen off a horse and almost killed by a buffalo. That hardly seems like someone to fear, does it?”

“Come with me and we will talk with the others,” pleaded Hehaka Najin. “It is very late. Many elders are already there, waiting for us. The women have prepared food for you. Have you not hunger?”

It was not a long way to the elders’ council lodge, a few steps from Sean’s tipi. The lodge sat in the center of the village, the largest of all. An older boy stood by the door flap and opened it as the two men arrived.

Sean studied the faces in the dimly lit tipi, taking a few minutes to adjust to the darkness. Old men sat around a small fire, the gravity of the situation written on their faces. The scene reminded Sean of pictures in the history books. The Noble Savage was the title of the chapter in high school covering American Indians. He never gave it much thought since the chapter was only seventeen pages long. Amazing how the entire history of Indians can be condensed into so few pages.

The oldest in the lodge wore a more stoic expression at first. His face broke into a genuine smile of concern as he spoke. Sean was hoping it was not the grin of a Grand Inquisitor.

“Come, sit, eat, smoke and let us talk,” he invited. “It is good to discuss matters when we are troubled, not to rush is our way. We have watched you and have become worried about the way you act. Let me be plain; I do not wish to take too much time. And it could prove disrespectful to prolong such talk if there is no reason for it.”

He drew on the pipe, handing it to Sean before continuing. “Are you heyoka? If so, are you good or bad? It would be helpful for us to decide what is to be done with you. It would be improper to do otherwise; we will not harm you.”

Heyoka? Geez! You guys act like a bunch of cigar store Indians,” Sean protested, scanning the faces in the tipi. “I don’t even know what that means; something about a clown is what I think I heard. If that’s the case, I’m up for a few laughs, but don’t expect me to put on some silly round red nose. You guys can do that with some other poor sap in another dream, cause I don’t plan on sticking around, anyhow. This is a dream, nothing more.”

Heecha Sapa, we all like to laugh but I do not think you understand,” returned the elder, his smile turning upside-down. “If you have been touched by wakan tanka and given power, we must know. We will respect your wishes as long as they do not harm our people. But if you make a bad spell on us we will have to kill you or force you from the village; it is yet, undecided.”

“Listen,” Sean answered, anger mounting. “I didn’t ask to be here and I don’t want to be here. Pissing outdoors is fine when you’re camping but wiping your ass with grass is not my idea of a good time. Two wives are too much for any man; one is beautiful and the other makes my skin crawl. The only problem that remains, you guys happen to be in the wrong century; mine is long after this one.”

Sean, sitting near the door flap, leaned closer to the small fire burning in the center, frustration and despair plain on his face. He could see most of the elders in the lodge, their expressions indicating concern. He scolded himself for being too twenty-first century with these backwoods hicks. They didn’t grasp what he was saying because they did not understand sarcasm, nor did they understand what a century was.

These are not the, ‘read from a script,’ types, he thought. They take so long to do anything. I think I liked being a hero rather than a heyoka. Instead of smiles I get the death look from them; the threat doesn’t exactly thrill me. How can I possibly communicate with these people?

Like all things, the council process was slow, polite and indecisive. Discussing such things as this might require several days to sort out, correctly. The elders spoke to one another, each in turn, with no one interrupting; rudeness was not tolerated in council; it was understood. For some strange reason, Sean didn’t understand the words being tossed around; the interpreter in his head had been shut off, somehow. There was enough meaning in the hand signals to figure out they were deciding his fate. The idea of having his future hashed over like Monday Night Football, bugged him.

“This is bull shit!” he barked rising to his feet. “I keep telling you all this is a dream and it doesn’t matter how much you talk about me. You guys figure it out and let me know what you come up with. I’m going hunting or ride around on my horse. Anyway, I’m outta here.”

There was a great rumble of disapproval as Sean stomped out of the tipi. It was highly disrespectful to leave the elder’s council without the proper acknowledgement. Heecha Sapa had broken many of the rules of protocol, lately; that was the reason for the meeting. Behavior contrary to the norm are considered a threat; breeches of etiquette tore deep into the very fiber of tribe. Where would they be without some rules to use as a guide?

Sean threw a leg over his horse, charging off in a direction the horse decided. He rode to get away from the whole mess, his destination unimportant. Still, it continued to amaze him how he managed to stay on the horse at this accelerated pace. The closest he had ever been to a horse was in New York City; the mounted police used them in the park and other places inaccessible by automobile.

Once he had encountered a horse during a protest in the park, Sean not a part of it, just killing time before a meeting. The mounted officer was herding people out of the restricted area by using the horse as a ram. Sean managed to get trapped in a protest group, almost getting mashed by the horse’s hooves. The finale of the experience involved the lifting of the animal’s tail, whereby it discharged huge wads of foul, smelling dung directly on his highly polished shoes. Since that time horses were best seen on the movie screen and not at close quarters.

Although the horse encounter had been an unhappy experience, he didn’t feel disgust or fear with his present mount; the same foreign, instinct drove him and the animal. He tried to discount the body memory by consciously doing things he shouldn’t. His careless conduct was rewarded with a quick trip over the horse’s neck and a sudden introduction to the terra firma. The horse stood nearby snorting and stomping a foot, while Sean raised his bruised body from the unyielding earth. With a hand on face, he felt the sting of scraped skin, the hand confirming the physical insult, returning bloody and dirty.

“Next time I’ll let you drive,” he muttered to the horse.

The bleeding was not serious, stopping within a few minutes. He felt a little dizzy, deciding to rest under the only tree he saw. The day was hot, the sun beating down relentlessly on everything exposed. The tree provided very little shade; the rough bark rubbed against his naked back. His body hurt all over, hardly noticing the bark. Taking inventory, he confirmed nothing was broken.

He pressed against the tree turning over the events of day. He wasn’t supposed to feel pain in dreams; those were the rules as he had heard before. The only good part of his nightmare was Hopa winyan wakan; and now, for some reason, she was afraid by him, preferring Hota win to couple with him, instead. He sighed and closed his eyes to shut out the scene, he did not want to see.

Sean slept long and hard, his physical insult contributing to his fatigue, gradually sending him into a dreamless abyss, which was preferable to the critics in the camp. There was nothing to think about, nothing to react to, no pain and also no pleasure. Perhaps Sean’s habit of not dreaming was on the mend, no unwanted adventures asleep or awake.

Keeping Time

A deep rumble on the ground startled him awake. He expected to see nasty, smelly, buffalo charging at him, in an attempt to pound the remainder of his injured body into the earth. His head throbbed, pounding into his brain like a badly tuned garage rock band. Reaching up, he felt his face scabbed and rough. Through slits in his eyelids he could see it wasn’t night nor was it early morning. Reluctantly, Sean focused on his surroundings afraid of what he might find.

The rumble turned out to be low flying jets taking off from the airport avoiding the gusty winds that plagued them this time of year. He smiled in spite of his pain; the jets, instead of buffalo, were reassuring to hear; jets never trampled anyone to death. Sure, the occasional crash killed a bunch of people; that was just the crapshoot one had to take with flying. To the best of his knowledge jets never killed anyone he cared about.

Judging by the light and the haze it was about four in the afternoon. Judging by his beard growth, he had been unshaven for several days.

I only slept for one night, he mumbled, walking to the front door for the newspaper; I still prefer having a physical paper instead of some screen to stare at. I gotta check and make sure what day it is; I might miss something important.

The door swung open, a pile of newspapers toppling over the welcome mat. The doormat didn’t actually say welcome; that might imply he wanted visitors; he didn’t believe in blanket invitations. He bought the mat because it had a designer label and cost ten times what it was worth. Those in the know would be impressed by his acquisition, though many would miss the label ‘Bali Exclusives’.

Sean was astonished at the number of papers lying before him, a joke, perhaps by some actor trying to pay him back for dumping him as a client; you mess with Sean and you end up on your own. He could only imagine the delivery person dumping the excess at his door too lazy to deal with the extras. Wading through all the papers he found the most recent paper with a note from the delivery person. The note suggested the delivery person put a hold on the paper until he returned.

June 17th? What happened to the rest of May? How could he have lost so many days?

Quickly, Sean walked to his bathroom mirror to verify a few things. The nick on his shoulder was completely healed, a tiny scarred ridge the only testimony to his being allegedly shot. He looked in the mirror and was shocked by the volume of hair on his face. It wasn’t a couple days growth, more like a week or more. It was so unlike Sean to allow his beard to grow; a clean-shaven face projected a better image in business.

The scrapes and cuts on his face were relatively fresh, however. Had he fallen? Plus the whole side of his body was black and blue, probably from the fall off the horse.

Horse, he questioned? I got thrown off a horse but that was in a dream. It can’t be real!

Sean looked down at his tiny blinking red light on his answering machine; his cell phone was dead, so he was unable to see any messages there. The number of missed calls on his answering machine was displayed digitally, seventy-eight.

“How can I lose all these days?” he yelled at his phone. The phone did not respond except to continue to blink back at him. He calmed himself, pushing the message button on the machine.

Beep!

“Sean, honey, it’s Brandi. It’s Saturday and I am still working with Tom Pillings, though I’m not sure we are getting very far with the script. He’s so demanding. It’s kinda scary. Wants me to stay with him day and night. He makes me wear this real icky red lipstick and a funny outfit when we work together. He says it puts me in character or something. Tom thinks I should change my name to Sherri, with an ‘I’. Said he doesn’t like drinking brandy; he’s so funny. Tom thinks I’m doing really good and wants me to replace his co-star. I feel kinda bad for her but this could be a break for me. I won’t be coming by for a little while. Gotta work. Love you.” Beep!

The second message immediately played out.

Beep!

“Hey, buddy this is Bill, checking in. I’m taking break from a liposuction procedure. This fat guy thinks he’s going to look like a bodybuilder when I get done. I explained it would only eliminate the fat and he would have to do the exercises to change his appearance. There’s just no tellin’ some people. By the way, haven’t seen you around the club lately. I heard, through the grapevine, that Brandi is history, but then again, you never keep any of them very long. I hope you got a hold of Hiram. He’s supposed to be a good guy, a little unorthodox, not at all like most shrinks. God, you got me saying shrinks now, not very professional of me. Well, catch you later buddy. Oh, and Brenda says she knows a really nice gal she wants you to meet. She told me the woman is a nurse and loves guys like you; I don’t know, though. I told Brenda not to match-make. The nurse is also into yoga and is a health food instructor at the college. Doesn’t sound like your type to me. Drop by the club if you get a chance. But I’ll bet you’re breaking in a new gal or something. Give her a kiss from me, I wish.” Beep!

Beep!

“Okay, so I’m sorry about setting up the Brandi bimbo on you. I had to do something to keep our boy happy. Tom liked her and I wanted to get her out of my hair. Hair? What hair? I haven’t had hair since I was nineteen,” he chuckled. “But this is your old pal Leni. I always take care of you in the end. You know that, right? You got all my business; I don’t go with anyone else, Sean. You can always find another girlfriend, dime a dozen around here. I got a couple names if you want, hot numbers, long on legs and short on brains. But you do okay on your own. Let’s have lunch, talk business and screw a few starlets. Just like old times, huh!” Beep!

Beep!

“This is Little Wolf. Want to talk? We didn’t part with good words. Maybe we can meet or whatever. Just keep this in mind, this is not a come-on. I just want to see if you can help with my production. I know you have connections. If you can’t, that’s okay. Bye. “ Beep!

Beep!

“Hi, this is Nate, Sean. Where ya been? Haven’t seen you at the office in awhile. I figure you’re scamming some new high-profile project. Just take your time; everything is going great, here. The ‘Big Guy’ never says a word about you. No news, is good news, eh? I bet you probably got some sexy thing banging your brains out. You always manage to get the lookers. Yeah, and I’m jealous. Anyway, see you, when I see you.” Beep!

Beep!

“I don’t know if you remember me, but my name’s Sheila Fein. We met a month ago at Andy’s party in the hills. I’m the one you talked to about making some connections with a few producers. I believe you liked my red hair; said it reminded you of an old flame you once had. You didn’t seem to mind checking out the rest of me, if I recall. Maybe that’s something we can work with, a little mutual friendliness. Give me a call and maybe we can hot tub at your place, drink a little wine and get creative. I can be quite creative given the right incentive. You won’t be able find out if I’m a real redhead or not. Think about it. (giggle) Call me. Sheila 555-1122, bye.” Beep!

Beep!

 “Mr. Casey, this is Frank at Willard Motors reminding you of your service appointment for your BMW. Please call and set up an appointment so we can arrange for a new loaner car; we understand how particular you are. I would do it soon, since we have a notice of a recall on your particular model. There might be a problem with the computer chip that activates your braking system. I wouldn’t worry, though. Only a few accidents have been reported since they have discovered the defect. I’m sure they were not caused by the brakes failure.” Beep!

Beep!

This is Marg from Dr. Kineff’s office. Doctor was looking over your x-rays, Doctor says you definitely need a root canal. It may not bother you now but he thinks you should attend to it before it does become a problem. Please call and I will set you up with a specialist. He is excellent and does most of the stars. Please call within the next couple days. Thank you. Beep!”

Sean stopped after the thirty-fifth call. They were all the same, the parasites of Hollywood trying to get something from him. None of them really cared about him, except his dentist; and his dentist charged more than most. To top it off, Sean was starting to feel a little twinge in his molar; or was that the power of suggestion?

For the first time in his life he felt lonely. There were plenty of people around him, phonies and wannabes; they all wanted something, shaking his hand and pressing him for special introductions; schmoozing was common in the business but not by Sean. In a world of takers, including himself, Sean had to be one-up on all of them or be sucked into the depths of mediocrity. There was no room for mercy, pity or love.

“Love?” he snorted. “Love has no place in business.”

The dreams made him think about the Lakotas who were so different, one hundred and eighty degrees opposite to the way he lived. Money wasn’t important in their world; they didn’t even care about possessions. He saw one family give away the few things they had to celebrate a daughter coming of age. Were his dreams real or something conjured up in his malfunctioning brain, spurred on by the past hours of lecturing by his parents? Were these real people or a Cecil B. Demille movie playing in his head? He kept expecting someone to yell, ‘Cut!’ which never happened. He was curious if this dream was going to play out to the bitter end. He knew how this story ended, recalling the little bit of history.

That’s the way it was, history, he thought. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. It’s passé, a done deal, a nasty resolution to manifest destiny, not my fault or my problem. Why should I worry? It’s just a dream.

He continued to mumble. “Unless,” He paused to consider, “That couldn’t happen, dreams are a bizarre fantasy not real. I can’t worry about something that isn’t so. But could I get stuck in the dream? That’s ridiculous; no one gets stuck in a dream.”

Sean shifted his thoughts. A change of scenery might help, break away from the pattern.

“I’ll jump in my Beemer and drive up the coast, get away for a couple days, hit a few wineries and kick back. There’s nothing I need to do here. My dentist can wait; I’ve got Pillings on ice and the promotional campaign lined up; work will take care of itself. I got to get a handle on this dream thing first. I’ll be gluing macaroni onto colored paper in some nut house if I don’t.”

Sean’s BMW sat in the driveway covered in a fine layer of dust. He never allowed his car get that way. It was never parked outside for more than a few hours at a time. The accumulation of dust was evidence of a week, not hours. The beautiful light, metallic, green was slightly brown, the white leather interior tainted to match.

A trip to the Star Wash Car Wash had to happen before going anywhere. It was expensive but worth it; ninety bucks, a cleaning, ensured proper treatment for his custom baby. Without a lot of ceremony he had pulled on a T-shirt and shorts before leaving. He’ll buy a cappuccino and sandwich at the car wash; their little refreshment bar wasn’t half bad.

“Sorry Mr. Casey,” said the manager of the Star Wash Car Wash. “We’ll try to squeeze you in by five. You should have called to make an appointment.”

Sean didn’t like to wait for anything. On the other hand, it was only fifteen minutes before five. There was no place to go and no rush.

The manager returned shortly before the hour.

“Mr. Casey we’ll have your baby done in about twenty minutes, maybe a little more if we detail the interior,” announced the manager, speaking like the headwaiter at a fancy restaurant.

“I think the hand rubbed cream cleaner would be best on the leather seats,” he continued. “You must remember to keep the car in the garage or the top up. The seats will wear poorly, otherwise.

Sean nodded his approval and looked for a place to relax, perfection took time, he insisted on it. Food was his next goal. A Benito Burger on a whole, wheat organic bun sounded like the ticket. The burger came with organic veggies on the side, a dish prepared by a chef spirited away from a well-known bistro. Only in Hollywood could you get a gourmet sandwich and a car wash at the same time. The chef prepared a fancy sauce for the burger, spicy and grilled. Other than that, it was like most other burgers except for the price.

Sean relaxed on a bench outside the carwash, polishing off the burger and enjoying the moment. It had been a long time since he sat and did nothing, a delightful change. For a brief time he forgot about work and the wretched dreams.

An older woman, dressed to kill approached him, obviously prepared to engage him in some kind of conversation. His attire was more suited to those working at the wash than the owner of an expensive BMW. She was the type of woman, bored and impatient with most everything. He had seen enough of them to recognize the trait; married to a wealthy guy who gave her everything she wanted.

“Boy,” called the woman with an air of superiority. “You obviously have nothing to do. I’ll give you and extra five dollars if you get me a latte. Hurry, my car is almost ready. I don’t like to wait. Understand?”

He was amused by her demands. Considering his clothes and unshaven face, he understood her misconception. He did indeed look the part of a common laborer.

Angry and embarrassed he answered, “I have nothing to do? I’m eating a sandwich lady. And only five bucks? By the look of your outfit, you could afford a hell of a lot more, at least twenty; go screw yourself and buy your own fucking latte.”

She had not expected the retort; her lips pinched preparing to lay into the insolent young man. She would not spoken to like that.

“What is your name, young man?” she demanded. “I’m going report you to your employer or should I say ex-employer. I’ll have you fired before you’re done with that sandwich.”

Sean responded to her negative attitude with a hand gesture universal to all social casts. She stomped off eagerly expecting to get her pound of flesh dealt out on a silver platter. He, in turn, walked to her car and deposited the rest of his drink, carrot juice with a twist of lime on her front seat. Sauntering over to his own vehicle, which was in a state of completion, he decided to forgo the fine wiping and detailed drying. Water spots were inconsequential, right now. He needed to get out of the city fast.

Sean had made zero preparations for a lengthy trip, no clothes, no toiletries or reservations at motels. He had a few bills in his wallet and a wad of credit cards to his name. All of these would provide him with whatever he needed. He thought of it as credit card camping. Dream or no dream, his life was turned upside-down. He couldn’t deal with his job or sleep for fear of dreaming.

“If I go somewhere I don’t know, will I wake up somewhere I don’t want to be?” he contemplated. “Of course, that’s assuming this dream thing is real or just my crazy imagination.”

“If I throw too many variables into the mix my dream might drop me in some fucking desert or worse. Maybe I better think about this some more; I do have that shrink appointment coming up. It’s only next week according to my calendar. If I stick around, maybe this guy can stop these crazy dreams. Everyone in the dream is afraid of me. The only one who hates me is Hota Win, like I care. Geez! Now I’m acting like she really exists.”

Traffic was grid locked at this time of night, not a surprise. In all directions people wanted to go home or out of the city. He only wanted out, which might take hours. He was too impatient to wait side by side with the other human herbage taking up space. They were all sheep, living simple lives that meant nothing to him. Abruptly, he pulled the BMW off the side road and made a shot at going back into the valley.

He set a course to Little Wolf’s place. He remembered how adamant she was about the dream catcher; it was all mumbo-jumbo, of course. What could he lose by checking in with her? Her people lived in a world of half magic and half reality. At this point, he was willing to try anything.

Little Wolf is just another chick with big ideas and no money, he reflected. I’ve seen her kind in the industry for years, trying to get a foot in the door to promote an idea no one gives a damn about. But the dream thing, I’ll humor her and milk her for anything that could be useful. I know she’ll think I bought into the idea of the magic crap. As far as I’m concerned, being crazy is more acceptable than believing in bogus magic.

Sean found her place faster this time, the ’57 Chevy marking the street where she lived. He pulled into the drive avoiding the dead car parts with the memory of his last visit. Cats scattered as before but returned after the engine shut down. The small house was, as he remembered, the rusted screen and walls in need of paint. There was the smell of food coming from the house. It smelled delicious, even though, he had just eaten. Thinking about food was ridiculous when your real problem is losing days of your life.

The noise of his approach brought Little Wolf to the screen, a cat jumping through the bottom of the torn screen. She looked through the screen with measured interest.

“You look like crap,” she reported. “Some of the ‘Home Boys’ try to steal your Beemer or is your girlfriend a little on the rough side? Looks like you got the worst end of the deal.”

“No, no one roughed me up. I got thrown off a horse.”

“Hmmm, a horse? I never figured you for someone, who liked to ride,” she answered. “Got your own designer horse, do you; or do you ride at some exclusive stable, where all the horses are docile and bored. I can’t imagine anyone giving you such a spirited beast.”

“None of the above,” he answered, avoiding a detailed explanation. “It just happened and I’ll survive. I want to talk to you about something; it’s really more of a curiosity.”

“Of course! I would think a man like you has all the answers; I’m not sure a poor Indian, like me, could be of much help to you. I’m just an over-educated rez Indian trying to bring out the truth, you white people don’t get.”

“You don’t give an inch, do you?” he complained. “Hey, you want to get nasty, I’ll work things out on my own!”

She folder her arms, impatiently waiting for his spiel. He might be everything a woman should hate and more; he was also another human being in pain, a condition she knew well.

“I’m just trying to understand something about your people. Sort of a promotional idea I had. Maybe I can sell your idea after all,” he lied.

“And I suppose for this favor I’d have to sleep with you?” she countercharged. “You either have a high opinion of yourself or a very low one of me, probably both.”

“No, I wasn’t going to suggest anything like that,” he sputtered. “It’s about things on my mind, odd things.”

“I’ll bet they’re odd,” she returned. “Hard time finding a woman who will sleep with you?

“Hey, I got plenty of women willing to jump in the sack when I snap my fingers,” he refuted.

“I take that back,” she revised. “It’s not just me; you have a low opinion of all women.”

Sean couldn’t figure out how to break through that hard exterior. She was prepared to drive the wooden stake into his heart at the slightest provocation.

“I know what’s bothering you,” she added. “It’s the dreams; you can’t figure out what’s happening to you. That old man wasn’t any ordinary vagrant and the dream catcher wasn’t an ordinary dream catcher, either. He gave you a chance and you turned it down. Now you expect me to bail you out. If I were you, I’d go find that old man and listen to what he has to say. What I can offer is a little supper, if you want; that’s about it.”

Sean hoped for more substantial information. The old man might be the solution, though it seemed ridiculous to scrounge around the bad part of town looking for some derelict.

“Uh, supper would be nice,” mumbled Sean for lack of anything better to say. “ Just a little something. I ate a little while ago. I don’t want to put you out.”

“It’s no bother,” she replied stepping toward the hot plate. “Actually, I was expecting you. Surprised you waited this long. Hope you like venison. Uncle likes to hunt and left some in the freezer on the back porch.”

“On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t. I did just eat a big burger,” amended Sean. “Plenty of protein power in my burger.”

“Nonsense!” replied Little Wolf. “There is no power in that food. It was beef, right? Animals need to be wild to give you power, one of the reasons my people have become so weak. For years the government has given them beef cattle. They were used to eating wild meat; their power was gained from the wild things. So, in a sense, the government took away our land as well as their power.”

“Do you really believe that?” asked Sean

“Of course, I do. The problem is wasichu don’t understand the power of Ina Maka, Mother Earth. You build square houses; the power gets lost in the square corners. The wind blows hard on the squares and breaks things. Round lodges let the wind blow around them. It is the power of the circle, the same circle of tribe. White people build houses in square rows. My people used to build their villages in a circle, easier to defend and quick to communicate with each other. All things with power are round; this is a history we understand, nothing new to us.”

“I never heard of such a thing,” admitted Sean. “I thought meat was meat and houses were houses. As for power, money runs the world, honey; that’s the real power. ”

Little Wolf shook her head. There were the words she had always heard from those who do not follow the Red Road. Greed ruled the outside; truth fell to the ground with the lies of those who stood to gain money and the wrong kind of power. Teaching someone like Sean about the value of Lakota virtues would take a long time, longer than she had time for.

He could almost see the logic in what she was saying. Old memories came flooding back, to a time when his parents were active in political change. At the time, some people made a stupid attempt to change what could not be changed. Indians were defeated; no one wanted to change that fact, except a few bleeding hearts whites.

His new dream experiences gave Sean some insight to the ways of the Indian. He knew what it felt like to be hunted and be put in harms way for no other reason than being an Indian. He understood the frustration of what would come to pass and the futility in resisting. Yet, what choice did the Indians have?

“Yes, I understand a few of those things,” Sean explained. “I was raised around a couple crazy parents, who wanted to change the world. If they had had their way, I’d be living in a tipi today. Fortunately, I got out before that could happen.”

He stopped for a moment retracing his childhood. “They were good people, you know; I never got spanked or balled out. They were hippies, free beings, you might say. My dad never owned a suit; still doesn’t. Both of them are dreamers of a better world that will never come. Anyhow, that was a long time ago.”

Little Wolf watched his face as he spoke about his parents; his tone changed from the pessimistic to a calm caring timbre. She could see that he loved something besides money. It softened her heart to him; it gave her hope.

“What is a heyoka?” he added.

“An interesting word coming from a guy like you. From your dream?” she asked.

He nodded without comment.

“It means sacred clown or special being with magic,” she explained. “It can be a lot of things, really. Heyoka can have evil intentions, doing bad things; but heyoka can also be a good being, crazy to the average person. My people have respect for such beings and believe that person touched by God. It is never good to kill one unless they need killing. Killing one of our own is not allowed; banishment is usually the worst punishment.”

“When does one need to be killed?” pressed Sean.

“Usually, if they make too much trouble for the people. It is said that a heyoka may need to be killed but the circumstance have to be correct, otherwise bad luck will befall the person or even the tribe. You heard this word in your dream?”

Sean shuffled feet, embarrassed to even mention his dream. “Yeah, I think I dreamt it. It’s just a word I heard, nothing else.”

“Nothing else? Nothing, like being thrown from a horse?” Little Wolf probed with a smile. “I wouldn’t categorize that as nothing.”

“It’s only a dream, Little Wolf. None of this can really happen to me in a dream.”

“I see the pejula wacasa, medicine man was right,” she added somewhat pleased with herself. “I told you; you should have paid attention.”

“It’s just a dream,” he repeated. “Stupid little kids have them all the time. I’m sure mine will go away, eventually. I’m just overworked. It happens to some of us, nothing unusual.”

“I suppose you got all those scratches and bruises, while you were awake?” she probed.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Little Wolf, a stupid accident, that’s all. Maybe I’ll be better if I eat something with power in it. If it’s okay with you, I’ll take you up on that offer of supper. Nothing else seems to be going right lately.”

Sean sat in an old over-stuffed chair that looked like it had been retrieved from a dumpster. A blanket was placed on top to hide the exposed spring that sought freedom from the cushion. Sean looked at Little Wolf, a memory stirring at the sight of her. There was something familiar about her; he felt it when they first met, though they had never met before. It was also a memory of a recent encounter, a déja vu experience that left one wondering what the connection was. His dreams and reality were so mixed up he didn’t know what to believe anymore. He couldn’t shake the feeling as he finished the small snack of deer meat and squash.

“If you’re looking for the dream catcher,” she announced. “I dropped it on the seat of your car. It may have slipped on the floor or wedged in the seat. That might help those dreams of yours; the old man thought it would. That’s why he gave it to you.”

“Come on, Little Wolf,” he complained. “The guy didn’t know me from Adam. How could he possibly know anything about me? That kind of stuff went out with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Shaking some rattle at me is not the answer here. There is a logical reason for my dreams; I’ll find it.”

“I still think you should try to get a hold of the old man,” she repeated. “He’ll be able help; I’m sure of it. And when he does, you can return the favor by helping me out; or was all that a crock?”

“No, I’ll see that you find the right people but it won’t be an easy sell. The ‘Indian thing’ has been done to death. My edge, I got people who owe me. As far as money, you’ll have to raise most of that on your own. I doubt there is anyone willing to shell out that kind of cash. Anyone with money will demand a big return. What kind of money do you have, anyway?”

“Not too much, at the moment. Uncle said he could give me some for the project. He uses the word ‘liquidate’ when he speaks of it. Says he feels guilty about going down the road of the wasichu. He says he’ll give me more if things turn out well in some investments. That’s all I know.”

“Honestly, Little Wolf. Do you think he can come up with the kind of money needed for a film? By the look of this place, honey, your uncle should keep his money. He’ll need it when they condemn this place. What’s he got, a few hundred, maybe?”

“No, a little more than that. He said he could only swing two and a quarter million but insisted on a percentage of the film. He still has a lot of those white ways about him. It’s okay, though.”

“That much?” Sean raised his eyebrows. “I’m impressed; I never would have guessed. How could he possibly raise that much money?”

“I told you,” she reminded. “He bought this place for a start and then a few others later on. My uncle bought buildings nobody wanted and then sold them for more money; took him a long time.  Not every rich guy out there is a college boy, you know. He told me he was a corporation now, legal and all, something to do with being a tax shelter. Says if he can unload a couple more properties, he can almost double the amount.”

“Wow! I had no idea,” returned Sean.

He was becoming anxious. “You know, I should get out of here; I’ll see if I can find your medicine man. We’ll see if he can tell me anything that will help.”

As an after thought he turned and added, “Thanks for the food. I owe ya one.”

The twang of the screen door spring caught his attention for a second, his feet almost tripped on an orange cat. The feline was chewing on something that looked like a rat. Sean didn’t want to find out, moving quickly to his car.

Two million, my ass, he thought. I think Uncle Lotta Bucks is feeding her a line of bullshit. That’ll be her tough luck when it comes time to finance the film. I’m sure no one in this town has ever heard of this Indian guy. For now, I got to see if I can find that dream catcher before someone takes it home for their kids. I hope those low-life workers at the car wash didn’t throw it away. They might think its trash.”

Sean couldn’t find it on the car seat or the floor, not surprising given the thoroughness of the carwash. A quick call to the carwash was necessary to save him time and trouble.

“Star Wash, Car Wash,” answered the clerk at the store register. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, buddy,” responded Sean. “I had my Beemer done there this afternoon and wanted to know if anyone found something in it.”

“Was it money or jewelry?” asked the clerk. “We had nothing reported today.”

“No, it was this little good luck charm, no big deal but it has sentimental value.”

“You might want to check your glove compartment, sir. Anything we find is put in a plastic bag and placed in the glove box. Everything else they bring to the office. We do state on our invoice that we are not responsible for lost items, however.” He added, “You do understand.”

“Thanks, a lot. I’ll check the glove box. But have your boys call me if they find anything unusual, like a charm. I’ll be happy to give a hundred bucks to whoever finds it. You have cell and my number at home, Sean Casey.”

“Okay, Mr. Casey. I’ll put the word out to the guys.”

Sean’s hands shook when he opened the glove box. If the dream catcher wasn’t there, he would have to look up that Indian and get another one. With his luck the guy would be dead or drunk in some alleyway. Suddenly, he felt very uncomfortable thinking of the old guy.

Poor bastard is just trying to get along in a place where there isn’t much hope, he thought. A few hundred years ago he would have been someone important. Now he’s just some guy, begging for change. Sad.

Sean saw the plastic bag in the glove box and held his breath as he removed it. It was stuffed with all sorts of paper clips, pens, some coins, papers and things long forgotten in his car. He had to admit the car wash was thorough. He dumped the contents onto the seat next to him and looked for the small dream catcher. After removing the large pieces of paper and other debris, the lone insignificant dream catcher emerged.

He looked at it, holding it between his thumb and forefinger. It didn’t look like anything special; he had seen better ones in novelty stores and craft fairs. The round circle was really more oblong than round. It was made of some sort of reed or twig bent and tied together at the ends. The webbing was delicate, probably made of a natural gut material, the strands showing signs of deterioration. It was the sort of thing someone might discard as junk; still not convinced this tiny item had any power. He’d try it and see; there was nothing to lose except his dreams.

“Little Wolf! Hi, this is Sean,” he said speaking on his cell phone. “Just wanted to ask you a question.”

“Go ahead,” she answered.

“Not that I believe in any of this hocus-pocus,” Sean began. “But if I were to put this dream catcher somewhere, where should I place it?”

“Where you sleep, of course,” she answered. “It works better if you hang it over you. Catches the bad dreams before they go into your head. Did you find the dream catcher?”

“Nah! Was just wondering about how a person might use it, if they bought into this dream crap,” he lied, again.

Trying To Catch the Wind

Sean’s phone machine was still blinking away upon his arrival. He decided to delete all the calls; anyone important will call him again on his cell phone. It was beginning to get dark; Sean felt sleepy his body urging to retire. Normally, it this would be a pleasant feeling, a time to let the stress of the day melt away in sleep. Tonight a tinge of fear gripped him; the thought of waking up as an Indian was an unhappy prospect.

Fastening a string with a tack he placed the dream catcher over his bed; he felt ridiculous putting this piece of junk over his bed. Either it would work or be donated to the trash bin tomorrow. His competition would have a field day if they knew Sean had a weakness for nonsense like this.

He parked the Beemer in his garage to make sure it was not left to the elements in the event he disappeared again. He didn’t plan on being gone but it was best to take no chances, if the dream catcher didn’t work. He also called the newspaper delivery, canceling subscription for an undetermined amount of time, opting to read the online version until this silliness went away. It wasn’t until he checked the calendar that he realized he had an appointment the next day. If all went well, he’d be seeing this Hiram Smith guy tomorrow to sort out this weird, mental condition.

To sleep, perchance to dream; to dream, perchance to die, Shakespeare would have loved this, he thought. If I die in my dream, do I die here too? Whole damn US Army is out there trying wipe me out or should I say us, to be exact. I wonder what year my dream is in? The Indians are Lakota Sioux; I’m pretty sure of that; I have heard a few speak his Long Hair name. Must mean that the SOB is still around. I think they were the ones who kicked Custer’s butt, no surprise in that.

A pretty bad time, a lot of Indians got killed after that battle, a bunch of massacres by the army; my droning parents told me that much. I don’t suppose I could end up in the middle of a battle, fighting for my life. Fighting is not something I do; hell, I don’t even own a fly swatter. I could give myself up but there were stories about soldiers not taking prisoners, killing every last Indian. On the other hand, maybe I’m a good fighter; I know I am a good rider. What am I saying? It’s a dream; I don’t have to fight anyone.

His thoughts gave way to sleep; his lapse into sleep followed by disjointed bits and parts of dreams, nothing, making any sense. It reminded Sean of alphabet soup, where the letters were mixed in no particular order. The dreams had no pattern and couldn’t hold onto him; he was simply an observer of nonsense, a better condition than being a participant.

At one point in the darkness he awoke, staring at the dream catcher slowly turning in the warm breeze. He looked towards the large window and was comforted by the twinkling of many valley lights below. The lights, a reassuring sign, their dull yellowish-orange glow, reminding him of the pollution of this place called home. He was still there. Good or bad, this was a place familiar to him. He slept again, dreamless this time.

A loud argument stirred him to consciousness, the words, distant and not very clear. It was impossible to tell what language was being spoken. He was afraid to open his eyes; ignorance was bliss. If he ignored the voices, maybe he would not have to find out the uncomfortable truth. Perhaps if he slept longer things might change to something normal.

What if the voices are them, Indians, he shuddered? What will I do if I see Hota Win ready to nag at me for something I know nothing about? How much time will I have to spend before I come back? More important, what will happen if I don’t get up and pee soon?

Biological needs superceded the fear of Hota Win or dreams. Rolling out of bed, he discovered it was a real bed off the ground with the Peach Butter ceiling overhead. Since he slept nude, it was easy to establish all the proper equipment in the correct places on his body, no unfamiliar parts. He gleefully ran to the bathroom admiring his designer towels, sink, toilet and shower. They were all where they were supposed to be, unchanged by his imagination.

When he grasped himself, the member of expulsion was indeed his. Today was going to be a much different day than yesterday; there weren’t any soldiers, no Indians, no buffalo and no wives nagging or otherwise. Though his wife, Hopa Winyan Wakan proved to be a rather delightful diversion, the other wife dampened that pleasure.

He scolded himself for considering either of these women as real people. They were just his imagination, a dream; how stupid he was.

Sean shaved, dressed, had a light breakfast and headed for his doctor’s appointment. As he drove he wondered if the plains were as beautiful as he had remembered in the dream. He’d never been in that part of the country before. What he saw now was smog, choking the life out of the people below; this wasn’t any way to live. It was a place to make money, so you didn’t have to live there anymore. It was a place where dreams began and ended in the graveyard of used up hopes.

Da Shrink

Hiram Smith had a huge practice consisting of well-known stars and notable celebrities; specific names were not advertised for obvious reasons. The tabloids would have a field day speculating on all their disorders. Bill was probably right about this guy being the best, even if he was pricey. Money isn’t an issued with the well to do, which was who Sean represented. He pulled into the parking lot in front of Smith’s office, a few expensive cars parked in some of the spaces. A white Mercedes was identified by the custom plates mounted front and rear; no one of any notoriety had regular plates.

The office was a split-level affair with the reception area at the bottom entrance. Nothing was printed on the door leading into the office; there was no need. Smith was the only practicing psychiatrist in this building and used every square foot. Sean deduced the reason for the multitude of rooms shortly after. Important people did not feel comfortable being viewed by anyone who might pass through the lobby; separate entrances and exist allowed a certain degree of anonymity. Each suite had a full range bar with an espresso machine; like everything else the coffee was imported from remote areas and sold exclusively to select customers like Smith. An interior decorator had maximized the space with colors and paintings to suit the environment. It looked like a page out of a home magazine.

The woman behind the desk was strikingly beautiful, probably a deposed actress. In Hollywood, there were plenty of beautiful women, Mecca of beauty, a chance to be discovered. The nameplate on the desk read, Sharon.

She smiled warmly at Sean, giving him a quick assessment as she spoke. He was taken by the lovely voice emerging from an equally phenomenal face.

“You must be Mr. Casey,” proclaimed Sharon pulling a file folder. The folder was surprisingly full, considering he hadn’t been there before. She looked at him with a knowing smile.

“Yes, I am,” he answered. “ But I think you have the wrong file. I’ve never been here before. That one looks like my life’s history.”

“It is,” she confirmed, with unnerving casualness. “Dr. Smith insists on a complete file before tackling a new patient. Between your social security number and a few inquiries we’re able to get a complete profile; it’s really very simple. The bed-wetting problem at the age of three was not really clear; you claim it is not your immediate problem today. But you can discuss that with doctor. By the way, your parents sound charming; hippies, how quaint.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Sean. “You do this for everyone?”

“Standard procedure, Mr. Casey. It’s all very confidential, of course. It will be reflected on your bill.”

Sharon looked at the file again and added, “From the look of this I’d say Dr. Smith has his work cut out for him; that’s just my opinion. You can take a seat over there or go down the hall, to suite number five, if you prefer privacy. You’re welcome to help yourself to coffee, sweet rolls or any of the refreshments on the counter. If you would like, I can order out for food; we retain a private chef from a nearby restaurant for all of our clients. He really is quite good.”

“No thanks,” he replied, astonished by the perks. “I ate before I came. I very impressed.”

“Yes, I know,” she acknowledged.

“Will I have to wait long? I need to get into my office and tie a few things up,” he added.

Sharon looked at her digital clock, calculating the wait. Her poise and grace in doing such a simple thing was a delight to observe.

“It should only be ten minutes, Mr. Casey. Oh, and sorry about your girlfriend, Brandi; it’s probably for the best. She really wasn’t well suited to you; you should consider a more intelligent woman to challenge you, perhaps that Indian girl. From what I can see, you don’t put forth much in the way of expectations; raise the bar a bit. Even the smart ones will sleep with you, if you play your cards right. But I’m sure Dr. Smith will discuss that with you.”

Gads, he thought. They do know everything. Not sure I’m comfortable with that; there are a few things I’d like to keep secret.”

Sean heard the sound of footsteps from the hall on the upper level stairs. A bald man with a substantial paunch strolled through the reception area, chewing on a cigar.

“Leni?” uttered Sean. “I thought that was your car outside. You never told me you saw a shrink.”

“Sean, baby. Good to see you old pal. There are a lot of things I don’t tell you; it’s not like you’re not my mother and that’s a good thing too. I hate my mother. Found that out fifteen sessions ago. I think I hate my father too, but we haven’t gotten to that part, yet. Come to think of it, I’m not too crazy about my sister, Anna, either. By the way, glad to see you are checking out Smithy. He’s pretty good, you know. He’ll fix those dream things, you’re so up-tight about.”

“You know about my dreams?”

“Seanie, baby this is Hollywood; we know everything about everyone,” returned Leni rolling his cigar between his fingers. “And you really should eat more than a piece of toast and cream cheese in the morning; eggs would be better. Hey, I’m really sorry about Brandi, or should I say Sherri. Tom needed a bimbo and she was convenient; it was Kismet with her and Tom. She’s perfect for him, just the right balance of sexiness and stupidity. Sometimes I think I shoulda been a matchmaker. Hey, if you want, I can give you a number of this bimbo with a great ass, terrific rack and nice face too. She works as a secretary, but wants to get in the movie business, right up your alley, pal.”

He chewed on the end of the cigar adding, “Haven’t we heard that story before! The girl thinks she’s gonna get fired pretty soon, getting pretty desperate. I thought about giving her a test run, if you know what I mean, but I got another little starlet filling my spare time.”

Sharon looked up from her desk shaking her head. She tapped her head with one finger reminding Sean of her suggestion to pursue smarter women.

Leni grabbed a sweet roll and topped off his personally inscribed coffee cup. All the cups had a small Hiram Smith ad etched into it. Leni didn’t need a sweet roll; his portly demeanor suggesting a more sensible diet. His idea of exercise was walking to his car and screwing wannabe starlets during lunch. Even then, Sean was pretty sure the starlets did most of the work.

“It doesn’t matter about Brandi.. err Sherri or the bimbo,” Sean continued. “Brandi was on her way out, anyhow. I don’t think I want another woman around for a while, too much hassle. I don’t need some woman trying to manipulate me at the moment; I’m tired of the games.”

“Suit yourself, pal,” barked the producer, dropping crumbs on the floor. “But sooner or later I’m going to tap this secretary babe. Just giving you first shot at her. Hey, speaking of women, I better get going. I have a lunch date with my wife. She’s a royal bitch, when I’m late.”

Leni waddled out the door leaving Sean speechless. He had always believed that his life was fairly private until now.

“Sean,” announced Sharon, switching to first name basis. “Doctor Hiram will see you now.”

Hiram Smith’s office was decorated more like someone’s living room. A fake fireplace flickered away, a fish tank on one side displayed tiny fluorescent fish, darting about. Hiram wore flowered Hawaiian shorts and a pullover polo shirt. The shirt had a small emblem displaying the designer’s logo. Hiram’s feet were clad with a nice pair of Mexican sandals, no socks. Dressed like a guy who parks cars at a cheap Miami hotel, Sean didn’t like this casual manner; it didn’t impress him.

Looking around Sean noticed other small details, telling him something about his analyst. That was part of Sean’s talent, observation. Details could be overlooked in business and cost you a client. Sean noticed each table and flat surface had some sort of toy or device that could be manipulated, while spilling your guts about parental abuse, not being loved or whatever one talked about in these sessions. Everything in the office was top notch, high tech, expensive, nothing tacky.

Hiram looked up, twisted to one side and passed gas, an odious greeting for a professional man.

“Whoops! Sorry,” he apologized. “Damn brussel sprouts give me the winds; popcorn does the same thing to me. I sure wish the wife would stop telling the cook to buy the sprouts. I like them but they don’t sit well in my gut. Do they bother you?”

Sean shook his head regarding this unorthodox approach, fanning the air around him that Hiram so rudely tainted. So far, Sean was not impressed with anything except the receptionist and the well-furnished office, which demonstrated class and money. Hiram checked the clock and turned a very elaborate hourglass over to start the sands flowing toward the empty end.

“I love this little thing,” he confided. “They make them special for us, head-doctors, you know. Can’t buy these in the regular stores.”

“No, I didn’t know that,” Sean replied puzzled by this line of discussion. “I thought anyone could buy an hourglass; I see them all the time.”

“Oh, no not this kind,” explained Hiram. “These are timed for fifty-minute sessions. It’s like watching your money slip through, joking, of course!” Hiram laughed. “The sand runs out, and your time is up; pay on your way out the door. But I find it helps with people who need something physical, to focus on; too many people lose track of time when they lose their ability to reason. The digital world is too impersonal, you know, mechanical and aloof. It’s just a bunch of numbers without human value.”

Hiram picked up a windup toy playing briefly with it.

“Idle minds give people too much time to think,” he continued. “Thinking is dangerous; it allows the mind create all sorts of weird things we don’t want. And with that, comes the need for people, like me; I stop them from thinking and get them involved with a little reality, not too much reality, mind you. I don’t want them to get too healthy and lose them as patients.”

Hiram laughed at his joke and added, “Kidding about that last thing, of course. I take my business seriously.”

“I guess you’re right,” muttered Sean. “I never thought much about it. I’ve never had much time to think. At least I don’t think, I think too much.”

“Thinking is my job, Sean. From the little information I’ve gathered, you think you’re an Indian, right? I assume you’re not talking about a ball player Indian but an American Indian type. Are you any particular kind of Indian, tribe, I mean?”

“Uh, no I really don’t think I’m an Indian,” returned Sean. “When I’m awake, I am myself. When I sleep, I have dreams about being an Indian, a warrior/hunter with the Lakota Sioux.”

“Hmm! Specific tribe, interesting, denial as well,” murmured Hiram. “Go on, please, very interesting.”

Hiram scribbled down notes adding, “Are you an Indian during the day?”

“Only when I sleep. Actually, there are lots tribes; I just happen to be a Lakota. I don’t know all the details about that yet; it’s still pretty weird,” reported Sean. “It only happens when I sleep and dream. I keep waking up as an Indian in dreams or back here in our century, the real me. Last night was the first night I slept and didn’t dream. Some Indian chick I know said it was because of a dream catcher. I don’t buy that, though; I can’t believe some scrap of a twig with webbing has any power. It’s weird because as an adult, I never dreamt. Haven’t had dreams since I was five and now I can’t stop.”

“You’re right,” announced Hiram. “The dream catcher thing is all a myth, a cute thing to buy at a bazaar but nothing else. Nobody really takes these things seriously anymore; they’re just decoration. Now, is this Indian woman you know in your dreams too?”

“No, she isn’t, at least I don’t think so. I do have two wives in my dream, a young one and an older one with a bunch of us in one tipi, an ancient woman, my mother-in-law and some young boys, who aren’t there at the moment. The old woman is pretty quiet, which is fine with me; Hota Win makes up for that by nagging all the time.”

“Hmm! Mother-in-law or mother?” mumbled Hiram. “You’ve never been married, right; no immediate relatives near you? Perhaps that accounts for the quiet old woman, the support, stability thing we need as children. Then again, it may have nothing to do with your problem at all. You read much about Indians? You could be transferring information like that into a dream; it’s been known to happen.”

“Read, no; I haven’t read a thing about Indians since I was in high school. Marriage is not in my plan, either,” responded Sean. “I try not to tie myself down to any one woman. They come and go pretty regularly, no time for ridiculous emotional connections or clinginess”

“Hmm! Interesting,” resonded Hiram.

 “Any sexual dysfunction?” inquired Hiram with a slight smirk. “Can’t get the flagpole up, unable to rise to the occasion, bed-wetting?”

“No, and the flagpole works fine,” declared Sean. “Bed-wetting? Are you serious? I don’t think you’re grasping the problem, doctor.”

“Let me be the judge of that,” instructed Hiram. “I’m seeing a bigger picture than you may realize. It appears you have a problem with commitment; you’re afraid. Therefore, your mind places you in a dream where you have responsibilities as a husband. In your mind, commitment equals fear of responsibility. You ever think about getting married?”

“Like I said, I’m too busy with work; I’m not the average nine to five person that needs dinner at seven and some stupid TV program after. I have to stay on top, keep my edge by working when I need to. Being a husband who has to pick up milk and bread on the way home is not my idea of a fun time. Women take too much time from my schedule. Besides, I haven’t met any who begins to tempt me.”

Hiram scribbled furiously in his note pad, making inaudible comments as he wrote. Obviously, he had found something viable in his examination to diagnose his dreams. Sean was glad to see the session was taking some direction. The hourglass had been slipping away without much progress up to this point, Sean impatient with the slow manner of Hiram; it was as if he really didn’t have a clue most of the time.

“Ever think you might be gay? It is a possibility,” probed Hiram. “Do women bore you? Do you ever get a little worked up over a good-looking guy? I say that because we often manifest latent homosexual tendencies with shallow, meaningless relationships, trying to fool ourselves into being heterosexual; denial is the true enemy here; your track record with rotating girlfriends indicates this as a distinct possibility. Maybe you really don’t like women and haven’t recognized your self-destructive pattern.”

“No, no,” insisted Sean. “I’m not gay. And what does this have to do with my dreams? Sure, I’ve had sex in my dreams, only with a woman and really, only one woman, almost two the other morning, the older wife; she’s disgusting. But I have no fantasies about men, absolutely none. Can’t we just move along into my dreams?”

“Once with the older one, huh? Interesting. Stay with me on this, Sean. We have to eliminate a few things and narrow down our search before we can draw any conclusions and a direction for your therapy. In your dreams, it seems like you are in direct contact with all sorts of potential disorders. I can’t leave anything to chance by making some snap decision, though I doubt your problem is so difficult given your responses.”

“Listen, Hiram. There are three women and two boys living in my lodge. My older wife was the wife of my dead brother, a legacy I suppose. I don’t have sex with her, though she offered because my young wife is freaked out about something. The second wife situation involved some ridiculous thing about not being pleased by my younger wife, which is entirely crazy. And my young wife’s mother definitely does not float my boat.”

“Hmm, sex with an Indian woman, brother’s wife, mother figure, young boys? Sure you’re not gay? Do you wake up after with nocturnal emission? Do you ever think of your mother during these sexual bouts? Sex could be your problem, especially since Brandi or Sherri is screwing that guy, Tom, what’s his name, Pillings? Frankly, I think you’re better off; Sharon and I both agree Brandi was a waste of time.”

“No, I’m not gay; and no, its just sex in the dream. I do not think of my mother during sex and I don’t give a damn about Brandi; she could fall off the edge of the earth for all I care. More important, I want to end up at home every time I wake up and not dream about being an Indian.”

“Home here or home in your tipi? You did say you lived in a tipi,” urged Hiram.

“Home here, of course,” Sean persisted. “That other place is not my home, even though everyone seems to know me in that dream. There’s another thing that I can’t understand. When I do wake up at home, here that is, things have happened to me.”

“Things? What sort of things, Sean?”

“Injuries, smells, things like that from my dream,” answered Sean. “All those things follow me back, somehow. The scratches on my face and the bruising on my side are from being thrown off a horse. That can’t be real, can it?”

“Do you like riding horses? Do you ride much? Have problems sleepwalking?”

“No, I don’t ride at all, never have,” Sean began to whine. “I don’t sleepwalk because I always wake up in the exact position I fell asleep in.”

“Well, how do you explain being thrown off a horse, then,” pressed Hiram. “Dreams are not a part of the physical world; you can’t possibly ride a horse in a dream and get saddle sores in your sleep. How is that possible? It’s not logical.”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” responded Sean. “It’s the whole purpose of me being here. Am I crazy or what?”

“Sean we try never to use the word, crazy, here,” lectured Hiram. “We prefer unbalanced, disturbed, a half-bubble off center, never crazy. I don’t doubt for a second your difficulty is sexually related. I think you need to be watched, monitored, regularly by professionals. Obviously, you have some issues of self-destruction causing you to unconsciously hurt yourself. It’s the reason for your scratches and such. I would like to have you stay at a clinic for a few weeks, strictly for observation, of course.”

“Observation?” objected Sean. “So I get locked up in a padded cell?”

“It’s a little like the Betty Ford clinic, except it’s for the mentally disturbed,” assured Hiram. “I don’t think I can do much about your root problem until we get this self-abuse thing under control. I’m on staff at the clinic and will be glad to set up your appointments there. If not that, I would suggest weekly appointments in this office, perhaps three days a week to start. That should bring all this dream illusion to some conclusion in a year or two if we’re lucky. Then we could reduce your appointments to once every couple of months unless the problem exacerbates.”

“Sounds like a long, expensive process to me, Hiram,” muttered Sean “Are you sure we need to do all of this, a little much for just a dream?”

“Please call me doctor or Doctor Smith,” requested Hiram. “I don’t believe in familiarity with patients. It interferes with my objectivity.”

Hiram leaned to one side and produced another loud gaseous exchange. He grinned like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Damn! I’m going to have to take something for this,” he snickered. Then looking at his hourglass added, “Whoops! I see that Father Time has crept up on us. I will recommend a little medication, three times a day. I can write the prescription now or you can pick it up later, if you like. Sharon will call you.”

He winced, waving his hand from side to side. “Phew! That one stinks. Better to let it out, I suppose.”

Formal or informal, Sean found Hiram’s flatulent display out of place in this office.

“Doctor, I have one question.”

“Shoot.”

“Is your name really Smith?”

“Funny you should ask that,” Hiram laughed. “My real name wouldn’t fit on my stationary or business card; so I changed it. But I’m not at liberty to divulge my former name, the familiarity/objectivity thing. As to the clinic, I would get your reservation in soon; the nut house fills up this time of year. Oh, sorry, about that; I really shouldn’t say that. It’s just a little psychiatry humor. In this ‘crazy’ business you have to laugh a little or you’ll make yourself wacko.”

Sean did not have a good feeling about Hiram Smith, regardless of his reputation with Hollywood notables. The man didn’t appear to understand or grasp his problem, preferring to go down some psychological rabbit hole than deal with the problem. Crazy or not, things that happened were too real to be a figment of Sean’s imagination; the physical sensations were too acute and real. Checking into a clinic might be the answer; on the other hand, it would be a strange place where he would have to sleep sometime. He wasn’t sure he wanted to chance being trapped in a dream again, especially returning to a strange place upon awakening.

Smith’s diagnosis was too textbook for Sean’s liking, sexually related, indeed. Smith was too eager to paint him as a latent gay with all sorts of sexual fixations about mothers, relative’s wives and young boys. That kind of twisted logic wasted time and negated any chance of resolution. Hiram, a Freudian, was manipulating Sean down a dead end alley where nothing would be found.

He decided to go to his office and check for mail and make sure they deposited his check. Losing a few weeks of his real life must have created a piled of junk on his desk not to mention potential clients missing his return phone calls. He passed Nate, sheepishly averting his eyes smiling; several others doing likewise. On his arrival, Sean’s office was piled with boxes of files and paperwork, none of it belonging to him. Several office machines occupied the wall space, formerly neat and empty. His mail had been put in a large shopping bag behind the door with the note ‘hold’ attached to it.

“Nate, what the hell is going on with this mess in my office?” complained Sean. “These boxes? This isn’t my stuff. My office looks like the copy room on a bad day. Who put all this stuff in here?”

“Uh, well, it sort of is the copy room, now,” returned Nate, not wishing to expand on the subject. “You’ve been gone so long; well, like, they took over your office for the extra space. Jennifer said you could use one of the desks on the main floor, since you are hardly ever in. She claimed you didn’t need a private office.”

Jennifer was the office manager, who had the misfortune of being wooed once by Sean when he first began working at the agency. Treating women like sex objects did not set well with her; Jennifer dumped early on, after Sean coerced her into giving him a private office. His motivation to date her was a matter of a gap between his usual starlets, strictly a lark. From then on, his relationship with her took on an adversarial position, she trying to undermine him whenever possible.

She would have pushed to have him fired, if he hadn’t been the top promoter in the agency. Luckily for Sean, she did not possess the authority to terminate him; only the Big Guy could do that. Even so, Sean tried not to aggravate her, knowing it could jeopardize his standing in the agency. She, on the other hand, lived for every opportunity to dig in the spikes when an opportunity arose.

A quick visit to the Big Guy’s office will remedy this situation, he muttered to himself. Using a desk on the main floor is not acceptable; the flunky office boys will be sitting right next to me. That’s a put down after all I’ve done for this agency and the Big Guy will put it straight.

“Sean, good to see you, my boy. I was wondering where you’ve been,” said the tall, lanky man behind the desk. The surface of his desk was filled with photos, ads and drawings; nothing left the agency without his stamp of approval. The Big Guy liked Sean; the ruthlessness and impartiality worked for him when it came to getting the job done.

“Don’t worry about that thing with Jennifer,” he explained. “She’s been up at arms about getting space for months. We’ll find you another office before you know it; it’s only temporary, Sean. You’ll see! By the way, the Tom Pillings promo is going along well; there’s nothing to worry about on that front. From what is projected, they expect box office receipts to go over ten million the first day; and that’s a conservative estimate.”

Sean nodded, absently trying to be congenial; it wouldn’t do to alienate the boss. Frankly, he didn’t give a damn about Tom Pillings and the stupid movie. Pillings would get his fat paycheck, blowing it on crappy cars and cheap hookers. Sooner or later his true character will emerge again plummeting him to the bottom of the Hollywood charts. Discretion kept most from being considered perverts on Hollywood scene. Most people liked the strong sexy type but there was a moral line, which could not be crossed. Pillings will undoubtedly cross it more times than necessary, branding him the degenerate he really was.

“So, you going to tell me what you’re up to now?” asked the Big Guy. “Would love to get the scoop on your next big project. With all your secrecy and hush-hush, it must be a big one. I understand, though. Mums the word, right? Got to keep our competition guessing.”

 “Well, no, not exactly. I’m looking at some Indian thing I’ve heard about. I’ll get back to you on it. I need to take a little time to think but I’ll have something for you soon, I promise.”

“You’ve never let the agency down yet; I expect nothing less from you. But a little suggestion, if you don’t mind. Answer your phone messages once in awhile. I had Nate go over and look for you last week. He said you weren’t around, the Beemer parked in front. You don’t want to sit on your ass too long, my friend. You know how the business is.”

Sean grinned without enthusiasm, leaving with his shopping bag full of mail. The Pillings’ deal will not hold him over for too long. He will have to come up with something or lose his edge. There were no friends in the business; you were either a shark or bait, friendships a luxury, too costly and compromising.

If I don’t dig up some business, Big Guy will dump me in a heartbeat, he thought. He kisses my butt now, only because of my past millions in profits. But the bottom-line is his only friend. I’ve got to get out of this dream thing or I’m screwed.

Sean hit the Olympic Club on his way back to his house. A quick workout might clear his head; give him focus. Work, women and dreams needed to be sorted out and placed in the proper order, hopefully eliminating the dreams altogether.

The club was almost empty, the weather having turned brutally hot. The emptiness suited Sean, fine.

Typical, he thought. Southern California, where the weather gets hot and hotter, the movie stars, hottest of all. If people knew who most of the stars were, they wouldn’t be worshiped like minor gods. Misfits, malcontents, egotists, line the walls of the actors’ guild; their lives as unreal as the movies they made.

Cynicism only fueled his business sense; Sean’s ego overcame what would seem impossible to others. But was this cynical approach healthy? He had tried dating a few known stars in the early years of his career, hoping for business exposure. They thought he was cute, clever and a guy with style. However, there was no edge to use on them. Unlike the women he now dated, the successful stars were not so eager to comply with his wishes or share his bed. Also, their status had to be considered when they associated with men, most believing they were better than Sean. A nice face and body was their claim to fame, Sean just loose baggage. The ones with a real personality were strung out on drugs and alcohol because there had to be a next picture, another chance for glory. All of them expected to be treated like goddesses. And if he was honest, when they took off their clothes, they were no better than the airheads he settled for and far less trouble.

Sean could barely workout, tired beyond reason. This dream situation was dragging him down, like a rock tied to his ankle. Still, he worked out hard and quick, not resting between the sets, near collapse, before stopping.

He rested back on the padded bench, one arm over his eyes to shield the light from the fluorescent fixtures overhead, LED replacements not upgraded. A gentle breeze from a fan cooled him, his workout hot and sticky. The scratches on his face itched, as the sweat dried on his skin, Sean too tired to scratch it. Resting quietly seemed to be a good idea or was it?

Trial

Sean’s skin was now dry; the breeze from the fan still played over his exposed skin, though something was different. The coolness of the club had been replaced with a much warmer draft, hot in fact.

Damn air conditioner must be on the blink, he thought. I pay good money to this place; you’d think they could keep the environment comfortable. I’ll have to make a few calls to complain.

He opened his eyes to shade and filtered light instead of the overhead florescent lights of the locker room. Something was covering his face, though it was impossible to tell what it was. He tried to lift his arm, to no avail, both arms restrained as well as his legs. The warmth of the sun baked his body, a situation that did not feel like the gym.

“What the h…,” he began to speak.

Heecha Sapa, you are awake,” responded a familiar voice. “We grew worried the fall may have angered the kaga, devil in your head. The council angered you; I could see that and you did not respond well. Though the elders do not think you to be a problem; others thought you might punish us because you are bad heyoka.”

Stunned Sean had to realign his head to the situation. Obviously, he was not in the club locker room or so it would seem.

“Is that you Hehaka Najin?” said Sean his voice hoarse and dry. “Tell me you’re not in the club. This has to be a dream; you’re only supposed to be in my dreams, not anywhere else. Am I right about that?”

“Dreams?” returned Hehaka Najin. “I do not understand. Ah, I see; the strange words are still with you le mita cola, my friend. The council talked for a long time and decided if you were heyoka, you could be a good one, bringing good fortune to our band. Saving my life was a good act; none would argue that. We do not kill our own, though they were thinking of a quick death for you. But your skills as a warrior and hunter are needed by the people; you are to live. Waste yelo, it is good. No harm has been done, so they will not kill you for now.”

Sean, dazed and confused, realized he was dreaming again. There wasn’t much he could do except play along until he woke up in the right place, right century. Though disconcerting, Sean was amused by his dream.

“Glad to hear I’m not going to be snuffed. So get me out of here,” demanded Sean. “I’m willing to play ball with this dream thing until it’s over, pal. I wish I knew when it was happening. I’m back here, again. I must have dropped off after my workout. Damn!”

Hehaka Najin appeared very disturbed, when Sean spoke the strange words that made no sense to him.

Hehaka Najin, how long have I been staked to the ground?”

“It has been three nights and two days,” answered Hehaka Nagin. “Some thought they should kill you the first night; it would have been wise to do so before your wits returned. I pleaded with them to speak further on the subject; I did not want them to kill my friend. You are like ciye, brother. I convinced them; killing you might bring bad luck. It was decided that you could do no harm staked down. I tied you myself to be sure the bindings were not too tight.”

Sean struggled to a sitting position, rubbing his wrists. “I guess you saved my life, then,” announced Sean.  He felt warmth and loyalty toward his buddy and only friend in this dream ordeal. Sean assumed it was loyalty of long standing.

“Have we known each other long? I don’t seem to remember,” asked Sean.

“Twenty-eight winters, since we have been small children,” replied Hehaka Najin. “You must remember; our mothers were as close as sisters. They were sisters in their cante, heart. Can you not remember how we played and learned to hunt together? We lived in each other’s lodge as if it were our own. I cannot remember a time when we were separated for more than a day. Surely, you must remember that.”

“Uh, I hope we didn’t, like, you know, do weird stuff with each other,” said Sean, wondering if his friend was a homosexual. “Cause I’m not into that, you know.”

“I do not know what you speak of, this weird. We have done no more or less than any brothers would do, Heecha Sapa.”

“Never mind,” grunted Sean. He began to assess the immediate scene.

“Who set this thing up? Obviously, someone put down this animal skin and covered my eyes. I see there is a cover over my body. Did you do that?”

“It was not I who did so. It was your woman; she made sure you would be comfortable and not suffer. She even fed you, when your eyes would open and you could not speak. Her words could not be heard in council, but some listened to her and to me after a long time. I told them your magic might serve well against the wasichu, who war upon us. I believe it was a strong argument, a good one. Several of the elders saw the sense in that.”

“Okay, that’s all fine and good,” responded Sean dismissing the magic thing. “Which wife took care of me?”

“It was your first wife; the other, Hota Win thought you deserved to be punished for your strange ways; she was not very helpful. One cannot feel too ill of her, however. She fears your magic, as do others. But she did not speak her thoughts to the elder’s council; for you are still her husband and it would be wrong to speak against you.”

“Yeah, magic, right,” said Sean, feeling circulation returning. “I’m not too sure about the warrior thing. The only fighting I do is over the advertising bottom line; I get paid for that. Most of these bastards want it all for free. The only magic I do is pulling the wool over their eyes.”

“I do not understand; it is your magic,” acknowledged his friend. “I will say no more about it.”

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul. Perhaps it was time to confront the dream with a heavy dose of reality. Maybe then, it will go away.

Hehaka Najin, do you know who I really am?” proclaimed Sean. “I’m a hot ad executive/promoter in Hollywood, a place a long way to the west. I drive a Beemer and live in a house bigger than thirty tipi put together, maybe even bigger than that. I change my girlfriends every three months or less and have never been married. Most important of all, I live in the future, not now. What I’m experiencing now is all in my imagination. You’re really not here and neither am I. Understand?”

Hehaka Najin looked unnerved by the strange things Sean said regarding the future. Seeing the future was undoubtedly magic for only the gifted. He chose to leave his friend with his strange visions lest he interfere with any communing with nagi tanka. Hehaka Najin was convinced his friend had been touched by nagi tanka, the Great Spirit. In these cases it was best not to tamper with a heyoka.

Standing up and unceremoniously brushing himself off, Sean walked back to his tipi, his dream home away from home. His tipi, however, had been moved. In fact, it looked like the whole village had moved to a different location near a stream of water. Stability, even in a dream, had a calming effect on a person. A change in location rattled Sean. He wondered why he was dreaming the things he was dreaming. Why would he dream about being staked out? Why would his tipi be moved? Is his mind responding to some hidden agenda?

Even the sight of Hota Win was better than being staked to the ground. He will have to have words with the woman about being a pain in the butt. She will have to learn to respect him, whether she likes it or not. Sean was the man and a warrior, at least in the eyes of everyone here. Usually that commanded some kind of civility between spouses.

There was no evidence of his first wife; something was wrong.  The last time he slept with her, she acted pretty removed from the whole experience, nothing devastating but quite different from the first time. Women could fake affection; it was a game to get what they wanted, working in Sean’s favor most of the time. Hopa Winyan Wakan was afraid of him, maybe because she thought he was this heyoka character. If he had to be in this dream, some smooth talk might bring her back to where she had been the first time they had sex.

Hehaka Najin led Sean back to the new camp, Sean inspecting the new encampment and arrangement. It had grown, thousands of horse wandering on the other side of the river, many of these Indians from tribes other than his. From the look of the group, it seemed like preparations for a huge family reunion. Yet, something in the wind bothered him about this many Indians in one place.

Reunion, he wondered? Doesn’t make any sense. We never camped with so many others before, not that I’m an expert in these matters. I wonder if they’re getting ready for a fight, not a happy thought. War means shooting and killing; killing means that I might get killed. Dream or no dream, I’m not excited about of the possibilities. What will happen to me if I’m killed in the 19th Century dream; will I die in the 21st Century as well? Maybe that will end the dream, I suppose. This is ludicrous to contemplate.

Sean did have an ace up his sleeve, an advantage, which was uncomfortable for a man who was always in control of his situation. Maybe in his dream he could negotiate with the white soldiers for some more lenient terms, eliminating the need for killing; that will also prevent him from being killed in his dream. The sight of all the tipis was a little unsettling and made him wonder. Dream or no dream he knew a little about the history but he had no idea what year it was, not that many dates stuck in his head from school. However, the date might have some bearing on what needed to be done before diving into any ‘make believe’ negotiations.

The council was in full swing, each man, respectfully, speaking in turn. The elders of many tribes spoke of the white incursion into their land and what should be done. Sometimes a speaker might make wild gestures, indicating violent action. The truth of white betrayal had been plainly spoken from experience. Black Kettle and others, who believed the whites, were all dead. Many thought it a bad course to fight the soldiers, though they actively pursued the Indians in order to kill them. Many saw it the only way to rid them of this white man problem. The “Holy Road” of the whites had fouled the plains and almost brought an end to the buffalo, the white hunters interested only in the skins of the beasts, leaving the carcasses to rot, spoiled and of no use. The promises of the Great White Father had fallen to the ground over and over.

Sean was not too eager to discover his own skill on the battlefield; doubtful he was much of a fighter to begin with. He wondered if there might be some clerical job, behind the lines, which was unlikely given the primitive nature of the times. Then something occurred to him. What if he could change the outcome of these wars? He had read something about changing a bad dream in some psychology magazine once. It sounded like bull to him at the time but he had nothing to lose. Change the dream in his favor; he’ll wake up and laugh about it after.

Negotiating was not a developed skill between the whites and Indians in the 19th Century. The wolakotiye wolakapi, white peace talkers spoke in ways the Indians could not understand, the whites believing Indians to be ignorant, primitives. There wasn’t any sophisticated dialogue explaining the repercussions of the signing the white man’s treaty paper. To the white people, a signed document gave them all the rights they needed. It wasn’t important whether the Indians understood it as long as they made their mark. Conversely, the whites did not understand that one Indian chief could not speak for all Indians and such an agreement would be null and void.

Sean joined the group of men willing and eager to let him speak out about any ideas he might have; magic against an enemy could be a powerful thing. Several men stared at Sean with hope and apprehension, his status still unclear regarding the tribe. Being heyoka was not an easy job.

There was a lull in the conversation followed by Sean volunteering his solution. He knew how to sell an idea to the masses; he did it all the time. The assembled men listened, making side comments to one another with approval or doubt, each accordingly. The men were slow to grasp the simplicity of the idea but most nodded in agreement, the very large guns of the wasichu capable of killing many at one time, a prospect everyone would like to avoid. It was agreed the heyoka would speak to the wasichu and convince them to leave. War was not a good option for either of them, a wise suggestion by heyoka.

Sean had some apprehensions about negotiating with the whites, unsure whether he could be understood in Lakota or English; it wasn’t clear to him which he would be speaking. The Indians knew what he was saying, even though he was speaking English. Somewhere in between, a translation was coming out of his mouth or processing the words from some other unknown source. It wouldn’t work if the soldiers didn’t have a clue what the heyoka was saying.

Runners rode out to an army encampment, a white flag fastened to a pole, indicating a peaceful meeting. The Lakota braves did not understand why a white flag implied peace but they honored it, nonetheless. They were wary because the white flag was not always honored according to some; Black Kettle had learned the hard way. The wasichu had many contrary ways. The assembly of men decided Heecha Sapa iyeska, would speak for them.

Sean, accompanied by a war chief and several stout warriors, arrived at the meeting sight. The braves wore their fiercest expressions, ready to leap into action if the need suggested it. No action was to be taken as long as both sides respected the agreement to meet in peace. At the scene, a young army officer sat on a wooden box provided by one of his orderlies, his uniform and manners neat, clean and polished. Sean got the distinct impression the man had just graduated from West Point or some other military school. An interpreter stood beside the officer, reeling from alcohol.

Tensions thick in the air both groups were suspicious of the other. The first moments of a meeting were awkward, each seeking common ground and advantages. There was the continual size-up of one another and acknowledgement of credentials, Sean lacking much in the way of credentials save his status as heyoka. The young officer introduced himself, declaring his rank of captain. The war chief was given full honors and disclosure of his achievements by an Indian speaking in Lakota; the captain didn’t understand any of it, of course. Sean did not want to belabor the negotiations with a long interpretation of the chief’s history.

The same brave introduced Sean as Heecha Sapa, heyoka, a dangerous man, not to make light of, Sean’s magic bringing much misfortune to those who would offend him, again not understood by the mila hanska. The soldier captain rolled his eyes during the second dissertation, the interpreter muttering what he could through the haze of liquor. All the chatter was a total line of bullshit but it sounded impressive to the soldiers, who had no idea what was said.

“You, Indians must vacate this place and return to the reservation. It is against the law for you to leave the reservation, violation of treaty; no other terms are acceptable. We will provide a place for you, as we had before,” bellowed the captain. “The Great White Father in Washington will see to it. You must also surrender all your weapons, no exceptions; any resistance in doing so will be met with an overwhelming force. General Custer has been dispatched to attend to this troublesome lot. Be good Indians and give us no trouble. Otherwise you will perish.”

Before the interpreter could say a word, Sean interrupted.

“Good Indians? Perish? Hey, hold the phone, Captain Tight Ass,” said Sean throwing a power play in the officer’s direction. “No one is trying to starve you to death. No one steals your land and kills innocent people for the sake of it. Treaty? You don’t have an inkling about what the treaty says.”

“I beg your pardon,” replied the captain in a state of building confusion. “What was that you said?”

“First of all, captain, who is the top ranking officer of this assembled rabble?” snapped Sean. “Why am I only speaking to a captain? I know a little about military ranking. This is serious stuff and something that should be handled by a major or even a general. They might look like a bunch of savages to you, but they have the capability of planting a whole lot arrows in your ass and give you a haircut that won’t ever need trimming. Further more this reservation crap is nothing more than a jail, a place where they can get sick and die. The Great White Father in Washington doesn’t give them a place where they can live, only a place where they can exist. Genocide is what they call it, in time. He’ll starve them and find ways to steal back whatever land he gave them.”

“Treaty? ” continued Sean. “You guys haven’t honored a treaty yet. What makes you think a mere captain is going to make that happen? Get real!”

A fly buzzed lazily near the captain’s open mouth. The officer sat stunned at this exchange, trying to fit this into his preconceived understanding of Indians. The other soldiers looked at each other in disbelief. Sean’s collection of braves did not miss this reaction and nodded in approval. They did not understand the words coming from the heyoka. It was as if the soldiers heard him alone. It was good to see the enemy worried.

“I must say, your English is quite good for a savage, though I fail to understand your use of some of the words,” returned the captain with an air of superiority. “Your name is what, again? “Heyoka? I’m afraid I did not get that information, when your man ranted on about, whatever that was. Good God, he bellowed like a wounded cow; I will never understand why you savages cannot speak in a decent tongue. Heyoka, indeed!”

“No, no,” snapped Sean. “That’s the word for my title, magic person. My real name is Sean Michael Casey. Further more, I know a few things that you don’t. You might think you have the upper hand with these people; you are very wrong about that, sir. This is not a disorganized band of nomads. They have strong blood ties to every Indian tribe, throughout the country. You do not have a force big enough to challenge these people, trust me. By the way, what year is this?”

“1876, the month of June, if that makes any sense to you, heathens,” replied the captain. “I doubt you could understand the years of our Lord, anyhow. What are you; some kind of Irish/Indian bastard? You don’t look Irish. Of course, the Irish aren’t much better than the likes of you, savages. I dare say this country would be better off without either.”

Sergeant O’Dell flinched at those words, standing far too close to the captain to miss the insult. The captain repositioned himself, feeling assured of his monologue, gaining the upper hand on this questionably educated Indian. Surely he could maneuver this primitive mind to understand the simple facts of the situation.

“I can see that your attitude is less than charitable towards my proposal. Your people will be fighting a modern, superior army,” replied the captain, stifling a yawn. “I fear most of you will perish, a pity, but a necessity, though I can’t see it as much of a loss.”

“From what I can tell by that drawl of yours, you must be from the south, captain,” began Sean. “The only good thing raised there is cotton. As for bastards, I would seriously question your own lineage. Your type breed with close relatives, slaves and anything they can get their peckers into. All that polish is a façade to cover the degradation of your kind. Take care lest you exacerbate the battle of insults. I assure you, your small brain will not be able to keep up.”

“Sir!” snapped the captain, rising quickly from his seat, red in the face. Indians and soldiers, alike, stood ready at alert for what might follow. “I find your statements inflammatory and would demand satisfaction were it not for my position. But I doubt your uncivilized kind know anything of honor.”

“Honor?” responded Sean. “These people live it every day. Honor makes them stay here on the prairie and survive. That same honor makes them die for their people. Your honor is ego-based mania, articulated by outburst of nonsensical dribble. You’re ruled by wealth and greed, God having very little to do with your acquisitions. Sit down, you pompous twit,” drawled Sean, making light of the captain’s accent.

“If Custer is still around then I have something to share with you,” he continued. “I’m not here to argue with you but to save your dumb-ass. There’s going to be huge battle soon, where a lot of you are killed. All I want to do is negotiate something we can both live with. Starting a conversation by insulting me is not the way to do that. Now, we can talk about this or exchange disparaging comments about one another; I assure you I can hold up my end as far as the insults are concerned. The ball is in your court, pal.”

“I find that you choose strange phrases to emphasize a point,” answered the captain. “It is clear to me, Sean, or whatever they call you, you have no intention of following my instructions. This is not a negotiation but rather a mandate of our demands. You abide by our wishes or you will be removed, dead or alive.”

“Jesus, Mary and Michael!” exclaimed Sean. “This sure doesn’t give anyone much faith in white people. I knew you guys were violent but I had hoped for better. Listen, in the end you get most of the country, anyhow; do you understand? Why bother to kill a bunch of Indians who want nothing more than to hunt and be free; there’s room enough for us all. With time and a little work we could learn to live together without all the bloodletting; there’s no honor in having your brains or guts splattered on the ground.”

“I take it you have some knowledge of the future?” chided the captain. “I find that incredible, a heathen profit, indeed. That’s the trouble with your kind; you believe in too many fairytales. Real life has no magic in it, my ignorant friend. It does have hard facts that do not bend to the rule of simpletons.”

“Listen, Jack, I didn’t write history, only studied it,” uttered Sean. “Your General George Custer will be killed and all of his soldiers, 6th or 7th cavalry, if I remember; one of those. There will be massacre on both sides until the red man gives up. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse will amass a force so great that it will stagger your imagination; that is fact, captain. Two hundred-eleven soldiers will be slaughtered because Custer was too arrogant to realize his mistake. We can stop that and save lives if you listen to me.”

The captain covered his mouth and whispered to another junior officer near by. “They may not be very bright but they are curiously entertaining,” he mumbled. “This fellow should put on a show.” The two men laughed.

Sean turned to the war chief, who sat impatiently on the ground, waiting for some resolution. Sean spelled out, in simple terms, watching for the chief’s reaction and waiting for a response. The war chief did not have anything to say; he did not wish to leave the land nor did he wish to live on land, which he did not choose. He did not want to die in a place where his ancestors weren’t buried. He also commented on the youthfulness of the officer.

“How can one so young have the wisdom and experience to make demands or war? Does the Great White Father have such little respect for us?”

Sean had no response to that.

“Captain I wish I could make it clear to you how important it is to be free,” said Sean. “They just want to be left alone, peacefully. They want to hunt and live where they have always lived, where their ancestors are buried. A time will come when our government regrets all of this. It will be an embarrassment, much like what we do in other places, like Vietnam and Irag, not that you would know about that. The will of men does not easily dispose itself to the rights of mankind.”

“Rather profound statement for a savage,” uttered the captain. “Perhaps you can convince your fellow heathens to abandon their foolish ideas of freedom; no one is really free. We do what we are told; we bend to the powers that be. That is the way it has always been done; that is the way it will always be done. Resist or perish; that is all I have to offer. You can tell that to your heathen feathered brother over there.”

I wish I had paid more attention in American History class, thought Sean. Was it 1876 when Custer got wiped out? Seems right. Maybe if I could predict something for this fool, I might be able to convince him to reconsider. My chief is not going to like what this stupid captain has to say. I hope I can get my butt out of here before all hell breaks loose.

“Captain, mark my words,” continued Sean. “Custer and all his men will be slaughtered at the Little Bighorn. He will make a huge tactical error that will cost them all their lives; his arrogance will be his undoing. Reno is another who will regret the action. Go back and tell them that; tell them they can stop it all and find a more reasonable solution to this. I beg you.”

“I would suppose you fancy yourself as some kind of prophet or someone important to these people,” drawled the Captain. “But my race does not believe in the mystical ways of savages; we are civilized and good Christians. You will see your foolish prophecies have no meaning to us; they are illusions of your own making. Though you sound like a white man, it is clear your brain has not evolved to our level. You are clearly inferior in spite of the of the words someone has taught you to say.”

Indians have a talent for hiding their emotions, the stoic expression on the war chief not betraying what Sean had imparted. He listened, responded quietly and motioned to the others to leave. There was no anger, no challenge and no counter offer made. The war chief had only one thing to say. “These mila hanska, long knives, wish to fight and die,” he said. “And so, they will; let us go.”

Sean now experienced the futility of men bound by orders, unwilling, unbending to reason; it infuriated him. He wanted to convince the stupid captain what was going to happen if the army continued to follow its present course. In the end neither side wins. Under the circumstances, Sean’s face did not reflect stoicism of his companions; he was angry and frustrated by being trumped by a military ‘yes’ man, who would not listen to the logic Sean presented.

As the small group of Indians retreated, Sean turned around quickly retracing his steps back to where the military entourage was also preparing to leave. He was not about to end the discussion with no options or further negotiations; it wasn’t in his nature to accept defeat. A soldier on horseback saw Sean approaching and fired at him. The captain looked up, startled, only to watch Sean fall to the ground. Indians and soldiers, alike, standing poised for a further confrontation.

“Damn you!” screamed the captain. “They are under a white flag of truce; put down your weapons. Stand ready but do not fire; that is an order.”

Two warriors scooped up Sean, dragging him away, prepared to engage the whites if they continued their aggression. No one fired, a twisted sense of honor forcing the captain to stand and be a target should any Indian decide to take revenge, the only way to prevent a melee that would surely follow; Indians did not always show their numbers or force. The chief and warriors respected the captain’s attempts to quell the bloodshed, viewing his bravery as a virtue. Though outnumbered by the soldiers, the warriors believed Heecha Sapa was going to attack the soldiers, his actions a mystery, difficult at best to understand the reasoning of a heyoka.

Sean’s deerskin shirtfront was covered with blood. No one could attend to the wound until they were well out of range of rifle fire. They did not trust the soldiers to act with honor; the white flag did not protect them as it was meant to. The army column turned and rode away slowly, two soldiers covering their retreat in the event the Indians chose to attack. Though there was tension in the air both sides left peacefully, stories to be told later in both camps of the Indian who spoke English.

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