Downwind From Evil - A Short Story
East Grand Forks, Minnesota. August, 2001.
Duncan Brown shuffled along the street looking for discarded cigarette butts. He had reached the bottom of a long hard road. His life, while never good, was now only survival. But he wasn't sure survival was what he wanted. Dying would be so much simpler for him.
The street lights had come on as the long summer day in the north country came to a close. It was 9:30 pm and his desire for alcohol was great. Duncan was an alcoholic, there was no denying it. Like many Ojibwe, with no hope, the bottle was his savior.
Duncan walked into a bar on one of the side streets. Perhaps they would allow him to sweep up or do some other job and would pay him with a drink.
He looked much older than his 30 plus years, dirty, unkempt and hungry, drink was the only thought on his mind.
He stood at the end of the bar, head down while he waited for the bartender to approach him. Finally, the bar keep looked at him and said, get your stinkin' Indian ass out of my bar. Duncan tried to tell him that he would work, do any job for some change. The bartender raised his voice and told Duncan he didn't want any fucking dirty Indians in his bar.
A trio of men heard the commotion, and thought that they would have a little fun with the old Indian - grabbing him and pushing him from one to the other, insulting him, spitting on him and finally throwing him out the door of the bar. Duncan begged them for some money. What he received was a vicious beating. Begging did no good, they were out to beat him to death.
Just before the blow that finally knocked him out, he heard one man call the other 'Rincon'. A name that he would never forget.
They threw his body in the back of their pick up truck and dumped him on the road into the Ojibwe reservation. It was here that his life changed.
Jim French, a shinnob (Ojibwe) from the rez was coming home for work when he spotted Duncan's limp body on the side of the road. Stopping, he checked to see if the man was still alive. Duncan was breathing, but barely. Jim picked him up and put him in his truck and headed straight for the small clinic on the rez.
Renee Dumont was on duty at the clinic. Renee had lived on the rez most of her life, and was a RN. Her pay was small, but it was enough for her.
Jim carried Duncan into the clinic where Renee checked him over. She looked at Jim and said he had some broken ribs, and was worried that a lung was punctured. His jaw and nose were both broken and his body was covered in bruises. She also said he was filthy and infection could easily set in. She cleaned and repaired his wounds the best she could. There was no place for him to stay at the clinic, except in the examination room.
Jim French was concerned that without more attention the man would die. It was then that Jim decided to look up Henry LaPlante. Henry was old, so old that no one, not even Henry, knew how old he actually was. Henry was a mide, a member of the Midewiwin, the Grand Medicine Society as the white man called it.
Henry lived alone in a small cabin that he had built with his wife 70 years earlier. He had lost his wife and children years before. His only companion was Walkabout, his dog of undetermined origin. A big dog, over 100 pounds that was with Henry at all times. Some said that Walkabout was as old as Henry.
Jim found Henry sitting on this wooden deck in front of his cabin, with Walkabout laying at his feet.
"Boozhoo (greetings) Henry" said Jim. Henry didn't move but told Jim, "I heard you coming from a mile away. Not very good for an Indian, I think you need some training, Jim French. You make more noise than a chimook (Ojibwe word for a white person)." Jim was used to Henry and his barbs, you could not win a war of words with Henry.
Even with Henry's sharp tongue, Jim knew the old man was a good friend and had helped out Jim on many occasions. "I found him on the road, beaten badly, he's Indian but don't know if he's a shinnob (Ojibwe) or not. Rene at the clinic has done what she can for him, but he cannot stay there. I have to find a place for him to stay while he heals, if he ever does."
Henry looked at Jim and said. "Another drunk Indian gets beaten up and you want me to take care of him. He should of thought of that before he became a drunk." How Henry knew this was beyond Jim, but Henry knew many things through his visions.
"I will tell you this Jim French, if I do help him, you will be responsible for him." Jim thought to himself, 'what the hell I just found the guy on the road and took him to the clinic. Why should I be responsible for him, and what does that mean anyway?'
Henry looked at Jim. "Well Jim, you want me to help this Indian, but your having thoughts of why you should be involved. You found him and saved him, that's why. Sometime you forget the shinnob way Jim French."
Jim knew that Henry had him in a no win position. The damn old man was good at that.
"OK, you bring him to me, and I will see if he is worth saving Jim French. And you must keep your promise to be responsible for him."
Jim's life had just taken a turn and he wasn't sure where it would lead.
Jim headed back to the clinic. When he arrived Renee told him that that the man was still sleeping. Jim picked him up and carried him to his truck. Soon, they were on their way to Henry's cabin.
As he drove to Henry's cabin, he wondered what was awaiting the man.
Henry did not let on anything when he said he would help only if Jim was responsible for him.
As they arrived at Henry's cabin Duncan stirred. "Hey, you awake man?", asked Jim. Duncan muttered something that Jim didn't understand.
Jim helped Duncan out of the cab of the pick up. He had to nearly carry Duncan to Henry's cabin. The man was still in bad shape.
Henry, with Walkabout by his side, met them outside the cabin. "Put him in the shed Jim French", Henry said. Jim looked at him unbelieving that he would put a man, an Indian no less in the outside shed. The floor to the shed was dirt, no cooling nor windows were in the shed.
"Henry, he could die in there." "Jim French put him in the shed or take him back to the clinic." Jim could see nothing in Henry expression, common with the Ojibwe. Facial expressions were kept well hidden and it was always difficult to try to get the reading of an Ojibwe by his or her facial expression.
Jim thought for a moment, debating whether to put the man in the shed or take him back to the clinic and rid himself of the problem. Finally he decided that he couldn't leave the man without trying to help him. In the Anishinaabe there is a deep sense of responsibility for helping those that need it.
Jim took him to the shed and laid him down on the dirt floor. "You can leave now, Jim French", Henry said. "What are you going to do Henry, just leave him here to die?" Henry didn't answer, except to tell Jim that he should leave now. Jim, struggling with just leaving the man there, and unsure what Henry was going to do to help him, if anything, finally turned his back and left.
Henry called out to Jim as he was leaving. "Jim French you are responsible for this man." Jim had nothing to say, nor could he understand what Henry meant.
Hours later Henry went to the shed, Walkabout at his side. Entering the small shed he looked at the man, and was disgusted. Henry poured some water on him to wake him..Duncan struggled to open his eyes, and then seeing Henry standing over him, wasn't sure if he was dead or alive. It soon became apparent that he was alive, when Henry said to him. "You stink. Go clean yourself in the lake", handing Duncan soap as he tried to get up. Henry would not help him up. "Do it yourself or lay here and stink", said Henry.
Duncan managed to get on his feet, but the pain was almost overwhelming him. He struggled towards the lake, falling down twice in the 200 foot walk. Henry did not help him.
Duncan literally fell into the lake, the water cool and refreshing as it hit his face. Duncan knelt in the water as it washed over him. Soon he began to wash himself. Days worth of dirt and stink washed away. When he finished and crawled out of the lake, there was a pair of jeans and a T-shirt on the shore. He was not sure where they came from, he had not heard or seen Henry come down to the lake.
He put on the worn clothes, old but clean. Along with his cleaning in the lake he began to think that he might live.
He struggled back to the shed and sat on the grass outside of it, wondering what was next. Soon Henry LaPlante, mide and member of the Grand Medicine Society came to see him. With him he carried herbs and flowers, and mud. He told Duncan to sit still while he applied them. When he was finished he gave Duncan some venison jerky.
Duncan tried to tell Henry what his name was and wanted to know Henry's name. Henry simply looked at him and said "Go into the shed and sleep with the healing medicine on you. You can lay in the dirt like a pig or look around the shed and try to live like a human."
Days passed and Duncan would find food outside the shed every day. If he saw Henry and tried to talk to him, Henry would simply turn his back to him. In the way of the Ojibwe, turning your back on someone was a sign of what the person thought or did meant nothing to you. They were, in effect, dead.
The various healing remedies that Henry used made their mark on Duncan, his wounds healing rapidly. The food was sparse but Duncan felt his strength returning. He washed in the lake every day.
After days of this, Henry finally walked to the shed and told Duncan to follow him. Henry headed back to the small porch on his cabin, where Walkabout was laying, head on his paws.
"Sit", Henry told Duncan. Duncan sat in a chair that was older than Henry. He tried to tell Henry his name, but Henry said to him, "I do not want to know your name. You body is healing, but your soul is black, do you want to save your soul?" asked Henry. Duncan didn't know what to answer, he wanted many times to die, but could he destroy himself. Did he want to go on with this crazy old man. Henry waited for a reply, none was forthcoming. Henry got up from his chair and said to Duncan, "Sit here until you decide. When you have decided I will know. If you do not want to cleanse your soul, then leave and never return." With that, Henry and Walkabout went into the cabin.
Duncan sat until the sunset. Finally he thought to himself, 'I will stay and see what the old man does.' A moment later Henry walked out of the cabin and said to Duncan, "You have decided to stay, but you are not sure of the old man. Go to the shed, tomorrow we will see if your are fit to save."
Jim French was laying in his bed, half asleep, unable to completely turn his mind off. Henry and the man; it was strange. Jim had a feeling that there was much more to this than he knew or that Duncan knew.
Jim slept fitfully that night and when he woke in the morning, he knew that he had to go to see Henry.
As Jim approached Henry's cabin, he could smell the coffee. This was one thing that Henry did every morning; he fixed his coffee. To the Ojibwe, coffee was called ''black water medicine''. Walkabout padded out to meet Jim, and he gave the old dog a pat on the head.
"Jim French, it's about time that you got here, you're late as usual. We have work to do."
Jim didn't even wonder how Henry knew that he would be there. It was Henry - there was no explanation for it.
"Go get the drunk man from the shed, Jim French." Jim wondered if the man was still drunk, so it was Henry's way of telling him that he might help him.
Jim went to the shed and got Duncan, they both walked back to the cabin. Henry looked at Jim and said, "Cut some red willow saplings, we will build a sweat lodge."
'It was time for the spirit and soul to be cleansed', thought Jim.
Jim bent the saplings to form a framework. In each place that they crossed one another Jim tied them together using sweet grass. Henry prepared the covering and laid it on. Henry did everything the ancient way, the covering being birch bark.
When they were finished, Henry said, "I will get the ancient ones, the grandfathers, now build a fire, Jim French."
Henry returned shortly with seven rocks, each larger than Jim French's fist. He had the fire going and Henry would wait until the fire burned down to red hot embers. Then the grandfathers would be heated.
It was time for Duncan to learn what it was like to be an Indian again, and have a soul that was not black.
Jim French had the Grandfathers ready. The stones were glowing red laying in the hot coals of the fire.
Henry told Jim to take them inside the sweat lodge. Jim did and waited outside while Henry and Duncan went into the lodge. Jim knew that only Henry and Duncan could be in the lodge, and it was time for the cleansing to begin.
Henry poured water over them and the steam began to fill the room. Both Henry and Duncan were stripped down to their underwear.
Two long hours later the flap covering the opening was thrown open. Both men came out and sat by the fire.
Henry said, "Jim French, heat the grandfathers again." Jim put the stones back into the fire. None of the men said a word while the stones were becoming heated. While the stones were heating, Jim went to the lake and filled the pail with the fresh clean lake water. To the Ojibwe water symbolizes the life blood of Mother Earth. Henry was proud that the Ojibwe women, the keepers of the water, had kept the lake from being polluted.
Jim walked back with the pail of water and Henry signaled Jim to take the heated rocks and the water back into the sweat lodge.
Jim took the grandfathers and the water back into the lodge. Henry and Duncan entered, and Jim French left, the ceremony began again. Duncan could feel the sweat pouring off of him, and at the same time felt his spirit being lifted. This was nothing like he could remember.
Almost two more hours went by and finally Henry the mide and Duncan came out of the lodge.
Henry told Duncan (he still did not call him by his name) to go to the shed and spend the night dreaming. "We will talk tomorrow", said Henry.
When Duncan had left, Jim said to the old mide, "Henry, you still treat him roughly; there is more to this than you are letting on."
Henry’s face was a mask, no emotion showed in his old weathered face, and his eyes gave nothing away. This was the way of the Ojibwe.
After many minutes the old mide looked at Jim and said, "Jim French, you are asking me to tell you something about this man. What I tell you I cannot take back, it is then yours and well as mine." Jim didn’t say anything, and simply nodded his head.
"Jim French, many years ago, 20 perhaps, this man was the son of my niece, Leah Brown. At that time he was called Duncan Brown. He was the cousin of Reyette Many Feathers."
"One evening they decided to walk to shop in Grand Forks. They crossed the bridge over the Red River from East Grand Forks, Minnesota, to Grand Forks, North Dakota. It could be dangerous for an Indian in Grand Forks, especially after the sun went down. Soon they were approached by a group of Chimooks. They started harassing Reyette and Duncan, surrounding them, name calling and shoving. Soon it got much worse, one of the Chimooks grabbed Reyette and touched her in places that are forbidden. She started screaming and fighting back, but was overpowered by the Chimooks. Duncan did nothing to help her, he ran away."
"Reyette was beaten and raped by them, and then left on the street. She walked home, and no one that saw her would help her until she got to her people."
"The rape and beating was reported to the police, but as you know, Jim French, nothing ever came of it. They said that there was no evidence of who did it. Duncan would not come forward to identify them, and they would not believe Rayette."
"Soon Duncan Brown left, he just left and was never heard from again. Reyette could no longer stand the pain and, like many young Indian women who had been abused, she killed herself."
Silence hung in the air between Henry and Jim. Finally Jim said, "I remember Henry, but I didn’t know that this man, this drunk that is living in your shed, was the one who left her. I should have let him die on the side of the road."
"No", said Henry. "He was brought back here for a reason, we will find out that reason soon."
"Jim French, now you understand why I said that he will be your responsibility as well as mine."
The next morning Henry called Duncan to his cabin.
"It is time for you to take the next step. You will begin healing your body now." Duncan wasn't sure what that meant, but he was soon to find out.
"First you will run everywhere you go. Down to the lake, to the shed, you will follow the trails through the timber to the edge of the closest village. You will split wood every day. Finally you will eat the food of the Ojibwe."
Duncan, didn't know if he could do this but Henry gave him no choice. "You will do it, or you will leave this place never to return" Henry told him.
Duncan spent the days running, swimming and splitting wood. Exhausted every night he would fall asleep early many times before the sun went down.
The food was fish, venison, wild rice, and berries. Duncan felt his body gaining strength and endurance. Running cleared his mind.
Henry kept pushing Duncan, both his spirit and body. There was no let up in the old mide's determination to make Duncan whole once again.
Months went by, it was now the time of white ground. Still he ran and split wood..It was then that Henry brought a new dynamic to the routine.
Henry took Duncan to the an area between the shed and his cabin. "Here you will try to knock me over", said Henry. Duncan looked at the old mide and thought to himself, 'this must be some kind of joke, the old man could never stand up to the slightest push.' Duncan was soon to learn a very hard lesson. Finally, standing in the snow, Henry told Duncan, "See if you can knock me down into the snow."
Duncan stepped forward to push Henry and found himself looking at a bare spot in the snow. Henry, as old as he was simply side stepped Duncan. This went on day after day and Duncan soon began to learn the slight movements with his feet that made Henry so difficult to touch.
It was then that the old mide added another rung to the ladder. He handed Duncan a knife. "See if you can cut me", he told Duncan. Duncan did not want to try to cut Henry, but soon changed his mind after Henry had nicked him with the knife. He lunged at the old mide and found himself face down in the snow again. "You must improve, Duncan; you are not much more dangerous than a rabbit."
Week after week the training went on. Now it was knives and war clubs - close combat weapons; ones that were natural to the Ojibwe. Duncan kept improving until Henry told him that he was ready. 'Ready for what?' thought Duncan.
"There is one more weapon that you must learn to master." Henry went into the cabin and came back out with a Recurve bow and a quiver of arrows. The bow was 5 feet, 8 inches long with a 30 pound pull. The arrows were not target arrows but killing arrows, the arrowheads barbed and deadly.
Again Henry worked with Duncan until he was more than proficient with the bow.
Spring had arrived in the north country - buds covering the poplar, birch and maple trees, grass roots pushing up through the ground and wild flowers blooming. The smells of sweet grass, sage, and cedar were everywhere.
Henry sat Duncan down and looked at him for a very long time, saying nothing. Duncan was learning the Ojibwe way as he was not anxious to start speaking, each man gathering this thoughts.
"Duncan you are ready", Henry said. 'Ready for what?' wondered Duncan.
"All good predators stay downwind from their prey. If the prey senses you it will be gone. If the prey is also a predator and senses you, then you will become the hunted."
Duncan showed no emotion but the words weighed heavy on his mind.
"Go rest and mull the words I have spoken to you", said the mide. "They are words that can save your life."
"There is evil in the air, you will stay downwind from the evil or you will perish."
Later, Jim French came to Henry's cabin and with him were newspaper articles and photos. "Here they are, Henry, the newspaper articles and photos from that bad time years ago."
Henry took the bundle from Jim and studied them carefully. Taking long looks at the photo of Reyette Many Feathers and the article about her suicide. Other articles that had names of the animals who had raped her.
Walkabout headed to the shed. Duncan knew that when Walkabout came to the shed, that Henry wanted to see him.
Duncan jogged to the cabin and saw Jim French with the mide.
The mide handed the bundle to Duncan "Read them and look closely at the photos. This is the result of you running away and leaving Reyette to the monsters."
Duncan's stomach knotted up, faced with the result of his cowardice it was difficult reading. The photos and death of Reyette were almost more than Duncan could bear. It was now that he really had to face what he had done, or not done, to be accurate. The faces of Jim French and Henry were right before him, not allowing him any excuse for his non-action.
Jim French's eye bore into Duncan, no expression but Duncan could feel the hate and disgust that Jim French was directing to Duncan.
Jim French was not a man to be taken lightly. Jim French had spent his entire career as in the Army. Twenty plus years in Special Forces. Jim French was dangerous and his disgust for Duncan was evident. Ojibwe never run from danger, or leave family or friend to evil.
The act of Duncan had not only shamed himself, but the entire Ojibwe Nation.
Duncan kept reading when he came across the name of one of the men accused of the rape of Reyette - 'Rincon'.
'Rincon', the name that Duncan had heard when he was being beaten. 'Rincon', 'Rincon', Duncan's mind was ablaze.
Now he knew why the old mide had saved him and taught him the way of the Warrior.
Henry looked at Duncan for a long while. Finally he said to Duncan. ''Ogichidaa''...(Protector of the people). The Ogichidaa stood between evil and the people.
Duncan now knew his mission. The Ogichidaa was ready.
The evil was downwind.
Duncan was ready for evil. The old mide had taught him the way of the Ogichidaa.
Soon, dressed in levi's, moccasins, T-shirt and a baseball cap with his long hair pushed underneath the cap, he would jog into town, a good 12 miles. There he started following Rincon. He wasn't hard to follow, a bully with his minions would go from bar to bar at night and sleep much of the day.
Duncan learned many things about Rincon. In addition to his bullying ways and alcohol he and the others were into drugs as well.
Duncan, moving like the shadows that he watched from soon knew where Rincon lived, bought and sold drugs, drank and bullied people.
Now it was time for Duncan to start his campaign against Rincon.
One warm summer night in East Grand Forks, Rincon was about to enter a bar and just as he reached the door, there was a streak and a thud into the wooden door. Rincon spun around, but there was no one in sight. Turning back he saw the arrow embedded in the door. The shaft was red, the killing arrow head buried deep in the door, only inches from where his head had been.
Rincon snapped the arrow in half. Angry and confused, he swore at the night. Soon Rincon would experience the terror that he was used to dealing out.
Night after night Rincon felt that someone, something was following him, stalking him yet he never saw nor heard anyone. He would only travel with his other gang members. 'Safety in numbers', he thought. He was wrong.
As Rincon and other gang members walked toward the bar that they frequented, a shadow was tracking them. One of the men stopped to light a cigarette. When he looked up the flame from his lighter cast a light onto a face standing in front of him. Long braids hanging down, his face painted black and red, the colors of war and death of the Ojibwe. Before he could call out to the others, who were only 20 feet in front of him, the Ogichidaa swung a ball headed war club, crashing into his shoulder, you could hear the collarbone snap, tendons and bone crushed, the cigarette dropping to the ground. A scream from his mouth jumped into the night air. Hearing the scream, Rincon and the others turned to see the man kneeling on the sidewalk, his arm hanging uselessly at his side. A arm that he would never be able to use again.
Rincon thought that he saw a shadow slip always into the night, but dared not follow. He knew that he was being hunted, but why and by whom? He could not answer his own question.
Soon the answer would become obvious to him and the others. As they stood there, close to panic, a slight breeze picked up. But the Hunter was far downwind from the evil.
Duncan did not return to the cabin of the old mide. He lived in the timber, the way Henry had taught him. Jim French and Henry knew this, so there was no worry on their part. The Ogichidaa was doing what they had done for centuries, protecting the people and reeking vengeance on those who dared to harm the people.
Duncan felt his power returning, the power of the Ogichidaa. He wanted Rincon and the others to feel the fear that Reyette had felt. He would deliver that fear and much more.
Night after night he stalked Rincon and the others, making sure that they knew he was there, in the shadows, watching and waiting.
Then, Duncan decided that he would put terror into their hearts in broad daylight. Duncan looked around, no one in sight so he climbed the stairs to Rincon's apartment; the sun was beating brightly when he slid through the open window. There he took out a newspaper clipping of the rape of Reyette and pinned it to Rincon's bedroom door with an arrow. The message was clear.
Later that day Rincon came back to his apartment with a couple of the gang members and saw the clipping and arrow. His fear grew, whoever this was had been in his apartment in broad daylight.
Duncan was now ready to take all of them down with lessons that they would never forget.
Two days later, he slipped into another gang member's apartment. The man was sleeping and Duncan thought how easy it would be to kill him. But, that was not the way of the Ogichidaa, he wanted all of them to know what real fear was. Rincon would have a special punishment.
Duncan reached down and grabbed the man by his hair, pulling his head back as he stuffed a rag into his mouth. The man's eyes popped open and fear spread across his face. Duncan slipped a noose over his head and tied it to the bed frame above the mans head. Then he tied his feet and legs to the frame, spread eagle. He took out his knife and with a quick movement sliced away the man's shorts. He drew the knife down the inside of each of the mans thighs, leaving a cut, not too deep, but deep enough for blood to flow. He left the man tied so that if he moved around he would choke himself. He would be found by the other members laying naked and tied with blood on his legs. Again the message was clear.
Two of them left town, just took their belongings and disappeared. The one with the useless arm left town. Soon the man that he had cut would be found. Duncan was sure that he would be gone soon.
That left Rincon and one other piece of scum to deal with. Soon there would be none.
Rincon was left with only one other gang member for support. Both men were left wondering who was the person hunting them. They had always been the bullies in town and no one messed with them. Now it was different, they were the ones that were afraid. Afraid of what or whom was the question.
Day and night Ogichidaa followed them, always their shadow. Rincon and his fellow gang member Ray, felt that they were being watched but could never see or hear anyone.
Duncan lay in the heavy timber resting and planning his next move against Rincon and Ray. He became aware of something or someone moving through the timber. At first he thought that Henry or Jim French had come looking for him. But he knew that Henry had sent him on a mission and he would not see him until it was finished. Yet he knew that something was around him, moving in silence. Perhaps the spirits had come to him, he was soon to find out that indeed they were the spirits, but not ones that he was familiar with.
Leaning back against a towering pine tree with his eyes closed, Duncan was deep in thought when he felt a presence. His head snapped up, eyes wide he was looking into the face of the Stone Hand, the mythical warrior of the Ojibwe.
Stunned, he was without words, Duncan's eyes locked with Stone Hand's. He had heard many stories of this mythical warrior. Yet the longer he looked at him, the thought crossed his mind that he was looking into a mirror. Was he dreaming? Duncan shook his head hoping to grasp reality, but the figure would not disappear from his vision. In fact the figure became stronger, more defined, and the power of Stone Hand's eyes could not be dismissed.
They became locked in a strange world, somewhere between this world and the spirit world. 'Was Stone Hand going to destroy him?' The thought panicked Duncan.
Duncan felt the spirit taking him into its grip, yet he was not afraid. He was growing in strength and understanding; the soul of Duncan was melding into the spirit of Stone Hand.
As quick as a hummingbird's wings moved it was over. Duncan sat there, exhausted and shaking, yet with renewed strength and understanding.
Duncan looked around, but no one was there. As he looked down at the spot where Stone Hand was standing he saw it, a single Eagle Feather. Now he grasped what had happened. Stone Hand had passed the spirit power to him, and with that he was now a Ogichidaa in the eyes of the spirits. Next to the Eagle Feather were paw prints. Duncan stared at them, knowing full well from the many stories that he had heard as a child, they were the paw prints of the Ghost Wolves, the constant warriors that were there when Stone Hand was born. They, along with the greatest of all Spirits, the Thunderbird, had protected and nurtured Stone Hand as a baby, and brought him and his parents into the Spirit world.
Duncan stood up, now knowing it was time to finish the hunt. The Hunter was ready, soon the prey would know what terror was.
At his cabin, Henry LaPlante, the ageless mide of the Ojibwe smiled. He knew that Duncan was now part of a world little known to humans. Henry was pleased.
Henry reached down and petted Walkabout on his old head; they had been together forever. Walkabout looked up and Henry saw a heavy mane, a transformed Walkabout. Henry looked into the eyes of the Ghost Wolf.
Back in town, Jim French felt a shudder run through him. He too knew what had happened, and what was going to happen.
Rincon and Ray felt it as well, but they didn't know what the feeling was or what it meant. They looked at each other, and in unison reached for their weapons. It was time for them to go hunting as well.
Who was the hunter now.
Rincon and Ray were bullies, tough gang bangers who were used to dealing in the towns and cities where most would cower from them.
Now they were up against something far different. A shadow, never being seen but its presence always there. There were whispers around town that Rincon and Ray were no longer the bad guys that they were thought to be. A shadow, a brief fleeting shadow was scaring them and forced most of the gang to leave town.
This is not what they wanted, their bully power was being tested by some of the people in town. "Damn it", Rincon said, "We need to show these people that we're still in charge and not to mess with us."
That night they showed up at one of the local bars. Being a Friday night, there were a good number of people there for a drink and to socialize. This night Rincon and Ray would reestablish their power.
As they walked into the bar, the crowd became silent, there were whispers among some of the crowd. They swaggered up to the bar and ordered whiskey. The barkeep, a woman in her late 20's, served them. "That will be $6, please."
Rincon looked at her and made a vulgar comment, but she held her ground. "That will be $6 please", she said. Rincon reached across the bar and grabbed her by the arm. "It's free, bitch, or your walk home tonight won't be pleasant; you get my meaning?" Ray laughed as she tried to free her arm from Rincon.
Across the room, deep in the shadows there was a slight movement. No one noticed the movement. Many of the patrons were leaving the bar, not willing to take sides with the barkeep. Within the hour most of the patrons had left. Now the barkeep was alone with Rincon and Ray who had been drinking steadily.
Rincon looked at the barkeep and said, "It's just the three of us now. Ray and I will walk you home, to keep you safe." She knew that she was in trouble.
"I'll get my coat and close up the bar, then I'm going to leave", she said. "Great, you'll be safe with us." Rincon looked at Ray and said, "We'll teach this bitch a lesson that she won't forget." Laughing, they waited for her to close up the bar.
She headed to the back room, but instead of locking up she fled out the back door of the bar. As she looked up the alley toward the street, there was Rincon and Ray waiting for her. "Do you think that we're stupid?" they shouted out to her. Panicked, she looked for an escape route, there was none. Rincon and Ray started walking toward her,
Her mind was screaming with panic, wildly looking around for an escape route. There was none - they were blocking her way to the street. The other direction was a dead end with an eight foot high fence. She couldn't get back into the bar because the door automatically locked from the inside. She was trapped.
As they closed on her, their steps slowed, then they stopped completely, slowly they started backing away. 'What is happening?' her mind screamed. She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes widened. Three huge dogs were standing there, snouts high in the air, ears at full prick. Yellow eyes searching the night. They moved forward, towards her. "Oh God, please no!" she screamed. As the beasts moved towards her, at the same time Rincon and Ray keep moving backward.
As the beasts got closer to her, she could see that they were not dogs, they were much larger, the leader was a cold black which made its eyes look like the devil incarnate. They had massive manes, fangs bared, eyes searching, like beams of death. The leader threw his head back and the chilling howl of the wolf cut through the night.
Rincon and Ray turned to run, but as they turned there was a shadow standing in the mouth of the alley. Stunned they stopped. "Who the hell are you?" Rincon screamed out. There was no answer; the stillness only broken by the snapping of the jaws of the beasts who were behind them.
She stood there, unable to move, unable to think. She felt a brushing against her hip, her heart stopped, sweat rolling down her face in spite of it being a cool evening. She wanted to flee, but her legs would not move. She felt a stronger push against her hip. Afraid to look down, but willing herself to see, she saw one of the beasts, its massive head at her waist, looking at her. Their eyes locked, and suddenly the fear was gone, a calm took her in its grasp like a comfortable warm blanket it surrounded her. She moved with the beast toward the opening of the alley, toward Rincon and Ray, feeling no fear, she walked past them. As she approached the shadow that was blocking the mouth of the alley, she got a clear view of who stood there. He stood there, tall, his face painted red and black, hair pulled straight back into a single braid. His arms and upper body streaked with designs she did not understand. In his hand was an a weapon, a war club. Three feet long, with a wicked curve and large wooden ball on the end. It looked deadly and it was. It was in the hands of an Ogichidaa.
Rincon and Ray were trapped between the shadow and two of the massive beasts. Street fighters, they quickly went back to back. Rincon facing the Warrior. Ray facing the two beasts.
In the distance she could hear drums beating. Rincon and Ray heard them as well. Rincon shouted out to the Warrior, "So that's who you are, just another crazy drunk Indian. There was no response, "We're going to kill you Redskin."
And with that, their ''Dance of Death'' began.
Rincon reached into his waistband and pulled out a pistol, and no sooner had he done it, when in one practiced move the Warrior threw the war club. It crashed into Rincon's wrist snapping the bone, and the pistol went skidding across the alley, deep into the shadows.
At the same moment the two Ghost Wolves came at Ray from both his left and right side, as he pulled and aimed his pistol at one of them, it was already to late, the other crashed into him from his blindside, sending him sprawling to the alley floor, the pistol now out of reach. As he started to scream out, their fangs sunk deep into his neck. The Hunters had their prey.
The Warrior stepped forward, his words to Rincon, ''The Hunter always stays downwind from the prey''. He closed quickly, Rincon unable to move away from him. In the pale light, Rincon didn't see the cold steel blade as it pierced his chest, he only felt the pain.
She stood there, immobile. The wolf by her side, guarding her from evil. Now the evil was gone, laying on the alley floor, death had taken them in the way of vengeance.
The Warrior and the two wolves walked toward her, the other wolf joined them. He stopped in front of her, the lamp post light casting an a bizarre shadow across him.
The distant drums faded.
He said but one word to her. ''Reyette''...'How did he know her name?'
The old mide smiled to himself, reached down and petted Walkabout's head. The old dog looked up, soft eyes and tongue lolling out, he loved to be petted.
Jim French, knew that it had ended as well. No one had to tell him. It was in the air, the spirits had spoken.
On the edge of the earth, the Thunderbird sat, looking down. "Ogichidaa", Thunder Water echoed from the heavens.
In the Spirit of Stone Hand, Stands Tall was born.
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