Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRUST (07/21/16)
TITLE: Snowy Path
By Don Buschert
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The French are standing off to one side, watching Grey Otter. Some are holding their hands over their mouth. Grey Otter pays them no mind; the Anishinaabe just as easily play clever jokes on the French as they do their own.
One of the French yells over to Grey Otter. Grey Otter responds and moves his hand down the thunder stick and suddenly there is a deafening pow. I flinch down; ears covered. I look up at Grey Otter, there is a cloud of black acrid smoke covering his face. The French cannot contain themselves, each of them now laugh at Grey Otter. One soldier falls to the ground holding his stomach. Another two lean on each other and slap their legs. Grey Otter grins at them good-naturedly, his white teeth sharply contrasting his soot filled face, blacker than charcoal war paint. I hold my hand over my mouth and snicker.
Crow observed this spectacle, quietly sitting on a bench. Now he is upset. He strides quickly over to the French, his long black robes flailing behind him, and scolds them; as if little children. I giggle. The French are embarrassed and hang their heads in shame, like caught little children.
Then Crow strides over to Grey Otter, who has resumed looking into the thunder stick's mouth. Crow puts his hand on Grey Otter's shoulder, and speaks kind soft words. Grey Otter glares angrily at him and rudely pushes Crow's hand away.
"I hate Crow," Grey Otter tells me. "Crow is always walking around playing with those beads like a lost child," he says. "He does no hard work or brave deeds. Always hopping around like the scavenger he is. His mind is like that of a crazed person,” he says, tapping his temple.
“I will never accept his mother-child god. I will kill him one day,” Grey Otter says patting his knife.
Crow sees me kneeling behind the tree, still very frightened. He comes to offer comfort like an old mother. I let him bless me on the forehead with his peculiar thumb motions, being sure Grey Otter sees. Grey Otter does not approve, giving me an ireful scowl, much to my satisfaction.
Now Grey Otter is feeding the thunder stick small round, shiny metal stones. Then he pours that magic powder down its throat. Now he points it at a tree and makes it go pow. He does it again and again. The sound of thunder fills the air. I am weary of covering my ringing ears. I am worried about what Grey Otter will become with a thunder stick. Slow Lynx says thunder sticks can kill two or three people at a time.
Perhaps Grey Otter will kill me with the thunder stick.
I remember watching Grey Otter slowly kill my father. The other warriors killed my mother and older sister. Their bodies laid in the blood splattered snow, as I; a helpless small boy, was taken away from my people as a captive. I have not forgotten my family and people. Their memories are safely stored within my heart.
They say I am too weak to be a warrior. Slow Lynx is teaching me the ways of medicine.
Crow senses my fright, and perhaps understands my fears that lie with Grey Otter. He knows my story. He wants me to believe in the infant-god. Then he wants to push me under the river water; to have the special death. He says if I don't, when I die, I arrive at a horrible place of never-ending suffering and torment. Worse than what the Iroquois do, roasting their victims alive. In this place are crawling maggots and terrible heat.
Grey Otter scoffs at Crow's stories, but I pay attention; intrigued. Perhaps one day I will believe. No one in this tribe has shown me kindness; except maybe for Slow Lynx. Crow is the first person to treat me with significance. He is earning my trust and my respect, despite me being a lowly captive. I fear we both will meet the same fate at Grey Otter’s hand, but Crow says not to worry. He says I have to learn to trust his three-person god; especially the infant; the one who grew into a man and died.
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