BIRCH CLUMP NOVELS & BOOKS FROM AUTHOR, JOSHUA SEIDL, SSP
This is the first of a two part series. Part two is titled: Cloudburst. A few sample parts from the first third of the 360 page novel are in this e-magazine My books are available from major book sellers on line.
HAWK DANCER: 2ND EDITION
Sampler: This little on-line booklet provides you with a few samples of my first novel, Hawk Dancer. All material in this sampler-magazine is ÂŠ copyrighted by Joshua Seidl. No portion may be reprinted or reproduced with out written permission of the author and the artists.
Please enjoy these short selections. I hope you will consider obtaining a copy of my novels and other books.
Thank you Bro. Joshua Seidl, SSP
Enclosed: The is no index. The next two pages are fact-pages. Story selections follow that.
HAWK DANCER: [second Edition] By Joshua Seidl, SSP Category: Fiction, historical Formats: Trade paperback $12.95 (Lulu, Amazon) Paperback ISBN 13: 978-1-257-15507-1 E-Pub edition $6.99 (Lulu, Barns & Nobel, iTunes) ISBN 13: 978-1-105-68808-9 Publication and copyright: 2011 Pages: 360 Available from: Lulu, Amazon, Barns & Noble (Nook), iTunes (Apple) Awards: Seal of Approval - Catholic Writer’s Guild More information: www.HawkDancer.com A Native American Franciscan Order, founded in 1940, play a significant role in the lives of those in the nearby Village of Birch Clump through 2008. This is a modern telling of Guadalupe’s Las Tres Culturas, (The Three Cultures) set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Part one of two novels. Reviewer comments: "Sometimes spirituality is lost in religion and it was incredibly refreshing to read a book that binds the two." C.J., a reader from New Jersey. “Brother Seidl carries the reader and reveals the pain associated with the divisiveness of the Christian churches to the Native inhabitants on the reservation. Often families would find themselves separated by government-imposed regulations of worship, 3
often splitting the reservation and families into faith quadrants. . . . The author allows the reader to view the world through their struggle between the Ojibwe and the dominant society's ways. • … The reader can get a visual look at the lives of Native people trying to weave through the intricacies of society in the twentieth century. The reader will experience humor, sadness and tears . . .” Dr. Rose Quinones, Youngstown University, Ohio. Bishop Clark [L.A. Archdiocese] also recommended that the Regional Council members read “Hawk Dancer”, a novel by Joshua Seidl, which gives an experience on the Native American culture in the Catholic community in this country. (Minutes from a council meeting) I appreciate the obvious research necessary to produce a book that was historically accurate. Seidl brings out the best and worst in people. Z. B., Rice Lake, WI. It is an enjoyable novel. His humor is unique. I felt close to his delightful and very human characters. Bro. Joshua’s stories are progressively positive with regard to Indigenous/Non-Native relations. His work points to conciliation in practical ways. T. D. Deer, Saginaw, MI 4
Next: The first few pages of chapter One. Chapter 1 Richard White December 1934, Menominee Michigan Richard White, the slender six-foot teen lit two kerosene lamps, lowered both wicks, and then sprawled out in an overstuffed chair while his feet rested on the matching ottoman. His arms fell over the sides. A tweed suit coat hung limp on the doorknob; the matching necktie draped the coatâ€™s collar. Richard laid his head back on the chair and stared at the smoked stained wall and ceiling, exhausted from the events of the past three days and weary of the well-meant interference of relatives. A black and white wedding picture of a couple, barely older than he, hung on the wall in a thin oak frame. In his drowsy state, the picture sometimes sank into the wall; other times it protruded the smoked wall. Until tonight he could not fully comprehend that the couple in the picture was his parents. Those eyes, which obligingly looked out toward an invisible camera that fixed their focus forever, began to look directly into his. He cocked his head over the right of the chair, then far to the left. The eyes had life following their son from right to left. Their real eyes were sewn shut as they lay in their oak stained, highly polished caskets. His mother wore the blue dress she wore to church last Easter, while his father was in his black suit and a white shirt. It was all so proper. Stiff, hands folded straight; none of it reflected the jovial couple that laughed, played jokes on their son and danced together before sitting down for dinner. 5
“Shall I cut your meat for you?” Mrs. White teased her tall wisp of a son in front of company. Richard pulled his plate in closer to himself half embarrassed, half enjoying the joke. After dinner the three of them entertained the guests. Richard played the violin from his waist so he could sing; his mother sat at the spinet and her spouse grabbed either a guitar or banjo, and sometimes borrowed the violin. Richard rested the violin on his shoulder, raised the bow in the air commanding attention by his silence. His head rocked back and forth followed by the upper torso as the spirit of the music filled him. Slowly the bow moved towards the strings as the violin took it’s classical position under Richard’s chin, then a sudden brush of the bow gave the first note, followed by a long draw, ha – va. This was repeated for the next word, slowly, na – ge – la. The guest felt the anticipated voice. With intense deliberateness, the bow repeated this pattern three times and then stopped. Everyone stared as the violin was lowered to the boy’s hip. A young, tender, yet rich baritone resonated from his barely opened mouth, “Hava nagela,” a pause, “Hava nagela,” done a bit higher, “Hava nagela” louder this time, just as slow with the mouth widening some, inviting another to join in the song. A tensely held tambourine came in contact with his father’s thigh as 6
the father lent his tenor voice for a repeat of the words. The piano started up and the mother gave harmony in alto. Round by round the song picked up itâ€™s pace. The piano quit suddenly, the tambourine was set down leaving the violinist to step forward. The violin, raised back up to the chin, began the song over again as Mr. White whisked out a handkerchief and led a circle dance with his wife who pulled the guests into the dance. The violinist picked up the pace again and again until no dancers were left. The contemplative slow movements that opened the song closed it. A cold, gray stone building housed the caskets with those of others who died that winter waiting for spring to be placed into their final resting places. The lone youth held the phantom instrument and bow in the air a moment realizing this song would never be played again with his parents; then he eased the implement down. The invisible violin dropped from his left hand; his fingers slowly released the bow. Sleep, his only escape from the pain, would not come. He thought he heard his mother in the kitchen so he got up and went downstairs. Bright sunlight flowed through the kitchen window with no sign of the usual frosted corners. It was strange nothing was said about how late into the morning he slept. A covered pan waited for Richard on the back of the stove. He reached for the lid and woke with a start. The young couple still smiled at him from their framed station on the wall. The whole night went like that. His grandfather would awaken him, or he stirred at the creaking of the floorboards as his father crept past the den Richard slept in. Each time he made a move to be with them he woke up in that overstuffed chair staring at the wall and picture. Gripping the carved wooden ends of the chairâ€™s arms he stiffened up in frustration to push himself into 7
the back of the chair, his father’s smoking chair. Pungent pipe and cigar smoke saturated the fabric and stuffing. An iron gate creaked open beckoning for Richard to enter a frightening darkness. He shot up in his chair a final time to hear a car door slam out front. Morning pushed through the sides of the drawn shades. Tiny white particles of dust danced up and down the slanted beams of light like the spirit’s of Jacob’s ladder. Uncle John came to take Richard to his farm. Three large suitcases waited by the main door. Richard kept a fourth one open in the den to pack the last of what he thought he might need right away. The neatly kept house of his parents felt more like a museum, a stilled remembrance of another life, another civilization. He stepped out into the cold and shut the door behind him. A key turned the deadbolt. The clunk confirmed the finality of Richard’s situation. It snowed during the night, but the steps and walk to his parents’ house were cleared by some kind soul. Placing one foot into the car he braced his other on the running board to look over his Menominee neighborhood before climbing in and pulling the door shut. His breath instantly fogged the window. He gave it a wipe with his coat sleeve. They headed out M-35 highway along the forested shores of Green Bay. “Got-chew a good room,” came Uncle John breaking an uneasy silence, “the one with t’ay big balcony.” “I like that room,” Richard acknowledged. His uncle’s speech was heavy with the Dutch or Nordic dialect common in the Upper Peninsula. He shortened or combined words in a colloquialized manner. Got-chew instead of got for you, and ja for yes, or what time is it yet, marked a true son of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. With a fresh snow followed by a bright sunny day, their eyes squinted and danced in pain following the road due east into the 8
rising sun. Mr. Bird attempted a few conversations with his nephew, but Richard gave short two or three worded rejoinders. Uncle John stopped in Birch Clump’s village center for his mail, massaged his face and drew a breath. “Want to come in and meet some of your new neighbors?” Richard just looked at him. The old man’s face bore sharp, deep creases; his eyes were narrow, dark brown, almost black. A lot of life was still in those eyes. He disappeared leaving only bright reflections of light from the snow at the window. Seasonally defoliated trees beyond the roadside were but a blur to the youth lost in thought. Pondering the name “Bird” again, as the uncle tramped through the snow banks to the general store housing the post office, Richard was grateful his grandfather took the name White. Growing up as a Bird might have had repercussions. Although the combination of Richard Bird had an air of distinction to it, his friends called him “Rich.” Rich Bird was too comical a name for success. He was headed for the Bird Farm to live. He was still staring out the driver’s side window when Uncle John Bird’s tall frame darkened the car. “No mail for us today.” “Us” Richard repeated over and again in his mind. “Us” stood for a new relationship between him and Uncle John. The car rocked in starting and they continued on to the farm. “Did you ever try flying again, Uncle?” “Again?” the gray haired elder questioned, taken back by the suddenness and outlandishness of such a question. “I mean since you were a kid. The story of how you got your name.” John Bird gave his blond nephew a long look that suggested the kid provide a better explanation; or else that was a death wish, then veered sharply to the left to avoid the narrow soft right 9
shoulder of the road. “I’m a bit old to go about jumping out of trees.” Richard laughed, braced himself with a hand to the dashboard; then turning his half focused gaze on his uncle’s long hair muttered, “In an airplane.” “Where would I go in an airplane?” No man wore hair that long. Richard wondered why his uncle did. It dipped below his shirt collar with uneven, stringy ends. “You don’t have to go anywhere in particular.” The uncle thought about getting on an airplane, “Seems everyone I know takes a plane somewhere.” “I suppose, but what about the people you don’t know?” “Now how should I know about people I don’t know?” “How should I know?” quipped Richard. “You’re the one who asked.” “’Cause I don’t know, so I asked if you knew.” “I’m getting confused.” “Getting?” Richard asked pushing his luck. “More so,” the Uncle conceded. Hard packed snow surfaced a forked driveway, whose handle made a slow curve towards a well built, unpainted, two and half story house. John Bird never plowed his driveway clean. “It tears up a drive during the thaw, an’ you get stuck easy,” he explained. “What about it freezing over an ya’ slide off the drive?” “Ja. Dat’s a mess too, eh.” To plough or not bothered Richard as they bumped along to the house. Uncle John had such a bizarre way of looking at things like that, and an even more inexplicable means of explaining his actions, but had a rich sense of humor that his nephew appreciated. The windows looked freshly washed – a task many others let 10
go until spring. As particular as Uncle was about a clean house, it struck Richard as odd that he never painted the house, barn or outhouse. Silently they trudged up the steps with two suitcases each. The home of his parents, so recently the hub of life’s activity, was suddenly gone like a whitewash job covering up posters of an intense, week-long circus that just pulled out of town. Inside, the house had a pleasant smell of wood burning in the stove. The front bedroom on the second floor stretching the width of the house and had a double French door opening to a balcony. Even that was cleaned of snow. The walls were sanded smooth showing the grain of each cedar board. The smell of raw cedar wood was sweet, inebriating the soul, marking his new beginnings. “You yust let me know when we’ll go back for the rest of your things.” “Takk je, Uncle,” he responded in a mix of Norwegian and English. “Migwetch.” He set a bag on his bed, opened it and pulled out his parent’s wedding picture. “Can I hang this?” Uncle John took the picture tenderly into his own gnarled, callused hands. His eyes watered from the memory of that day. “Ja.” “Where?” “Rich, dis is your house, now. Where do you want it?” “I don’t know.” “I have an idea,” the uncle said returning the picture. He went up into the attic and came back with a small tripod to set the picture on a set of drawers. The only public buildings in Birch Clump then were a community chapel, non-denominational where a simple claim on the 11
Lordâ€™s name guaranteed heaven, and a general store that sold only what was needed; and nothing more. The church was in need of a new coat of paint and some serious repair. A temporary patch job of rotting lumber covered a hole left in the roof when the steeple blew off in a blizzard three years earlier. Ministers never stayed long, because of the low pay, even by Depression standards, or from losing favor with congregational trustees. The former condition might have been easier to contend with than the later. Richard was raised Catholic and kept out of their business, but wondered at the novelty of some Protestants contracting and dismissing a Pastor. Cradle Catholics accepted the autocratic, hierarchical appointments of priests to rule and guide the parish-flock as the will of God. A few clergymen where missed, many were quickly forgotten. Occasionally a minister took an interest in the Native Americans just north of the village of Birch Clump. In most cases the minister left in disgust over the lack of gratitude the native heathens had for the 12
blessings of Churchianity and the civilization representing it. There was one Methodist minister, a circuit preacher, who was different. He was an Ojibwe named Min-Wah-Ji-Mo Wi-Ni-Ni. The name meant Man With A Good Message. He came to Birch Clump in a late April 1935 mist by Greyhound Bus, and a month after Richard’s 18th birthday. Meeting the new minister had always been a favorite gathering of the town. Those that supported the community chapel prepared the welcome. Others, like John Bird, watched from a respectful distance. John Bird took his nephew to the general store to sit with a group of about eight other men who made wagers from the wood canopied porch as to how long this minister would stay. Credentials listed the new minister as Reverend Luke Matthews. No one expected a tall, dark Indigenous man with hair past his shoulders to step off the bus, a Bible tucked in with his left hand and his petite wife at his right side. While the driver gathered the minister’s bags from the cargo hold one villager stepped up to the minister and said, “There must be some sort of a mistake. We didn’t know you was some Injun.” The minister ignored the shallow remark and offered his hand in greeting, “Luke Matthews.” Richard, partially wrapped around a supporting post to the general store’s canopy, picked at the scabby flakes of paint, and peeled the fine hairs of soft, damp pine lumber. He pondered the informality of the minister presenting himself without title. The hand was scorned. A wad of spit missed the minister’s polished boots by an inch. “I give him two weeks,” one of the men sitting out front of the general store said. “Next Sunday,” another wagered, “put me down for a dollar.” The committee of Birch Clump Community Chapel was in 13
hot debate. A few suggested giving the new arrival a chance, most tried to find fault with the contract, others arrogantly called for removal of the minister before he could take the pulpit. “I think he best flag that bus down ’fore it gets to far away,” another wager recommended. Three strong men made a move on Rev. Matthews. In short order, he decked the biggest of the three with a right punch, slammed the binding of his Bible to the nose of the next tallest and permitted the third man to retreat into the angry crowd. “Give him to June,” piped a voice from the store. The betting became hot for the months of June and July, so specific dates were being added. “Three weeks,” was John Bird’s first and only bet. He held up five dollars. No one ever placed five dollars on a bet over the ministers across the street before. Richard never saw anything like this before, but dug up two dollars from his own pocket to support his uncle’s claim. Bird had won the wagers on eight of the last ten ministers. “Put it away,” the uncle insisted, regretting the example he set for his nephew, and feeling sad for the minister and his wife. “His money is good here, Bird.” “He’s just moved in. Besides, he’s a kid,” John Bird argued. He directed Richard to get a round of cokes for the men with his money. In an unprecedented move, John Bird called for two extra cokes and carried his three over to the minister and his wife. One by one, the heckling wagers followed in silent support of the new arrivals. The self-serving members of the Community Chapel turned away muttering their resolve among each other to rid themselves of the latest preacher before a single sermon was delivered. The prejudiced residents of Birch Clump had little faith that 14
an “Indian” could teach them anything, but they did approach him soon after with a handsome purse if he would represent the village as a prize fighter. The Minister declined. On his first Sunday, Rev. Matthews and his wife Clare Asiginaak found the church locked and the village center deserted. The same happened on the second Sunday. On the third Sunday, while the doors were still locked and ice crusted the corners of the stairs, he faced the highway from the top step of the church and delivered his sermon to the snowbirds. The winged persons could take the message with them as they headed north with the fading edge of the Snow Belt. Near the end of the sermon, a teenage boy from the Potawatomi Reservation pulled up in front of the village chapel in a Model-T that was in such poor condition it probably ran more on prayers than it’s mechanical ability. He sat on the roof of the car until the sermon was over then went up to speak to the minister. The minister and his wife got into the youth’s car, went to their rented room, packed and were never seen at the chapel again. Good Messenger, as his Ojibwe name is sometimes rendered in English, formed a small but solid congregation on the Reservation. It was one based on traditional native spiritual values, willing to meet in each other's impoverished homes during inclement winter. In fair weather the congregation grew in size and met on the open ceremonial grounds. Some few weeks latter, Uncle John, a staunch Catholic, skipped Mass one Sunday so he could listen to the Native American Minister. Catholics, in those days, feared mortal sin and Hell’s fire if they set foot inside a Protestant Church. Uncle John was so worked up over the power of Minwahjimo Winni’s preaching, however, Richard asked to go to the Methodist service the next Sunday. 15
The day before Richard attended services on the Reservation, the old Model-T labored up the driveway to the Bird farm. The same young Potawatomi driver who picked up the minister and his wife from the chapel in May stepped out and went around to hold the door for his passenger. Mr. Bird motioned for Richard to stay put at the dinner table and walked out onto the porch alone to meet the visitors. Richard was amazed that the Ojibwe minister stood a full head taller than Uncle John, who stood shoulder to shoulder alongside Richard. There was some nodding outside the window before the two of them went for a walk past the barn leaving the young chauffeur to wait beside the car. Richard accepted an invitation to attend a session with young people his age before the regular service began. Good Messenger had a warm, welcoming face; and he told a little story before the service got into full swing: A grocer once had a very successful day. He sold out of practically everything and decided to close early. There was one chicken left in the front, so he took that to the back room and placed it in the icebox. A lady came by and began rapping frantically on the grocer’s door. She was so persistent the grocer felt obliged to open up for her. “Please sir,” she gasped, “you must help me. I had some company come in unexpectedly and I need some more meat. What do you have?” The grocer opened the door wider and wandered back to get the lonely chicken out of the icebox. He brought it out front and weighed it for the lady. “This will cost one dollar.” “Oh, I hope you have something bigger.” 16
So the grocer slowly went to the back room with the chicken, pulled at it’s legs and wings, puffed it up some to make it appear bigger and brought it back out front. As he weighed it a second time he slipped a finger on the scale adding a few more ounces. “This one would run you a buck-twenty-five, madam.” “Oh, that’s excellent,” she said with satisfaction, “I’ll take them both.” **Note: The rest of Chapter One is not included in this sampler. The above story is based on one of my Grandfather’s sermons. Next: A portion of Chapter Two December 1941 Ordination to the Deaconate was December 6th, 1941. The next day, Sunday, a large crowd gathered to witness the first celebration of Fr. Gregory, Deacon Richard and four others ordained the previous day. The doors of the small seminary chapel opened at 9:30 a.m., Eastern Standard Time on that sleepy Sunday morning in Boston. It was only 3:30 a.m. in Pearl Harbor. In Auschwitz it was already 5:30 p.m. and a yet to be discovered horror rose out of the chimneys. An old Ford pick-up truck outside Birch Clump rested in a ditch with it’s engine running and the driver shriveled up grotesquely behind the steering wheel with a stroke. The newly ordained Deacons and Priests were presented to 17
the Greek-Syriac Catholic Community and took their places in the sanctuary, removing their shoes for they were in a sacred place, where the Kingdom of God joins Earth in the Divine Liturgy. Second year seminarians, and a 14 year old, serving as acolytes, draped their own vestments over their arms and approached the new priest for a blessing. The gentle jingle of bells from the incense bowl prepared by Deacon Richard called for respectful silence of all present. By 10:00 a.m., Boston time, everyone was vested and in place. The ritual offerings of bread and wine were prepared at the side table and a few drops of water added to the chalice, then covered with veils. The new deacon spoke these words to the new priest: “Master, it is time for the Lord to act.” Eucharistic Divine Liturgy began. Job, given a seat of honor, wore black trousers, and had a black dyed buckskin vest ceremoniously decorated Potawatomi style over his white shirt and tie. He watched as his brother scooped grains of incense, mixed with an offering of chopped sweet-grass Job’s aunts sent along, into the censer. Billowing clouds of sweet, sacred smoke rose up as the congregation and chief celebrants began the ancient chants praising God. The 14year-old acolyte held out a rabbit fur pouch for the deacon. Reaching in, Richard pinched a bit of tobacco and dropped the herb into the burning incense. Few took notice of the rabbit pouch. Fewer still knew of it’s significance as a Native American custom. Once the Throne, Altar and Icons were honored with incense and every corner of the sanctuary purified in smoke, the baritone voice of the young deacon was already offering the first of the petitions: “For peace throughout the world, we pray to the Lord.” 18
Smoke rose into the evening air in far off Poland. The ash from mankind’s largest crematorium fell inside barbed wire fences. What prayers, offered there, were in silence. In stealth, the crews of the Imperial Japanese aircraft carriers watched their smoke stacks as they crept towards Pearl Harbor like a cat ready to pounce on a large bird. In Boston the mid-morning congregation responded, “Lord, have mercy.” The congregation reverently bowed and blest themselves as the Priest held up the Book of the Gospel. The Minor Entrance, as this part is called, consisted of the acolytes, deacons and Priests processing the Gospel Book through the congregation, and then to the sanctuary. The Priest stopped at the berm, turned to the people, then opened the book and rested it on the forehead and raised hands of an acolyte. Fr. Gregory introduced the sacred reading while the crowd gathered around him. Deacon Richard, not far away, handed the incense to an acolyte. “Sophia, Let us stand and listen to the holy Gospel. Peace to all.” chanted the Bishop. “The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthews,” the priest announced, and then stepped aside for the Deacon to take over. “Let us be attentive,” chanted the Bishop as he blessed Richard. In Holland, a farmer clutched his worn Bible. His family huddled about him while angry soldiers of the Third Reich tore up his house. In a sealed off section of the same house a Rabbi squeezed a bound copy of the Torah close to his heart. His family, the remnants of other families, huddled around him as bayonets probed the walls of their hiding place. Human ash continued 19
up the chimneys in Poland. The Japanese Imperial Navy pushed closer to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Richard put a fevered pitch to the final line of the Gospel, closed the book and blessed the people. All sang out, “Alethos Kyrie, Alethos,” as they stepped forward to kiss the Book of the Gospels. The new priest delivered his first sermon; then once again the Deacon belted out petitions: “For the sick, the oppressed; for the widowed and orphaned, let us pray to the Lord.” A passer by and his family pulled to the side of the road north of Birch Clump to render assistance to the poor, longhaired driver curled up in the driver’s seat. The Boston congregation chanted, “Lord, have mercy.” In bombed cities of Europe children and grandmothers searched the rubble for food. Tattered blankets were pulled closer to ward off the December chill in Asia. “For favorable weather and an abundant harvest, we pray to the Lord.” “Lord, have mercy.” Convoys of soldiers, tanks and ambulances inched their way along the warfronts across two great oceans. Japanese pilots readied their strike planes on board their carriers. “For all travelers this day, by air, land and sea, we pray to the Lord.” “Lord, have mercy.” The trampling of international boarders was not confined to the better-known regions of the world. In the tribal lands of India, stood a young, bare-chested boy, draped from the waist down in long, green, plaid skirting. He stared in wonder at the thundering objects flying overhead. He has never seen such things cross the sky before. Modern warfare, airplanes, had come to the interior of India. 20
“For this city, and every city and village throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord.” “Lord, hear our prayer.” The black veiled celebrants exited the small, Boston Church amid chanting and cheers. Deacon Richard looked around for Job, his only guest from back home. Embraces and kisses from the immigrant Arab population abounded. Richard had become accustomed to this strong physical display of affection, but wondered how his neighbor and brother from the Mid-West might take to this. Job broke through the crowd, giving his feathered braid a toss behind him, and employed his first, though rather awkward, male-to-male embrace congratulating Richard on his ordination. A freshman, staffing the phones, called Fr. Nadar away. Nadar tried to avoid the phone call, this being Sunday and a special celebration, “Business can wait.” The young man looked seriously towards Richard while whispering something in Fr. Nadar’s ear. The rector turned towards Richard a moment, and then went inside to take the call. The crowd moved to the basement of the seminary for the potluck affair celebrating the new Priests and Deacons. Women patted their throats while emitting a high pitch whooping sound. It was an Arabic tradition praising and welcoming the new dignitaries. At the entrance of the hall was a bread table with dozens of red, clay flowerpots that were used to bake loaves of bread. Some loaves remained in their pots, others were artistically tipped over and lay half way out of the pots. Two more loaves of bread were shaped into sheaves of wheat; even the braid holding the baked stalks was of bread. The bread was Richard’s and Job’s surprise 21
for the people, a skill Uncle John Bird had passed on to them. Flat rounds of pita bread bordered this display, a gift of the parish women who also prepared an abundance of their native Arab dishes and finger foods for the reception and set these out on the tables along the basement walls. Within a few minutes Fr. Nadar returned to the party and pulled Job aside. “I just got off the phone with a man named Crow. He’s at the hospital in Escanaba with Richard’s Uncle, John Bird.” Fr. Nadar’s face spelled out the difficulty in repeating this news. He had to report tragic calls to seminarians before, but never during an Ordination celebration. The smile left Job’s face. He glanced around to be certain Richard was occupied and would not notice his absence right away. “What’s wrong?” a worried voice responded. “Stroke,” Nadar told Job “How is he?” “Responding, but it’s just to soon to know anything.” “What do you mean responding?” “It seems Mr. Bird can talk some, and recognized this man Crow.” “We have to tell Richard now.” “You sure?” “Got too.” Job affirmed. Job adjusted his braid to lie in front and straightened his vest. Nadar checked his watch, not that the time meant anything, but to divert his attention from the task before him. Job went alone to collect Richard. The seventy-year-old rector of the seminary returned to his office, relocated his ivy plant and put the tortoise shell fountain pen away in the drawer. Taking his kerchief, he buffed out the fingerprints near the phone and adjusted the ear22
piece in it’s phone cradle so as to untangle the cloth-covered cord. Nadar stood before a cluster of uniform framed pictures of relatives when Job and Richard arrived. A slightly larger picture, framed on two sides with birch branches, held a photograph of he and Rev. Luke Matthews before a canvas army tent. They were 43 years younger in the picture and a lot thinner. Fr. Nadar’s stark white hair had thinned a lot, though he never went bald. Matthews still had a full head of jet-black hair. The exuberant smile on Richard’s face, anticipating only more good news, made it all the harder for them to deliver the report. The two from Birch Clump stood on the Oriental rug just before the desk. Job took the weight from Fr. Nadar, “Richard, Crow called. Uncle John had a stroke this morning.” It took a moment to adjust from the euphoria of the celebration in his honor to the news of his uncle. He placed his hands on the polished desk surface. “NO!” Job brought him a chair and sat him down. Fr. Nadar put his hand out. Richard squeezed it. Job brought the other two chairs up for himself and Nadar. “What did Crow say?” Job looked to Fr. Nadar. “Only that he is responding coherently in speech and recognizes this Mr. Crow who called. May I ask, who is Mr. Crow?” “Crow,” Richard said, “just Crow; that’s his only name. He is a good friend of ours. Uncle is in good hands if Crow is with him.” Fr. Nadar’s thoughts went to the picture of he and Matthews. Matthews showed a lot of courage and compassion as he sat with dying soldiers. He said little, seldom touched them; but sat crosslegged on the ground while the frightened men died. Then he 23
leaned over and touched the forehead of the deceased. Nadar admired his strength of conviction that the brave souls, who offered themselves for family and home, found peace. After a few minutes Richard said he wanted to go out and tell some of the folks, but not all. He did not want to spoil the festivities. Then he would pack and prepare to go back home. The hall was hushed when the three returned. At first they thought it was because news of Richard’s Uncle had leaked. Everyone’s focus was on the radio. From behind the screened speaker of a polished maple radio crackled the solemn voice of an announcer. “… Pearl Harbor. All military personal are required to report back to their duty stations immediately…” Stunned, folks just looked to one another before a woman asked, “What are they trying to say?” **Note: Most of Chapter two has not been included in this sampler. Next: Cultural Slavery & Institutional Racism. No one sees themselves as biased. Some inequity in society has just come to be accepted as norm, or as Gospel. The need to change is not readily evident. Chapter 5 – Randy
hile the rest of the world concentrated on rebuilding from the war, The United States of America began a tremendous economic boom. The fledging television was becoming a commercial wonder, automobile production, rubber and steel plants were going full force with three shifts a day. Then came the Korean War. Unlike the previous conflict, patriotic support of this war 24
waned. Even the reserve GI’s, who joined long lines to enlist in the 40’s, resented being activated. On the anniversary of Annunciation Monastery, 1951, a young Potawatomi girl was in labor in a back woods cabin about thirty miles northwest of the hermitage. The Moon of Crusted Snow brought a blizzard the day before and now a freezing drizzle. An old woman, half stiffened in mind and body by multiple strokes, assisted the girl to deliver her first-born. She began labor when only a gray semblance of light worked it’self through the mud stained windows. The midwife cocked her head to one side when her charge first gasped in pain. She hummed and made utterance in the old way of prayer-song then sat down to assist the young mother with the delivery… March 25th, 1951 was the earliest anyone remembered for an Easter Sunday. This was also the 9th anniversary of the hermitage; and for a change, sunrise Easter service began on time. Fr. Jacob gave a poignant sermon adding to his own work, those words he remembered from Rev. Luke Matthews: “Ah! Joseph, you made a garden, and in that garden was your own tomb. It should have been a garden of sorrowful remembrance. But you brought to it one whom death could not hold. Your garden held the hopes of all the world. More has grown from your garden than you dreamed! Hope and faith and courage and joy have flourished all over the world from that frail, broken body sown in your garden on the darkest night the world has known and raised in splendor on the first day of a new age.” [**Note: The brief sermon is from my Grandfather]
… In a less ceremonial manner, the newborn was poorly cleansed, wrapped in a filthy towel and handed back to the mother by noon. The old woman, who filled in as mid-wife, pulled a blanket around herself to go outside. The young girl arched her neck back in pain and cried out, as if still in labor, “Please, lady, don’t leave me.” The old woman, who never spoke a word, put a finger to her mouth and shut the door. The young mother could not decipher if the shadowy figure of her nurse slipped outside or was still in the cabin. A shawl shrouded shadow passed the muddy window. Precisely one year later, a lamp went on behind the French panes of Brother Jacob’s double balcony doors at 5:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, in another home along the shores of Green Bay, Hazel slipped out of her bedroom, closed the door and went into the kitchen. She flicked on the light and fumbled for the coffee pot, gave it a rinse and began a typical Tuesday morning. Next door, about 30 some acres away, three rooms were lit, the kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom. The now 35-year-old monk stirred some Silver Platter ® Thick and Rough Oatmeal into a pot of boiling water on the monastery stove. Job dubbed the preferred brand, “The Rotor Rooter of oatmeal.” Reaching for the knob to reduce the gas flame, Jacob hooked the handle with the end of the wooden spoon and pulled the pot of oats off the stove. The shriek that followed woke the two novices. He lifted his scalded foot into the sink and put the cold water on full. It was at this same time that violent sound out on Highway M -35 shook the windows of Job’s neighbors and stood Job upright 26
beside his bed from a sound sleep. Knowing the sound had to be a truck or auto accident, and a bad one at that as no squealing of tires preceded the collision, he flew out of the house with Hazel in pursuit. The lights and panic sounding from down M-35 confirmed the accident was in front of their neighbor’s house. A single car had run head-on into one of their trees. The young woman driver was so disfigured that the neighbor man nearly threw up. His wife found a year old infant lying still in the snow some fifty feet away and within seconds, the baby began howling. The neighbor lady snatched it up and fled back into her house. Her children, inside, sounded the alarm via the party phone system. Father Jacob, now an ordained Priest, counted the phone rings. The first set went to the Sheriff; the second set prompted the volunteer fire department to sound the horns. It was only a mater of time before the rings were for the Monastery. “Ja, Jacob here. … How far east? … Vanwestderdyke? Is that the property line next to Job and Hazel? … Ja, ’on my way,” and slammed the phone down. The first of the novices came down stairs. He was the young acolyte who handed him the cloth and hawk feather for the Book of Gospels when Fr. Jacob took his name and was vested in the gray habit back in 1942. Now 23 years old, he stood by in silence ready to assist in anyway. His hair, which had not seen a pair a scissors in ten years, was comically disheveled from a sound sleep. “Gotta run. Sorry about the mess.” “I got it,” the novice replied, “You OK?” “Scorched my left foot, but no problem, ‘still got a good right one.” The novice smiled at Fr. Jacob’s little quip. Most everyone be27
lieved Joel Crowfoot, now known as Bro. Judah had a holy calling. His slender features complimented his gentle, quiet demeanor. Revolving red lights shimmered off the moist, crusty top layer of snow. Fr. Jacob negotiated his car between two emergency vehicles so that any passing traffic would not hit it. The robed figure stepped over to the wrecked car. The sight nearly took his breath and he backed away fast. Job, already inside the car, called to his friend, “Come on, Brother Jacob, get a grip, you can do this.” That voice gave him the encouragement needed. “She alone?” “Father,” the officer in charge placed a hand on his shoulder, “There’s a baby inside the house. Seems to be doing fine, but we can’t be sure yet. But I’m sure if you went in the family that’s inside would be greatly comforted. They were a big help here, but I can see they’re rather shook up.” “I think I know them a little from town and over in Stevenson a few times.” Bro. Jacob was hesitant. Although Fr. Schneider spoke well of them, the couple kept a cold reserve toward him. A matronly lady, nearing fifty, paced the floor of their rather large and neatly kept home. Pictures of their two kids flooded the living room wall and half way up the staircase. A pair of teenagers stood up from the couch when the priest entered. The boy looked about 13 or 14. He wore a gray sweatshirt and snug, faded jeans, with straight legs. The right cuff was neatly rolled up and folded in place at the ankle. The left cuff, wet from snow, and frayed, was haphazardly rolled down. His heal rested on the ragged end seam. The girl was a year younger, modestly wrapped in a long fluffy night robe. She had on a pair of rubber shower 28
tongs, the kind with the piece that went between toes. Jacob found those things uncomfortable. She held a pair of slippers that matched her robe. The monk wished she would shed her tongs and put those on instead. The horror of the accident showed in their faces, but they knew their duty - by their parents’ example - to stand by if needed. It was a hard family for Fr. Jacob to get to know. Their neighbors, Job and Hazel, made a few attempts to get to know them, but gave up figuring they wanted privacy. Fr. Jacob felt the aloofness was more than a privacy matter. Although they gave Fr. Jacob respect, he felt they did not give reliance to any clergy outside of the Latin Rite, Roman Catholic Church. After some polite talk, Fr. Jacob could see he really wasn’t wanted inside. The lady tightened up her grip on the baby when Fr. Jacob gave a blessing. The baby, about a year old, was definitely Native, or mixed race favoring his indigenous ancestry. He seemed small, and hinted at being a bit undernourished. The large, nearly black eyes looked from the bearded monk to the woman holding him now. He was quiet, but the fear of separation from his natural mother showed in his face. Fr. Jacob’s thoughts went back to the driver. Her facial features were so horribly distorted from the accident; he didn’t realize at first that she was a Native American. “You goin’-na follow the ambulance in?” Jacob looked to Hazel. There had been times un-insured Native Americans have been put off in emergency rooms, or otherwise slighted in seeking medical help. “Ja, Jacob, we best follow her in.” “What about the baby?” Jacob pressed. “He’s in good hands for now. Chief here,” referring to the State Trooper in charge, “will see to it the baby follows in the next ambulance.” 29
Fr. Jacob returned to the mangled car. Police found no indication the car’s brakes were even applied. The stench of alcohol from a broken bottle of gin was over powering. Wheels were already turning in the minds of Job, Hazel and Fr. Jacob. They had to keep on top of this situation before the baby ended up in the Child Protective Services. History has a way of repeating it’self, and they wanted to insure the child returned to Indian Society, not into the hands of non-Indians who would strip the child of his cultural inheritance. There had been several stories, from around the country, of Indian babies being brought to the hospital and then being farmed out to White families against the will of the children’s parents. A mysterious system covered all trace of the missing Native American babies. Earl and Faye sensed the challenge. Instructing their children not to talk to neighbors about what took place that morning, Earl saw Faye off into the second ambulance along with the child. Job, Hazel and Fr. Jacob consulted briefly, and then sent Job off to the Reservation to see if he could track down any family for the mother and child of the accident. Hazel went back for her pickup truck and headed for the hospital. **Several pages have been omitted in this sampler** Next: Racial violence. Derogatory racial slurs and jokes are at the bases of all racial violence. Randy’s confirmation class was pressed into Friday, May 31st, the day after Memorial Day. During recess on Wednesday, the day before school break, Randy was alone on the swings visualizing what the events of this significant weekend would be like. He wanted to be one of those the Bishop would call on to answer questions about Confirmation. Then there would be a special 30
dinner afterwards at the Hermitage in his honor. Perhaps there would be gifts. He heard the other students talking about gifts, but his family mentioned not a word. Two passersby jerked the chain of his swing He snapped out of his daydreams. “Got some information you might like on your real mother,” the smaller of the two announced. Some dust was raised as he braked the swing leaving skid marks in the dirt. He perceived trickery in Dean’s voice and impish grin. Still, if there were information to be had on his biological parents, he would listen. The conniving instigator adjusted his loose corduroy slacks and tucked his plaid shirt in deeper. His fingers were still under the elastic waistband as he elbowed Mark, “Tell him what your dad knows.” “My dad told me that she was stone drunk the day she died. Crashed into a tree,. . .” Mark’s voice trailed off. Randy focused his gaze on Dean. Except for Randy, Dean would have been the shortest boy in class. Befriending Mark, a dysfunctional bully, was his way of feeling bigger, tougher. Randy detested the scheming, diminutive rascal. Mark’s voice rambled on. He mumbled something about the biological mother being a no good drunk like “all Indians.” Randy shut him out and let the obnoxious rumor drift away with the wind. It was the skinny kid grinning in front of him that provoked Randy. Dean repeated key phrases of Mark, kicking dust on Randy’s shoes, and laughing. It was a cold, nasty snicker. A strange sensation came over Randy. His stomach was becoming increasingly warm and his head was swimming. The whole world was sucked into a dark, twisting vacuum. There was a tremendous cracking noise. Then the cyclone of fury began to recede. His hand deadened for a moment. As things settled back 31
to near normal, a throbbing pain started up his arm. He found himself standing away from the swings, legs spread out. Dean was tumbling in the grass completely disorientated. His lower lip was cut. Adrenaline began to pump through Randy’s veins heating up his lungs. His heart beat like it could pop through his chest any moment. Randy’s thin muscles spastically rippled his fading blue jeans. Tapered according to the style of the 60’s to fit snug when new, they now fit skin-tight as the school year drew to a close. It gradually dawned on Randy that he had just struck Dean in the mouth. There was satisfaction having released his pent-up energy. In spite of the pain in his right hand, he desired nothing greater than to strike out again, to savor one more time the sensation of impact and to feel the weight of another body give way against his fist. Dean anticipated Mark’s support. Instead, Mark stepped back and took up the chant Dean developed not so long back, “Fightfight, Red and White!” Other students picked it up repeating over and over, “Fightfight, Red and White! Fight-fight, Red and White!” While Dean licked a trickle of blood from his lip, he mused over Randy’s sinewy muscles testing their drawn denim covering and realized that he was about to find out that one’s own medicine is the bitterest kind to take. More schoolboys rushed towards the swings once they heard the chant Mark was directing. This was a long awaited opportunity to see Dean trapped in his own game with no way to weasel out. “Fight, fight,” they bellowed, “Red and White!” Dean mulled over his options. He could call “uncle” and it would be over, or stand and see this contest through. He studied 32
the daunting figure that stood over him. It hardly looked like the same Randy anymore. Instead of the naive innocent face of the one who characteristically turned away from trouble (except to watch other students duke it out), he stared into a hardened face. It was the look of someone intent on great bodily harm. Until a moment ago, Randy stood an inch shorter than Dean, a few 33
pounds lighter, and decidedly weaker. Now he seemed taller. His dark eyes exuded an impersonal, uncharacteristically fierce being. Dean scrambled to his feet. He got himself into this mess and he would meet the consequences. The pair circled about with undisciplined fists at the ready, each on the lookout for a point of advantage for the next strike. The shouts of the growing crowd escalated as did pressure from the discharge of more adrenaline. Only a fight to the very finish can fulfill the lethal demands of the natural chemical once it is released into the veins of adolescents. The volatile mixture ignited with a burst from Randy and a second blow connected with Dean’s left eye. His head whipped backwards, but he stayed on his feet. He blindly caught and locked arms with Randy and the pair tumbled to the ground. There they grappled to pin one or the other. When one boy reached back to slug his adversary, the other rolled him over and took top position, and then visa versa. Few punches found their target. They simply swung when they could. What blows landed was absorbed by their wrath and generated even more fuel to the skirmish. A base, depraved energy emanating from the rabble further animated them as they rolled back and forth in a perfectly matched fight with no easy predictions. Students along the entire west wing heard the rising din and crowded the windows overlooking the playground. “Fight-fight, Red and White,” blasted forth from the school. The teachers were beside themselves to maintain order in their rooms. Faculty from other parts of the school ran from classroom to classroom looking to assist in what sounded like an inside disturbance. The fight in all it’s ferocity continued unabated a while longer.
**So, â€˜wonder who won? The rest of this 360 page novel is omitted. You can obtain the novel in paper back or as an ebook. Paper back is available from Amazon and Lulu.com. E-Pub (e-book) is available from Lulu.com, Barnes and Noble (Nook) and from iTunes (Apple). Check my website for more information or for direct links to my books on major internet booksellers sites. Front and back cover art is by Kathy Johnson. She is the official illustrator of the two novels. Mehmahongebe is the mystical Woodpecker with Butterfly wings pictured here. A larger detail is on the next page. The interior illustrations for this sampler is by me, the author. Visit my website.
Published on Jun 30, 2012
Brief samples from a few parts of my first novel are presented in this on-line mag. Richard White moves to his Great Uncle John Bird's farm...