Friday, February 27, 2015

Lost and Found

“Oops, sorry miss. I’m old and hard of hearing.”

“That’s okay, my grandpa is like you,” said Clay and resumed poking the ground where an ant hill seemed to be the target.

I stuck my hand in the right front pocket of my jeans. I had one last trick I hoped would bring Clay around. It had worked 4 out of 5 times in the past when he was seriously hurting.

“How old are you Jovee? Where are your folks? Is it safe for you to be here alone?

“I’m 17 sir and old enough to be on my own. I graduate next year. My parents are at work and I just got out of school. Oh, and I know self defense, not that I’d use it on you. I might kill you or break your hip.”

I was in awe as Clay spoke in a very feminine voice, was well mannered, and using words in a way I had never thought possible for him.

“Jovee, do you happen to know an older fellow, a tribe member, who has the name Clay Silver Otter?”

“Sure! I like that old dude. He always gives me a flower when I see him, if one is near him that is.”

I withheld my secret weapon by keeping it in my pocket. I had a scheme.

“Clay is a good friend of mine and I haven’t seen him in a long time. I’m not sure where he lives anymore. Do you know where he lives and if so, would you be willing to show me?”

Clay piddled around with the ant hill and appeared to be pondering my request.

“Okay, yes, I’ll show you, but first I need to dig a little deeper to see if it’s in there.”

“What is in that ant hill Jovee?”

I figured exchanging pleasantries might cause my mentally ill friend to warm up to me.

“The elders, the ancient ones, tell a story about ants. Gitcheh Manido, Great Spirit, has assigned certain special ants with a highly honored task, one involving mining.”

“And what do they mine for?”

Clay, after digging at the ant hill, stood and tossed the stick aside and avoided answering.

“Never mind, let’s go. You got a car? It’s only a little ways away but you’re so old.”

“Follow me Jovee. I’m parked at the restaurant by the train tracks.”

Clay, as if knowing the way, took the lead and in 5 minutes we were at the car. I hit the button on the key fob and unlocked the doors. Just after Clay climbed in, a city cop car drove up. I had one leg in the car and stood there a moment.

The officer nearest me leaned out his window slightly.

“You a tribe member? You look familiar. We’re following up on a B.O.L.O. for an elder tribe member, one such as you. We figured maybe you knew him. His name is Clay Silver Otter. You know him or seen him?”