Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Mom and son, laughing and moaning, sprinted to the ice machine centered between both bathrooms.  Grabbing some ice, they cooled the post war damage. Though experiencing localized burns of the second degree type, everyone was alright which granted license to our culturally shared sense of morbid humor.

I went in the men’s bathroom to dry up my coffee soaked pants. Thinking I was alone, Clay startled me when he began singing from the stall on the end. He repeated his previously sung tune of “Me and Migizi down at the Pow Wow grounds.”

“Sheesh, you still in here Clay? Gonna get roids from sitting so long.”

The toilet flushed and my brother exited the stall while completing his zip-up. Looking at me in the mirror while washing his hands he had the look going on. No, actually it was the look with a dash of stink eye added. 

“And here you are Migizi, just like Mike claimed was true. We finally meet,” said Clay.

“Well yes, you said you’d catch up but I found you first. You missed a good show. Could have been tragic but nope, turned out okay. It started the kids of that fam…”

“Are you senile?” asked Clay cutting me off.

“Hunh? What? No, I was just…”

“Not interested. We need to talk,” said Clay drying his hands.

It took a minute for clues to slap me in the face. Clay walked out the door and motioned me to follow.
Alongside Clay, I asked, “Who the hell is Mike and who are you?”

“In a minute Migizi. C’mon, let’s talk in my office.”

Clay walked us into the campground to the Cedar tree where Aura left Francis the praying mantis. A little chill wiggled through my spirit when I recognized the significance. Cedar is one of four sacred plants for the Ojibwe. Emerging from a hiding place deep in my being, teachings about things like purification, protection, and healing snuck up on my mind. 

Clay sat down, leaned against the tree’s shaggy bark, and patted the ground next to him.

“Yah okay then, I’ll join you,” I said and parked my still damp ass. “And you are...”

“Thorny is what I go by so call me that.”

I found it easier to endure the new adventure by not facing my brother.

“HMmmm, bet there’s a story with that name if you care to share it Thorny.”

I remembered Clay’s suggestion to inquire.

“Isn’t it obvious? I get to the point while making pointed statements or observations in the most pointed way possible and that, Migizi, is the point of my name.”

Clearing my throat I coughed a little and swallowed hard but couldn’t help but smile at the distinct flavor in the formation of words, the savory taste of my friend Clay’s cleverness.

“Regarding Mike,” said Thorny. “He’s a mutual friend of ours. He favors listening over speaking. We all go to him for the purpose of processing what we think and feel. As I said, he’s a great listener. My other friends, Jovee and Aura, told Mike about meeting you and gave him permission to pass word along. You’ll bump into Mike soon I’m sure.”

My gut tensed up as I asked, “Thorny, you said friend of ours. Were you referring to me?”

“No. I spoke of Clay and the others he told you about. Either you didn’t listen closely when Clay shared the names or you dismissed his words as little more than gibberish.”


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