Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shooting It Out with Sheriff




Clay, seemingly as himself, came back into camp and sat down. 

“MMmm, smells great Ain’t It. Not bad for being away from camp for so long. How long it been anyways?”

“Camp cookin is Native buddy, genetic, instinctual. Last time we camped? Maybe 6 years ago. Hell, I don’t remember. Shut up and eat.”

Clay didn’t buy beer as part of a return to ritual so I handed him a bottle of pop. All was well for a few minutes as we ate until Clay stopped eating his beans and stared into the fire. Nearby, a raven squawked and made whistling noises. A breeze rattled tree leaves and brought just a bit of evening coolness with it. Far away, a jetliner rumbled through the atmosphere.

“What Clay, no comment about your favorite bird the raven? He’s talkin to you.”

“Migizi, did you remember to offer tobacco and prayer for our campsite, fire, and food?” Clay asked.

“What? No, I didn’t. Clay you know I don’t use tobacco and follow all those tradition…” I stopped midsentence and looked at Clay intently. “Wait, who are you…again?”

“I could be offended that you have so quickly forgotten my name but I know you struggle with memory issues. It’s me, Sheriff. I’m told my services are needed and aware the term “red road” has surfaced.”

“Oh boy, here we go. How naïve to think this would go otherwise. Better roll with it,” I thought.

“Actually, Sheriff, it wasn’t a term. It involved a vision where someone was driving on a red road. It was symbolic, it being a vision and all. Now that you mention it, I’ve heard that term, as you call it, before. New Age, hippie types, coined the phrase I believe.”

“That’s right. Good that you know your facts about traditional ways Migizi. How much do you know about our culture and heritage? Hell, I know you don’t live it on a daily basis, why not?”

“Well Sheriff, I think I know a good bit about the culture and heritage. I’m well read. And about living as I do, I answer you with a question?”

“Yah? Okay, go for it.”

“You say you’re “traditional”, many do, and you joke about being considered a culture cop, an authority on what constitutes being traditional. Back in the sweat lodge, you spoke of making things right, justice, etc. Sounds noble. Is there a bible, encyclopedia, or dictionary somewhere that sets a standard and definition for what is traditional and culturally correct?”

Clay, possessed by Sheriff, leaned forward in his camp chair and slammed his paper plate of beans into the fire. Ashes and tiny red missiles of embers burst forth. Flustered, he sat back and thought before answering.
“Who are you to question me about such things? You have Ojibwe roots and genes but live as a Chimookemon, a pale skin, an apple through and through. You disrespect our ways as if ashamed of them. Well, I expect this from a half breed.”

I took a long drink of pop and smiled.

“Sheriff is it? Your words sound more like those belonging to someone who goes by Thorny. Surely Mike has mentioned him to you. You’re friends with Mike, right?”

It was my turn to make some pointed remarks and statements. Maybe it would snap Clay out of his spell. I thought of using the shotgun shell but restrained myself. 

“Yup, F-ing half breed. That’s you Migizi.”

Wow. 

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