Thursday, May 14, 2015

Snake Bitten

More people joined the so-called snake. A line of couples stacked up one behind another and Milford the announcer horned in on the mic.

“Folks, I got a culture cop up here chewin’ my ass because I called it a snake dance instead of a couple’s round dance or two-step. So folks, by show of hands and whoops, isn’t it true that the round dance snakes around like the snake dance does?”

Everyone whooped and raised hands.

“Lady, the crowd’s with me on this one for today. I’m callin’ it a couple’s snake dance, so there. To show I’m a good sport, go over to Auntie’s food wagon and get a taco. Tell her to put it on my tab.”
Auntie Hawk Legs, waving from her wagon, motioned the frustrated woman over.

“Host drum, let ‘er rip,” said Milford.

The head couple, warping and woofing, wove us into a beautiful spiritual fabric. Straightening us into a long line, the head couple, still dancing in place, brought us to a stop. Slowly, they backed us up until the snake’s tail-end couple got the cue and led us around backwards.

We picked up momentum while trying to look over our shoulders with peripheral vision. No one saw the damned Rez dog tear-ass into the arena with a kid chasing it. Typically, dogs are forbidden in the arena but sometimes they just appeared.

The dog ran between dancers near the line’s end. Dancers fell backward to the ground and in short order, like dominoes, the entire line went down. It was hilarious for all of five seconds. 

“OW!!” I yelled as the young man ahead of me smacked me in the mouth with his head as we fell. A loosened tooth triggered a flashback I wasn’t prepared for. 

Spectators, roaring with a mix of moans and laughter, clapped their hands. The sound hitched a ride with a vision of my past. Blinding light flashed in my eyes and brain during a time of soul darkness. It was followed by pain in my mouth when a tooth was knocked out by the shotgun aimed at killing me one night long ago.

And there I was, back at the train bridge so many years back with the past still alive in a present instant. In moon lit slow motion, I saw Clay’s body rolling off me and coming to a stop. I listened again for the neighbor’s scolding then turned my attention to Clay. I waited for Clay to say his famous line ending with naming me Ain’t It.

I waited and waited while Clay’s body remained still and silent. In nightmarish fashion, I moved toward him feeling as heavy as the taunting moon. As if demon possessed, I called to him in a ghastly voice that tormented me as it left my mouth.

“Say the words Clay, say them now or you’re goin to juvy.”

A deafening hum, making everything go black, white, and clear, sent me back to Pow-Wow where I heard myself scream.

“Clay! Clay! Say the words Clay!”

Front and center in a circus, concerned faces around me turned to disgust when I vomited. His Favorite Gal, rushing to me, took my arm and led me to Clays.

It took the entire walk back for my brain to right itself. Back in the house, I sat at the table as Gal fetched me ice water. The clock suggested we had only been gone two hours. It was a quarter past two in fact.

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