ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Nineteen--Michael
I was awakened by bright, bright sunlight streaming through my window. When I looked at my clock, it was 10:00 and no-one was stirring. I guessed Mom and Dad were also taking advantage of the holiday and sleeping in.
I hopped out of bed, ran to the window and when I looked out, the whole world was covered in a blanket of snow. We didn't get a lot of snow, but it was almost traditional to have snow Thanksgiving--but I had never seen a white Christmas. As I looked out the window, I suddenly shivered. The house was cold and I was standing in my birthday suit, looking at snow. I quickly pulled on sweats and socks and went downstairs. The first thing I did was check on the twins. They were covered and apparently warm.
I knocked on Mom and Dad's door and when Dad answered said, "We have no heat, Dad. I'll see if I can find out what is wrong." I went to the basement and checked the furnace. When I pressed the reset button, it stayed in, but the furnace didn't fire. The furnace was new since we had replaced an old oil burner with natural gas one or two years before when gas became available. When I went back upstairs, Dad was up and starting coffee. "The reset was tripped, but the furnace didn't come on when I reset it."
Dad went to the stove and, when he turned on the gas, it did not light. "I can't understand this," he said. "Surely there is gas."
"I'll call the Greywolfs' and see if they have gas."
Greywolf answered the phone and I asked if they had gas; he said they did. When I told him why I called he responded, "Tell Margaret to get those babies ready and all of you over here pronto. Can't have you all freezing."
Dad agreed and said, "Michael, help your mom get the babies ready while I call the gas company". Mom and I soon had the babies wrapped up warmly and in their carriers. "Margaret, are you sure you paid the gas bill? The company says the gas was turned off for non-payment."
"I certainly did and you need to remind them that they are not allowed to turn off the gas when the temperature is below 40, as it certainly is," Mom said, handing him a cancelled check.
Dad talked on the phone a bit more and I could see he was getting angry. "Look, I have the cancelled check in my hand... I don't care what your computer shows. Some idiot typed in the wrong thing because I have the cancelled check... Lady, will you read me everything you have on your screen... That's the problem. You have the wrong name. I am David Andrews. Lady, I don't care what your computer says, I am sure I am David Andrews and I happen to know the address I have had for twenty years... Yes, please do. Yes, that is my name, but not my address... Right, my bill has been paid and it is for the address where you turned off the gas. We have two new babies here and no heat... It better not be tomorrow before the gas is turned back on. We have two new babies and the temperature is below freezing, both of which mean the gas should not have been turned off. Your service man may not have known about the babies, but he certainly knew the temperature... What you are telling me is that you have a service man turning off gas, but he can't get back to turn it back on until tomorrow, is that right?... Lady, I don't care if the president of the company has to leave his Thanksgiving dinner and come out here in a three-piece suit, you have until noon to get the gas back on and re-light the pilot... I'm not being unreasonable. I am being very reasonable. If the gas is not on and the furnace running by noon, I'm calling the chairman of the state utilities commission. Goodbye."
"David, we need to get the girls to the Greywolfs'. I'll do that then try to figure out how I am going to do my part of the dinner. I know both Yong Jin and Gabrielle will have all their stoves can handle without adding mine."
"You better have gas by noon or I mean I will call the state. I have never heard anyone as rude as the woman I talked to. She kept saying it was my fault that the gas was turned off."
We all got dressed for the weather, got in the van and drove to the Greywolfs'. When we walked in, the Greywolfs--including Luke--and Marc were finishing breakfast. "You should have gotten here a few minutes earlier and had breakfast," Luke said.
"If you don't mind, we could still use breakfast," Dad said in a "Please, Sir, may I have more" voice. "Our gas was cut off sometime this morning. I called and the crabby woman at the gas company told me we had not paid the bill. She had someone else at our address. If the gas isn't on by noon, there will be hell to pay."
Greywolf and Yong Jin had started fixing breakfast for us as soon as we walked in.
"Surprised you're here alone, Marc," I said.
"Not by choice, you can be sure," Marc said. "Mr. Lewis wanted Keith to go with him to see his mother--Keith's grandmother--this morning. He is supposed to drop Keith off here around noon. I'm working on being patient. Not doing very well at it, I confess. He is so close, yet not here with me. But, hey, there's snow! The only time I see snow is when I go on a ski trip."
"We'll have to play in it when Keith gets here because it will probably be gone tomorrow."
"Michael, I have a project for you this afternoon," Yong Jin said. "Ms. Jones asked me to prepare a brochure about Independence for some principals' conference she is attending. I have the draft ready and Greywolf has looked it over, but I'd like to have students look at it. Since the Fellowship will be here today, will you see what all of you think about it? I have several copies so you can mark up one."
"Be happy to. Think it will be great to let people know about Independence but, right now, I'm ready for food!"
"And it's ready for you," Greywolf laughed. Yong Jin and Greywolf took the girls out of their carriers. "I guess this is as close as we'll get to having grandchildren, so you can just expect them to be spoiled," Greywolf laughed. "They are beginning to be human," he said. He was holding Mary and she seemed to be looking around trying to find his voice. Her head was kinda doddering around and then she saw Greywolf, I guess, and smiled. "She recognizes her old Indian granddad," Greywolf said, laughing.
For some reason, I looked at Matt. He had the strangest look on his face. I didn't know what it was--sad, thoughtful--I wasn't sure.
Dad had left a note on the door for the gas man telling him we were at the Greywolfs'. It was almost noon when there was a knock on the Greywolfs' door. Matt answered it and the man standing there asked if someone could open our house so he could check and re-light the furnace.
Dad was going with him to take care of that. As he started to leave, Mom asked Yong Jin about keeping the girls. "It's too cold to take them to the house just now, but I need to get started on my part of the dinner."
"We'll take care of them," Matt said, and Mom went with Dad.
Yong Jin and Greywolf put the twins back in their carriers and neither liked it. Both let their displeasure be known quickly. "You were going to take care of them, Matt, so I guess you need to get started," Greywolf laughed.
Matt reached over to pick up Elizabeth and said, "Luke get the other one". Neither of the two really knew how to hold a baby, so I had to show them how. As soon as the guys had the girls, they stopped crying. I was surprised at the expression on Matt's face. I think what I had seen was the result of him being gay and not likely to have children. Now when I looked at him--and Luke--I thought it would be sad if they didn't. It was obvious they knew they were holding something very precious and their faces showed the love they felt for the two infants.
Mom and Dad had just left when Keith and his dad came in. "Snow especially for you, Marc," Keith said. He had walked up to Marc, took his hand and I thought was going to kiss him, but I guess he thought better of that and just smiled at him.
"I have to run into the office and get some things done--even on Thanksgiving--but I'll be back, you can bet on that," Mr. Lewis said.
When his dad was gone, Keith said, "Hey, babysitting. How did you two get stuck with Michael's babies?"
"Whoa, they asked for it," I said. "Just wait until they have to clean a messy bottom and see how quickly they try to get out of babysitting," I laughed.
"Marc wants to play in the snow," Matt said. "We'd join you, but we have children to care for."
"Ok, I can take a hint," Yong Jin said. "Just put them back in their carriers and you can go."
"But they'll cry," Matt objected.
"Not for long," Yong Jin answered. "They can't be held all the time."
"Sure you don't mind?" Matt asked.
"I'm sure. Run along and play," she answered in the voice she used when we were little kids.
Matt and Luke put the girls back in their carriers and I think were disappointed because they didn't cry. While they were doing that, I called Mary Kathryn. Gabrielle said she was already on her way. In fact, she came up the front walk as we left the house.
Marc really was like a little kid in the snow. The snow was wet enough to pack well so we made huge balls of snow and built a snowman. When we finished, a snowball fight broke out and we were busy pelting each other when Bill drove up with Linda, Jacob and Susan. They, of course, got pelted good getting out of the car.
Chris came driving up in Demetri's car with Jack and Rachel in it.
"Where's Dan?" Jacob asked.
"Since he's low man on the totem pole, he had to work over today. He'll be off at 4:00 and I will pick him and Granddad up then."
With the new arrivals, we built two snow forts and had a grand snowball fight. Finally, even Marc had had enough snow and we all went inside to warm up. As we walked in, Matt asked, "Mom, what do you have to warm up frozen snow warriors?"
"How does hot mulled cider sound? There is also hot chocolate. You can serve everyone, Matt, Luke. There's a fire in the library if you like."
"I like," Bill replied.
"Yong Jin, where are the brochures you wanted us to look at?" I asked.
"On my desk in the library," she answered.
While Matt and Luke were getting the hot drinks, Mom came and got the babies since our house was now warm. When Matt had served the cider and chocolate, he and Luke joined us looking over the brochure. "This sounds a lot better and looks a lot better than some of the brochures I have seen from very expensive private schools. Is all this true?" Marc asked.
"I haven't found anything untrue or even exaggerated," Linda said.
"Same here," Jacob added. Everyone agreed that the brochure was a good and accurate picture of Independence, at least as good as could be expected, trying to describe a whole school in a brochure.
"But what's this about private schools, Marc?" Keith asked.
Marc said, "Oh, Dad gave me a bunch of brochures from private schools, that's all".
"Marc, we haven't been together very long and, I'll admit, I don't know you as well as I will, but I can tell when you are fibbing. What's this about private schools?" Keith asked.
Marc got very quiet and sat looking down at the floor. When he looked up, he was misty eyed. "Keith, I wasn't going to tell you until our holiday was over because I didn't want to ruin it for you. Dad's latest woman--I think they are married, I really don't know--was hitting on me a week or so ago and I knew Dad heard her, so before he could say anything I told him about it and that it made me uncomfortable. The next thing I knew he gave me a fist-full of brochures from private schools, all a long way from Florida. I don't think I will have any choice about whether or not I go away to school. I know I won't be allowed to take weekends off frequently, so I won't be coming to Concord as often as I planned and hoped and wanted to come."
Marc had been misty eyed when he started telling about the private school situation, now Keith was. Keith was sitting in the floor by Marc's chair. He turned, reached up and took Marc's hand. Tears were running down both their faces.
"Marc, I think you need to add another brochure to your collection for consideration," Linda said and handed Marc one of the draft brochures about Independence.
"Why didn't I think of that?" Keith said, smiling through his tears.
"Yea, you said you'd like to be a part of a school like Independence," Mary Kathryn said. "It would solve a lot of problems. You wouldn't have to worry about whether or not you could get a weekend off, that sort of thing."
"There's a major problem with that," Marc said. "All the schools I can look at are boarding schools. Don't think Independence is ready for that yet."
'Maybe Dad would let you live with us," Keith said hopefully.
"Be realistic, Keith, he won't let us sleep together during this holiday so he sure is not going to say, 'Ok, Marc, you can move in'. No way."
"Wish we had an extra room," I said, "but the twins kinda took care of that."
"Maybe there is a solution," Matt said. "Mom and Dad have talked about how lonesome it is without kids in the house. With me gone, any student who shows up here has to make an effort. I think they might be willing to have you live with them. You know the guest room already, so what do you think?"
"I love the idea, but I don't want to get my hopes up," Marc responded.
"Well, you could find out about it in a few minutes; come with me," Matt said as he motioned for Marc to follow him.
While the two were gone, talk in the library became idle chit-chat. No-one wanted to say anything which might jinx the possibility of Marc becoming an Independence Patriot.
Marc and Matt were gone for what seemed like hours, but was only thirty minutes. When they came back, Marc was smiling.
"I think we have a deal," Matt said. "Mom and Dad are willing to have Marc live with them. We talked some about conditions and arrangements, but there will have to be more talk and agreement about those. Talked a bit about money. Anyway, the only catch is whether or not Marc's dad will approve. That would seem to be a given, but Marc says his dad will have to be convinced Independence is 'top-drawer'. Dad is calling Jonesy to find out about out-of-state students and whether or not Mom and Dad will have to be legal guardians. Details, but it will all be worked out before Marc leaves Sunday so he can lay a deal on the table when he talks with his dad."
"Why you be doin' the talking, Matt?" Susan asked.
"'Cause Bro Marc be speechless," Matt laughed, and Marc nodded his head rapidly.
The Thanksgiving mood had really shifted into one of thanksgiving, with the possibility of Marc coming to live in Concord. Everyone was trying to talk at once with no-one listening. Suddenly a voice cried out, "Anyone home around here?". It was Millie. She was using her cane because of the snow and also holding on to Woody's arm to make sure she didn't fall again.
"How did you escape from St. Alban's, Woody? Thought you'd be doing the Thanksgiving Mass," Matt said.
"Since I'll be leaving next month, the Bishop has found another retired priest who is interested in replacing me. I thought he needed to get a feel for the place so he is supplying for me today and Sunday. "By the way, Millie and I watched the game on TV. Sure was a surprise to me. And I have never seen some of the plays Independence pulled off. It was fun."
"Not nearly as much fun as being there," Marc said. "We all had a ball the whole game, well, most of the whole game."
"So how do you like Concord--and Concord with snow," Millie asked.
"It's great. I'm thinking about moving in," Marc replied.
"Are you serious?" Millie asked.
"Sure I'm serious. Dad is ready to ship me off to a private school and I don't see why Independence is not better, and I know the men--at least one of them--are better looking than any I'd find elsewhere."
"Where will you be living?"
"The Greywolfs and I are trying to work it out so I'll live here with them."
"Couldn't find a better place. Get your dad to draw up guardianship papers so the Greywolfs can take care of you in case of illness or accident, get your transcript here before next semester and you'll be ready."
"We were wondering about the guardianship," Marc said.
"We could sneak by on that, I suspect," Millie said, "but if something should happen to you or you got sick, the Greywolfs would have to get written permission before you could be treated. Might never need it, but it's good to have."
Woody and Millie went to the kitchen where Mom and Dad were, leaving the kids alone. We had pretty much wound down and were quiet. The chairs had finally been abandoned and couples were sitting on the floor, one sitting between the legs of the other, all of us just staring at the fire.
"Hey, it's time for me to pick up Dan and Granddad," Chris said. "I better run."
When Chris left, Matt asked, "Where's Eugene and Larry? They should have been here ages ago. Millie," he shouted, "where is your son?".
"He and Larry went on some mysterious errand to Lexington, but they should have been back by now. Don't know what they are up to."
She hardly had the words out of her mouth when the front door opened and Mom and Dad, Larry and Eugene all came in. Larry and Eugene were each holding one of the girls. Millie came into the room and said, "All right, Son, what were you two doing in Lexington today? You know better than to keep secrets from yo' mama."
"Oh, I forgot. Larry, what were we doing in Lexington today?"
"Oh, shoot, I forget." Larry went to the front door, opened it and yelled outside, "Millie's on the warpath". There was laughter outside and Jason and Anthony came in. It was very obvious Larry and Eugene, Jason and Anthony had put one over on Millie. I was surprised because I had never seen Millie so completely discombobulated. She got all misty eyed and kept hugging both her sons and their lovers.
Larry and Eugene were still holding the twins when Larry said, "Think we need some of these around the house in Ohio."
"Don't think Paula would cooperate," Eugene said.
"And just wait until you have to change a diaper, a messy diaper," I said. "I think it is better birth control than the pill."
"Was not about to go into that, but," Mary Kathryn said, "I see Michael is not forthcoming, so I guess I will have to tell the tale of the results of his diaper-changing when we found Elizabeth." Of course, she added a little--a lot--here and there until everyone was laughing.
Jens and Gabrielle, Larry's mom and Keith's father all came in together in the middle of Mary Kathryn's tale. The house was getting full and I think everyone liked it. I know I did. The adults were in the living room and kitchen and the kids were all still in the library. "I guess everyone's here now except John and Uncle Michael," I said after counting people on my fingers. "Wonder what their hold-up is?"
"I think you can ask them," Luke said. "A Lexus just pulled into the drive."
Uncle Michael and John came in, brushing the snow from their shoulders. "Is it snowing again?" Dad asked.
"It sure is. It is really coming down. Don't think there will be a lot of traveling tonight," John said.
"Where have YOU two been all day?" Millie asked. "I thought you'd be here hours ago."
"I have good news," John said. "Well, good news and bad news. I applied for a fellowship to study in Greece this summer and found out this week that I was a finalist. I got a phone call yesterday asking if I could possibly meet with two committee members in Jackson today. They were visiting friends and said if I could, it would save both of us time and travel. I would have had to go to Atlanta for an interview otherwise. Michael and I went over early this morning and I was really grilled. The interview took over two hours. When it was finished, they two told me I could start packing; I had the fellowship. It's an all-expense-paid six weeks in Greece studying Greek art. Of course I will also being doing a lot of photography as my part of the fellowship. I am very excited. That's the good news. The bad news is I will be in Greece six weeks and Michael will be flitting around the US with some weird art student I used to have."
"It's good news, really good news," Uncle Michael said, "in spite of the fact we will be separated. To make it better news, Luke's art tour will end at the same time as John's fellowship and there will be two weeks before Independence starts the fall semester. I assure you I will be in Greece the minute John's fellowship ends and we will spend two weeks touring the Greek Isles."
"Mr. Stephenson, you may have company in Greece. Chris told us the Hellenic Society in Jackson wanted him to apply for a scholarship to spend the summer in Greece--don't know how long, but it would be great if the two of you could get together for a day or so," Susan said.
"Sounds good," John said.
Things had just about settled down again when Chris arrived with Demetri and Dan. "Man, it is really snowing and the roads are getting very slick," Demetri said.
"I suspect I escaped just in time," Dan said. "I'm sure someone will not show up for the night shift. I have already pulled my three nights this week, and then worked today, so I'm glad I'm not around when people start calling in saying they can't make it."
Mom came into the library and said, "Kids--I mean the ones who live here--the tables are ready to be set."
"We can help," Rachel said.
"Sure," Mary Kathryn answered, "But we can't all get around so, guys, if you would get the tables set up, then we can start setting them."
Greywolf asked Matt and Luke to bring in more wood for the fireplaces and when they came back in Matt said, "It has almost stopped snowing, but there must be four inches on the ground."
In addition to the dining room table, folding tables were to be set up in the living room. The adults would be seated in the dining room and the kids at the folding tables. On such occasions, the three families combined china and so on. Mary Kathryn started the girls setting the dining room table while the guys set up the folding tables and chairs. We had just gotten the tables up and started unfolding chairs and getting them around tables when someone knocked on the front door. "I'll get it," Matt called, since he was near the door. As he opened the door he called out, "Add more plates. The Indians have come to Thanksgiving dinner!" and laughed. As he stepped aside, Taequo and Wounded Hawk walked in, both in traditional dress. Following Taequo was another very handsome Indian, also in traditional dress, who was probably a little younger than Taequo. He was hanging back, seemingly shy.
"Hey, come on in, Climbing Bear, don't be shy. Be shy around this bunch and you'll be left behind," Taequo laughed. "Folks, this is Climbing Bear--actually Sid Climbing Bear, but no-one should have to answer to Sid. Climbing Bear, these are the friends I told you about." Taequo introduced everyone--twenty-odd in all--then said, "Sir, don't think we have met". Demetri introduced himself. When all had been introduced, Taequo said to Climbing Bear, "Now, name them all," and laughed again. To Taequo's chagrin, Climbing Bear, with a mischievous smile, did just that--much to the delight of all of us.
"I see we got here just in time because I see empty plates and smell good food. Can't depend on Taequo these days. Always dreaming of Climbing Bear. Taequo was supposed to bring the buffalo but I guess he forgot. Hope you have enough without it," Wounded Hawk laughed.
"Sure we have enough for all except one," Greywolf laughed. "Guess Taequo will have to do without since he forgot the buffalo."
While the introductions and kidding were going on, Mary Kathryn and I found three more chairs and put them around a table in the dining room. All the food was placed on the kitchen table. Dinner was finally ready and Greywolf called everyone in to the dining room. "Since our first Thanksgiving here, the Family has maintained a tradition of asking each member to hold up one thing for which he or she is especially thankful. Let's observe a few minutes silence while each one reflects on the past year and chooses the one thing to hold up."
I always found this part of our Thanksgiving celebration exciting, because there were always surprises. Of course, most of the things people named were predictable. For example, Mom and Dad were especially thankful for each other and the new life they had together. But there were surprises as well. Matt said he was especially thankful for Taequo, "Otherwise, I would not have Luke," he said.
When he said that, Climbing Bear looked at Matt for several seconds, then a smile crossed his face as he said, "Ditto that for me".
Chris broke up everyone when he said, "I am especially thankful for cow shit which gave me my life".
Woody said he was especially thankful that old geezers could fall in love and Millie just said, "For an old geezer!".
Taequo said he was especially thankful for all the people who had entered his life in powerful ways, "All of you and others and, of course, Climbing Bear."
After everyone had named the one thing for which he or she was especially thankful, Greywolf said, "As head of this household, I would be honored, Wounded Hawk, if you would offer up all our thanksgivings." Wounded Hawk was silent for a few seconds, then started a chant, almost under his breath. Taequo joined him, then Greywolf, followed by Climbing Bear. I was surprised because it was a chant of thanksgiving Red Hawk had taught us, so Mary Kathryn, Luke, Matt and I all joined in. As the chant went on, I realized that we were drumming on the table and everyone joined in the drumming.
After dinner, everyone found a place in the living room--it was jammed! All the kids were sitting on the floor, as were Taequo, Climbing Bear and Wounded Hawk. Couples, as it seemed always, were sitting with one between the legs of the other. There was just general talk about what people had been doing since we were all together at Halloween, but nothing was being said about what everyone was dying to know, how Taequo and Climbing Bear had gotten together. I guess it really was none of our business, but it seemed everything was pretty much everyone's business. Finally Wounded Hawk laughed, "We sure are civilized, aren't we? We are all dying to know how an Indian as old and ugly as Taequo ended up with a soulmate as young and good-looking as Climbing Bear."
"Hey, Taequo is certainly not an ugly Indian and he's not that much older than I am--only seven years," Climbing Bear said. "But after what I have seen and heard here this afternoon and what Taequo has told me about this tribe, I'd like you to know my story."
ASP--The Concord Five--Climbing Bear
[This is a short version of Climbing Bear's story. A much longer and more complete version is a separate, stand-alone story, "Taequo and Climbing Bear". It will be posted to Nifty's Relationships section in the near future. Be on the lookout for it. Those who are on the mailing list will be notified of the posting.]
"I'm Apache. My Mom died in childbirth so I never knew her. My grandparents took me to raise after she died. My dad was in the military and I only got to see him when he was on leave. Every time he had to go back, he promised one day he would come home and stay. Then he was killed during the last year of the Vietnam War when I was twelve. My grandfather never got over his death and died two years later. I was fourteen then and was pretty wild but, after my grandfather died, I went completely wild. When I was sixteen, I came in from an all-night party, drunk, and found my grandmother dead in the kitchen of our shack. She had a heart attack. I knew if I had not caused it, I certainly was one of the causes. I loved my grandparents dearly and now they were gone. I had no family, no place to go. I drifted into Denver and hung out with some Indians there, doing odd jobs to earn money, most of which I spent on alcohol.
"I had known I was gay since I knew I was anything, but I was way, way back in the closet. One night a drinking buddy and I were drunk and we started playing around with each other. We were not very smart about it since we were in a park where, I learned later, gays hung out. The police caught us and we got tossed in jail. You can imagine what happened there.
"When I got out, I still had no place to go and no skills, so it was back to odd jobs and alcohol. One day I was working--grunt work, digging a ditch--when the banks of the ditch caved in on me. I was buried almost up to my neck for over an hour and when I was rescued, spent a couple weeks in the hospital. The day before I got out, a medicine man came in to see an Indian in the other bed in my room. When he finished, he came over to my bed and said, 'I think it's time you got rid of the bad spirits eating you'. I told him I wasn't interested in any Indian hocus-pocus bullshit. All he said was, 'I guess I was wrong. I guess it's not time,' and left.
"I got out of the hospital the next day and was back on the street. I had no money and I needed a drink. I went back to the park where I thought I could pick up some money--sorry ladies--by selling blow jobs. I never got that drink. I had just entered the park when a carload of rednecks drove by and one of them leaned out the window and shouted 'Hey, Chief, how about a blow job?'. The car stopped and the guy who had shouted said, 'Men, I think we need to teach this faggot Indian a lesson'. They raped me, then beat me up and left me in a drainage ditch at the edge of the park. I don't know how long I was there, but finally I dragged myself out of the ditch and half-way across the park before I passed out again.
"When I woke up, I was in bed somewhere, I didn't know where. I had been cleaned up and someone had taken care of my wounds. When I tried to get out of bed, I couldn't. Shortly after I came to, the medicine man I had seen in the hospital came in the room. 'I see you are awake,' he said. 'Seems to me you have a hard time staying out of trouble. I'm Wounded Hawk. Drink this.' He handed me a bowl of something hot and I drank it. It made me feel better right away.
"As soon as I was able, he took me up into the mountains and left me with another medicine man--his mentor, Black Horse. I lived with him for a year, learning about traditional ways, getting my head straight and my body strong. At the end of the year, Wounded Hawk came for me and said it was time I found my way in the world.
"He went with me to Winnemucca in Nevada, a smallish town, where he introduced me to an Indian family," Climbing Bear laughed, "with the good Indian name of Mr. and Mrs. John Taylor. I got a job working in a grocery store. I didn't make much, but the Taylors refused to take anything for my room and board. I started working on my GED which I earned in nine months. I had started driving a truck for the grocery store, and one day John asked if I'd like to become a trucker. I hadn't thought about it but, when I did, it seemed like a decent enough life. I went to truck drivers' school and when I finished, I started driving locally in Reno. After a few months, I started doing long hauls. It was a pretty lonely life, but I was making good money. For the first time I had money, decent clothes, anything I wanted. But it sure was lonely.
"Six months ago, Taequo's trucker friends--Al and Chris--introduced me to Taequo. We saw each other every time our paths crossed, which was fairly often. I had known Taequo for a couple months and found I was trying to get hauls which made sure our paths crossed. Taequo was so circumspect I never had a hint that he felt anything for me except friendship. I knew what I felt for him was a hell of a lot more than friendship, but I was afraid to say anything for fear..."
"It would ruin your friendship," Matt said. "The bane of all gay men, I think."
"Yea, how right you are," Climbing Bear said. "Anyway, Taequo had been in Cleveland with Wounded Hawk, attending a Halloween party with some group of rabble rousers," Climbing Bear smiled. "Our paths crossed in St. Louis and I picked up Wounded Hawk for the next leg of his trip as an official Indian. He told me about the party and started talking about Taequo and, before I knew it, I had poured out my love of Taequo and how frustrated I was that I couldn't tell him. Wounded Hawk didn't say anything one way or the other, so I dropped the subject.
"After he allowed a group of academics to salve some of their guilt, I picked up Wounded Hawk again and dropped him off in Denver where he was leading a conference on oral literature. He asked if it was possible for me to spend a few days in Denver after the conference. I made arrangements to do that and discovered Wounded Hawk had done the same with Taequo. We ended up spending a week in the mountains. We talked about a lot of things while camping, and Wounded Hawk seemed to find an awful lot to do by himself, leaving me and Taequo alone. It was hell for me. I wanted more than anything to tell Taequo how I felt, but feared he would run if I did.
"We had been camping for three days, I think, when--after we had eaten--we were sitting around the campfire. Suddenly, out of the blue, Wounded Hawk said--pardon me ladies--'Shit, am I going to have to do everything for you two knot-headed Indians? Taequo, keep your mouth shut while Climbing Bear tells you something.' I didn't know what to do or say. I just stared in the campfire and suddenly realized I was talking, telling Taequo I was in love with him. When I finished, Taequo said nothing. He just sat, poking the campfire with a stick. Wounded Hawk said, 'Taequo, knot-head, how dense can one Indian be?'
"I looked at Taequo and he was very much a Redman! He was blushing like a teenager!
"Finally Taequo started talking, telling me he was too old for me, he was too ugly and there were lots better-looking young men out there for me, all that kind of stuff. After five minutes I had had enough and said, 'Taequo, if you are not in love with me or don't want me, say so and cut the crap'. Taequo started with 'That's not what I mean,' and began telling me, again, why he was not good enough for me. To be honest, he pissed me off. I got up, walked over to where he was sitting, pulled him to his feet, smacked him lightly on the cheek, then gave him one big Indian kiss. When I came up for air, I asked, 'What was it you were saying?'. Taequo laughed and said, 'I can't seem to remember'. Well, we had two more days and nights on the mountain and then we came back to Denver. I flew to Reno, quit my job and became a team driver with Taequo. We are partners in more ways than one. And, I can tell you, this is one happy Indian."
"And I am another one," Taequo said.
ASP--The Concord Five--Chapter Nineteen--Michael
Shortly after Climbing Bear finished his story, Millie and Woody, Uncle Michael and John and Demetri left. Yong Jin told Mom to go on and get the twins in bed, "We'll take care of cleaning up," Linda said. "You all did the preparation, we'll clean up later."
"Jens and I will go on then," Gabrielle said.
After they had gone, we all sat in the living room, listening to the three Indians tell tales. Finally Wounded Hawk said, "Luke, Matt, Michael, Mary Kathryn, I'd like to have some time with you four Friday night and Saturday morning. Any problem?"
"Could be," I said. "St. Mary's teen club is officially opening Friday night and we just about have to be there since it's our baby."
"When does it close?"
"Friday night I wanted us to do a sweat in preparation for some training Saturday morning," Wounded Hawk said.
"I'd like to be involved in a sweat," Keith said.
"I definitely would," Chris said. "After my experience, I'd really like to be in one."
"What's a sweat?" Marc asked. Wounded Hawk described a sweat and told Marc its purpose.
"Sounds like something I need," Marc said.
"Seems to me the whole Fellowship--and partners--would like to be involved," I said.
"Fine," Wounded Hawk said. "We can do it after the teen club closes or before."
"I'm not really up on this sweat business," Jack said, "But from what I have heard, it seem like a good thing to do before the opening because we may need all the help we can get."
"Greywolf, you going to need this bunch of kids tomorrow?"
"Not if you need them," Greywolf answered.
"Taequo, Climbing Bear and I will sleep on the sacred ground tonight and get the fire started early. About 10:00, if you all will show up, we'll build the lodge. When does the club open?"
Mary Kathryn told him it ran from 8:00 until midnight.
"Sweat starting at 5:00 would be right," Wounded Hawk said. "Good idea having a sweat before the club opens." I don't think he knew just how true that would prove to be.
"We go now," Wounded Hawk said in his movie Indian voice. "Sleepum in snow. How? In sleeping bag," Wounded Hawk laughed and the three Indians said good night and left.
"Let's get things cleaned up and put away," Linda said. Half an hour later it was all done. Mom and Dad had gone to the library, and the living room became a passion pit.