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Note to Papa’s fans from the family:
Papa Izzie is no longer with us. He succumbed to a pulmonary embolism 12/13/2017 in Sydney NSW Australia. He left his body to the research project he was part of. He did this in hopes it could save others in the future. The rest of his body was cremated and returned to the U.S. where his urn and Daddy Aza’s urn were united per their wishes.
I promised Papa I would publish his last works. He had enough of the fourth chapter done that I could see where it was going. I hope you don’t mind me finishing it and merging it with the final chapter; I don’t think Papa Izzie would mind.
Papa liked to write about things he knew about, people he met, and experiences he had. He did a lot of research for things he didn’t know firsthand. He believed writing was a journey for the writer as well as the reader. He’d tell me, just start and let the story take you where it wants to go. He thought it was odd that he wrote the last chapter of this story first, now it makes sense.
He was working on several other stories. One was a generational sequel to the Jono series. It was also based very loosely about one of us “kids” and the struggles she faced. I handed those notebooks off to a young writer, one of my Lit 201 students. He actually squealed as he was reading the synopsis. I hope you may see them some day.
All of his “kids” want to thank you for making his last years so happy. He loved reading your stories as much as he liked writing for you. In the low times your fan mail kept him going.
* * * *
Standard disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any similarities with any persons living or dead are wholly coincidental…
* * * *
The knock on the squad car window pulled me from my remembrance.
I knew him as Patrolman Nusseibeh, and the only reason I knew that was because of his name tag. That’s when I learned the officer’s first name. His lieutenant leaned in and said, “So what you got here Ahmad? Is this the little prick that is wasting your time, and taking you away from your farewell party? What’s he done?”
“It’s not so bad lieutenant. We’re just doing the field interview right now. I told you all before I really didn’t want a farewell party in the first place. It’s been good working with everyone but, I just need to move on.”
“Ahmad, I know you’re going to miss this. This is a bullshit move. You’re going to miss the adrenaline rush. There are some guys who are destined to be road cops. Then there are some who can be park police, dealing primarily with drunk ass campers. I can’t imagine you settling for that job. Especially at some rinky-dink, tiny ass, federal park in the middle of some butt fuck, ass backwards section of South Dakota.”
“That would be North Dakota sir. It has been a hard three years since we lost Terry, and then Alex. Last year, I may have agreed with you sir, relocation was a bad option. Then we lost Yosef. I just don’t have another funeral in me. I need to get out of California sir. I just need a new start. I have to go off and heal.”
I acknowledged the irony of his healing journey just beginning, and mine is ending.
At some point I stopped listening to them drone on. I am still sitting in his police cruiser with my hands handcuffed behind my back. I sit here remembering my journey…
* * * *
I admit my dreams are getting far more disturbing. The shadow man who the hell is he? Why does he fill me with dread now? During the vision in the sweat-lodge I assumed he was simply the representation of the lone man. Why is it now frightening?
I woke up before Gail and Charlie. I needed to re-center myself. I knew the burning sage in the lodge might disturb my guests. So I grabbed a blanket, my medicine bundle, and went outside to watch the sunrise on the bank of the creek and pray for guidance. I lit the sage smudge stick and began wafting the smoke into my face with my eagle feathers. I knew if I did this openly here on the reservation people would understand and leave me be.
As quiet as I was, I was not quite quiet enough. I could feel Gail’s eyes on me through the door. When she opened the door I heard Charlie’s heavy footfalls guiding her away and closing the door. He knew there was something wrong, and I needed to get a handle on it. I packed up my kit and returned to the lodge. I received no guidance, but I was calm when I reentered the lodge.
I smiled broadly as I entered the threshold. “Morning Charlie, morning Gail. I hope you slept well.”
“You okay little guy? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you do THAT openly.”
I know he didn’t intend to insult my practices, but my eyes rolled on his enunciation on the word THAT. “Just a bad dream Charlie. I’ll get a handle on it. It had some disturbing imagery that I need to figure out.”
I offered to cook breakfast but Gail said, “We’re not into morning food. We just wanted to hit the road. If we leave early enough we can be at our house before sundown.”
When Gail emerged from her shower she antalya escort found me on my knees having my breakfast. One last serving of Charlie sausage. both were impressed I got it three quarters of the way down my throat when he busted his nut. When Charlie came out of his shower he found Gail returning the favor. Suddenly a stop in Denver didn’t sound so bad someday.
Twenty minutes later Ken showed up and guided them out to the highway and they were gone. By the time he and Rob returned to the lodge, I was showered and had the truck unhooked from the lodge and was ready to go.
Ken was impressed with the portable welding kit that granddad and I designed. I got the feeling that his son was a more literary type. It was clear, Rob knew the benefit of hard work, but had no desire to use his hands to make a living. I discovered his acting and modeling paid for his college. Still, he wanted to be a photojournalist.
Ken told me that the leaders of the tribe would meet us at the school tomorrow morning to take a look at the lodge. Rob said that he would be glad to do the photo-shoot at that time. The light would be best first thing in the morning. Then we can show the students what they could do.
Rob asked to ride shotgun with me. Then we followed his father to the local faded aluminum, fifties style diner for breakfast. I started looking around for the Dairy Queen, its absence confirmed I was in fact away from home. Of course Ken didn’t bother to tell me that we were going to have breakfast with a few of the local leaders. To prime the pump as it were. I chuckled, he was a smooth politician.
As we talked the men were clearly impressed. They promised to bring the entire council and a few businessmen out to tour the lodge in the morning. I then asked the gentleman to excuse us so that Rob and I could get to work on the gate, or it would be a two-day job. The men smiled and let us depart.
* * * *
I was happy to see the school had rerouted traffic to the back entrance. They left the front drive completely at our disposal.
“Rob, step one is always demolition and it normally takes a little longer. This was a good gate, how the fuck did this happen?” He told me someone cut the brake lines on a bus, and it rolled through the gate.
“Assholes! I’ve got some flat stock we can make some jigs to bend the frame straight. First we have to cut out the cross pieces. How are you with a cutting torch?” He laughed. “I guess you’re going to be doing the grunt work. You’ll find some heavy work gloves in the back of the pickup. You’ll find my flat stock in the cavity just under the upper bed. I’ll need those pieces set up on the driveway.”
It looked as if I got Rob all wrong. He had no trouble doing hard labor. I also learned he did not like his first name of Robert. “Only mom and dad call me that, everyone else calls me Tokala.” The day had gotten hot and he and I took off our shirts. I watched his muscles rippling under the strain. I confess; my mouth watered. Of course just because he was gay, didn’t mean he would be interested in me.
The day got hotter and both of our bodies started sheeting sweat. A few of the school girls were shouting out cat calls. It was clear to me they preferred Robert, who wouldn’t? Demolition and straightening of the gate frame took about an hour and a half. Welding the new cross members took another hour.
When the fine sheet of sweat turned into a steady stream, the ladies from the cafeteria brought us water. Thanks to some help from the football team, we had the gates remounted on their tracks in about five minutes, instead of the half hour I budgeted for. The guys from metal shop came out with grinders and wire wheels to polish up the metal.
I said the repair would be done in six hours; it was done in a little over four. The gate motor argued at first, but popped free in the end. I told the administrator that it should probably be replaced before the next school year.
The local paper came out and boasted the fact that the repair was a 100 percent “First Nation” effort. They used my Mandan name in quotes. I knew Uncle Nels would be a bit put out. The paper credited ‘Foxfire Fabrication’ and left off subsidiary of ‘Haugen Fabricating and Repair.’
Rob and I made it back to the lodge. When I got out of the truck I realized I was going to pay for the hard work and the compressed timeline. Rob came around seeing how I was struggling. He smiled said, “Hurting buddy?”
“Hell yeah! I got spoiled this last year. Out on the job site I had two assistants helping me out. Today I only had one, and he didn’t have a clue what he was doing.” I winked and smiled back letting him know I was just teasing. “Really, I appreciate all your help. I always have a habit of overestimating my ability. No matter what, I would have busted my ass to make sure it happened in one day. You made it a lot easier thank you.”
“Ooxa, why do you weld, you seem smart enough to handle college?”
“Tokala, master welders make butt loads of money. We have little alanya escort or no student debt. Yes, it’s hard work, but if you’re willing to put in the time, a man can earn a really good living. Although it does mean your muscles will ache some days. It is kind of nice seeing something tangible standing at the end of the day.”
Rob replied that he would be willing to help me with the sore muscles. “I’m told I give a good back rub.”
“I could probably use some burn cream as well. Lucky you, you get to hang out with the only native who burns when exposed to the sun.”
He laughed at how pink I was turning then said, “Nah, I got a pasty cousin just about as light as you. You busted your ass at the school. You have a lot of new friends now. Clearly the honeys liked you.”
“Come on buddy, we know those cheers were for you…” He cut me off.
“I’m not the exotic one around here. The chicks were digging you. Heck, a few of the football team were scoping your ass out as well. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you stay in L.A. I’ll introduce you to my agent. A little dye in that hair and some spray on tan, you could pass for a Hollywood Native American. We entered the lodge he looked down on the entry table. Seeing my medicine bundle and my smudge stick. “You smudge?”
“It helps me when I’m having trouble, it centers me. I’ve been having weird dreams from a vision and I’m looking for answers.”
“Ooxa, its good medicine, and a good place to start.”
I told him I was going to hit the shower before applying anything on my burn. He told me he was going to run home for some supplies and take a shower himself. Then he’d come back we would work on my sore muscles.
I must have taken longer in the shower than I thought. I was still wearing my towel around my waist when he returned. He combined very nice massage with the application of the burn ointment on my skin. I was damn near purring when he was done.
I found myself conflicted I wanted more, but he was clearly intent on leaving for the night. I guess I was wrong, the chemistry just wasn’t there, damn.
“I’ll see you in the morning, to help set up the lodge at the school. I’ll also have my stuff ready to go.” I used the time to clear out some closet space and some space in my chest of drawers for his clothing. Then I put on a sleep shirt and got ready for bed. Before I dropped off, I shot a link of the local story to Uncle Nels. Three minutes later he was ringing me on Skype.
“Holy crap! You got some sun boy.”
“Sorry Uncle Nels, I forgot my sunscreen. I take it you got the link?” He nodded “Sorry about, the corporate name being cut off. I gave them the full title.”
“Pal that’s okay. I understand this is just local politics. They faxed everything with both corporations’ names on it so I can still use the tax write-off. The other guys actually wanted to charge ten grand to repair one stupid gate.”
“Yep. Most of that repair money would have gone to per diem as they stretched the job out. They were padding the bill and out to screw over the tribe. Some people just suck.”
“Speaking of some people sucking. Looks like your pops in a bit of hot water. The IRS is auditing…” I held my hand up and stopped him.
“Nels don’t take this the wrong way. That man is dead to me. I am grateful for him giving me life, but it’s over between he and I.”
He had a sad smile, but continued, “Play up that “First Nation” angle during the interviews tomorrow. Make sure to add the Haugen construction stands behind our brothers. While you do have the stronger bloodline, I still share it. Be sure to pay tribute to the Mandan people for building your ethics and encouraging your skills development.”
My eyes rolled as I thought, ‘Oh God I hate politics.’ He continued, “You look tired pal. Get some sleep you’ve earned it. With the tax write-off and the good press, we had a very good first day of business together.” I waved goodbye and the screen went blank.
* * * *
The next morning we hooked the lodge up to the truck again packed it up for the road and took it out to the school. The local media was all over it. The school made sure to hype it to the council that the majority of the construction was done by high school students. Tokala took his time photographing every square inch of the lodge before, during, and after photos of its set up. The custodial staff even loaned him a scissor lift so he could take pictures of the solar farm on the roof.
The school administrator took me on a tour of the facilities and showed me a picture of my grandmother teaching class. The local paper took a picture of me looking at grandmother’s photo.
Ken grabbed his son’s luggage and loaded them in the lodge. Then father and son hugged each other and we were on the road.
The second stop was paid for by less glamorous work. I had to reinforce the iron works for the local holding cells. Though it was just as necessary, it was less rewarding, when I reflected on its future probable belek escort occupants. I had two nights of depression in bed as well Tokala decided to take the futon out in the living room.
As we crossed Nevada I discovered the Tokala was a nonstop talker. “Pop says I’m too quick to jump into the next guy’s bed. I’m trying to slow down a bit. You’re actually the first guy I wanted to get to know in quite a while. For young kid you’re pretty cool.”
“Young kid! how old are you?” He quickly replied that he was twenty-one. “Oooh three whole years older.”
We were too early for the festival. Mostly because I didn’t want to stay the full four days on the last reservation. Even T wanted to get moving. There was something oppressive about working on those cells.
I found an RV park close by that could handle the lodge. The owner had no problem with me dumping the tanks, and taking on water. I made sure to tank slowly so it didn’t cause a drain on the other campers. I picked the town because it had one of the few gay night clubs in the region.
After getting the lodge all set up and opened, I offered to take Tokala out for dinner. I was desperate to push the issue. I told him of the club. “You have absolutely zero chance of getting in Ooxa!” I offered a friendly wager whoever loses bottoms. He leaned back leering at my ass, “I’ll take some of that action.”
I kind of wanted to lose this bet. This was the first time he made any comment voicing interest in me sexually. We set up the ramp and got the black and white Indian out of the back of the truck. I was grateful granddad had the double seat on it. It may have looked weird having a Lakota hunk leaning against a white guy’s back as they went down the road, but it felt real nice.
We walked up to the front of the club and the bouncer eyed me up and down. I saw the “no students, 19 and up” sign. I presented my fake ID. I also passed him my business card and a fifty. I smiled and whispered in his ear, “Surely you have an alcohol-free stamp or wristband. I’m the designated driver, the only reason I’m here is my cousin desperately needs to get fucked tonight.” T shook the bouncer’s hand.
“I know what it feels like to be the designated driver.” The bouncer threw a white alcohol-free wrist band on me, and a black-light designated driver stamp on my hand. He waved us in, “You guys have fun tonight. We have a kick’in band. Oh Magnus, your non-alcoholic drinks are free as the designated driver.” He pulled me in for a whisper, “It’s a good-looking fake. The over 19 rule is just keep the high school kids out.” I almost laughed; he didn’t even bother to card check Tokala.
We made it all the way up to the bar. Tokala wrapped his arms around me saying, “This is a bet that I’m so happy to lose.” He kissed behind my right ear.
He ordered a beer and the bartender put up a white frozen beverage in front of me. He smiled and said, “Don’t worry, it’s virgin.”
I replied, “Something in here should be.” He winked at me and pointed down to my stamp and wristband which were both glowing bright red under the bar lights.
More than a few buff guys, and a couple of trolls, ran their hands across our asses. It didn’t matter I only wanted to spend time with one guy, and I was grateful he was sending off the same vibe. Our focus on each other didn’t stop the other guys from sending us food and drinks. I admit that I liked all the attention, what I liked even more was the fact it appeared T only had eyes for me.
I learned a lesson; bar food can be filling, especially if someone else is buying. Tokala and I hit the floor on more than one occasion, that boy could move. When the crowd of guys grinding on us got a little too intense we’d leave the floor. Where in the fuck was all this attention in high school? I started wondering if being a prick tease was a viable profession?
When Tokala and I headed back to the lodge, it was early in the morning. I hit the kill switch and pulled the keys out of the bike. We were pulling clothes off each other as we migrated back to the shower. We ground against each other as we scrubbed each other’s flesh.
We climbed into the bed and I snuggled hard against his chest. He dropped his hand down resting it on my ass and we both fell into a deep sleep. I saw my mother again, she appeared disappointed. Her form dissolved into that of the shadow man. He warned me, “Ooxa, your journey lies in front of you, not behind. I am waiting for you my beloved. The end of your journey is our beginning.”
Just before sunrise I awoke rock hard. Tokala was straddling my hips, he too was afflicted with a morning woody. He leaned forward kissing me. Then he said, “Ooxa, you are a very sound sleeper. I don’t welch on bets.” With that he caressed my pecs then softly pinched my nipples. “You have such a nice body.”
“I’m not the actor, model, and journalist. I am just the welder grunt, a builder.” I started playing with the crevices in his abs.
“Buddy, it’s been a long time since I’ve had someone hot grinding on me on the dance floor. You move good, those cute guys at the bar were making the move on you just as much as they were moving on me. I think my agent would like to meet you as a client. I could definitely do a modeling portfolio for you. In fact I’d kind of like to help you out.”
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