East Coast Native - Short Stories
Murielle Borst - Kuna / Rappanhanock - Coyotes in Brooklyn
Terry Gomez - Comanche - GAGE
Coyotes in Brooklyn - Murielle Borst - Kuna / Rappanhanock
“Is that so?” Lionel Rosa said with a slight annoyance to his best friend and Cousin Susan. He sipped his double shot Vente soy latte at the Starbucks, which was part of the Barnes and Noble on Court Street in Brooklyn.
“Yes, it is Lionel. The reason you have problems with Indian women is because you have a classic case of Freudian mother issues. And it is the same issues most Indian men have and it is not exclusive to only the men in our family.”
Lionel hated when she used her first semester Harvard psycho babble on him, and wishing by the second he didn’t get into this particular conversation in the first place. But she was editing his first non fiction book “Capitalism and the Native American Male” so a little harassment went with it, he guessed.
“Well, it’s either you have these particular issues Lionel or you are a latent homosexual. The reason you are still unmarried. I mean, if you are than I should be the first to know. I after all am a liberal when it comes to those things.”
“Susan just because you have one gay friend and have three white friends that does not qualify you as a liberal. And if any of those white friends of yours ever wanted to marry into our family, your liberal ideals would go right through the window.”
“Are saying I’m a racist?”
“No, I think you are a border line fascist.”
“If I was to call myself anything I would call myself a Native preservationist. I just think that Native men need to marry Native women to have Native children. If you haven’t noticed there isn’t a whole lot of us left. We need to have blood stay in our family before it runs too thin.”
“Good thing, Susan, you weren’t in Germany before World War II. I can see you now goose stepping away in the parade saying ‘Come on Lionel their not so bad it’s for racial purity.’”
She clicked her tongue at him.
“It’s not the same thing and you know it. I am very aware that you come from a mix marriage. Indian men weren’t exactly in great shape back when your mother was dating. It also explains the issues the women have in our family regarding Indian men. And that also explains your self hatred.”
“What are talking about? I have no self hatred.”
She gave him that look that always indicated he was in denial of his issues.
“Look Lionel, I’m just saying to make an effort to find someone in your life. If you keep this up. You are going to die alone and miserable.”
“Oh thank- you Susan that cheered me right up. And if you haven’t noticed I live in New York City. The pickens are slim around here for Indian women. ”
“Than go to Indian Country and freakin find one! It’s not so hard Lionel. Do you think I got my husband in a box and ordered him?”
“Don’t act like you went off into the mountains to get an Indian man. You grew up together went off to Harvard together, that’s not exactly finding him, that’s more like waiting him out and chasing all of the other female competition away.”
She gave him a dirty look with that one. He hoped this subject was going to be over soon. But he couldn’t help making another point to her because she like all of the other women in his family always had to be right. And he just wanted to be right today.
“I am half white Susan.”
“You’re half Italian. It’s not like you’re a wasp or anything.”
He shook his head.
“I’m just saying Susan; we all have our issues when it comes to class and being Indian. You do admit that we come from an upper middle class background and that is why our family and the others who live here in our community have such neurosis.”
“Of course I do Lionel. I am very aware that our families along with the friends of our families who also grew up here have issues with over achievement. Our families who came here during the migration in the 1900’s wanted success. And instilled that into every generation that with hard work anything was accomplished and nothing would ever be given to you.
And our family from Rappahannock, Virginia made sure that accomplishment was achieved. And accomplishment and achievement was everything to them and us. Failure is not an option when it comes to careers and success. I am very aware of it Lionel.”
“Yes and the brass ring was out there waiting to be grabbed. And all of us were taught to grab the brass ring with both hands.”
“And take no prisoners.” She said with a laugh.
“Why all of us including our Indian friends in the city live in the fashionable areas and pay top dollar for it. We feel we beat the system this way. To be an Indian and live the lifestyle that we do is a great accomplishment to us. That we do the things that someone who belongs to the world of the upwardly mobile should do. We summer in the Hamptons, work out at Crush, buy our furniture at the Pottery Barn, casual wear at J.Crew and drink our coffee at Starbucks.” She said and he gave her a smile, knowing that this was basis of his book.
“I take it that you liked the book then Susan?” Trying to get back on the subject for their meeting.
“Yes, I really enjoyed the fourth chapter in particular. Spiritualism and the upper mobile Native male. I thought those issues quite interesting. And how ruthless behavior has nothing to do with European influence in our communities nor is competition. You really hit it when you write about all civilizations had that. And all Indigenous civilizations are the same with warfare and trade. And I really liked when you compared us to the Greeks.”
She picked up the manuscript and pointed out where she made her notes in red pen. She looked at her watch and he knew that their four hour meeting was over. She gave him a quick kiss and left. Knowing he would he would talk to her later in the week about the notes she made. Hoping he wasn’t going to have another discussion about his love life again. She wasn’t a therapist and if he was going to have one he sure the hell wouldn’t hire her! But she felt it her duty to psycho analyze him every chance she got. Always reminding him those artists, such as herself, knew more about the human condition; more than most, and that was what made her a great artist. Conceit and arrogance was also a family trait.
He looked out of the window that over looked Court Street and the Pizza parlor that was now adjusted their menus to wheat Pizza. He thought it so strange how different the old neighborhood was these days since the gentrification. The only store that was from the old guard was the Bodega still owned by the Ortiz family that he went to elementary school with.
Lionel gave a long sigh to himself when he thought about what his cousin said. Did he have Freudian issues with his mother? Of course he did! Who wouldn’t? His father never said anything more than he had to. And now only watched television and never spoke. She wore him down to a morsel. Was he a gay man and didn’t know it? In a way he wished he was, so then he could have an answer to not being married by now or not having an interest in any women these days. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a date.
He looked over the manuscript and he did what all narcotic overachievers do when things get tough. He dove head first back into his work so he didn’t have to think about his life.
As Lionel typed on his computer, he felt someone or something staring at him. He looked up and saw a young woman at the entrance watching him with big black feral eyes. He saw right away that she was Indian. What most don’t understand about New York City Indians, that is when one sees anything that resembles an Indian it takes your notice. And you look for the signs. You looked for the jewelry. Lionel looked and saw the long beaded earrings.
She had highlighted pink strips though her very short black hair. She was very tall and a little chubby in the face. Than he looked at her ass. Flat ass! Another sign she was Indian. She had no makeup on, only a light gloss on her brown lips. Her neck was very long and the first thing that came to Lionel’s mind was what it would feel like to nibble on it. She was wearing white daisy dukes shorts and a tee shirt and he noticed that she wasn’t wearing bra. Her legs were lean, dark and flawless.
The entire place stopped as she came in. She gave him a big white smile. Lionel wasn’t sure what it was that he was feeling when she smiled but it gave him a great sense of lust that he never felt before. She headed right to were he was sitting.
She sat down in front of him as if she knew him.
“ What are you having?” She said in a flighty high voice that made his temples beat.
He swallowed to answer her question but he felt quite speechless. A thing he never experienced with a woman. He knew he was nice looking and most women went out of their way to talk to him.
She laughed so high and loud it made everyone stare.
“ Let me guess. I’m very good at this. Your are a double shot Vente soy latte person. Am I right?”
His throat went dry so he just nodded.
She snapped her fingers in the air and looked at the people at the counter.
“ Excuse me.” She said across the room in a big bossy mouth. Yes, defiantly an Indian woman. He started to lose interest because the last thing he needed was another bossy Indian woman in his life.
“ You have to go up to the counter and order.”
“ Oh, that’s right.” She leaned into him from across the table and he peeked at her full round breasts. She saw that he was looking. She grinned and her tiny pearl like teeth spread across her plump supple lips.
“ You would think for almost six dollars that they could serve you.” She said with a dimpled smile.
Than as if she was Cyd Charesse in “Singing in the Rain.” She crossed her legs in the air and twirled up. She swished her hips and her flat ass from side to side.
Lionel saw that not only men looked at her with desire but so did other women. Even little children who were there with their mothers stopped and looked. She passed a baby that was sleeping and it got up right away and giggled. She gave it wink and the baby went back to sleep.
She took her drink and sat back down with him at his table. Her little tongue came out and lapped the ends of the hot foam. Her long eyelashes peered over the cup like she was something that hid in the bushes.
“How did you know my name?”
“Because it is written on the front of your computer.” She said with a roll of her eyes.
He laughed then she touched his hands. They seemed to sting him like they were full of an electric energy. She smiled the most seductive smile that he ever saw on any woman.
He didn’t remember what happened next because it happened so fast. One moment they where at Star Bucks and next thing he knew they were back at his house rolling around in his in bed. They made love all day and all night. When he would fall asleep. She would wake him up and they would start all over again. And he swore that he heard a coyote howl.
“ What is your name?” He finally whispered in her ear.
“ Connie Gail.”
“ I think I love you Connie Gail.”
“ I know” Then he swore that he heard that howl again.
That next Sunday he took her to the local pow-wow to meet his friends and family. She met his mom and his mom’s henchmen, her best friends. She cackled with them for awhile and that raised Lionel’s interest even more. Because his mother and her friends could scare anyone with not a strong sense of humor or a strong stomach. She also managed to take in the local weirdos in stride. A local New York City pow-wow had its Indians but always had its fair share of wannebes and hobbyists at every event with their chicken feathers, Tandy leather, and all claimed to have a great Cherokee Grandmother. His cousins practically panted when they saw her, Susan, the self proclaimed therapist was happy that he brought around an Indian Women. Telling him privately, she was glad he was working out his issues.
Connie moved in with him a week after. She told him almost nothing about her past. He didn’t even know if she worked. Just everyday after he came home she was there waiting for him in the bedroom. She told him some things about herself. Like she didn’t know what kind of Indian she was but she was raised in Greece most of life. He figured she was adopted out so he didn’t really question it.
But other than that she was a still mystery to him. He also noticed even odder things about her. Sometimes when he was with her she would just say something to somebody on the street, a big fight would break out, and she would laugh like it amused her a great deal.
And she spoke all different languages like old Latin. She did all of her writing in an old form that he never saw before. Then one time she spilled hot water on her foot and she screamed so loud that all the dogs barked in the neighborhood. He swore that he heard her howl like a coyote but Lionel knew he had to be hearing things.
One time they were having dinner with a married couple that he worked with. She brought up the fact very casually that at one time the man had an affair a very long time ago. Lionel wondered how she knew that? A huge fight broke out between the couple. He thought that the couple were going to kill each other. He looked at her to see if she felt bad that she started the fight. Again she had this lovely little amused smile on her face with her hands under her chin like they were paws. Then she said something to the couple with a wave of her hand and the fight stopped. The couple madly kissed each other like they were going to have sex right in front of them and they left in a matter of minutes.
She was amazing to Lionel and he loved her more than anyone that he ever was with. Then after a year of them living together. He asked her to marry him. She wasn’t shocked but quite pleased. But still very skittish when she said yes. It started to thunder, rain and hail outside. And Lionel swore that he heard a coyote howl. The next morning he woke and there was nothing but a note by the bed which read. “ I’ll be right back.” Lionel’s heart sank. When a skittish Indian woman said she was going to be right back. It usually meant she was gone.
Connie Gail looked at the fake habitat of the Gus the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo. He swam around in his watery surroundings and she touched the glass with her hand. He gave her a wave with his paw.
“Hello cousin. Have you seen my mother?”
He nudged with his head behind her and she turned. A little long animal jumped out from the dark with a long snout, little white teeth and bushy brown tail. It was Coyote. It growled. Connie gave her mother a dirty look.
“ Please stop that.”
The animal grew and long brown legs came from the fur. From the animals face came a beautiful dark skinned woman with a small little mouth and little white teeth. The fur turned into a mink coat and a mink pill box hat. From the paws came high-heeled shoes and long painted red nails. Coyote stood in front of her daughter and kissed her.
“ So tell me Coyote Girl. How was your stay? Are you ready to go back.”
“ Well Mamma that’s a little complicated.”
“ Complicated? How can it be complicated? Your time on earth is over. You have to go back. I gave you a day. You know a day to us is a year here.”
“ I know what I promised but I fell in love.”
Coyote jumped back in horror and she howled. She howled so high that Gus the polar bear put his paws to his head and swan away in distress.
Connie put her hand over her mother’s mouth.
“ Mamma stop being so dramatic.”
Coyote stopped howling. She instead put her arms in the air and flagged them around.
“ My only daughter with a human! How can you do this to me? Why don’t you just kill me now?”
Coyote picked up a stick and gave it to Connie.
“ Just take this and stab it into my heart. The pain of death will be nothing compared to the pain of this. Where did I go wrong? Where did I fail? A white man no less. Do you have any idea what those ones are like? They are brutal beings. You might not know this but I knew Christopher Columbus. What a dumb man he was. No sense of humor. He comes and asks me if he was in India. I of course say yes because I thought he would go away. Of course he believed me. How was I supposed to know that the name would stick? I still haven’t lived that one down. Every time there is the Association of Tribal Tricksters meeting, they always bring that up, just like it happened yesterday. Like none of them ever made a mistake.” Coyote kept on talking and going on and on.
“ Mamma? Mama!”
“ Can we get back to the point here? Besides he’s not a white man.”
“ He’s not white? What is he Chinese? Now they had manners, every time they came here for a visit they went back home. They didn’t stay and built things like those whites did. Some of us went over to China to help out but we knew too much so they kicked us out. Telling everyone we came from China, what a nerve. See what happens when you let them come for a friendly visit. It’s hard being the first ones. No one wants to give you credit for anything. Anyway what is this man of yours. He is a man isn’t he? I hope he isn’t a dog. I hate dogs. Their ass kissers. Man’s best friend! Besides you couldn’t marry a dog because we are cousins, that couldn’t be done.”
Coyote kept on talking and going on and on.
“ What! Why are you yelling? There is no need to yell. See what happens when you are with those foreign human types.”
“ Listen to me and don’t interrupt. He’s not white. He’s an Indian.”
“ An Indian? How did you find an Indian in Brooklyn?”
“ You know as much as I do that there are Indians in Brooklyn.”
“ That’s right Mohawks. They don’t like Coyotes very much.”
“ No remember that nice Rappahannock family?”
“ Oh yes. Old relatives of ours from way back.”
“ Their not related to that family.’
“ Good. I didn’t want to go to the Association and then bring out the paper work. Who is married to who, where did it start, when did it start, how close we are related, summon their oldest dead relative. It would have been big old mess.”
Coyote kept on talking and going on and on.
“ Listen to me! He is half Indian and half Italian.”
“ Are they in the Mafia?”
“ Of course not!”
“ I saw the Godfather. I also watch the Sopranos but their from Jersey. Did you like the last episode? I didn’t get it, I mean what does Journey have to do with anything? I would have killed Tony at the end of the season.” Coyote went on and on.
“Please stay on the subject here.”
Coyote looked over at her daughter and saw her sad little face. She kissed it and hugged her.
“ Okay it’s not as bad as I thought. Well go and talk it over with your Aunt and Uncle Fox.”
“ Where are they?”
“ You know your Auntie Fox. She’s shopping at the Newport Mall in Jersey City. She just loves Malls. She loves the sales. New Jersey has no tax on clothes. Ever since Alexanders went out of business, she’s never been the same.”
“I thought she liked Macys?”
“ Newport Mall has a Macys now.”
Coyote snapped her fingers in the air twice and they were at the food court of the Mall. Coyote sniffed in the air trying to find her sister. She caught the scent and looked over the table by Burger King.
“All I have to do, to find your Aunt is follow the trail of Coco Chanel. She can never get enough of the stuff.”
They walked over to the table were Fox was at in her human form. Sister Fox also had very long legs that spilled across the floor. She had very big breasts and was wearing a tight white sweater, tight black spandex pants, red Gucci riding boots, dark Christian Dior sunglasses and a red fur coat, which of course was fox because after all she was a fox. Her brown hair was up in a high hair do that had a long stripe of red in the front.
Several men were in front of her and she was batting her beautiful eyes at them. Each one was holding a bag from all the stores that she just shopped in. Next to her was Brother Fox.
He was extremely big and broad shouldered. Not muscular but round but not fat. Just solid in flesh all over. His very dark long hair he tied back that ran all the way down to his hip. Deep black liquid eyes, bushy eyebrows and a small perfect nose with a clef chin and a dimpled smile that was set around his round face. He was more than just a little handsome but had nothing but air of sensuality around him. He wore dress jeans, Armani shoes, a flaming red collared shirt, bolo tie, pierced ears in studded turquoise and a leather jacket. He carried a hand drum just in case he wanted to compose a song for a pretty lady. In his back pocket he had a drum stick if he decided to go to pow-wow, to not only sit at a drum and sing which he loved to do. But also get himself a snag for the summer. The females always liked singers and if he really got desperate he would suit up in his dance wears. The ladies always liked a good Fancy Dancer.
He was looking at all of the young woman who passed by as he sipped his Pepsi. Every once in a while he would take his tail that he hid and touch a woman’s bottom. If they liked it (which most of them did) they would give him their phone number. But he wasn’t having too much luck today. The reason he didn’t like to try to snag these Non Native types. They didn’t understand what a night with Brother Fox was like.
Brother Fox saw Coyote and his niece. He waved to them. He showed his big white teeth to the men who were with Sister Fox. He gave them a growl and they left.
“What’d you do that for?” Asked Sister Fox who was annoyed that her brother scared off her admirers.
“ Coyote and Coyote Girl are here.”
They all sat down with each other.
“ So Coyote Girl my little beauty. How was your visit?” Sister Fox asked and pinched Coyote Girl’s cheeks.
“ We have a problem.” Said Coyote.
“ What kind of problem?” Asked Brother Fox who got out his pack of Newport cigarettes and lit one.
“ She’s in love.” Coyote said.
“In love?” Asked Sister Fox.
“In love?” Asked Brother Fox.
“In love!” Howled Coyote.
"With who?” Asked Sister Fox.
" A human.” Answered Coyote Girl.
“ A human? Asked Sister Fox.
“ A human?” Asked Brother Fox.
“ A human !!” Howled Coyote who was getting irritated by this conversation.
“ But there is more that I forgot to tell you Mamma.”
“ More?” They all said to each other and to Coyote Girl.
“ He asked me to marry him and I said yes.”
Coyote suddenly got very hysterical and flapped her hands in the air as if she lost her eyesight.
“ I see black! I see black! I am going to faint!” She slumped on Brother Fox as Sister Fox waved a napkin over Coyote’s face to revive her.
“ Mamma stop it!”
Coyote opened her eyes and took a drink of Aunt Fox’s tall plastic cup. She spit it out.
“ Yuck! What is that?”
Sister Fox batted her big eyes at her sister.
“ Diet Coke. And that is what you get for taking things without asking.”
Sister Fox patted Coyote Girl’s hand with a big smile.
“ Well I think it’s romantic. It reminds me of “ I dream Of Jeannie” You know when she married Major Nelson. Will it be a June wedding? I just love weddings. Are we gonna make it big like Luke and Laura’s wedding on General Hospital? I think we should do everything in pink and pink. I usually don’t do this but we should go to Bloomingdales and get your dress there. And I will be your wedding planner. Oh I just can’t wait! ” Sister Fox squealed in delight and took a pad from out of her purse.
“ Now write everything down that you want. And I’ll buy it. Actually it is the human tradition that the father pay for all of this.”
Sister Fox suddenly got a little scared.
“ Oh your father. I almost forgot about him.” She said with a big gulp.
“ Yes Foxy ! Her father.” Said Coyote in a huff.
“ He is going to raise hell when he hears this. Not to mention the Trickster Association will have a field day with this when they hear. I’ll never be elected on the board. This is the end of my career!” Coyote fell back with her hand on her forehead.
Sister Fox shot her sister a dirty look.
“Now, now big sis, that’s not the reason they won’t vote you on the board. Big Boss gave you one job five hundred years ago and that was to scare the white people and what did you do? You played with them! You have no one else to blame but yourself.”
“ Shut up Foxy! You’re on the board and everyone seems to forgive you that you ran off with cousin Bear’s husband. You started a war and you would have never come back if it wasn’t for me! Hiding out in his cave and when his wife came you ran away!”
“ That’s an entirely different story besides I didn’t know he was married. And when she came after me. I thought I was going to simply die. ” Sister Fox said with a shudder.
“What do you mean that you didn’t know he was married? He lived with his wife!” Coyote screamed.
Sister Fox clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes.
“That’s just like you big sis to bring up things that doesn’t have to do with anybody anymore. Besides that was an eon not just five hundred years. Big Boss can still remember those dark times. Big Boss still hasn’t been able to fix it. I might have caused a small war but you almost caused Genocide.”
“ What ! Oh Foxy you just went too far this time!” Coyote rolled up her fists into tight balls in Sister Fox’s face.
“Take that back.” Said Coyote with a hiss.
“I will do no such thing.” Sister Fox snapped.
Sister Fox and Coyote began to growl at each. They barked and screeched. People started to look. They lunged at each other. And held each other’s throats in big choking holds.
Brother Fox separated them.
“You’re scaring the straights.” He made a nudge with his head at the humans watching them. Coyote padded her sister’s head.
“She’s a diabetic. Too much sugar.” Coyote said with a charming smile to the crowd that stared.
Brother Fox stamped out his cigarette and took control of the situation.
“All she has to do is get permission from her father. Than the association will not hold it against you C. We’ll just go and ask him.”
Sister Fox shuddered.
"I am not going to see her father. He scares me.” Sister Fox said as she shuddered.
“ Well you don’t have to go. We’ll get his daughter to help. She always been the one who could talk to him and his wife.” Brother Fox said in a matter of fact tone.
“ I guess your right brother. But if that wife of his says one snotty thing to me. I am going to sock her one.” Coyote said.
“Now C. You know that his wife has been more than understanding with all of this. She did take Coyote Girl and help you raise her as her own when you were so busy as a representative with the trickster association.” Said Brother Fox.
“ She is not her mother!” Howled Coyote.
“ Oh Mamma. She is like my second mother. She’s very nice once you get to know her.”
Coyote’s face got red and tears fell from her face.
“ How could you call that – that female, your second mother? How could you do this to me?”
Coyote reached over the table and picked up a plastic knife and put it to her heart.
“ I will put this in my heart and will be nothing compared to the pain of you calling her your second mother!”
Sister Fox struggled the plastic knife from her sister’s hand.
“You did know he was married when you bed him that time. I don’t even know why you did such a thing? You don’t even like men.” Sister Fox said.
“Well he was quite good looking than. You know who he looked like? He looked just like George Clooney.”
The Foxes looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“ Well enough of all this. We have to go to his daughter.” Said Brother Fox with a glimmer in his eye.
“ You just like to look at her boobs.” Teased Sister Fox.
“ Your right. And they are a tasty looking pair of knobs I might add. Now let’s go.”
He stood up and waved his hands and everyone froze in the Food Court. He snapped his fingers and the tricksters disappeared.
To be continued…..
GAGE - Terry Gomez - Comanche
Riding the shuttle from my parking space, I keep quiet. I never answer questions. It’s true. You do have to watch out for the quiet ones. We see everything. And the thing about me is that I hate asking questions. I just watch and accept the way things are, until there is something I want to change.
I take a look at the person next to me. Either side. Maybe in back of me. If you look really closely there’s something odd about them. Perhaps that woman next to me is so pale that you can see a blue vein throbbing in her temple. I knew a girl like that once. I would sit at a desk across from her and watch it thrash in and out, wondering if it would feel like a lizard if I could touch it. Other times, I imagined unraveling it, pulling it out and putting my eye to the tip to see if any viruses were found. And the man on the other side of me, yes. He shapes his ear wax. He rolls it into little balls and smashes them flat in his loneliest moments. He sculpts them into tiny bolts of lightening and rain clouds and lines them up on his dresser. That’s the kind of thing I see in my mind's eye on this shuttle. In the office, Gage sits beside me in meetings and I watch him. He’s an odd looking man, must be German on one side of the family or other. He is an Indian hobbyist he tells me. He wants to marry into an Indian family so his descendants will be Native. Lately, he’s taken to poking me with his finger to emphasize his point when he’s speaking. He’s always asking me questions. Asian? Myan? Aztec? Do I fire dance, war dance, dance with wolves? Does that skin color rub off? What do I call my skin color, cinnamon or bronze? By income, what percentage of Native Americans trip on peyote in the middle of a full moon in a tipi dressed in a buffalo robe with porcupine quills piercing their… muk luk?”
He laughs at this last one. His two front teeth remind me of a horse. I think about the way Frank laughs. I am able to keep a straight face until Gage stops and moves on to his next set of questions. Maybe he wouldn’t be so Clydesdale like and even a little handsome if he was quiet. I look at him again and he opens his mouth wide for another round of the examination. I decide that there is nothing handsome about him. I couldn’t believe he asked me that. Where do people get their ideas about Indians, I wonder. What did this crazy man mean by piercing a muk luk? I feel my body becoming rigid. I raised one eyebrow and turned my head, cleared my throat and closed my notebook. My supervisor stopped his speech and told me he wasn’t finished. I opened a page and drew spirals until I could get out of the room to breath.
Across the way, Gage takes out his lunch. He was a true culture vulture as far as I could tell. He had his Plains gourd dance CD going on full blast. All his food was in shapes. His cookies were shortbread flowers with yellow centers, his crackers were little fish, chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, crackers like koalas. Well, you get the picture. Gage sees my glance and the inquisition begins. “How much do you weigh? Have you lost weight? Why is your hair that color? Do Indians get money from the casino? Have you thought about botox? Are you full blood? Do you gamble? Do Indian men smell different than white men?”Again, as I rode the shuttle that evening clutching my Styrofoam cup of flat diet soda, I try not to think of Frank. Anything but Frank, I ruminated. I force myself to think of peppered cheese. Annoyed, I thought back to earlier in the day, when Gage asked those questions, his eyes the color of black tar heroin. He tells me how his mother would sing Annishinabe tribal songs dressed in a shawl, red hair flowing on street corners. His pale face looked like the puppet that used to come on one of the kid’s TV shows. I visualized his eager tooth sticking out of his pink lips. His chapped lips so innocent and flaccid. I decided then that this man would have to be stopped. But how? A plan began to form in my mind.
Later, I lay on my bed like a great speckled cat counting her whiskers. Thinking of all my options. I realize as I get older, that my thoughts are becoming more violent. I think of killing Gage not just punching him or telling him off. I think of pushing him into a large vat of green chili, and knowing him, he would be asking questions about it until the end. What kind of chili is this? What Indians eat this type of food? What kind of bread should he dip? Oven, fry bread or piki…and so forth until his breath is nothing but bubbles under the soup. That would be good, but I could never really bring myself to do it. Plus, there has been a serious green chili shortage as of the last few years.
I pick up the daily grocery sales ads and the first thing I see is “Shop at Frank’s Super mart”. God. I hadn’t thought of Frank for several hours. Now here he is, splashed up into my face like a dose of acid. Even if he isn’t the Frank of the previously mentioned super mart. Damn it anyway. Frank is my best friend’s husband. She and I were both in love with him at the same time but neither one of us never spoke about it. Frank is not the kind of guy you go around blasting your feelings about to every one you see. He’s very cool. It’s not like either one of us women are the kind to do that anyway. She and I usually spoke about work, clothes, bad relationships, and traveling. Neither one of us said a word about Frank. I didn’t know it. Had no idea. He did not seem her type.
I thought I was getting somewhere with him, in a slow methodical manner. She made the move and she got him. It’s been three years since they’ve made the big leap and I still can’t quit thinking about him. All she does is complain about him and how he never shuts up. I never could get more than a couple of words out of the guy. They have a kid for every year they’re together. Apparently the beginning of number four is somewhere, “a bun in the oven”, like an undercooked gingerbread man. She calls me and sings a song about how the baby’s eyes are going to be like space dust. Another reason I feel so violent.
I never told either one of them about this. I’m sure I wouldn’t see either one of them again if I did. She might not take so kindly to me having sexual fantasies about her husband. It’s like a huge farce every time I see them and she starts griping about him. I smile and say things like, “well, well…” The bad thing is that I love her,too…like you do with a best friend. She’s beautiful and glamorous and…okay… kind… and has a voice like a kitten. All things that I am not. On my best voice days, I’m like a cicada with a thick tongue.
I can totally see why Frank fell for her. So, I just smile on whenever I’m around their beautiful sunshine family.
The phone rings and it is Gage. How in the heck did he get my phone number? He says that I took his notebook by mistake and he needs it back, A.S.A. P. He also asks what I’m doing, what I ate for dinner, where I keep my keys (what?) on a hook or in the door? I squint my eyes suspiciously at this one. Is he planning to rob me? I think about my plan to kill him. I want to disclose this to him so he’ll hang up and never call me back. I think that maybe if I invite him over, I could find something sharp and …He’s asking me now if I know anything about Teflon skillets. Do they cause cancer or not? Can I meet him at the corner coffee shop in an hour?
I hear myself saying “yes”. God. What is wrong with me? Can someone shoot me now? Why did I say yes? Why did I answer to phone? I panic. I am becoming like Gage! I’m asking all these questions. I rush to the mirror to make sure my tooth isn’t sticking out like his does when he’s revved up to hear my answers. Relieved by my deadpan grin, I put my shoes and sweater on, get his notebook, grab the keys and head to the coffee shop. I note that my keys are neatly on a hook by the kitchen cabinets.
When I get to the shop, Gage has ordered me a blackberry pastry and a cappuccino. When I see him at the table, I feel my spine shrivel and I quickly sit down. He points to the amount I owe him on the receipt. He has his mouth full of a cookie shaped like a Roswell alien and I try to smile. He gestures to the food with a hand while reaching for the notebook with the other one.
I take a bite of the pastry. A mixture of tart and sweet makes me feel at ease. I take a sip of the coffee. Gage reaches over and actually wipes my lip with a napkin. I flinch and feel my eyes blink rapidly.
“Guess what?” he asks me. “I just received a full traditional dance bustle. It’s made from one hundred percent eagle feathers. I bought it through a collector I met on E-Bay!”
My eyes twitch like a maniac. I fight the urge to throw my coffee on his pool shaped eyes. As I get up to leave, the hot liquid “accidentally” drenches his notebook. The ink melts off the pages. The cold wind blasts my face as I open the door, I hear him shrieking, “My work! Why? Why me? What did I do?” I bolt down the street with out an answer.