Sunday, January 03, 2010

Smoke Dreams (Part 74)

The Chieftain looks much as one would expect an old Indian to look. He wears pants that look like they are made of real deer skin and a handmade long sleeve shirt and decorative headband with intricate geometric patterns.

"You are the one who walks with beings from the stars."

For the first time in my life I am tempted to use my mind to read his thoughts before I answer him. This whole affair with Isis, Encyclopedia and the Agency has me skittish. I reprimand myself for even debating it.

"Yes. I walk with women from the stars. You are the Chieftain who has had an interesting dream to tell me. And you knew where I fuel up to send someone to contact me - did that too come to you in a dream?"

"Yes. You have been in my dreams now for over two weeks."

"That's rather strange, don't you think?"

"Yes. However, my people rely on me to communicate with the spirits via dreams. The spirits wanted me to contact you and tell you my dreams. Here, sit and make yourself comfortable. The dust storm outside sent you to me."

"It did?"

"Yes, the spirit of the wind knew you would never find my home without assistance. So it drove you here at just the right moment as you were passing my home without seeing it."

I sit down, Indian style, on a blanket and several pillows which have vivid and colorful native designs upon them. I spot a small stove further into the cave and its smoke pipe reaches up to the roof of the cave where a natural crack vents the smoke out.

I realize this man is very insightful. His gray hair is tied into a ponytail and the sun has weathered his face beyond his years. He speaks English in a way I have never quite heard. His accent, the way he pauses at certain words, all very unusual. He's probably in his early sixties but looks 20 years older due to the many wrinkles the sun and time have placed on his face.

"The wind was very punctual. I was just passing this cliff face and would never have seen this cave. I thought I was still another ten minutes walk away."

"The Spirits never fail us."

"Tell me about these dreams you have had."

"The dreams have come to me, as I mentioned for two weeks. I have had several different dreams, 5 dreams in all, so far. Normally, my dreams are for those in my tribe - my people. People I can help. This was a strange and special occurrence and I realized the spirits wanted me to contact you."

"That is very interesting."

The sense of being out of time and place is strong. As the winds whistle through the cave's crevice vent, with this man before me, it feels like a century or more earlier, when the Indians were the only ones who roamed these parts.

"In the first dream I was walking on another world. The skies were red as if flames filled them and giant plants soared to reach them. I saw you there and you were trying to talk to a man who was very angry. He was very tall - even taller than you by another few feet. He wasn't human. A woman with pink skin appeared beside you suddenly - as if by magic. I awoke and didn't know what the dream meant. I still don't, but I know I am supposed to tell you and you will know."

"Thanks, I do appreciate all the effort you went to bring me here. I will listen to all the dreams and perhaps then I will be able to give the dreams some meaning."

"Okay. The second dream I was with my people and we were celebrating a marriage. However, the couple who were to be married were not there - but you were there with two women from the stars. You were smiling - much as you are now - and you seemed to know me. You told my people that the couple had been delayed, but that they would return soon. I awoke and again I did not know the meaning."

"Fascinating. Where are your people anyway? Where is your village?"

"These cliffs all around here are home to my village. We are an ancient race of cliff dwellers. The white man does not know we still exist. Our homes are here in these caves. Our people do not travel outside our village much. About 130 years ago a man visited us, much as you are visiting us now, and he married one of our people. He learned to speak our language and we learned to speak English. Since then all our people speak with two tongues. This allows us to travel and barter for those things we need that we can't make for ourselves."

I realize their homes here would be completely unrecognizable under even the closest satellite scrutiny or even a flyover by helicopter or small plane. It seems impossible that a whole tribe could exist without anyone aware of it, but stranger things have happened and I know their village here is, for all intents, invisible.

"Tell me the 3rd dream."

"The 3rd dream showed me you and your 2 women from the stars. Two spirits were beside me. One was a yellow spirit and the other was a green spirit. The yellow spirit told me you and the women from the stars were great evil spirits and would destroy my people. The green spirit told me that you three were good spirits and would bring great blessings upon my people. I was forced to make a decision. I did not know which spirit to believe. Then I saw Nimsupa come up to me. She is my brother's son's daughter and only a few years old. She told me that the yellow spirit had tried to trip her and make her fall off the path and off the cliff. Then I knew that you three were good spirits and that the green spirit spoke truth and the yellow spirit was bad. I awoke."

"Amazing. And the 4th dream?"

"The 4th dream was the longest and most confusing. I was standing atop a cliff near her and looking at the spirit of the sun as it set in the west. As I watch the sun stops and reverses its course. The sun is rising back up into the sky. The spirit of the moon is angry because it will not come out from its home unless the spirit of the sun returns to its home. It was growing hotter and the animals were restless. The crops and the spirits of the plants were also very unhappy. The sun spirit fell and rose again and again, very quickly. I asked for some spirit to give me a sign and the pink woman from the stars appeared floating in the air - with no wings - and she told me that the moon spirit was old and was fighting with the sun spirit. She said the moon spirit would leave completely and the sun spirit would return faster into the sky each day. She told me to tell you and that you would speak with the sun spirit and ask him to befriend the moon spirit again. She took me to where you buy fuel for your motorcar and how far away it was and to get to it. I awoke and wrote down the names and instructions she gave me."

"And the last dream?"

"It was night time and I was looking up at the stars. Without warning, all the stars began moving around the sky, as though they were fireflies. It was all so wrong, but I did not know what to do to make them return to where they should be. I could shout and they wouldn't hear me. I turn around when I hear a voice. You were there with a woman who was called Isis. You told me to tell you about the dancing stars and that when I did, you would know what to do. You were very polite, just as you are now and you were wearing the same clothes. The woman Isis held a book under her arm. She believed the book knew how to appease the spirits. That dream was two nights ago and I sent one of the people from our village, who is protected by strong spirits and who visits the city once every few months for certain supplies, to give you the message."

"Thank you Chieftain. I will write down all those dreams and see if I can find the meaning."

"Here, have some hare and we will continue our talk with food in our bellies and while you await the wind spirit to decide when it is best for you to leave. I think the spirits want you to spend the night here with me and my people."

He opens his stove and I see he has been cooking a rabbit all this time. For the first time I notice two older women emerge from deeper in the cave along with a small girl. They were incredibly silent or the cave is much deeper than I realize.

I do not want to offend him by not accepting and my mind is busy trying to memorize the details of the Chieftain's dreams. The wind spirit seems intent on not giving me any choice. This dust storm keeps howling and I am amazed at the natural protection this cliff cave provides.

"This is my wife and her sister. This young girl is my daughter."

"Family, this is 'He who Walks on Two Worlds' and he is going to stay here with us until the spirits decide it is time for him to leave."

"Pleased to make acquaintance." The old Indian woman says with an old-world accent that sounds vaguely Texan. While she does the child stares at me unabashedly and I realize how unusual my clothes and appearance must seem. I smile at her and she smiles back with a marvelous smile.

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