He was very tired many years ago. Life had thrown a few twists his way and he decided to move away for awhile just to gather his second wind, although it was more like the 5th wind he thought to himself. The trickster Clowns were lifting him with their arms and carrying him across the land in continuous spirals.
All the stories about natives being alcoholic or drug users were not what he was part of. In fact he had a very good life at one time. The Navy was his calling. Seemed odd that a native who grew up on the prairies wanted to be sailing on the worlds oceans.
He told his Kunshi (grandmother) when he was little, “I wonder what it would be like to be a sailor and travel to different countries?”
“If I do that I would say hello to every new person I saw and listen to their language and visit their elders and bring back presents for you Kunsh,” he would say excitedly.
Kunshi just looked at him and said, “I am teaching how to cook, wash clothes, sew and braid your own hair because no woman will be able to do this for you after I am gone. You’re too crazy…” she would laugh.
He fell in love with her when they were little. She didn’t know that but he would smile at her all the time and she would just carry on with her life not aware that he felt that way. He was too shy…
He did eventually join the navy but it was different than what he thought. Instead of meeting friendly people he learned the hostility of men who lost respect for themselves and for the people they met. No it was different…. No one was like the human beings that Isaugh (grandfather) told him about.
“You will meet the human beings when you travel,” Isaugh said.
“They will not be easy to see but you will meet a few of them. Some will smile at you but expect something in return. Those ones are working on being human beings… They are close. The real human beings will know you. and watch over you.”
“How will I know them, Isaugh?”
He came home after he served his time. A little more unsure of life. After all, it was his ship that would fire missiles into the night pointed towards some unknown target in the Persian Gulf. He knew that he probably killed many people. maybe even some human beings. He became very quiet when he got back.
Kunshi and Isaugh had long since passed away and many other old people that he knew growing up were gone as well in the 4 years he spent away. Still he tried to remember the things his Grandparents taught him. treat everyone good. They need you.
He married a woman from another reserve and used the skills he learned in the navy to find work. He even managed to start a small business that made ends meet. It was not a very good marriage. She demanded much. He would wander away for hours and then days without saying a word to anyone. She endured briefly, but soon had enough, and left to be with another man who said he would take care of her. He never drank during those times. He just always wondered if he killed any human beings and would he see them all over. Would he kill them again?
” Hey, Brother, can you spare some change and some cigarettes?”
That voice brought him back to reality outside Carnagie Hall in downtown Vancouver. It was off Hastings that he met this man.
“Yeah I have a twoonie if that helps,” he replied.
“Sure it helps. Enough for a steeped tea from Tim Horton’s.”
“Damn, I been living here too long,” the voice said to him. “I miss my grandkids. They are all grown up now and they probably have their own families, too.”
“Why are you here?” he asked.
“Same reason as you. Looking for human beings.”
This startled him when he didn’t even know who this voice was. How could this man know what he was thinking? He had never told anyone and just kept it to himself.
“Truth is,… they are everywhere. See that woman over there? she is a human being as well. It’s just her disguise makes her look like a prostitute”…. “That other guy standing in the shadows is a human being too”. “No they have not left you at all. They are there to to remind you that no matter what you think of them they know what it is to have lost everything and still make it through the day and hope that it gets better.” “See they are smiling at you.”
He looked at them both and sure enough they were looking at him directly. Their eyes were kind and he felt that he knew them from a long time ago. It was a short time but it seemed like eternity. They went back to what they were doing. they had to make ends meet.
He wondered about her and they went for coffee to warm up.
The Trickster clowns were there that day.
(Dec. 1, 2013)
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