Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
-- Robert Anton Wilson
Despina jerks awake, sweating. Arising, she walks into the cool night behind her hovel. She shivers. As she rounds the corner, jeep headlights pin her to the wall, an elongated shadow beheaded by the roof. She shivers again.
"Why ya traipsin' 'round in the cold in that skimpy thing at this hour of the morning? Ya sick, or somptin'?" Paul Peter slurs at her.
"I woke up."
"Nightmare?" Paul Peter asks hopefully.
"That's for sure!" She shivers again.
"Can ya remember it?" The slurring is gone.
He's interested. He'll worry it like a dog with a bone. Better here and now than around the campfire with a wider audience.
"'They' came for Cu again; the ones he used to work for. The man who killed his wife in cold blood." Her expressive fingers add the quotation marks around "they". Their grotesque shadow leaps around on the wall.
Paul Peter kills the spotlight effect, patting the seat beside him. "Sit."
She obeys bonelessly. "All us White Eyes were out there, around the campfire. You, Jacques, Bruno and Horst were on the up wind side, and my log and I were braving the smoke. We were, however, bug free, I do have to admit." She shivers again.
"Go on," Paul Peter encourages.
"Cu slipped in, like he does, draping himself languidly on the other end of my log, careful not to touch me."
"That hardly constitutes a nightmare. Maybe that's just being prudent."
"Shut up! I'm still scene setting. I've got to tell it my way. I'm in no rush to relive the ENDING!"
Reaching behind him, he drags his jacket out and tosses it into her lap. "I don't want it said I caused your death from cold."
Gratefully, she drapes it over her bare legs. "Strange rustlings and thumpings emanate from the desert, occasional metallic clanks, but we ignored them, thinking, I suppose, that some of the children were on the prowl, not in bed."
"But...?" he encourages.
"But instead, as Cu arose, a shot rang out. He spun around, half falling. I saw a gaping hole in his side, blood gushing, before he clamped his hand over it. Low to the ground, he disappeared into the desert."
"Geeze. What an imagination. I bet you have a good 'President Kennedy Conspiracy' theory, too."
"Did you know he was sent to prison after they shot his wife?"
"What? No, he came back here, and refused to enter the United States unless it was to help a tribesman, refused to speak English, and banned its use on the entire reservation."
Give me some credit here... I know a set of prison issue togs from family experience! Just because the family didn’t choose to share that experience with you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen...
"Oh, the vow the sheriff spoke of. I heard the tribe imposed the ban on HIM." She pauses, a confused look on her face. Maybe that tidbit was from another dream. I can't remember now, with the dream so fresh. "Different dream, maybe."
"Let's just hear 'em one at a time."
"One guy gets caught and the old women beat him with one of the kid's cudgels. Everyone else was out hunting for Cu. Instead, we found a second rifleman, and subdued him, too. Someone called the sheriff, who couldn't come out without a tribal leader's invitation. They all got silent until YOU convinced them that 'they' might get Cu and finish him off while we were looking for him.
"One of the kids burned a guy to death in his semi, which had the misfortune to be parked on Indian property when the whole tribe suddenly quit being friendly and went on the war path.
Paul Peter shivers. "Ugh. What a way to go."
"Want your coat back?"
"Nah, I'm not really cold. That was an emotional shiver."
Empathy. He's doing it again. In the dark, he gets almost human. He acts as if he cares about people and things. The cold-hearted 'SOB' facade slips.
“The kids and I couldn’t find Cu, but we kept running into more armed men, whom my sweet-natured elementary students beat mercilessly. I guess the men didn’t shoot because they were obviously elementary kids.
How considerate of them!
“When Cu’s mother spoke to me... well, actually...
"Sarita put her hand in mine and looking up trustingly, asked, 'Where's my daddy?'"
"I started to say, 'I don't know, honey,' but HIS MOTHER spoke, instead."
"Oh, no, not the lady in the deserted cave again." His shiver is eloquent.
"Yes. she told me where he lay by landmark, which, of course, I didn’t know.
"Cu's brother, sober for once, asked me to describe what I saw.
Not only did he recognize it, but soon, every person in the tribe was out there, all lying on the desert floor, touching someone else. It seems incredible, but the tribe gave Cu a blood transfusion that way.
"I was stunned. The shock awakened me from the dream."
For once, Paul Peter is speechless. Handing the jacket back to him, Despina climbs out and re-enters her hovel. It is a long time before she hears his steps going toward his hovel. A long time.
Last updated 3/5/10 Changed compounds to a complex - Arising, she walks; rounds the corner, jeep headlights; children were on the prowl, not in bed. He acts as if he cares; whom my sweet-natured elementary students beat mercilessly. 12/30/09 Changed Everyone was out to Everyone went out; where he was to where he lay; 12/17/09 Added Despina’s thought: Give me some credit here... I know a set of prison issue togs from family experience! Just because the family didn’t choose to share that experience with you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen... 12/15/09 -- Shortened and removed detail. 9/11/04.11/23/03 Changed "Stoond" to "stood". 9/10/04 (Added quote)
Word Count: 885