Saturday, October 2, 2010

Children are Expedient: Nothing more

Having watched the young dancers at the powwows for several years, I was impressed. I imagined Andrew as a fancy dancer. Wanting him to have a chance to learn, I called the Indian Center and was told about a child's drum and dance group meeting every week at the health center. Roland wasn't interested, so I took Andrew by myself.

The room was lined with parents sitting on folding chairs against the wall and their children sitting on their laps or standing near. I found a place to sit and held Andrew in front of me. I was surprised at the discomfort I felt. Having been with Roland for 6 years, I no longer felt conspicuous around Indians. But there was something here that wasn’t right. I looked around for a familiar face, but my eyes met only hostile stares. I understood immediately I was not wanted. What I couldn't understand though was with all of the talk about the benefits of tribal culture, why would these people chase away a white person who was trying to make sure their child stayed connected to the tribal culture? We never returned to the class.

Candis was visiting Arnold's sister on the northeast side, and Annie asked if I would drive Savannah and her up there. Driving over a bridge on Aspen Street, I slid on black ice and rammed into the rear end of a nice little car. Unfortunately, I wasn't carrying insurance.

The owner and I both got out to look at the damage. His rear fender suffered only a small, inch long crack. I was relieved. No important damage occurred. However, he seemed to think it was important and asked for my name, address and phone number. In a panic, I lied and gave him false information.

At Arnold's sister's later that afternoon, we told them about the incident. After that, I put it out of mind.

A few days later Arnold paid me to taxi Candis and him home to his “Rez”, which neighbored Salmon Lake. Candis was about ten at the time. Dorothy’s son, Troy, was visiting for a few days and rode with us. It was a cold night. The snow fell softly and silently. It was late and we all were tired. We hadn't originally intended to stop anywhere, but we had gotten a late start, and the weather had slowed us down. I couldn't drive anymore, and was glad Arnold had suggested we stop at his sister’s house.

The house we stopped at, with shoulder high snowdrifts in the driveway, was an unexpected, beautiful, ranch style home. The owner, Arnold's other sister and her husband, were obviously employed. We weren't sure if anyone was at home at first, but their 15-year-old daughter finally answered the door. After she assured Arnold it was no problem for us to stay, she led me past the kitchen and down to the end of the hall where there was a room I could use to sleep with Andrew. It was a teenage girl's room. The twin bed had a fluffy, pink comforter and the furnishings and toiletries on the dresser were that of a bubbly adolescent. I guessed it was her room. I am not sure where she and Candis were to sleep that night. Arnold and Troy slept on the living room couches.

I don't know how long I had been asleep when I heard noises in the hall. I could hear a man laughing and talking in slurred, drunken fashion, and I could hear Candis laughing and answering, "No, no, leave me alone. Don't do that!" I heard a loud thump, and suddenly the door to my room flew open. In the darkness, the man pushed Candis onto my bed, onto my legs, and began fumbling with the zipper of her pants.

In horror, I sat straight up and screamed at the top of my lungs; "Get the H--- out of here!"

The man jerked up, turned to look at me, and then dashed from the room. To my surprise, Candis started after him. Quickly, I jumped out of bed and grabbed her by the arm, "No! Not you!" I slammed the door shut and pulled Candis back to the bed, putting her in-between myself and Andrew, (who had never awakened). I wasn't going to let anyone touch her if I could help it. But I could hear the man moving around in the kitchen, getting himself something to eat. The kitchen was in between the living room and us. How will I get to Arnold and Troy for help? Who was that man? What if he comes back with a gun, mad, or scared I’ll call the cops?

Candis fell asleep after a short time, but I sat in the room with the lights on for the rest of the night, too afraid to close my eyes. After a time, I could hear the man snoring, but I was still too scared to attempt to get past him. In my mind's eye, I pictured him sitting in a chair, sleeping with his head bent and his chin on his chest. What could I do? I was too afraid to leave the room.

Candis and Andrew slept peacefully beside me.

1 comment:

Cattle and Cupcakes said...

Wait! What did she say? Who WAS that man!?