Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.14
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.14

           John Cerutti
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  “Sure,” I reply to Heather.

  I walk into the dimly lighted home, barely able to see. It feels damp, but that is due to the dirt floor covered with wooden planks that creak and squeak as we walk.

  Heather ushers us over to the kitchen table with a single light bulb hanging just above. Near by is a big sink with a hand pump for water. We pass a wood stove that seems to be in the middle of the main room with the stovepipe above it. The wood stove provides badly needed heat and light.

  As my eyes adjust, more of her home comes into focus. Oversized woven rugs separate the one-room home into three sections. Her two daughters each have one area and Heather has the rest.

  It looks like a museum inside. In the front room there is a frightful mask all painted in red and black. It looks creepy. Nearby is a beautiful headdress made of lots of eagle feathers, with a colorful yellow and red beaded headband. On one wall is a robe with intricate hand-sown bead designs of animals and hieroglyphic symbols. I can make out the symbol for the sun, and the other symbols might be water and fire.

  The darkened ceiling is open and made of thick timbers with planks resting on them. Two more electric wires hang down with light bulbs on the ends that seem to sway ever so slightly.

  Neewa runs around the house following her nose into the corners and along the walls, then positions herself at Heather’s side. As Heather moves around the house, Neewa follows her like a shadow. If Heather sits down, Neewa rests nearby on a rug and seems to be looking all about the house, particularly Linda’s room. Linda is Heather’s oldest daughter who is away at college.

  Heather speaks, “On the table are packages of herbs for each of you. They are from my garden, take them now and put them in your pocket.”

  “Thank you,” Jackie and I say in unison.

  “The herbs will protect you from evil,” Heather adds.

  I look at Dad and Jackie and they look back at me, and then at each other. None of us know what to say to that.

  Heather is quite old, maybe eighty or eighty-five. She is about five feet tall, stout, and steady on her feet. She has a round face with light brown wrinkled skin. Her long silver hair is held tight in a bun by a handmade beaded bun cover. She is wearing a gray wraparound housecoat covered by a long woolen beige sweater. On top of that, she wears a handmade bandolier bag of the finest quality.

  I have no idea what her last name is, so for now I will call her Heather. What do you call a Medicine Woman anyway? “Hey Doc?” No, of course not.

  “Heather,” at last I say, “where is Diane?”

  “Go into her room, Christina, she is doing her homework. Perhaps you can check it for her?”

  “Okay,” I say as Jackie and I walk toward the single light in her room. Pushing aside the vertical rug that separates her room from the rest of the house, we enter.

  Heather starts talking to Dad about the history of her people. My guess is they will talk about some of the events that have happened here over the years.

  “Presently,” I hear her say in the background, “everyone on the reserve has a new house except me. My new house is coming, they say it will be here soon, but other families need one more than me. They have young children, so I let them get their homes first, before me. I only have Diane now. My oldest daughter, Linda, is always away at school and Chester has his own home for a long time.”


  Jackie, Diane, and I emerge from her room.

  “Let me show you my garden,” Heather motions with her hand.

  All of us step out the back door of the house as the wind begins to blow sand around. As we walk around, the gusts begin to get stronger and stronger. The wind is whipping around as we make our way to the back steps.

  It reminds me of the storms we had down the shore. The winds were hurling the sand sideways and the ocean waves crashed against the breakers.

  Chapter 24 - The Storm

  “It’s howling,” I remark.

  “Whew, Whew, Whew,” the wind whistles.

  Heather and Dad join us outside to see what is going on? The force of the wind continues to grow. It sounds like a train rolling down the tracks.

  As I stand at the back of the house, a distant cloud of dust and sand is coming straight at me from the desert. A wall as tall and wide as the eye can see. Sand and tumbleweeds zip by us at lightning speed. Suddenly, fierce blowing currents of air and sand hit me square in the face pushing me back. I cover my face and turn away. I‘m almost knocked to the ground. The giant dust cloud is so thick I can hardly see. The storm is raging now, sending sand flying sideways as the wind screeches in an unnatural way.

  Neewa lies down and gets into a tight ball with her tail covering her face. She seems to know exactly what to do. It’s as if she’s already been in a storm like this before.

  Diane, Jackie, and I kneel down next to Neewa. I cover us with my jacket and we huddle close to the house for protection.

  Sand bounces off of my jacket making pinging sounds, and strikes everything around us. My exposed skin is getting a peppering, actually stinging me.

  I peek out from under my jacket, looking in the direction of Heather and Dad. They are covered by one of Heather’s handwoven ceremonial blankets.

  The wind-driven earth engulfs them as Heather steps out from under cover of the blanket. She puts her arms straight out as if to embrace the squall. Eyes closed, she looks up into the sky and smiles.

  What is Heather doing? Why is she looking into the sand storm? If I didn’t know better, I’d think she is communicating with some power beyond the ordinary, a spiritual, supernatural force.

  I look away and take cover under my jacket with Diane and Jackie while Neewa remains at our feet. Neewa is still curled up in a ball as sand continues to pile up on her back and around her head, everywhere. I have never experienced this before. We don’t have storms like this back home.

  Thankfully the howling winds are beginning to subside. The blowing sand is settling as the eerie screeching sounds dissipate. As quickly as it came, the storm exits in silence continuing on its path across the desert.

  I take my jacket off of our heads as sand falls to the ground in sheets like the syrup on the side of a stack of pancakes. I look at Neewa, now covered in a layer of sand from head to tail. She gets up and shakes it off. The sand cascades to the ground around her like a waterfall.

  As the storm departs, the bright sunlight returns from west to east. The back of the sandstorm continues east leaving us behind. I look out over the desert, nothing but western blue sky dressing the heavens. Silhouettes of distant mountains frame the desert, while wispy white clouds loiter above.

  Newly created waves of rippling sand cover the desert like furrowed water above the shallow sand at the ocean’s edge. The sand dunes sparkle like diamonds reflecting tiny rays of light. I stare into its depths, as if gazing into the bottom of the deep blue sea.

  We walk out onto the desert, its surface more like fresh fallen snow. The sun begins to set into an orange and yellow blanket on the horizon. Before getting very far, we are ankle deep in fine granules deposited by the storm. My sneakers fill and become weights on my feet. The rolling dunes summon me forward. I’m being pulled out into the desert, not forcefully, but compelled to continue nonetheless.

  “Come on, Neewa, let’s go,” I command.

  I spot something as we gallop over the sand. It is out of place, an object lying on top of the undisturbed desert skin. It’s about the size of my fist, rounded, perhaps three inches wide. A cylinder-shaped piece of whatever it is? Lying next to a half-buried stick. I reach down and pick them both up, concealing the one, and waving the stick around like a wand.

  I throw the stick for Neewa, who runs down the dune laboring in its depths, kicking sand into the air.

  Sneaking a peek at the heavy hidden object, I see parallel markings on the light beige rock. Its texture is like the bark of a tree. And it looks a lot like a section of a small log, cut straight on either end. The shape of a jellyroll, ab
out five inches long. The sunlight reflects off the shiny dark core resembling black quartz.

  I know what this is; I’ve seen it before. It’s petrified wood!

  It must have been lying just under the sand, exposed by the powerful dust storm winds. I’m not supposed to remove it, and it’s against the law to keep it, especially if it was on an Indian Reserve.

  But I won’t consider that for one moment. I stick it back in my jacket pocket, like a hungry crook would steal a package of bologna at a grocery store.

  Neewa returns and we have a tug-of-war with the stick she has returned. She eventually gives in, wanting to play fetch more than tug-of-war. I throw the stick further this time and she runs to fetch it.

  Chapter 25 - Devil Spirits

  Heather is grinning as she points her finger out into the desert, “Look, I see the devil out there.”

  Anxiously, I turn and look. The soft and soothing blue skies surround the silhouette of a gray funnel-shaped cloud. It’s fifty feet high and twenty feet wide, twisting and moving across the horizon.

  Fearful, “What is it?”

  “It’s a spirit being. You call them dust devils, but Indians know better.”

  Turning to Heather I say, “It looks like a mini-tornado.

  “I’ve never seen a dust devil. We don’t have them back East.”

  Heather speaks, as she looks deep into my eyes, “Spirit beings are the supernatural energy of the dead. There are good ones and bad ones just like people.”

  I feel her stare go through me and exit the back of my head.

  “Heather, how does the dust devil become a spirit being?”

  Heather replies, “Legend has it that the dust devil passes over the dead body of an Indian. Then it lifts its spirit from the Earth into it. The spirit inhabits the dust devil. Now the spirit being can travel the Earth and look for a living creature’s body to possess. After having done so, it shifts its shape from the supernatural to the natural and is reborn, reincarnated. In its new body it must complete the mission. Which is to return home to its place in the sacred burial ground of our people. That is its goal, to be with its own kind in the Spirit World.”

  Heather continues, “We call our sacred burial ground the Spirit World. It’s a place hidden from everyone but us. And where Indian spirit beings can be ‘At Rest.’ That is where all the spirits go when their human bodies die.

  “Ghosts can materialize, move objects, and scare people. But they cannot take a body or soul, or return from the supernatural world to the natural world like spirit beings.”

  Whistling sounds come from the dust devil. Its shriek gets louder and louder as it moves closer to us. The shrill sound is like an old factory lunch whistle piercing the air at noon.

  The dust devil advances across the desert, kicking up clouds of dust, brush, and lots of sand.

  “The dust devil is coming,” I screech.

  The Medicine Woman shouts a warning, “It is an Evil Devil Spirit, a shape-shifting demon. It will destroy your body and your soul if it takes you.”

  Jackie and I look at each other in disbelief.

  Heather continues, “Evil spirit beings are devils spirits wanting to reincarnate in the mortal body of a human or animal. They are not my people trying to return home to us to be at rest in our sacred burial grounds. Evil spirit beings are the bad ones who destroy the soul they possess and cause the body to die.”

  I almost fall over the steps and onto my head. My body stiffens as an array of goose bumps rise on my skin like chicken pox. The fuzzy hairs on the back of my neck stand up like soldiers at attention.

  Jackie and Dad look at me, speechless.

  Chapter 26 - Spirit World

  Heather speaks, “This evil devil spirit is moving like a tornado, a violently rotating column of air with the power of the wind, earth, and moon.” Heather is determined, “That one is a strong one and it must be stopped. I will vanquish this evil devil spirit back to the supernatural, back to its eternal pain. My battle with evil will be to the death.”

  Heather reaches into her bandolier bag and throws a handful of yellow powder into the air. It blows right past us giving us a light coating.

  She explains, “The powder will protect us from this devil, but we must seek sacred ground.”

  Everything is happening so fast. Now I’m in shock and I don’t know what to say. Jackie hugs Dad and Dad embraces us as we stand shoulder to shoulder.

  “Look!” The Medicine Woman exclaims. “That evil devil spirit is seeking a body and soul to possess, don’t let it be yours.”

  I’m gasping for air, “It sounds like a screaming banshee and it’s headed right for us.”

  “Hurry up, come into my home, it is sacred ground and the evil one cannot take you here. Quickly, quickly,” Heather implores.

  We duck inside her house and go by the light of the wood stove. Heather throws blue powder into the fire. It contacts the flames and blue smoke rises up the flue. The stovepipe glows for a moment as the smoke ascends up the chimney.

  She yells, “Go demon, leave us evil devil spirit.”

  Huddling together around the wood stove. Only our faces illuminated, the rest of our bodies surrounded by darkness.

  Heather looks at each of us. “Families of those who have been taken by an evil devil spirit will not even notice a change. They will not see any physical difference in their loved one. No one will guess his or her body and soul have been taken.

  “Evil devil spirits are amongst us, you know who they are. You have met them, someone who has become evil, a problem to the rest of us.

  “Everyone who knows one will say, ’It’s not like him, he was so nice, but now he is different.’

  “A friend of one who has been taken might confide, ‘I don’t know what has happened to her, she’s gone bad. I don’t know her anymore.’”

  No one moves or speaks for what seems like minutes, but is only seconds.

  Heather speaks, “It is safe now, the evil one is gone.”

  Silence hangs over us for a few more seconds, none of us know what to do or say.

  Finally Dad says, “Okay it’s getting late guys, let’s go home. Thank you Heather, for everything. Good to see you, Diane. Ready Christina? Jackie? Neewa?”

  “Yeah, Dad, ready,” I reply.

  Neewa wags her tail and runs to my side.

  “Me too, Dad, I’m ready,” Jackie adds as we file out.

  Safely in our car now, questions flood my head faster than terabytes on high-speed broadband. Did that really happen? What was Heather really fighting? What is an evil devil spirit?

  But not one of us actually has anything to say. We just stare at the road and drive the half-mile to our home.

  I ask, “Dad are you thinking what I’m thinking? Heather said that her house is sacred ground. And Diane told me at school that their burial ground is underneath her house and that spirits visit her.”

  “Yes, Christina, what about it?” Dad doubts my testimony.

  “We’ve found the Indian burial grounds, that’s what! Now all we have to do is figure out how to get our equipment into that house without being discovered.”

  Dad cautions, “I don’t want to disrespect Heather, not to mention the entire Indian Nation. Trespassing is against the law, and Whites going on an Indian Reserve is dangerous. You remember what happened to those diaboos (non-Indians) who went fishing out at Duck Valley? They were found hanging from a tree, gutted, and their dogs too.”

  “Dad, I have to film that sacred burial ground and capture a spirit. There has to be a way to get our equipment in there without getting caught? But how can we? I can’t think of a way without being seen.”

  “Who says that evil devil spirit is still there?” Jackie questions. “And besides I’m not going back there, that place scared the heck out of me.”

  “But seriously, Dad, there’s something going on here. What about those Orbs at Doctor Cuthberson’s ranch? And how about all his artifacts? And remember Chester put th
at charm on Neewa and said it will protect her from evil? Chester had a strange look in his eyes when he said that. I stared back at him. Then he said laughing, ’The evil dogcatcher, that’s who.’

  “He wanted to tell me something, but he couldn’t. Something about Neewa, but it’s the Indian way, he can’t possibly tell.

  “And what about Heather giving us each a bag of herbs to protect us from evil? And now this dust devil possessed by an evil devil spirit chasing us. She vanquished it with colored powders thrown in the air and into a wood stove. A Medicine Woman! Something is going on and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.

  “And did you forget what that little girl at the Tribal History meeting said? She asked, ’Do you know Neewa has a spirit?’ And what about when Neewa flew up on the kitchen counter to eat the pumpkin pies? Neewa can fly.”

  Dad replies, “You have a vivid imagination Christina, we have no real proof Neewa flew onto the counter to get those pumpkin pies.”

  I pause for a moment to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.

  Giggling nervously, “I have an idea, we can put a backpack full of equipment on Neewa and mount a camera on her. I’ll send her into Heather’s sacred burial grounds to hunt those spirits. Neewa can film and take readings with the meters in the backpack. I can show the film on my own TV show. I’ll call it ‘Doggie Ghost Cam.’”

  Laughing, “Wait, wait, I got a better name for my TV show. I’ll call it, ‘Flying Doggie Ghost Cam.’ Neewa can fly in and out of haunted houses, sacred burial grounds, boot hills, and such.”

  “Ha ha, good Christina, that’s one of your better jokes,” Jackie smirks.

  We arrive home from Heather’s. My head is full of devil spirits, charms, stories of evil, doggie ghost cam shows, and terror, all thrown together.

  On my way to bed, “Neewa, you are sleeping next to me tonight.”

  I jump onto my bed and pat the comforter a couple of times, “Come on girl, jump, jump up.”

  Dad will have to spend some money on heat. It’s really getting cold at night. But Neewa will keep me warm. She stretches out her long body and legs next to me as she lies on her side, keeping me warm.

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