Neewa the wonder dog and.., p.21
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       Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters, p.21

          John Cerutti / Thrillers & Crime
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“Should I put them back now, the antlers? I can put them back. I know where I found them,” I propose.

“No, you must keep them. He gave them to you to teach you two lessons. One is not to be tricked by a bear. And two, make alliances with the Stork. That is what you must learn from the gift of the Spirit Deer.”

Chester spoke with a puzzled look on his face, “Maybe you will be a powerful Chief some day and wear these antlers at a Pow Wow in the Deer Dance.”

I slump down into a sitting position next to the car with one antler in my hands. “Chester, my head is spinning with spirits and legends. I saw the Deer Dance at the Pow Wow, a Chief turned into the Spirit Deer.”

Nothing more is said, we all get in the van and head back to our campsite. It is a quiet ride.

Arriving at our campsite, we pack up our tents and cooking stuff, and drive away headed home.

I’m still anxious about keeping the antlers. Maybe they belong where I found them, on that ridge overlooking the marshes and the valley. I should never have taken them. They belong in the forest. They are not mine.

Oh my God, I’m going to torture myself about this for the entire ride home.

When I get home I’m going to give those antlers a thorough going-over in the lab. They must have some kind of supernatural power. After all, that was a Spirit Deer.

I still can’t believe we came all the way out here with no meters or cameras. I should’ve at least brought an EMF meter or something, even the thermal infrared camera. Though I never would have gotten a picture of that deer, he was too fast. I saw him for not even a second. If I even saw him at all.

It’s late when we arrive back in town. We drop off Chester and Marlene first and then go straight home.

As we pull into the driveway I call out, “Shower.” That’s a signal not to mess with me as there is only one shower and I’m getting it first before Jackie uses up all the hot water.

With hot water pouring all over me, I begin to feel human again. There are no showers at Ruby Lake and the bathrooms are primitive, which means they are outhouses, pretty awful.

This time Jackie has to wait until I’m done, then she can take her bath. She loves her bath.







Chapter 39 - Going Back East

Oh crap, morning is here already. I sit on the side of my bed getting dressed. Then run out the door to catch my school bus.

Whew, I barely made it. Today is the last day of school for the year, thank God. Sitting in my usual seat, I look around at my schoolmates, all of whom are still strangers.

My stop is the last one before we get to school. Today I’ll walk through all my classes, give back all my books, and clean out my locker. No parties to go to, no signing of yearbooks, and definitely no crying in the hallway. I’ve done all that. Then it will be time to go home.

I’ve been in this town for almost a year, it’s time to leave. I really miss home, all my friends, Grandma and Grandpa too. Maybe Mom will be back from Canada when we get home. I can’t wait to tell her all the cool stuff I have been up too. But first, California, I have to go to California and see the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco too.

We can do lots of ghost hunting on our way to California. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Dad has a pretty good job waiting for him in New Jersey. He says he’ll be working by the Delaware Bay at a government office. But if that doesn’t work out, his old boss in Maryland said he is welcome to come back there. Maryland is only three hours from home. At least I’ll be a lot closer to home than we are way out here.

New Jersey would be all right for a year or two, but I don’t want to stay in New Jersey for the rest of my life either. I’m not going to college in New Jersey, that’s for sure, anywhere but there.

My plan is either to live with Grandma in Florida or my uncle in California.

***

“Hey Dad, did you ever check out that recording of Neewa eating the pumpkin pies?”

“No, I forgot all about it.”

Dad asks, “What about the antlers, did you check them out?”

“Yeah, the antlers have nothing. I put the EMF meter on them and a few other meters too, but no readings at all, nothing. They’re packed in one of the boxes ready to go back East.”

Dad suggests, “I can queue up the ‘flying Neewa eating pumpkin pies’ tape. I have to download all those files onto my PC anyway. You want to help me?”

“Sure, let’s do it,” I answer enthusiastically.

In short order, Dad has everything set up. The camera and hot wire are already connected to the computer.

He sits in front of the PC. “Ok, click ‘download,’ now click ‘camera,’ ‘capture,’ ‘save’, okay, now ‘publish.’”

I wait till the entire file is finished.

“We got it.” The file is saved to the desktop.

“Dad, play it back,” anxious to see the tape, “hurry up.”

“Ok Christina watch this, I have some stuff to do.”

When Neewa tripped the motion detector the camera was lying on its side. In the frame is Neewa already on the countertop with the view flipped ninety degrees.

The video of Neewa shows her eating the pies all right, but only a partial view. I can see a portion of her ivory white fur in the foreground and part of one pumpkin pie. I cannot see her eating the other two pies though, but I can hear her.

As I continue watching the tape, Neewa sniffs the camera and licks the lens. She can hear the camera running.

Now I hear her swallowing the pieces of pie, gobbling them down. It’s almost like she is consuming a whole pumpkin pie at once. Next, the pie plate in view is being licked.

Another pie plate on the counter rattles around like a thunderstorm as she cleans that one off. Then plates hit the floor and Neewa jumps down to finish up the rest. The sound of her pawing and slapping down a plate and then licking it clean is woefully clear. I listen to the next pie plate being cleaned.

The kitchen window in the background was about the only other thing I could see. All the sounds of Neewa’s feast are recorded, right up until the camera shuts itself off. Turns out there are no pictures of Neewa levitating onto the three-foot high counter top. I’ll never prove that she flew. Still, I wonder how in the world did she get up there?







Chapter 40 - Beading Juniper Nuts

The phone rings. I pick it up holding it inches from my ear, wondering who could this be? It’s Diane on the other end inviting Jackie and me to come over to her house and do some beading. “Don’t forget to bring Neewa,” she says before hanging up.

I’m excited about beading.

I demand, “Dad, meet us at Diane’s at four o’clock.”

Jackie and I start walking over to Diane’s.

I like Heather, but she is the Medicine Woman and sometimes she gives me the creeps. I want Dad to be with me when I’m there or I will be totally freaked out.

Remember what happened the last time we were at Heather’s house? There was that fierce windstorm that scared the crap out of me. We were outside, covered in sand, and that dust devil came flying into Heather’s yard, chasing us into the house.

Heather said it was an Evil Devil Spirit in the dust devil that wanted to possess me. But Heather protected us with her powders, throwing the sacred stuff all over us and into the wood stove. Oh my God, that was too creepy.

Heather said in a really weird voice, “Go devil, leave us, you demon.”

I can’t get those words out of my head.

Maybe it was Heather who made the dust storm with the Evil Devil Spirit. I don’t know if I should even be at Heather’s house?

After it was over, Heather gave us herbs to protect us from evil. I wish I had them in my pocket right now. But they are packed away with my clothes, the antlers, and our entire collection of ghost hunting equipment except for the stuff that goes back to Dad’s work. He’s going to return all of it at the end of the week, his last day.

Neewa is all excited as we arrive at Diane and Heather’s house. I thought Neewa should wait outside with the kids in Diane’s neighborhood? They love to play with her, though they make fun of her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth.

“Neewa!” Heather exclaims petting and hugging her. “You come right into my house, I want you here with me.”

Diane smiles at Neewa as she holds the door open and watches her slip in. She runs in, galloping through the house, smelling every room, especially the kitchen, which she scours for scraps.

Diane motions Jackie and me to come over to the kitchen table. She has her beading stuff on the table. We brought her a couple of strands of yellow beads that Dad had given us. Diane places them with all of her beads. I see bright turquoise blue, red coral, white, and black beads. She has rolls of silky string and a pile of silver clasps in the center of the table.

We sit ourselves down and she shows us some basic beading designs. After that we each take a sewing needle, some fishing line, and begin stringing beads from our trays.

In silence, I look around her home. The house has not changed since I was last here.

Using a loom is what I want to learn. I saw some beading techniques for looms in a display at the tribal building. Loom beading creates the most intricate designs, like the ones you see in museums and galleries.

I string beads onto a necklace when I look up and see Diane run her needle through a small acorn-like bead.

“What is that?” I ask.

She answers, “It’s a juniper bead.”

I exclaim, “The ones the prairie dogs bite a hole in?”

Diane looks puzzled, “Yes, the prairie dogs do bite a hole into the nut. They put a circular tunnel almost all the way through to the end. I push a heavy sewing needle through the bottom of the nut to make it into a bead. Then I string them in patterns with other beads. Here, look at this one.”

Diane holds up a bracelet with juniper nuts placed every third bead.

“No way!” Jackie jumps up and stands behind Diane for a closer look.

“Way!” I say.

Pointing at the bracelet I say to Jackie, “They’re like the ones you found out at Ruby Lake. Diane makes them into beads and strings them.”

Jackie takes one of the juniper nuts from Diane’s beading tray and rolls it between her two fingers.

Nodding her head in agreement, “Yup it’s the same. That’s amazing. Look how cool they look in that bracelet, awesome.”

“Show me how you get the hole the rest of the way through.” Jackie leans over Diane’s tray.

Diane picks up another nut. “The prairie dog leaves some of the shell at the bottom when it bites down. I just push the needle through the bottom of the hole like this.”

Quietly we observe as she takes the nut and slides the heavy sewing needle inside. Then positioning it over some cardboard, she pushes the needle down, puncturing a small hole through the remaining portion of the nut, making a juniper nut into a beautiful juniper bead.

Jackie reaches into her pocket and pulls out a handful of juniper nuts from Ruby Lake and puts them in Diane’s tray.

“Wow, where did you get all those?” Diane turns to look at Jackie, puzzled.

Jackie smiles, “They are from Ruby Lake, the Spirit Deer gave them to me.”

Diane asks, “The Spirit Deer? When did you meet the Spirit Deer?”

Jackie says, “Well, I didn’t but Christina met him on a trail.”

We all laugh and continue beading.

Diane adds a handful of juniper beads to each of our beading trays. We string them with the other colorful beads.

I comment, “The juniper beads have the best natural color. Don’t you think?”

We all nod our heads in agreement.

Diane says, “The Spirit Deer is very important to us. If you are in his favor, he will protect you from evil. But if you are his enemy, he will pierce your heart with his antlers.”

Jackie speaks, “She is in his favor, Chester said he left the antlers for her.”

Looking at Diane to see her reaction I say, “I knew I should have left those antlers where I found them.”

Diane replies, “You were given the antlers of the Spirit Deer? That is very special.”





Chapter 41 - Diane’s Secret

“I have a secret everyone in our Nation knows, but we don’t tell white people.” Diane pauses and looks at both of us for a moment.

“The Chief is my father and his wife is my mother. When I was a baby they gave me to Heather. She is my mother now. I was a gift to her, ‘Napittu—h’ is our word for present.

“My blood Mom and Dad have nine other children, my brothers and sisters. My Chief wanted Heather to have a child to help her and follow in her footsteps.

“The Chief said to Heather, ’Teach her to be the Shaman of my people.’”

Diane is moving about the beading table helping us. She looks at us out of the corner of her eye, observing our reaction to the secret.

Diane says, “They gave one of their own children away. Heather raised me from when I was a little baby. She takes care of me and I take care of her.”

Heather is watching us with her steel gray eyes, looking into my soul. She has deep wrinkles in her forehead from her many years. Her skin looks gray, like her eyes, and hair.

Heather speaks, “No one wanted this land so they gave it to us. This land is not good for much of anything. It’s just desert and sagebrush. We are on the outskirts of town, on the edge of the desert. There is nothing but a few Indians here.”

I can hear the wind howling. Sand is being picked up by gusts of wind. It sounds like hail is hitting the windows.

Heather speaks proudly, “My son and my daughter are grown now, and they have their own lives. Chester likes to hunt and fish. But his favorite thing to do is paint. He’s such a good painter. Linda is going to be a doctor. She is always away at school. I miss her so much.”

I interrupt, “I met Linda at the basketball game, she is so cool. We went to the Pow Wow with her. She danced the Shawl Dance, it was awesome.”

Jackie adds, “I liked the bead designs on her clothes. And that deerskin dress and those moccasins she had on, can I get them in my size?”

At that moment I recall Heather dancing at the Pow Wow. I can almost hear the musicians, and see the smoke hanging in the great hall. What I remember most is the moment when she disappeared right in front of my eyes.

Looking straight at her, “How did you disappear?”

“Oh that,” she replies, “that is something one Shaman passes on to another. I can’t tell anyone for fear that an Evil Devil Spirit will learn the secret.”

Chester and Dad arrive at Heather’s house. Chester knows we will be going back East soon. He looks serious as he walks over to the beading table.

Neewa greets Chester with a wagging tail and a few nudges to his palm with her cold wet nose.

Chester reaches down and scratches Neewa behind her ears and under her chin, “Neewa, how you doing girl?” He massages her head with his two strong hands and scratches her behind the ears.

I give Dad a dirty look, letting him know I’m pissed that he’s late. He knows we don’t want to be at Heather’s all by ourselves, it’s creepy. I continue beading.

Chester looks at us and says, “How you guys doing?”

I say, “I’m fine.”

Jackie says, “Good, Chester, how are you?”

Chester says, “Oh, I’m fine.”

Chapter 42 - The Medicine Woman’s Mystery is Revealed

Chester speaks, “You guys need to be told something very important before you go back East. Let’s all sit down and talk about what you must know.”

This sounds serious. “I knew I shouldn’t have taken those antlers.”

Chester speaks softly, “It’s okay Christina, the antlers are a gift from the Spirit Deer. He is grateful for the good deeds you have done. The Spirit Deer will shield you from evil, and in return you must keep his protection of you a secret.”

I reply anxiously, “What deeds? I didn’t do any deeds?”

“Oh yes you did, but you did not know it,” he is quick to add. “The first good deed was adopting Neewa at the pound and saving her Spirit. If Neewa had stayed at the pound much longer, she would have been euthanized, and her Spirit lost.”

“What Spirit?” I shudder.

“Heebe-tee-tse’s Spirit, an Indian warrior who died in the late 1800’s. His body was never found and his Spirit has been wandering the desert ever since. He has been unable to return home to be at rest in our sacred burial ground. But he kept searching for a way home to us. When Neewa was born in the desert, the Spirit Being of Heebe-tee-tse entered her body and he is still there.”

“Oh brother,” I gasp.

Chester smiles, “Your second deed was saving Neewa from dying of distemper. By bringing her to Doctor Cuthberson you saved her and Heebe-tee-tse’s Spirit in Neewa from certain death. If Neewa had died, Heebe-tee-tse’s Spirit Being could have been lost, forever.

“Doctor Cuthberson, a trusted Shaman, learned of Heebe-tee-tse’s Spirit when Neewa stayed overnight at his animal hospital. He spoke to Heebe-tee-tse and made preparations for him to enter our sacred burial ground.”

Chester continues, “Do you remember the tribal building and the Tribal Historian Members Project? All the members that have ever lived are listed on that wall. We are always looking for lost ancestors like Heebe-tee-tse, trying to return to us to be At Rest.

“Remember the little girl at the Tribal History meeting? She said, ’Did you know Neewa has a Spirit?’

“Everyone knew about Heebe-tee-tse coming home. We have all been waiting to welcome him.”

Jackie interrupts, “So let me get this right, Neewa is a Spirit Being of this warrior Heebe-tee-tse?”

Chester sighs, “Well not exactly, you see it is not Neewa who is a Spirit Being, but the Spirit Being is in Neewa’s body.”

“Oh I get it now, Neewa’s possessed,” Jackie clarifies.

Chester persists, “When Neewa was born near Heebe-tee-tse’s grave he took refuge in Neewa’s body, he possessed her, but not in a bad way. He will not harm her.”

I break in, “Dad, what about my dream, the one where I was looking for Neewa’s family in the desert. Remember I read the newspaper about the hiker who saw the white German Shepherd family digging up the bones of the gambler…. And right next to the gambler was the Native American grave that was over a hundred years old.”
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