The Long Way Around

How About Something Else

C.J. scuffed a boot toe in the dirt. “I ain’t directly sure where Cibecue is. Couldn’t I just go get your grandma some venison or something?”

The black-haired woman gazed at C.J. He wondered how her dark eyelashes seemed so clean and perfectly curved living in the dirt as she must. He tried not to look at her legs but was sharply aware that they were bare from her knees to her moccasins.

Black Hair spoke in Apache to her grandmother who listened while scratching her head.

C.J. was sure he’d named the old woman correctly: Lice Head.

A Windy Answer

Lice Head gave her granddaughter a long answer punctuated with gestures while pointing at C.J., the corrals, and Black Hair. She finally made a chopping motion with the edge of her hand and stopped talking.

“What’d she say?” C.J. asked.

“No.”

“No, what? All that spouting off she done, she must’ve said more’n that.”

Explanation and A Threat

“No, she doesn’t want venison. She wants you to take me to Cibecue as she asked. If you don’t, she will sing to the Ga’an and remove your healing. You will be sick again and never get better.”

“Well, I sure don’t want that, do I?” C.J. had to bite back a smart-aleck remark he started to make.

Lice Head stood almost lost in her oversized buckskin dress and scratched around in her hair. Her eyes on C.J. held no threat or animosity, only a calm interest.

C.J. puckered his lips in and out. He’d offered to get her a deer—he did owe her. He could probably still do it, and once she had the meat would think everything was square.

But Then …

A sudden thought surprised and embarrassed C.J. He wanted to spend more time with Black Hair. “All right,” he said. “Get your stuff. I can carry some of it on my horse for you.”

Lice Head laughed.

“Can she speak English?” C.J. asked, pointing at her.

“No, but she knows you gave in.”

“Only because I pay my debts.” C.J. sucked in a breath of resignation. “How far do we have to go?”

As The Eagle Flies

Black Hair pointed at an eagle flying south. “He’ll be over Cibecue before the hour is done. We can’t go that way. It will take us four or six days to use the trails off the rim.”

“Well, your grandma’s not doing you any favors. It’s gonna be a long walk.”

“I will ride on your horse with you. Grandmother said it’s a spirit horse. That’s why you have to take me.”

“That won’t happen. Skewy won’t let anyone else near her.”

“Yes, the mare ran Itza-Chu out of the corral, and he’s brave. But she let me unsaddle her.” Black Hair raised her chin. “I am Imala, like Grandmother.”

The Culture is Too Complicated

There seemed to be so many levels of understanding that C.J. didn’t know, he began to lose patience. “What’s an Imala?”

“That’s my name, but it has meaning, too.”

Lice Head laughed again and spoke in her language as she pointed between the young woman and C.J.

“Grandmother says I will save you.”

“You really are primitive, aren’t you?” C.J. said. “Well, I’ve had enough mumbo-jumbo. I’m heading back to the line cabin.”

But

“You said you’d take me. Did you lie?”

C.J. clamped his teeth together. How did he get in this mess, and how would he get out? “No, I didn’t lie, but first I’m going to get my gear.”

“We must go west along the rim to reach the trail down.”

“Well, I have to go east to get my stuff. I’ll pick you up when I come back through.”

Imala drew herself up, giving C.J. a rush of heat as he noticed her figure.

She glared at him. “I’ll go with you now.”

What’s going on with C.J.? Leave a comment now.

Here’s a short article about the Ga’an, or mountain spirits.

Crown Dancers are fascinating. One more short article tells more about them.

To read the series, click on the down arrow in the Archive list, start with Tales Old Roy Told and work up.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.

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2 thoughts on “The Long Way Around

  1. Your story is making me want to learn more about the Apaches’ history and culture. I know almost nothing about any of the indigenous nations of North America.

    Liked by 1 person

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