Tatanka – Chapter 1

(four of thirty)

It’s Picking Bulls.

Muscles tensing, machine chirping, lights from city slipping into a shadowed room and the bed.  Legs wrapped in blankets and each other, the girl moving away in sleep as the young brown skinned warrior rises from sleep and reaches for the sound.

“It’s Picking Bulls”

“Yeah, so how’d you get this address” he asks rolling over to get a smoke, checking the girl in the bed as he quietly reaches down to a rifle laying below him. touching it.  It’s ready light begins to glow.The gray light of day seeping into small curtained windows.

“You should look out your window.”

Leaning a little, Michael slips the curtains, seeing past the balcony and a shadow of street, until across the constant movement and brown melt of snow he finally spots Picking Bulls at a coffee stand. Back home they call him Pick. Here he stands, between customers and traveled way, coffee in one hand, phone in the other, looking up, looking back.

“I’m sorry I have to kill you, brother”

There was something in the voice, something prayer like, then he just stops, waits, His gaze, the dark eyes, broken by others moving between the two. The street alive.

“What? I left” The young one, Michael asks, waking up now, sensing the danger of them, of the elders, of the tribe reaching out, He glances at the door, where his clothes are as she stirs.

“to where?” Pick asks, “This is the spirit world. Doesn’t make a difference if it’s the miles or planets, you know that.”

Michael looks at the ceiling. “yea, and I opted out.”

“white man’s ‘out’ got in your brain somewhere. I get it. Let’s you feel like a man … free.”

Michael can see his face moving in the sliver of vision between the curtains where they settled as he let them go. The lines of thought seem to wrinkle on Picking Bulls forehead as he stared up at a camera’s eye for a moment and then directly across the street  at Michael’s window.

“Murder will change things though. so that there is no more out. The elders are all together now, across the world “there is no more out.”

Now the young man, exasperated, says, “yea, well fuck. I just did what you all were too weak to do.”

“Maybe. You know I look at these prospectors, these steaders, around me in this oversize excuse for a town, and I ask myself do these people love their mothers less than we? Probably not. You and me were lucky to have place, to have tribe. Doesn’t make us more right, just lucky.”

“This isn’t about being right or better. I’m not here for that. It’s just maintaining the line. That’s my job. And your job now is to get ready to die … do it standing up, without hurting anyone else.”

Michael says “All by yourself, for something you don’t even know about.”

Pick’s voice is still on the phone, but Michael can’t see his face anymore.

“If it’s not me than it will be someone else,” the voice says. “Come out. I’m sorry but come out. I will carry your soul home. My shoulders are broad”

“You’re an old man!”

The older warrior chuckles, “that’s more like it. Come on out. There’s a triad park across fifth street. They let me borrow it from time to time. I’ll be waiting.”

He disconnects and through the window, the streets noise swallows every trace of him.

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