Saturday, July 7, 2012
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Thursday, June 28, 2012
Chapter 19 - Horses
Up ahead there is something on the side of the road. Neewa sees them, too. She is pacing from side to side in the back of the van.
About a hundred feet in front of us is a herd of about ten horses. They don’t look like they belong. Whose horses are they? Are we near a ranch? I don’t see any.
The horses that make up this group are all different sizes and colors. Some are large, a few are small and one appears to be a donkey.
As we drive closer, I see their long tails and manes are knotted, frayed and have burrs stuck in them.
The leader of the group is a black stallion, and he’s watching us and stirring to alert the herd. He’s a beautiful horse with a gray patch across his right back leg and another small swatch on his forehead.
His long black tail hangs down to the ground, while half his mane hangs on either side of his muscular neck. He looks skinny, but his coat shines on his powerfully built body.
I can tell he’s the leader because he puts himself between his herd and us to protect them, turning sideways to block our view of his family.
Neewa is getting more excited, jumping from seat to seat. She wants to run and play with the big dogs.
“They are not dogs,” I tell her.
She is making a high-pitched whining sound as if to say, “Let me out, let me out.”
Jackie is getting trampled, and is quite annoyed with Neewa as she jumps from front seat to back, and then to the front again.
“Let her out Dad, she has to go,” she exclaims.
Dad stops and opens the door. Neewa jumps out and runs up the road.
Dad pulls onto the shoulder. “Neewa is running right at the herd. I hope she knows what she’s doing.”
At that moment dread shoots from my brain down to my toes. The thought of losing Neewa had never occurred to me until that second.
“Dad, drive, drive, hurry up, catch her!” I cry out hitting his seat back with my hands.
At that moment the herd spooks. Snorting a warning, the stallion and his family rumble into the desert. He’s following his family, urging them into a full gallop.
Neewa is following them, running from one side of the herd to the other. As quickly as the horses appeared in front of us, they are gone over the hill. Then she disappears, gone into the miles and miles of sagebrush and sand.
My heart drops out of my chest. Neewa is gone and I don’t know if I will ever see her again. I feel my stomach in my throat.
Dad pulls over and I jump out.
Jackie yells, “Call her before she gets too far!”
“Neewa, Neewa, Neewa!” I yell, hoping she will hear me.
Dad whistles his loudest two-finger whistle, “Whistle! Whistle.”
I form my lips to whistle, but nothing comes out. I can’t whistle.
“Listen, stop!” I shout.
I never should have let her run out into the desert. She may never come back.
We all start yelling, “Neewa come! Neewa! Neewa!”
Again, we are silent. I listen for her to bark, or yelp, or something. Seconds pass like minutes. You can hear a pin drop.
“I hear something.” I’m not sure what it is in the distance, is that her?
I cry out, “It sounds like Neewa barking, I hear her.”
I call out, “Neewa, Neewa!”
I look at Dad, then Jackie. “I hear a jingling sound.”
Jackie exclaims, “It’s more like a jingle ding, jingle ding.”
That jingle ding sound is coming from Neewa’s charm, the one Chester put on her collar.
At that moment Neewa’s head appears to pop up out of the sand dune.
She is sprinting for us. Sand kicks up into the air behind her as she makes her way down the soft sand. Then she jumps right up on me, pushing me backwards onto the ground. She licks my face and walks all over me.
Jackie and Dad come to my rescue, picking me up off the ground by my arms.
Neewa jumps up on me with her front paws stretching all the way up onto my shoulders while standing on her hind legs.
She pushes off me and her paws hit the ground as she wags her tail.
Hugging her, I stroke her neck and side and scratch her behind the ears.
“I thought I lost you, Neewa,” I exclaim.
“You came back,” Jacqueline exclaims as she cuddles her.
She wags her tail, whines and lets out a “Yelp.”
We all jump in the car and off we go.
“They are wild horses and they run free on the desert. They belong to no one,” Dad speaks.
“Where did they all come from? How do they live? What do they eat?”
Dad answers my bombardment of questions, one after the other. “They live out on the desert and they eat whatever vegetation they can find. Many years ago wild horses were rounded up and shipped to slaughterhouses. Hundreds of thousands of them were killed. Some were kept for work horses on ranches.”
Dad describes, “Wild horses were indigenous to North America, populating this continent before the Ice Age. They moved north across the Bering land bridge, fanned out from Siberia to the rest of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and then became extinct here. When Europeans reintroduced horses to the Americas in the 16th century, some escaped and formed wild herds. By 1900, there were two million wild horses in America. Their major predators, such as the mountain lion, were all but wiped out, and for more than a century their biggest enemy has been man. Horse roundups and massacres went unchecked for decades until Wild Horse Annie came along.”
Friday, March 9, 2012
Chapter 27 - Cowboying
Last night Jackie was hired to do baby-sitting and slept over our neighbor’s house, the Burns. She went to school from their house this morning. And after school she had dinner with them and waited for Dad and I to get back from our long day of cowboying.
After being out all day cowboying, I come running in the door trying to contain myself. It’s around 9:00 PM at night and I try to act casual.
I say to Jackie, “How did baby-sitting go last night? Did Hank and Jane get home late?”
“No, not too late. It went good. Brice and I designed clothes. Then we had a fashion show and put on matching tops with boas and stuff. It was a lot of fun.
I got to sleep in Brice’s room. She has two twin beds, really comfortable. It was more like a sleep over, and I made some really big bucks babysitting, twenty dollars,” Jackie says with a sassy tone.
“Very cool, that’s a lot of money. You want to hear my amazing cowboying story?” I screech.
Jackie knew we had gone cowboying. It was all prearranged, her staying with the Burn’s overnight. They live right across the street. Jackie did not want to go cowboying, she thinks its barbaric to eat meat, she’s a vegetarian.
We had left really early in the morning and we knew we wouldn’t be getting home till late. Besides Jackie couldn’t go cause she had talent show practice, and she didn’t want to miss that.
This whole adventure began a few weeks ago when Chester called and asked us all to go cowboying with him on his cousin’s ranch.
Dad asked, “What is cowboying?”
Chester explained, “Cowboying is when you round up cattle and drive them to wherever you want them to go.”
Dad repeated, “Christina, Jackie, you guys want to go cowboying on horses on a ranch?”
I took the phone right out of Dad’s hand and shouted, “Can Neewa come?”
“Yes Neewa can come, if she can ride a horse?” Chester laughed.
“When? When?” I asked him.
Chester replied, “It depends on the weather. I’ll call you the night before. We won’t go in the rain or bad weather.”
Chester finally called yesterday afternoon, “Do you still want to go cowboying?”
“Yeah,” I told him.
Chester said, “Pick me up at four in the morning.”
I cried out, “Four in the morning! Wow, Okay we’ll see you at four.”
I shouted to Dad, “We are going cowboying tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be good.”
Dad replied, “Yeah tomorrow is good. I’ll call The Burns’s and ask if Jackie can stay over their house tonight.”
“Jackie, you okay with this?” Dad asked not completely convinced Jackie did not want to go cowboying.
“Yeah Dad, I’m not going cowboying, its barbaric,” She said again.
“So anyway Jackie listen, we picked up Chester’s at four, and we all arrived at the ranch before the sun came up. We met Chester’s cousin, Dave at his house and took his pick-up truck to the barn. Dave was surprised when Neewa jumped up into in the back of his pick-up.”
“Cute dog you got there, can she stare down a steer?” Dave asked.
I answered, “Neewa can do anything, just tell her once and she is good to go.”
Neewa was an instant hit with everyone.
“She loves to be petted and play fetch,” I told them as we drove down the dirt road, “She can do anything. Its as if she is human.”
“Right from the start Dad and Dave had an issue.”
Jackie sighs, “Oh boy, it figures, Dad What did you do?”
He doesn’t answer, just continues tinkering around the kitchen.
I continue my story, “We’re getting in the truck. Dad just walked away from our van and Dave asks, why did you lock your van?”
“Oh did I?” Dad answered surprised.
“I didn’t even realize I did? Where we come from you have to lock your car. I guess it’s a habit.” Dad shrugged.
Dad and I could tell Dave was insulted. He thought we didn’t trust him and that we were afraid someone from his ranch would take something from our van.
Dad confided in me, “I know there is nothing I can do to take back what I did. I feel terrible that Dave thinks I don’t trust him. Guess we started off on the wrong foot.”
Dad tried to explain again by saying, “Dave we just moved out of the city. I picked up the habit of locking the van. You have to lock it or someone will take it.”
Dave shrugged his shoulders, “Oh, is that right?”
Dad sipped on his bottle of water as we arrived at the barn. Two of Dave’s ranch hands were already saddling the horses and getting everything ready. They nodded to us.
We each had to check our own bridal, synch, and reins ourselves to be sure they were tight, Dave insisted.
He told us, “The heard roams government land all year long. They eat whatever they can find, mostly sagebrush, but some grasses and new plant shoots if it rains. But it’s not enough, so we bring them hay to add to their diet. Mostly, the cattle live off whatever they can find. If it were not for the stream running through our land, there would be nothing for them to eat, just more desert.
We have about a dozen fields of grass and hay that belong to the tribe. We sell that for cash and that money goes to the old ones who can’t work.”
“I got the gentlest horse Dave had, her name is Stork. Dad got a horse that likes to throw you off onto the ground. Its name is Mac.”
Dave said laughing under his breath, “Be ready to land on your feet when that one throws you off.”
Dad replied, “Yeah? Ok? I’ll be ready, I hope.”
“Next we rode out onto the desert. It was so quiet and the sun was just coming up. You should have seen it when the early morning light hit the mountains, they turned a brilliant ruby red.”
Chester gave us our coyboying instructions as we rode, “I will tell you guys where to stand. We will drive the cattle toward you. Don’t get off your horses or you will get trampled for sure. You guys will be like bumpers in bumper pool, guiding the cattle.”
He asks, “Did you ever play bumper pool?”
“Yes,” We both say.
“I play all the time,” he says. “At my friends house.”
Chester continues, “The cattle will turn away from you when they see you. Make sure they turn the right way. Just raise up your arm opposite the direction you want them to go, don’t worry, they spook easy.”
I looked at Jackie who is hanging on every word, “That was the extent of my cowboying instructions.”
Chapter 28 - Cattle Drive
“I’m not sure if they were speaking Shoshone, Piute, or Washoe, but no one spoke English as we headed out to the desert.
It felt like I was with Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern in the movie City Slickers. You should have seen it Jackie, cattle everywhere. I was on my horse the whole day. It feels like I’m still on that horse, my legs are killing me.”
“Yeah Christina, you smell like you’re still on that round-up. I hope you’re taking a shower,” Jackie wrinkles her nose.
“Yeah, right after I finish the story,” I warn.
“Neewa was running around the cattle like she knew how to round them up. She nipped at the cow’s tails to get them to move faster. Once when a cow stopped right in front of her, she looked the cow straight in the eye and barked. The cow turned and ran to escape her glare. If a cow turned in the wrong direction, Neewa circled around and brought it back to the heard.
Someone would give a command in Shoshone, Piute, or Washoe. Dad and I would look at each other with a blank stare. Chester translated only if it was something we needed to know.
Chester would yell, stay by that sage bush, or don’t move, or move to the left.
Dad and I learned a couple of Indian words, stop, go, and don’t move you diaboo’s.”
Dad excited, continues the story while I go take a shower.
“Jackie, we rounded up all the cattle on the desert. That took almost all day. It had to be after two in the afternoon before we stopped for a drink of water.
Then we drove the cattle down a long dirt road with fence on either side to a corral. That was the easy part cause all we had to do was stay behind them and keep moving.
Occasionally, a steer would break away, get through a broken part of the fence and run for the hills. One of the cowboys would have to go round up the cow and drive it back to the heard.”
Dad laughs, “Neewa ran off into some trees. It was the perfect place for her with a shimmering stream, shade from the sun, and plenty of water. She probably wanted to get a drink or go for a swim and cool off. I saw her chewing on the green grass on the bank.
At that moment, she started rolling around on the ground scratching her back. Dirt and dust rose all around her as she wriggled around. I didn’t know what she was doing.
We continued down the road with the cattle when she came back. As soon as she got close to me, I realized what had happen. She had been rolling in cow manure and was covered in it.”
“Oh my god you stink!” I yelled.
Returning from my shower I interrupt Dad, “I told Neewa, you smell so bad you are going to have to stay outside on her chain in one of your dens.
When we passed the next pond, I took her for a swim. We played fetch and she swam across the pond a few times, but that didn’t get all the smell off.”
Dad continues the story, “We finally arrived at two big corrals that were in the middle of this wide-open field. Somehow we were going to get all the cattle in side. Christina and I were assigned to guard the gate and we positioned ourselves twenty or thirty feet away. Our job was to guide the cattle into the corral and keep the one’s inside from coming back out, which is what they wanted to do.
The only way to do this was to yell and wave our arms in the air to spook them in the right direction. Sometimes just raising an arm would scare the cattle enough to keep them from running back out.
When Chester and Dave herded a whole bunch of cows in through the gate, the cows inside tried to escape. Again and again the cattle got spooked and ran in every direction. Sometimes they ran right at us, and then it was impossible to keep them all from escaping while driving still more cattle in through the same gate.
If you let one get by you, and it was your fault, the other cowboy’s gave you a look. That would be your signal to go and get the escapee and drive it back into the corral.”
Jackie’s eyes are wide open as she listens to every word, “Next we separated the calves from the cows and put them in a separate corral. The calves screamed when they were taken from their moms. Some of them were not even weaned yet. It was sad, cows were mooing for their young. I wanted to die. They tried to get back to each other, crying, and blaring in cow language. They kept running out of the corral and back to their moms, only to be separated again by one of us on horseback. That was the worst part. I don’t ever want to do that again, I cried.”
Dad jumps in, “Cattle trucks arrived just when we finished getting the cows and calves separated. The calves were in the smaller corral. They are staying on the ranch, and will be Dave’s heard next year. The rest of the cattle were loaded into the trucks.
But in order to get the cattle onto the trucks, they had to be chased through this chute that lead to the trailer. The chute is a four-foot wide corridor in the corral with fence on both sides. It has dropdown doors to control the number of cattle passing through. After that, they go up a ramp into the truck’s trailer.”
Dad added, “The truck drivers have to get the trailer door really close to the top of the chute. If not, the cows jump between the trailer and ramp to freedom. Several cows made the four-foot jump and ran to the other corral to be with their calves. They mooed and mooed until they were roped and dragged back to the chute by a cowboy.
Then it was done, finally they were all loaded and two trucks full of cattle headed for the auction.”
I continued the story, “At this point I’m want to go home. I feel like I’m going to collapse from emotional and physical exhaustion.
I rode Stork back to Dave’s barn, I took her saddle off, and put away her blanket, bridal, and all her stuff. She walked back to her stall and started eating oats. I went straight to the van.
Dad and I followed the trucks into town. On the way, I could hear the cows screaming and mooing for their calves. Their cries are still ringing in my ears.”
Dad chimes in as I pause to go get some water, “Today was auction day and the buyers and sellers were ready to get started. We followed the trucks to the cattle market right in town near the railroad. The auction is enormous with dozens of corrals full of cattle. Each rancher’s heard of cattle is put in a different corral where they are sold.
Sounds were coming from everywhere at the huge railroad yard. Railroad cars wheels squealed and train whistles blew. The auctioneer tested his mike getting ready to start the bidding. Cattle were mooing, cowboys yelling orders to each other, and hooves of cattle stomped up and down ramps.
Finally, all of Dave’s cattle were unloaded from trucks into one of the corrals.
The auctioneer went around to each heard yelling into his microphone for an opening bid.
Swiftly he began his chatter into the microphone, “Do I hear fifty cents a pound? Fifty? Fifty, give me fifty cents? Do I hear fifty? There ya go, I have fifty cents, do I hear fifty-five? Fifty-five? Fifty-five? Give me fifty-five cents.
The auctioneer walked from corral to corral and the bidding continued until all the cattle were sold to the highest bidder.
The auction was over, trains were loaded with cattle, and off to the slaughterhouse they went.
Dave went to the cashier and picked up his check, and we came home.”
“That was my cowboying experience. I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life. I’ll probably never do it again, ever. I’m going to bed after a good soaking in a hot bathtub. You did save me some hot water? Didn’t you Jackie?”
Jackie looks over at me and says, “Christina you probably used it up when you took a shower before,” She returns to her TV show.
“Cool, sounds like you guys had a good time, I’m going to bed, Brice and I stayed up late last night, goodnight.” Jackie walks to her room.
I whisper to Dad, “My legs hurt pretty bad, my thighs are burning from holding onto that horse. It feels like they are going to hurt for a week. Tomorrow is Saturday and I’m staying in bed all day, so don’t wake me. I mean it. Don’t wake me up.”
“Did you have fun?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, I had fun, but it was so sad separating the calves from the cows. I cried Dad, they were calling each other, it was terrible,” I mope off to the bath.
Dad reminds me, “We are going to leave Neewa outside tonight even though it will be cold. She can sleep in one of her caves or dens or whatever they are and stay warm. I will feed her and give her water. Hopefully, she won’t smell so bad tomorrow. If she rolls around in the dirt a few times she’ll get most of the smell off, or else you’ll have to give her a bath tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sure, I’ll give her a bath tomorrow,” I answer.
I lay on my bed, reliving the whole experience of the day.
It was nice of Dave to take us out to dinner at the restaurant. The place was a few blocks from the train yard, downtown. As I walked the bright lights downtown flashed, Jack Pot, Jack Pot, alternating in yellow, red, and orange. One casino’s flashing lights depicted a twenty-foot neon cowboy with a cigar in his mouth and a fist full of dollars.
Jogging across the tracks, we put the bright lights behind us passing a movie theatre, bank, and a pawnshop.
We arrived, and walked into the restaurant probably built a hundred years ago. Along the left wall were the booths and across from them a long counter with green vinyl topped metal-rimed stools. Spinning several of them easily, I walk by and then collapsed into the vinyl bench seat with a squeak. Each booth was just big enough for two people on either side.
The twelve-foot high restaurant walls were green too, although a different shade. Or maybe they were just covered with a coat of grease from the fryers and grill. Fans hung down from the embossed tin ceiling painted white.
Behind the restaurant counter was all the action. One cook on the grill, another busy at the sandwich board, and yet one more chatting with the cute waitress that helps bring in the regular customers.
Conversations are plenty as I quietly listened to those around me. Charlie, seems to have lost most of his stake at the casino and doesn’t want to go back to the ranch. Randy is sitting at the counter after having drunk too much, and isn’t sure if he should go back to the Pioneer Bar for another Bud, or stay here and have another cup of Joe.
The waitress bounced from table to table trying to cover up any mistakes the cooks may have served up.
She politely smiled at each patron, “Is everything all right? Can I get you anything dear?”
Families were interspersed throughout the room. They’re traveling long distances and have stopped to eat and shake off the road.
Someone asked in a tired and road weary voice, “Is there a good motel nearby? Clean with plenty of hot water?”
I wouldn’t touch that one, the motels here are known for problems with their hot water supply. Well meaning locals suggest a variety of motels for the weary traveler.
Smiling the waitress asked enthusiastically, “What’ll you have sweetie?”
“Burger, fries, and a Coke please,” I looked up at her as she wrote on her pad of checks ready to hand in the next ticket to the cook.
During dinner Dave told his story, “I borrow money to buy and raise cattle just like any other rancher. The price of cattle has gone down, it could go down even more. If that happens I’ll get an even lower price than I got today. I have to sell my cattle now because there is no telling what the price is going to be tomorrow. I’m not going to make much money this year. But I can’t take a chance that the price will go down even more and then I’d lose money. So I have to sell the heard now. At least I will have enough money to raise another heard. I hope to get a better price next year.”
He continued, “I’m going to keep my calves and buy more with the money from the sale today. I’ll feed them all year and then sell them next year. If my bull is healthy, I’ll have a lot more caves in the spring. I’ll brand those and let them out into the desert.”
After I had enough to eat we were ready to leave, I said, “Good luck Dave.”
Chester said, “See you guys.”
Dave said, “See ya.”
Dave and Chester were staying at the restaurant to have some dessert and coffee. We were ready to go home. Dad and I walked back to the van.
Neewa was resting in the back seat and jumped up as we approached the van. She was glad to see us. But I was not so happy to smell her. The whole car stunk of manure.
Usually Neewa jumps all over me when she sees me. But because she smelled so bad, I didn’t let her near me. I told her to get in the back. Then I gave her the rest of my cheeseburger, which she gobbled down in under three seconds.
I held my nose, “Neewa you smell.”
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 sky. 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.”
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 goes up the chimney.
She yells, “Go demon, leave us evil spirit.”
Huddling together, 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 their 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’s safe now, the evil one is gone.”
Silence hangs over us for a few 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 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 the tribe’s burial ground is underneath her house and that spirits visit her.”
“Yes, Christina, what about it?” Dad asks.
“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 reservation is dangerous. You remember what happened to those diaboo’s (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 on tape. 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 that 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 herbs to protect us from evil? And now this dust devil possessed by an evil devil spirit chasing us. And being vanquished with colored powders thrown in the air and into a wood stove by a Medicine Woman. Something is going on and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.
“Dad, 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.”
Giggling nervously, “I have an idea, we can put a backpack full of equipment on Neewa and mount a camera on top. I’ll send her ghost hunting into Heather’s sacred burial grounds. 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 cams shows and fright, 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, “Come on girl, jump, jump up.”
Dad will have to spend some money on heat. It really gets 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.
“Good night, Dad, love you.”
“Good night, Christina, Jackie, love you.”
“Love you, Dad, Christina,” Jackie says.
“Good night, Neewa.”
Saturday, January 21, 2012
It’s morning and we arrive at Dr. Cuthberson’s ranch. Dad and I carry Neewa into the office. His assistant in a white coat comes to meet us. “I’m Lyle, the doctor is helping one of his mares give birth. Do you want to come watch?”
Chapter 9 - Doc’s
It’s morning and we arrive at Dr. Cuthberson’s ranch. Dad and I carry Neewa into the office.
His assistant in a white coat comes to meet us. “I’m Lyle, the doctor is helping one of his mares give birth. Do you want to come watch?”
“Bring your puppy, she can’t hurt any animals here,” Lyle says as we walk through the empty waiting room.
Mumbling as we walk, “I don’t want to see this, I really hate blood.”
Jackie follows the assistant saying, “I wanta see.”
Dad carries Neewa in his arms. She is limp, not at all the same frisky puppy we adopted at the pound months ago.
Keeping my head down and hiding my eyes, I enter the barn. The faint scents of manure and hay hang in the air. Every stall is clean, with a layer of fresh hay and a bucket of oats hung on the side. Colorful blankets are draped over the sidewalls of each stall, and a wooden name placard prominently hangs above each gate.
“Where are all the other horses?” I ask Lyle the assistant.
He answers, “They are out in the pastures for the day, we bring them in around five.”
Unsure of myself, I lag behind everyone as we enter the fifth stall. The mare is lying down, breathing heavily. Her foal is beginning to show. I can already see the foal’s legs outside of the birth canal. Above the stall’s entrance is her name, “Queen Ann.”
Doc says, “It’s her time to give birth.”
Jackie’s eyes are wide as she and Dad watch.
I decide to leave and maybe come back later, when it’s all over. Dad holds Neewa as I duck into the next stall, hoping I don’t puke.
“Is it a filly or a colt?” Lyle excitedly asks the Doctor.
Sounds of water gurgling and suction emanate from the stall.
Sweat drips from his forehead as he answers, “Don’t know yet.”
Peeking around the corner, I stare as he helps Queen Ann. He gently pulls the legs of the foal, who is born a few seconds later.
“It’s a filly!” he exclaims.
Slinking back into the birthing stall, I watch the newborn lying on the hay next to her mother.
My stomach begins to settle. What a great movie this would make, someone should videotape this. But it isn’t for the fainthearted.
Doctor Cuthberson says to his assistant, “Lyle, you watch the filly. I’ll be back after I take a look at the puppy.”
We follow him into the examination room near the front office. Dad places Neewa on the stainless steel table in the middle of the room. She collapses into a white lump.
Ammonia, strong enough to cause me to tear, permeates the air in the clean and organized room. I gaze around the room at locked medicine cabinets. Under the large windows is a row of glass cases. Inside are Native American artifacts and artwork, with pottery, baskets and weapons labeled and dated just like in a museum. Woven blankets and oil paintings of fierce-looking Indian chiefs cover the walls.
Doc Cuthberson turns from the sink and begins the examination. Methodically he looks at her eyes, nose and mouth, quickly completing the procedure.
His voice is confident as he quickly speaks, “I wanta give her a shot of live distemper virus, maybe jump start her immune system. It’s not the usual treatment, but it’s her best chance to live. It could kill her too. If I don’t give her the shot she’ll die for sure.”
Swiftly and just as convincingly I reply, “Give her the shot.” Dad nods his consent.
Doc doesn’t say a word as he leaves the room, returning in seconds with the shot. He grabs a hand full of her butt cheek fur and skin and sticks the needle in. She yelps.
Without delay he says, “Leave her here overnight. Pick her up after school tomorrow. We’ll keep an eye on her.”
He politely says, “Good luck,” and hastily heads back to his new filly.
I look at him, “Thank you for helping Neewa.”
Doc looks at me with piercing blue eyes surrounded by dark skin and furrowed brow. The door slams closed, locking behind him.
Neewa is still on the table. “You have to stay here tonight,” I hold her. “The doctor will take care of you.”
Tears run down my face as I squeeze her close to me. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do but pray.
Moments after Doc leaves, Lyle the veterinary assistant enters the room.
He looks at me saying, “The doctor gave her the live virus in hopes that her immune system will strengthen and fight off the disease. Don’t worry, we will keep an eye on her for ya.”
He gently takes her from the table and my grasp. I lunge forward to give her one last kiss and hug.
Lyle walks us to the exit. The door shuts with a bang. I walk away sniveling.
Jackie is upset and puts her arm around me as we walk to the van.
Dad embraces us and says, “She’ll be fine, you’ll see.”
Driving out of Doc’s driveway, I look out the window. Somewhere on this ranch, Neewa is lying helpless in a cage, alone in the desert again, just like when she was born.
Jackie all excited says, “Christina! Look at the K-2 meter. It’s flashing like mad.”
I look toward Jackie, tears still welling in my eyes. “I can’t think about that right now.”
Dad gushes with excitement, “Did you see those masks on the wall? One was labeled, ‘Sun Dance Headdress’ and another marked ‘Shaman Spirit Mask.’ And there were ancient medicines and powders in that other glass cabinet in the corner.”
Jackie adds, “I saw a scepter that had some kind of hair on it. I hope its not human hair, eek!”
Dad turns toward me with a glaring stare, “Doc Cuthberson is either a collector, or a shaman. I’ll bet they have secret ceremonies out here.”
Jackie shrieks, “I brought the pocket spectrometer and the radio frequency meter too. The readings are off the charts!”
“What’s going on out here?” Jackie yells.
Dad eagerly says, “Let’s do an investigation when we come back here tomorrow to pick up Neewa. We’ll bring the cameras and take video of the ranch. I’ll bet this place has all kinds of paranormal activity.”
“Christina, what do you think?” Jackie asks, trying to distract me from Neewa’s critical condition.
“I’m worried about Neewa. I pray she lives.”