The Blackfeet Murder
This novel is completed and Published as an Amazon Kindle ebook
The Blackfeet Murder is a wonderful story. TV has never had a real American Indian lead actor action hero. They have always been secondary roles, such as Tonto to the Lone Ranger. We can end this insult now. Lucky is a multi-talented but somewhat troubled 21st century man, who gets caught up in an unexpected metaphysical twist, where he and other present day characters are alive in a past or parallel life. After writing Lucky into The Shambala Mystery series for 10 years, I decided to make his backstory into a stand-alone novel: The Blackfeet Murder. Lucky’s Montana detective investigations will continue with A Murder of Crows Mystery. In Episode One, in full below, we introduce Clarence Two Moons, who is also Grandfather in 1876. This story has a beginning, middle and end, so the reader can choose whether to keep reading, finding out what happens with Lucky next.
Lucky Two Crows
Action Hero for a Motion Picture
Lucky Two Crows is a 36 year old American Indian Rights detective, an athlete, a martial artist with five blackbelts in Aikido, a former powwow performer, a motocross rider, an anti-GMO advocate, a musician, and a computer hacker, which no one is supposed to know about. Lucky lives in Portland, Oregon, where he runs a private detective company. He’s handsome, and single. His hidden passion is to start a cyber revolution against the draconian Agro/petrochemical Cabals, but at the present time he can’t afford it, and maybe never will. In the meantime, he’s taken a job at the reservation of his birth, to solve a murder. He isn’t a homicide detective, but was enticed by his new boss’s beautiful daughter. What resistance will he face? Will he solve the murder mystery? And most important, will he fall in love?
The first 78 pages of The Blackfeet Murder are here for you to read for free.
Northern Montana 1876
Life is a very strange mystery
Late June, 1876, and Present Time:
An unfathomable Universe of stars lights the northern plains darkness, cuddling forty tipis surrounded by a birch oasis, which hugs the side of a shallow rock-strewn river. Wolf Eyes, the Blackfeet tribe’s elder medicine man, sits in trance in front of the glowing red embers of his tipi fire.
He now awakens from a dream of a man who looked like the image of himself he’d seen in his small mirror, which a French man had traded for tobacco. The man in his dream was dressed in white, fully covered with no horns, feathers or beads dangling down a bare chest. Below his collar was a small carved black raven, on a string. He knew this man couldn’t be him, but the resemblance was startling. The man also sat in front of a fire, in a tipi, which looked like his. In the Blackfeet tongue this man spoke to Wolf Eyes. He said that he is from a future time and wished to talk about Two Crows, Wolf Eye’s godson, who is in trouble and will be returning soon.
Grandfather, with his braided white hair, dressed in leather, his bare chest decorated with dangling beads and bones, throws scrub birch branches into his fire. He looks up through the tipi flap, into the starry northern sky. I do not understand this dream. Who is this man who looks like me? Why does he wish to speak of Two Crows? he thinks, then speaks out loud to the fire, “I have not seen Two Crows in over five years, since he came to marry White Feather, and then returned to be a scout for the white soldiers. In trouble? Is he dying? What is this all about?”
At age fifty-nine, Wolf Eyes is considered an old man in his time. He adds sage, sweet grass and devil’s weed to the flames, and then chants a prayer. He summons his brother hawk to appear, who instantly materializes on the log pile. The hawk shakes his lovely brown feathers, as if he had just landed after a long flight.
How can I help you, Wolf Eyes. Hawks asks.
I had a vision where I met my future self, Grandfather begins, also telepathically. He said Two Crows will be arriving soon. Is this true?
Yes, your godson is on his way, as we speak.
On his way? What is this all about?
It’s about a story which will change the lives of many people. The hawk carefully answers.
What story? Tell me.
Two Crows has been a warrior scout for the white soldiers. Since you last saw him, he has become a seer, a man haunted with many dreams.
He dreams of returning here?
To his wife, yes. He dreams of many things. Because he spoke of them, Two Crows was shot in his back. I have been guiding his horse here. He is weak, but his will to live is strong. He keeps riding on, and will arrive alive.
When will he be here? Grandfather asks this spirit messenger.
Prepare for his arrival tonight. Have healing herbs ready. Have his wife watch over him day and night. In two days he will be well, with your medicine and the love of his woman.
Wolf Eyes had treated warriors who had been shot with rifles. Most died. He reflects on what the hawk had said and then softly speaks.
I saw the High Pony in his eyes the day he was born. I never wanted him to leave our band. This is why I told him his destiny was to ride the High Pony. What was his vision that caused him to finally leave the white man?
In his dreamtime, he flew into the lodge of the great chiefs. He listened as they spoke about the upcoming battle in a valley the white man calls Little Big Horn. He foresaw the deaths of hundreds of white soldiers, and the native scouts he would be riding with. He saw his death and that of the long-haired white Chief Custer. He tried to warn him that he would be riding to his death. These words only angered the proud white man. Two Crows did not want to die, so he left that evening. The white chief considered him a traitor, and ordered he be shot dead. The white soldiers tried but it was not Two Crows time to die.
A frog, hopping in front of Wolf Eyes stops and looks up at him. Life is a very strange mystery, the frog thinks to him. Pay attention.
Frog is right, Hawk says. Many strange things will happen in future times. The white man will break many treaties and unlike your people, they will not honor and protect this land for seven generations. When your future self appears in this time, he is reminded of how life should be.
I don’t know how his time is. He considers this for a moment and then asks, Will I go to his future time, in my dream world and the real world? Will I be as alive there as I am here
Hawk nods and answers, Pay attention to the changes of your reality. Soon you will realize that everyone here is in both your present time and your future time.
Hawk spreads his wings and says, And so, Wolf Eyes, you are this and you are that. Be at peace with what is. And then, disappears.
Grandfather senses another energy approaching. Several minutes later a man appears and sits across the fire. Wolf Eyes has seen this man in his dream; the same man dressed in a clean white suit, with white boots and a white cowboy hat. He looks just like himself, but different. “Are you my other self from the future?”
“I am. My name there is Clarence Two Moons,” the man speaks in Grandfather’s tongue, which tells him he is also Blackfeet. “You have already met me in your dreams. We are of one Spirit, one man, in two bodies. I come from many moons, eighteen hundred moons to be exact, in the future.” That number makes no sense to Grandfather Wolf Eyes. Eighteen hundred moons? Twelve moons in one year . . .
Clarence continues, “You must save Two Crows, who will arrive this night at the edge of death. Once he is healthy, we can begin.” Grandfather wonders how this man who claims to be of one Spirit with him, can know these things. “In the moons to come I will teach you, Two Crows, and White Feather how to move in and out of time; to be in two places at the same time.”
With this said, Clarence Two Moons disappears.
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.
Saturday morning – Lucky Two Crows
A roll of thunder wakes Lucky from a most comforting dream. Sweet perfume. Tender kisses. Hopeful wishes. 8:15 am.
Yesterday’s weather forecast called for a weekend of non-stop torrential downpours. Lucky checks the news on his iPhone. Portland’s annual Gay Pride Parade has been cancelled. He moans, and then snuggles under his down quilt, wishing his fantasy dream would come true. He never sleeps this late. It’s time to surrender to what this new day brings. A stormy reality.
Eyes open, now on his back, fingers twined behind his head, he stares into the skylight while listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops. For a few precious no-hurry moments, he allows himself to surrender to past thoughts. He thinks about his life as a full-blooded American Indian detective, a defender of native people who need more help than the majority will ever admit. Most Indians can’t relate to his passion; his lone ranger desire to make their wrongs, or the wrongs against them, right. Just be grateful, they say. He takes in a deep breath and wonders what his life would be like if he had spent it where he was born, in Browning, Montana. He thinks about his mother, wondering if she’s still alive, still living on the Blackfeet reservation, still drinking. Growing up without a loving mother saddens him. He remembers the day the BIA took him from her. He was only six years old. He recalls some, and has long forgotten most, of his foster parents. He never accepted their strict authority, rebelled against it, endlessly inciting their anger, prompting the BIA to shuttled him from one home to another, for ten years.
While still savoring these comfortable moments of changing plans, of falling rain above him, Lucky thinks about those ten years, working on foster home computers in the early morning hours. He chuckles about his intense study, figuring out how a computer works, and finally how to build one from scratch, and the many he ruined, inciting the anger. Early one morning, half-way into this sixteenth year, after his Boise “parents” beat him the night before, he stood on the highway with his thumb out. A kind truck driver picked him up and dropped him off on a Portland street that afternoon. He found shelter and soon got work repairing computers. This time for money.
Lucky fondly thinks about his dear friend and mentor, Jimmy Meriweather, Portland’s Police Captain of Homicide and Missing Persons. He remembers the day he found Jimmy’s Aikido dojo and soon after became the sensei’s protégé. Jimmy always had a bed in back for Lucky, and kept him away from alcohol, drugs and juvenile prison. In the beginning of the next ten years, besides repairing computers, he learned to ride a horse and shoot arrows. A full-blooded Blackfeet warrior, strong and athletic, he fit in perfectly, performing in powwows, bare-chested, galloping in on his horse, chanting, dancing and shooting arrows, as if he were a mirage from the 19th century.
Lucky recalls the day at age twenty-six when he was hired by the prominent Portland Indian Rights attorney, JJ Jones. For the past three years their workload has been sporadic; the Natives too complacent, or too poor to ask for help. This prompted Lucky to open his own business, L&P Investigations, a private-eye detective agency.
Still lying in bed. 8:30. Lucky thinks about his stallion and the police horses whose prayers were answered. They won’t get soaked today. They’ll stay put with warm wraps on their backs, secure in their stables. He thinks about his beloved black stallion Shaka, safe and secure at a ranch in Beaverton.
Tonto, a stray black cat, has wondered in and now lies on Lucky’s chest, purring away. She too is surprised he’s still in bed. He likes strays like Tonto, who, like him, are free and independent, who take good care of themselves. They aren’t needy like most of the women he’s briefly experimented living with. Tonto is grateful for the big bag of cat food which Lucky keeps under cover on the back porch. Poison bulkheads keep the ants away, and if a rat comes anywhere near, Tonto is quick to the feast. She’s a survivor, like Lucky, and at this moment he feels as wild and free as her.
It’s now a quarter to nine and Lucky doesn’t want to get up, but his tummy begs to differ. He decides to go to Mary Jane’s, his favorite rainy-day Portland café. After his shower and shave, blow-drying his long hair, he puts on his blue jeans and denim long sleeve shirt. Jeans tucked in, he laces up his mid-calf boots, as secure from the rain as mukluks in an Alaskan blizzard. He slips on his Scully’s dark leather long coat and sets his matching wide-brimmed Stetson as low as it will go. He looks like a renegade long rider in a spaghetti western. Before heading out into the storm he checks himself in the mirror. “I’m one bad-ass Indian.”
Come in, she said I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.
Saturday Morning around 9 am:
Once out the door and on the sidewalk, a breeze whips up the heavy raindrops, causing Lucky to turn his head away. He thinks maybe staying in bed would have been a better idea but then moves on down the road. He thinks about the would-have-been canceled parade, prancing down Burnside on his black stallion, a bare-chested Blackfeet warrior, leather breeches and eagle feathers, yelping war cries, how it would have turned more than a few heads. Today all heads are turned down, avoiding puddles.
Lucky dodges the downpour by ducking into overhangs and eaves, skirting the puddles and jumping away from traffic spray, thankful for his boots, his long coat and hat. The thinks of Fred Astaire’s famous song, “dancing in the rain.” It lightens his spirit for the next fifteen minutes until he arrives at the cafe.
Mary Jane’s Cafe & Bakery is one of Portland’s trendy old town neo-hippie eateries. For him it’s the best place in the world for a rainy-day breakfast. The cafe is packed, with half a dozen people waiting to be seated. Jill, his all-time favorite waitress, had anticipated his arrival by putting a reserved sign on the two top at the front window. The hostess points him to it. Jill left a note: “Lucky Two Crows. Master Detective. You can’t fool me.” He hangs his wet long coat and hat, sits, and prepares for great food and the un-orchestrated entertaining ambiance.
Jill appears at his table as if seeing Lucky there was a surprise. She sets down a full pot of hot Guatemalan coffee and pours him a mug. “Well, look who the cat brought in. What’s it going to be today, honey?” she asks, knowing he always orders the same thing, and the answer has nothing to do with food.
He starts in, not singing, just saying what was on his mind when coming here, “I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above. The sun’s in my heart, and I’m ready for love. . .”
“Too easy! On a day like today! Dancing in the rain. Fred Astaire,” Jill answers, shaking her head as if he should know better. She graduated as a music major and music trivia is the game they look forward to playing. Lucky would start out with the first line of the lyrics and she would have to name the singer and sing another line of the song,
“I’m singing in the rain. Just singing in the rain. What a glorious feelin,’ I’m happy again. I’m singin’ and dancin’ in the rain!” Jill sings in a voice only Lucky can hear, while twirling around once, and then laughs, charmed by what a flirt the handsome Indian is. Her reward for winning is the same big tip he always gives her. No matter what the menu price, she’ll write on his tab $15. He always leaves $20.
Jill excuses herself to put in his order for The Skillet, a twelve-inch cast-iron skillet piled with grilled herbed potatoes, three eggs over easy and sautéed organic vegetables; rainbow peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms; the whole cornucopia, which arrives ten minutes later. Guarding the meal are four thick slices of grilled heavily buttered fresh homemade sourdough toast, with Oregon blueberry jam on the side. This morning he has plenty of time to relax and take it easy; to think of another rainy-day tune, or two. The downpour outside the window makes the meal that more exotically delicious. The coffee tastes like black gold; the bread like mother love. He’s content and happy to be exactly where he is.
He thinks about his team. Surely, they have mixed feelings about the cancelled gay pride parade; disappointed not to be marching and yet happily safe and secure, inside and not out in the storm. The parade will be rescheduled. After the rainbow, the sailor boys in short shorts will spin their hula-hoops under blue skies that say, “You’re welcomed to come out . . . today.”
Regardless of the weather, Lucky figures his team will all show at work around ten, wondering about his Plan B. He has no Plan B. Only Plan A minor; to enjoy his breakfast, as he is, thinking of the lyrics to Stormy Monday Blues . . . “the eagle flies on Friday, Saturday I go out to play . . .”
Staring out the window, Lucky remembers that when something doesn’t happen as planned, it’s always a good omen; a sign that whatever it was, needs more work. He now remembers Dylan while thinking of Jill, wondering if he can stump her with the first three lines;
“Suddenly I turned around and she was standin’ there.
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair.
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
(would she sing?) Come in, she said I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.”
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy.
Lucky’s daydream is interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. He answers the call from JJ, his attorney, saying, “I’m busy having an important dream of a dying Indian. Maybe a past life. Call back. Monday would be better.”
“Lucky. I have good news,” JJ ignores Lucky’s nonsense. “Pay your bill and get over here.”
“Not happening. I’m enjoying myself. Not in the mood to change locations anytime soon.”
“Where are you?”
There’s a long pause. “Does it matter?” He waits. “JJ, I’m in a cafe having breakfast. Not done yet. After this, I’ll head in your direction. I supposed my team is anxious to hear my Plan B, which I don’t have. Then I’ll drive to Beaverton to visit my horse. Maybe I’ll find a hot tub between here and there. Hot tub and then a massage. That sounds like a great rainy-day idea!”
“Lucky . . .”
“Did I mention, after my one o’clock aikido class I’ll be taking the rest of the afternoon off to relax. None of what I just mentioned includes meeting you anytime today.”
“Good thing that between paying your bill and meeting your team before going to Beaverton you have time to squeeze me in,” JJ interrupts. “Where exactly are you now?”
“At Mary Jane’s. Enjoying the ambiance, which you’ve just disturbed. Call me back around nine on Monday.”
Lucky is ready to hang up and JJ can feel it, so he raises his voice, “Wait! You’re at that noisy hippie place? You call that enjoyable? More like a chaotic pothead zoo, if you ask me . . . “
“Not asking . . .”
“Did you order the loaded pancakes or their space-cowboy muffins?”
“You’ve eaten here?”
“Listen to me, Lucky. This guy showed up who has a job offer for you. This is what we’ve been asking for. I think its worth lots of real money. He looks loaded. You hearing me? He wants to hire you.”
“He looks loaded. If this guy’s in your office he’s gotta be nuts. What are you doing there? You’re nuts too . . . coming to work on a Saturday morning during a torrential rain?”
“He called, requested to meet me and I agreed. He came half an hour early.”
“Why didn’t you say what I just said, ‘call me around nine Monday morning?’”
“You know why. We both need this job. The man certainly doesn’t look nuts. He looks determined. Persuasive. Wealthy. I don’t know about you, but I need money to pay my downtown high-rise office rent.”
“I get your point. Who is this guy?” Lucky surrenders to his old inner conflict of pride vs money.
“His name’s Clarence Two Moons. He’s from Montana. Called when I was still in bed. Around nine. Yes, I was ready to stay home, sleep until noon, or whatever. He said he flew down from Montana yesterday for only one reason. To hire you. Today. In sixteen minutes. How could I tell him to call back Monday morning?”
“Why didn’t you call me an hour and forty-five minutes ago?”
“Sorry. I figured you were busy . . . maybe with a guest . . . and I was going to give you a half hour warning, and then he was here, and we got to talking. He has that kind of commanding presence. Anyway, he told me to make sure you’re here at ten; that it will be well worth your while. Time flies. Ten is fifteen minutes from now.”
“Fifteen minutes? You know I’m not your ‘snap-my-fingers’ boy. It will take me at least eighteen minutes to finish my breakfast. I still have more than half a pot of coffee to get through, and it will take ten more minutes to fully appreciate all the new arrivals and another ten to come up with another name that tune, for Jill. Tell him to make it eleven. At my office.”
“Not gonna happen. You need to pay up and leave now, Lucky.”
“I’m not leaving Mary Jane’s.” He pauses as if in real consideration. “I think it’s illegal to leave a Portland hippie place in a downpour.”
“Give me a break . . .”
“You know JJ . . . when you acquiesce to an unreasonable request like you’ve done, it appears needy. A sign of weakness. Take charge. Tell him to come back at eleven; at my office. If he wants to meet me before then, have him come here. We can bond over your loaded muffins.”
“I don’t . . . that won’t work. A business meeting in a noisy pothead cafe is unprofessional. This guy is an executive; prominent type. Probably never ate a loaded muffin in his life. Not that I have. He’s sitting in my waiting room like a cigar store Indian statue . . .”
“He’s Native American?”
“I told you, from Montana.”
“Six percent of the Montana population is Native American.”
“So maybe that means you’re from the same tribe? I don’t know. You’re always talking about signs and omens. An Indian walking into my office wanting to hire an Indian. What’s the chances?
“JJ! I’m an Indian always working with Indians. That’s what we do.”
“Noted. We need work and he shows up out of the blue. If that’s not one of your signs or omens, I don’t know what is. Look Lucky, just finish your eggs and I’ll make a pot of coffee. You have twelve minutes to get here.”
“See you at my office at eleven.”
“Not happening” Lucky takes a sip of his coffee, curious why anyone would fly in a storm to see him. “Okay, I have two minutes before I pour another cup. Tell me what this is all about, so I’ll be ready to spar when we meet.”
“This isn’t a dojo. He didn’t come to spar, “ JJ almost whines. “A wealthy man wants to hire you. He’s sitting here waiting for you. Ten minutes.”
“Okay. But why?”
“He said there was an incident on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. A murder. That’s all I know,” JJ states as if Lucky was a homicide detective ready for his next case.
“A murder! Come on JJ. We deal with tribal disputes and land claims, infringement of rights and tipi type legalities, assholes who abuse my people, not kill them. Murder? On the reservation? I’ll pass. End of story.”
“Wake up Lucky. We can’t afford to pass on this.”
“You’re actually considering I take on a murder case?”
“I am. See you in my conference room. Nine minutes.”
“Eleven o’clock in my office. Not until then.” Lucky hangs up with the final word, thinking the wealthy guy can wait an hour if it’s that important.
When she passes, each one she passes goes “ah!
Lucky’s stubbornness was beginning to crumble. Just a bit. He would meet this Clarence, consider the man’s offer and most likely turn him down. But first he will casually finish his breakfast, which is a reasonable thing to do.
After all, Mary Jane’s is warm, cozy and dry; the perfect place to be sheltered from the storm. It smells of hickory chips and nutmeg; like a hearth-lit rainy morning on the proverbial country farm where the diners were all happy campers. The laid-back ambiance reasons against the torrential downpour on the other side of Lucky’s street-view window. For him, even the glass is comforting. He stops Jill and speaks softly, “Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun, Lord knows when the cold wind blows, it’ll turn your head around. Well there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come. Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.”
“Thanks. I needed that,” she answers with a sigh. “I’ve been slammed all morning. Not been walking my mind to an easy time . . . Mr. John Denver. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days, I’ll say rainy days, that I thought would never end . . . or shifts that will never end.” They both laugh.
Sipping his Guatemalan coffee, Lucky thinks about the murder in Browning, which he knows nothing about. He had once confided in JJ regarding the terrible beginning of his life there. He has spent half a lifetime wanting to block those years from his memory. Why is it coming back to haunt him?
Thirty-years have passed since the BIA took Lucky from his mother. In nightmares he remembers her; drunk, stoned, and whoring with one degenerate after the other. In his first six years of life he was serially neglected and often abandoned for a day or two, while she was lost on a bender. By the time he was rescued, a lot of psychological damage was already done. Damage upon damage continued during his next ten years in foster care. Thinking about it now, his nightmares are a pretty good reason why he shouldn’t return to the scene of that crime. He will humor JJ and this man, but he had made up his mind. His answer will be a positive No. Other good paying jobs will pop up here in Portland. Don’t worry, he assures himself. Forget Montana.
Twenty minutes later, as he prepares to leave Mary Jane’s, his phone rings. It’s Jimmy Meriweather, the Portland Police Bureau’s retiring Captain of Homicide and Missing Persons, and Lucky’s best friend and confidant.
“Sorry to bother you this early,” Jimmy starts in. “There’s been a murder you should know about.”
“No thanks. I shouldn’t be knowing about any murder, not my business,” Lucky answers, wondering why in the hell he’s been told about two murders in one hour? He thinks about it, “Why do you think I should know about a murder?”
“Bear with me.” He pauses and then continues, as if he doesn’t really want to speak these words. “A teenage girl was found on the banks of the Willamette River early this morning. I was the only commanding officer who answered his phone, so I went to the scene. It was dawn. Miserable pouring rain and there I was examining a young girl’s body. It was sickening and sad, reminding me it’s something I shouldn’t be doing. Anyway, I determined the cause of death was strangulation. There were needle marks and we won’t know what was in her system until we do an autopsy. Not my best morning.”
“Sorry to hear this Jimmy,” Lucky pauses. “Maybe you needed to unload your feelings to a friend, but you never discuss your cases with me. I’m sure your gal Taylor could give you more appropriate police feedback. From what you told me; she’d be happy to finally get a homicide; to examine a dead body. I have no interest in dead bodies, especially young ones. Why tell me this? You don’t want me to get involved, do you?”
“No. Not with this police investigation. I don’t even want to be involved. I’m unofficially retired, you know. You’ve shared with me the dirt on the Ruhl Farm. Remember that cryptic symbol you showed me?” This gets Lucky’s attention, asking Jimmy to go on. “It was tattooed on her arm.”
“Shit.” Lucky pauses for a long breath. “That ties her to the Ruhl Farm. Is she Russian?”
“We don’t know yet. There was no ID. Just the body. Why would you think she’s Russian?”
“We’ve heard rumors about brutish Russian men in Newport, working at the Ruhl Farm. So, we made a deal for a bit of spying with one of the bartenders at the Mad Dog, the closest bar to the farm. He tells us there were never Russian goons until about a year ago; that before they arrived it was very unusual to see these foreign criminal types in his sleepy Oregon coastal town.”
“Sounds suspicious. Go on.”
“He’s also heard rumors about illegal drugs and Russian girls, though he never saw one in the bar or heard about young girl hookers in Newport. He reported on a lot of whispering between the Russians and the seedy local rednecks and older low-life men.
“Sounds like the type who’d keep the underground sex trafficking in business.”
“Also, we know the Ruhl Farm is making mislabeled illegal proof vodka and using a new toxic chemical on their crops called NIP, which stands for Natural Insect Prevention. Another mislabel. He thinks the local cops have been paid off, since there’s been no arrests and everything about the Russian presence in Newport is hush hush.” Lucky pauses and thinks about the implications. “I hope to hell these people aren’t trafficking young Russian girls.” He pauses again. “Damn this storm. I don’t know what I’ll find but I gotta find something. I’ll leave this afternoon and do my spying first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Hopefully like a ninja,” Jimmy offers. “Newport is out of my jurisdiction but what you just told me about the Ruhl Farm, the rumors . . . the girl with their tattoo . . . is too compelling to be mere speculation. You’ve got my unofficial deputized permission to check it out. I suppose you can’t sneak up in a black Avis rental, which is why you need to take your motorcycle. By the way, I haven’t told Taylor about the murder,” Jimmy says with a sigh, anticipating her anger that he didn’t let her examine the body. “Good luck.”
After Lucky hangs up, he waves at Jill who comes by with his bill. He still wants to stump her. He softly says, “Four in the morning. Crapped out. Yawning. Longing my life away . . .”
“Paul Simon. “Still crazy,” Jill half-sings, smiling, “Still crazy after all these years.”
Standing at his office window, streaked with big raindrops, dampened by shadows of the brooding sky, Jimmy thinks about the best laid plans of mice and men, how they go astray. He thinks of Taylor Banks plans to be a homicide detective, which have gone astray. And the dead body which may excite her but screw up his retirement plans. He’ll talk with the Chief. Nothing to do about it now.
The greatest thing is just to love and be loved in return
Once in, out of the pouring rain, Lucky walks the four flights up to his L & P Investigations office, thinking about his team and how much they mean to him. They had been active members of Portland’s underground Hacker’s Anonymous (HA) for several years, until they quit and banded together two years ago.
Peter Miller, an IT specialist and licensed Private Eye is Lucky’s business partner. They work with CJ, Clair Jackson, a hot blond genius firewall buster and private eye. Adam is a multi-tattooed skate-board riding geek from another planet computer genius. Jane, his girlfriend, with her a nose-ring and purple hair, is their secretary. All five are dedicated to saving the people of the US, and maybe the world, from food poisoning by the global cartels.
L&P Investigations is both a legitimate detective agency and a false front for their stealth anti-agrochemical cartel computer hacking aspirations. Taking down the food cartels is the team’s ultimate goal, along with stopping the re-emergence of underground sex slavery in Oregon.
All the political uprising in 2020 deeply disturbed Lucky. He thinks that politics, like a Gay Pride Parade, should come out once a year. Give everyone, gay or straight, red or blue, free rein to flaunt their flamboyant tomfoolery and exhausting cacophonies. For one day they could let loose with their righteous squabbles, screw each other, and then sleep it off. As it is, to him politics is rife with endless graft, strings attached to personal deals and gains and re-election campaigns. Lucky’s team wants to do something with no strings attached. Their rebellion would be entirely anonymous; a grand theft, giving away billions like an invisible Santa Claus. Their hope is for a joyous country showered with unexpected good nature abundance
But their strategy lacked an important ingredient: money. They need better equipment; starting with a more powerful motherboard, one capable of holding not giga or terra but petabytes of information. They need a control center with at least twenty thirty-six-inch monitors. They have the space in their new Portland office, but who wants to finance a thieving cyber revolution?
Regardless of the money, today they had planned to hack into the website of Piedmont-Syn, the top agro/chemical company in the US; to change their homepage, timed to happen while they were marching in the Gay Pride Parade. They would all dress flamboyantly, with Lucky on his black stallion, bare-chested, face blackened with war-paint. He’d be the full-blooded Blackfeet warrior, bow and arrows in hand, yelling war chants like he did at the powwows. Their hope was his juxtaposed outrageousness would make the five o’clock news. They couldn’t imagine being suspected of the hacking into Piedmont Syn’s website, but if by the slim chance they were, there would be proof they were in the parade at the time.
Lucky is now thinking that maybe the delay was to their good fortune. Just one simple little glitch, a trace back to them, would ruin their lives and dreams forever.
Six months has passed since they stopped meeting in Lucky’s Pearl District apartment. They rented most of the 3600 square foot fourth floor of a downtown Portland high-rise, opening their false-front private detective agency. They share the building with respected investment companies and law offices, including that of Lucky’s attorney, JJ Jones, one floor below.
They spent most of Peter’s personal savings, augmented by a bank loan, to create an office which would serve their special needs. Their entrance area is typical low-tech funky Portland; an old couch and two semi-easy chairs facing a red brick wall with the simple metal letters L&P INVESTIGATIONS.
L&P’s front counter cherry wood desk is a hundred years old, surrounded by an assortment of indoor plants. The entrance also features a framed print of Sitting Bull and several native masks. The room is where Jane spends most of her time, mostly watching YouTube videos.
There is a door on each side of the entrance area brick wall. Behind the left is a hall with several doors, straight in, is the waiting room bathroom, and to the right are three bedrooms with baths, one each for Lucky, Peter and CJ in case they need to spend the night. and a storage room. Behind the right door is a hallway, which opens into the great room. Against one wall of the twenty by sixty-foot great room is a full kitchen with a counter and six stools, plus a ten-chair glass dining table. The living room area has a long coffee table between two big leather sofas, supported by several cozy wing chairs, all in front of a gas fireplace, and a sixty-inch TV. The tile living room floor is scattered with Navajo rugs and the brick walls display Lucky’s collection of American Indian art behind cool looking lamps. It has a feeling of home, except for the other half of the great room. It features a full sized Muay Thai boxing ring, of all things, and a large assortment of weight equipment. The far wall has entrances to men’s and women’s toilet/locker/dressing rooms. The kitchen also has a closed pantry with a door that opens into a super-secret computer control room, also twenty by sixty. In the far left fifteen feet is a large bedroom suite with bath, where Adam and Jane are currently living.
“Good Morning,” Peter Miller, Lucky’s usually cheerful forty-year-old gay business partner says while Lucky hangs his drenched raincoat. “Why are we here? Why not Miami? It never rains in Miami. I heard there’s a lot of single men there. Handsome Latinos.”
Peter is good looking, single, with no obvious gay mannerisms. He exudes a professional businessman air, most often choosing to arrive well-dressed in suit and tie. He had advanced to vice-president of a computer-engineering firm, before quitting to become a detective. Peter and Lucky have been friends for nearly twenty years, sharing idealisms. When Lucky flops in an easy chair without answering, Peter continues, “You look lost in thought.” He pulls Lucky up into one of his frequent hugs. “What’s up?”
“Long story. JJ wants me to take a job with a Native American businessman from Montana,” he answers while sitting back down. “He’s apparently wealthy. There’s been a murder. He wants me to go there and find out who did it.”
“You don’t do murder.”
Before he can respond, Adam emerges half naked from the pantry looking like a tall lanky Dr. Seuss character. “Hey guys. What’s up? We didn’t get in until . . . what was it . . . around 3 am. It was a pisser out there. We still marching today?” When Peter and Lucky both shake their heads, he says, “That’s cool.”
Adam’s in his mid-twenties, a typical looking Portland street punk who just happens to be a computer operating systems genius; the Frankenstein child of two computers’ DNA; an advanced integrated system’s test tube baby gone wild. He rides his skateboard everywhere, even in the rain, and considers his body an ongoing work of art. “When we got in this morning we were soaked to the bone. How come we don’t have a sauna?”
“Be grateful we give you a free room,” Peter retorts. Lucky is reminded of the hot tub he’s going to miss.
With his shirt off, Adam reveals a hodgepodge collage of colorfully bad tattoos. “Good thing they cancelled. I’d have to be super-duper stoned and naked, butt naked, to march in that shit. Why was I born too late? I should have been a hippie in the sixties. I’d be dropping acid and marching naked in a gay snowstorm, no problem. That’d be fun, don’t you think Jane?”
Jane, his girlfriend, enters from the pantry, wearing Donald Duck pajamas. “A snowstorm?” she questions, having heard Adam’s rambling. “Not so sure about acid either. I think weed is good. Up to me, we’d be standing in the backseat of a sixty-five Mustang convertible, in the warm rain, in Havana, naked and stoned, followed by a mariachi band, playing just for us . . . now that sounds like fun. Me naked in this rain? I don’t think so. We were in a bar waiting for it to stop so we could make it home last night. Never did. We were soaked when we got here.”
“Naked in Havana! I like that. Right on, Jane. You’re my black magic woman!” Adam shouts as he hops up into the Muay Thai boxing ring, does a flip and then starts playing Carlos Santana on his air guitar, singing, “You got a spell on my baby. This one’s for you, so stop messing around with your trick.” He points at Jane, like a rock star to a fan. “You should lick my magic stick.”
“Oh brother. Gross That’s not in the song.” Jane shakes her head. “If you choose that song one more time at karaoke night, I’ll turn my back on you baby . . . for good.” She looks at Peter and Lucky and says, “By the way, it’s every Friday night. You should come. That’s where we were last night.”
“How about Diana Ross,” Adam says, totally out of character for someone who should only know punk or acid rock, “You’ve been . . . so . . . wonderful . . . to me?”
‘That’ll get you killed.”
“Oooo,” Adam can’t help himself, speaking the lyrics, “You’re turning my heart into stone. I need you so bad, magic woman. I can’t leave you alone.”
“See what I mean,” Peter says to Lucky. “Even these two love the Latino’s. We should all go to the Gay Pride Parade in Havana.”
Jane graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Business Administration a year before, and moved to Portland to live with her parents, since she was broke. They want her to get her MBA at Portland State, and are a bit disappointed that their baby girl dyed her hair purple, put a ring in her nose, and hooked up with a mess of tattooed confusion, Adam. They were happy she finally got a business sector job, managing the office of an IT business, at least that’s what she told them. She has no tattoos and looks like a sorority sweetheart. She and Adam are an odd couple, to say the least.
Jane and Adam go into the locker rooms to change into workout gear, and then meet in the ring. Ever since they moved here, Lucky has been training his team in mixed martial arts, self-defense and street fighting, with a daily regimen of exercise, Chi Gong, and weight training. Adam looks like a skinny runt, but he is mastering flips, high kicks, and swift jabs to pressure points, which could stop anyone dead in their tracks.
Several minutes later the fifth member of the team enters and hangs up her rain gear. “Naaaasssty out there,” she says in a loud voice, oblivious of who might be listening. When Lucky turns his head she continues, “Guess I don’t get to be gay for a day after all.” CJ, which stands for Claire Jackson, makes up for her unscheduled late arrival with a bag of freshly baked bagels and cream cheese. Setting them in front of Lucky and Peter, she continues, “That means I like men. Straight men. Single straight men. You know what I’m talking about, Lucky.” He ignores her as she enters the kitchen and brews a pot of organic coffee. And then she goes to the music table and changes the ambiance with rainy day Nat King Cole on the vinyl turntable. Flopping on the couch, looking at Lucky, she sings along with Nat, “Like a song of love that clings to me, how the thought of you does things to me, never before has someone been more . . . unforgettable.” Lucky rolls his eyes.
CJ is thirty-one, single, a good-looking natural blond, well-toned and sexy; an all-around athletic, like Lucky, and a recent Aikido black belt. “You know how much I love swimming in the rain,” she says as she sets the coffee mugs and begins pouring. “I would love to swim the English Channel one day. Today is near ideal. I thought about swimming in the Willamette, but shit, here I am.” She looks over at the Muay Thai ring where Adam and Jane were dancing in circles, and yells, “Hey you two! Respect the space. No screwing around. Serious sparring or get out.” She’s serious about Muay Thai, and all forms of martial arts. “I got coffee and bagels.”
Adam moons CJ, which she doesn’t see.
“Looks like CJ and I got a new job,” Peter says with enthusiasm in his voice. A career IT executive, Peter never intended to be a detective but found the work to be rewarding and fun, and not so very different than his computer work. They’re both about solving puzzles, he’d say, figuring shit out. “I got an email from my friend Jim . . . you know, the one whose been hitting on me forever. I didn’t mention it yesterday because of the upcoming parade, but since it’s not happening, he scheduled us for a meeting with his boss this afternoon.”
“We can’t wait,” CJ says with excitement. As the business grew, both her and Peter passed the Private Investigator’s exam. She enjoys the intrigue and constant surprises of her new job; also, a master at solving puzzles and figuring shit out. Her biggest can’t figure out seems to be why Lucky doesn’t find her sexually attractive; why he doesn’t take advantage of her appealing feminine attributes.
“What is it?” Lucky asks.
“A small Portland coffee company is considering suing Starbucks for copying their coffee house, cafe, pub, neo-bohemian vibe in an old late 1800’s bank concept, which they’ve been perfecting for years, and were ready to franchise. Jim mentioned a multi-million-dollar lawsuit for outright stealing their concept. He says they need us to spy for them to gather lawsuit intel . . . and says hiring us is a done deal.”
“What’s the cafe called?”
“The Bank.” CJ lights up. “Can you believe it? The Bank is my favorite forever coffee shop. Their Bailey latte is to die for. Spying on Starbucks? Piece of cake. Maybe Starbucks will hire me. It’ll be a sexy undercover barista, hacking into their system between orders. I bet I can make a mean latte.”
“I’m hoping there’ll be plenty of work for all of us,” Peter adds, nodding at Adam and Jane, who have joined them. “I’ll ask for a high daily rate plus a small percentage of the settlement. I’m thinking about asking Jim to have the Bank deliver coffee here, every morning.”
“l want mine with rum in it,” Jane jokes.
“I’ll have mine with THC,” Adam adds. “Is their coffee organic? If not, forget the coffee and just bring us rum. . . and Girl Scout Cookies. Will you be helping us Lucky?”
“I’m not sure,” he answers, now realizing Girl Scout Cookies is a strain. “First of all, I wasn’t asked . . . you assholes, and second, I have an interview at eleven, about a job in Montana, which I’m 95% sure I’m going to turn down.”
“Well. You should probably take it since, no offense, we won’t need you on the coffee case,” Peter says. “What kind of detective job?”
“Murder?” CJ, Jane and Adam say at the same time. “Maybe I can fly up and help you on the weekends,” CJ offers, then chuckles, winking at him. CJ is quite brilliant, having graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in computer technology at age nineteen. After a year of world travel, she became a computer systems technician for Cisco in Portland, advancing to assistant head engineer. Like Lucky, she can build a computer from scratch, without blueprints. She holds the idea that the two of them could be a couple; relentlessly pursued that goal. “Before you leave, how about we go to my room for an hour, or two.” She wiggles her tongue.
“Please CJ . . .”
“Okay then, we can go to your room. When’s your interview. Eleven?” She looks up at the clock. “We have almost half an hour. You know that it’s a fact the best sex happens during storms. You know that?”
“We can’t hear the storm in those rooms.”
“I’ll bet you were laying there in bed this morning all alone thinking about what you’d be doing with a woman like me, instead of going to your hippie Cafe. I’ll bet that’s where you went. Mary Jane’s? Right? How can you choose that over this? You know what I’m saying Jane?” Jane doesn’t care about CJ’s sex chatter, and shrugs.
“We’ve got more important things to discuss, for Christ’s sake,” Lucky says, quite seriously, hoping to dispel all hope.
“More important? Are you out of your mind? Okay. We don’t have to go to your room. Peter’s will do. Why do we have them if not for days like this?”
“Not going to happen, CJ,” Lucky answers, followed by her exaggerated frown. “Let’s straighten ourselves up. This guy who wants to hire me should be here any time now.”
Still crazy after all these years
Saturday late Morning:
Fifteen minutes later, Lucky’s soon to be disappointed client walks through the door. The man dwarfs Lucky’s Jewish attorney JJ, who is five foot-six, clean-cut, short salt and pepper hair, with more than a little bit of a mid-fifty’s paunch. Even on this stormy Saturday morning, he is professionally dressed in blue; blue checkered print under his blue suit jacket. Lucky is pleased to see he’s wearing blue jeans.
The client is a Native American, late fifties, with pure white hair pulled into a neat ponytail. He is solidly built, in apparent excellent health. His height is over six feet, carried with the bearing of a high-level corporate executive. Lucky instantly recognizes him, though they have never met. The others stand is if it’s mandatory in the face of gentlemanliness.
The man gives Lucky a knowing look, his arms relaxed at his side, and speaks, “It’s good to see you, son.” He then bends into a formal Japanese bow.
Lucky thinks it’s a strange first thing to say, wondering if he refers to all younger Native Americans as son. His gesture is perfect. Lucky wonders if he’s a martial artist; an Aikidoist? Lucky returns the bow.
As soon as Lucky is upright, JJ makes the introduction, “Lucky Two Crows, I’d like to introduce Clarence Two Moons, our new client.” JJ says this as if it were already a done deal. They shake hands. Lucky then introduces Clarence to his team. Even Adam knows better, not to speak before asked.
But Lucky can’t help himself, saying, “Maybe not our new client. You called me son. Why?” Even though he has already decided he isn’t about to go to Montana, he was willing to be somewhat cordial.
“I think you should hear me out. I’m here to offer you a challenge like you’ve never had before.” He pauses while Lucky doesn’t react. “I’m Blackfeet. We’re blood. I say son because I’m old enough to be your father,” Clarence states, with a twinkle in his eyes. He waits, giving Lucky a long look, and adds, “It’s an opportunity to return to your culture, while being paid”
Lucky is long past this sort of racial manipulation and decides to be blunt. “Listen, I challenge myself daily, in ways you probably can’t imagine. If I wanted, I could return to my culture, as a garbageman, and be paid. You found out I’m a detective. There’s lots of detectives in the world. My work is with tribal law. I don’t do homicide,” Lucky says while looking the older man square in the eyes. “So, let’s cut to the chase. I have absolutely no interest in figuring out who killed who. I’m going to pass. No thank you. Sorry you came all this way for nothing.” Lucky gives the man another Japanese bow, catching his broad smile on the way down.
“Wait a second!” CJ blurts out. “This gentleman flew all the way from Montana, specifically to meet you. That in itself is worth an hour of our time, not five minutes. I’m interested in what he has to say. They look interested.” He points to the others. “Let’s just hear him out.”
Lucky shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders. “Let the jury be aware that, for the remainder of this session, I’m a disinterested party. Witness to this man’s waste of time.”
“So noted,” Clarence offers with a chuckle. “I’ll present my case and you can be the judge, jury and executioner, of what happens with my waste of time. I’m interested in sitting, and maybe have a cup of coffee.”
JJ tells everyone where to sit at the eight-seat table. CJ takes the moment to make more coffee and set cups for the two guests. She also offers bagels to Clarence. He passes.
Once everyone is seated, Adam starts in, “It’s not the best weather to come wearing your war bonnet, if that’s what they call that big feather hat . . . but you sure look like an Indian Chief. Are you?”
Clarence laughs, “No,” and then starts in, “But I do have the full bonnet in a glass display case at my home. They say it belonged to Sitting Bull, but I’m not 100% sure. I also have a collection of white man scalps.”
“NO! You’re not serious. That I’d love to see,” Adam exclaims.
“Just kidding,” Clarence answers; having helped everyone to relax a bit. There is a long pause before Clarence continues, “I have a home near Great Falls, in the middle of Montana, a couple hours’ drive south of Browning . . . the place of this murder, which Lucky wants nothing to do with. Browning is the home of the Blackfeet Nation and Reservation. I was once the head of the Business Council, and when I moved to Great Falls, Harold Running Dog took over. He was also the honorary chief of the Blackfeet tribe.”
“You said he was. Did someone murder this honorary chief?” Peter asks. Apparently, everyone wishes to be a part of this discussion.
“Correct,” he answers, and then continues, “He was my best friend,” He stops to consider. “Truth is, he was not only a great chairman, but also a strong Chief but without the authority the chiefs once had. A hundred and fifty years ago, decisions were made without all the squabbling that goes on today.”
“I guess you can blame the white man for that,” Adam says, just to appear intelligent. “Lucky’s taught me a bit about Indian lore.”
“That’s good. So, you should know we’re not stupid people, but for some reason many of us haven’t stopped selling out to the special interests of the white man,” He says while not losing eye contact with Lucky, “You’re a rare breed, Lucky. A Blackfeet without a political agenda. Am I right?”
“Somewhat. I could care less about Blackfeet Tribe politics . . . and I’m not too pleased with how mostly white politicians treat the Native Americans in general.”
“This is why I’m here. We need intelligent Blackfeet native rights advocates, like yourself, to face our weaker brothers, who are victims of white lobby money pressure. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I do. I’m also aware of what you’re doing . . . trying to fill me with Blackfeet pride. I left that life thirty years ago.” They lock eyes for almost thirty seconds before breaking the stare-down. “Your best friend was murdered. I’m sorry for your loss. But it’s none of my business. I was born a Blackfeet. So what? Why would that make you think I can solve your murder?” Lucky really wants to roll his eyes.
“Why else would I be here?”
“Let me guess,” Adam interrupts, “Portland brew pubs?”
“Seriously,” Lucky says. “I have no idea why you’d come to Portland wanting to hire me, when there are plenty of detectives in Missoula, Spokane and Seattle. What about Great Falls, Helena or Billings? Why do you even care if your detective is Native American?”
“Is he always this way?” Clarence asks everyone else at the table.
“Pretty much,” CJ answers. “He knows his stuff and doesn’t back down.”
“He once asked me for a raise,” JJ breaks in. “The challenge was no raise for one year or double his salary after he took the Oregon bar exam, without going to law school, and passed it. I wouldn’t take the bet.”
“I could do that. Pass the bar without law school,” CJ offers. “I scanned the detectives manual and aced the test. There’s lots of stupid attorneys out there, and neither one of us is anywhere near stupid.” She looks a Lucky.
“You’re talking about me without my consent. It’s none of his business, JJ,” Lucky responds. “Let’s move this along.”
“What was the raise?” Clarence asks JJ, appearing impressed, ignoring what Lucky had just said.
“Like I said, double. I paid it. He earns it. Isn’t that right Lucky?” He doesn’t answer.
Now Clarence is staring deeper into Lucky’s eyes. “I know all about you; pure blood Blackfeet detective, protector of American Indian rights, with five black belts in Aikido. A pow-wow dancer and rider and an Olympic caliber archer. Should I go on? There’s nobody like you in Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Spokane or Seattle. That’s why I’m here. To recruit you.”
“Recruit me?” Lucky says in disbelief. “This isn’t the NBA. I’m just a regular guy, living a regular life, staying fit and doing my work. Like everyone here”
“Right on,” Adam seconds.
“As I said, I’m sorry someone murdered your best friend,” he continues. “Browning has local and tribal police. Talk to them. I don’t know anyone there and wouldn’t have a clue where to start. Like I also said, I don’t solve murders.”
“It wasn’t a mistake coming here,” Clarence interrupts. “I need your help. I’m sure you can use the money.”
“We all need to work.” Peter offers.
“I do,” CJ adds. “I’m glad the coffee gig came up. Not much work out there. Take the job, Lucky.”
“What’s the job, exactly . . . not that I’m interested,” Lucky asks Clarence, knowing his friends are right.
I’m a man of wealth and taste
Saturday late Morning:
As Clarence pulls documents out of his briefcase, handing them to JJ, Lucky studies the man. Clarence sits up straight and carries himself with the authority of a major corporate executive. His straight snow-white hair is contained in a neat ten-inch ponytail. He wears a perfectly pressed long-sleeved white shirt, but unlike JJ’s, probably $200 richer. The top is buttoned and accented with a white bolo string with a small black raven finding.
Lucky notes the raven has tiny opal eyes which look almost alive. Strange, he thinks. Lucky has the idea the eyes are micro mini cameras recording everything but, as far as he knows, nano camera tech isn’t that advanced.
Clarence’s hard-white cowboy hat, with a single black raven feather tucked in the simple turquoise and silver band, is a well-crafted expensive work of art. It’s perfectly positioned in front of the eighth chair, next to him. Like JJ, he wears blue jeans, but his are well-pressed. A white suit jacket is hung on the hat’s chair, which on second glance makes it seem like an invisible person is sitting there. His large turquoise and sliver watchband matches his hat band. Is his watch a Rolex? Lucky bends across the table for a closer look. It is. The pinky ring on his left hand looks like a black diamond, and on his right middle finger is a large turquoise ring, set like his watch and hat band. All-in-all the man is a well-crafted elder Native American work of art, who has transitioned into a modern man of apparent wealth. Later Lucky notices his scrolled died white leather cowboy boots with silver tips. Not one thing is amiss with this man.
“Okay. Let’s get to the heart of the matter,” Clarence begins, after setting his briefcase on the floor.
“I’m not sure I want to get to the heart of the matter,” Lucky protests as Jane comes around with the coffee pot, filling the cups. “I really have no desire to return to the place of my birth.”
Lucky considers the question for a moment. Nobody has ever asked him that question. He would rather get up and leave, but the words flow out, “I never knew my father and my mother was a drunk. She gave me my name, first thing she said after I came out; that I survived nine months in her womb. “Lucky baby.” My first six years with her was living hell. Once the BIA took me, I never looked back. That’s why.”
“Browning Montana will always be a dump, a hell for soulless drunks like her and I’m sure by now, meth-head locals. Anyway, that’s the way I see it, true or not. I’ve already made up my mind. I’m not going to Browning. End of story.”
“Why haven’t we heard this story?” CJ asks.
“Come on Lucky,” JJ breaks in, almost pleading. “When there’s a problem on a Native American reservation, that’s what we do . . . help our client solve it. What difference does it make what the problem is or where the reservations is located? Let’s just hear him out. Okay?”
While JJ pleads with Lucky, Clarence slides an 8 1/2 x 11 glossy across the table.
Adam bends over to look. “Babe!”
Lucky picks it up, with CJ also now looking over his shoulder. He instantly finds himself staring at the most beautiful Indian woman he’s ever seen. “You were looking at this empty seat where my hat is,” Clarence speaks as Peter joins the staring, as well was Jane. “Probably thinking it’s where my executive secretary should be, right?”
Lucky nods, curious. Does he read minds?
“The woman you’re staring at is our attorney, who you’ll be working with.”
“She hot,” CJ gushes. “Does she have a girlfriend?”
“You’re not gay,” Lucky reminds her.
“Could switch for someone like her.”
“She isn’t,” Clarence concludes.
“So, you think you can lure me up there with this?”
Clarence laughs for the first time as Lucky continues, “I have no problem entertaining beautiful women.” CJ obviously rolls her eyes. “But I’ll have to warn you, a woman like this will definitely distract me from my work. I may need hazard pay.”
Adam lets out a hardy “Yeehaw. Now we’re talking.” Jane slaps the back of his head.
Lucky raises the photo and points his finger at her face. “This is one gorgeous babe. If she’s more than a pretty face, doesn’t get in my way, entertains me, and you double our going fee, you have my attention. Maybe. An attorney?”
“She is. That babe, as you say, is my daughter Summer.” Clarence replies to the crowd across the table, with a chuckle. “The two of you would be working together on this case.”
“Your daughter?” Peter, gay and not impressed with pretty women, starts in, looking at the photo again, and then at her father. “So, you think Lucky is that shallow? Your daughter is good looking, even from my disinterested point of view, but this is obviously a bribe. I can’t believe a man of your apparent stature would pawn off his own daughter.”
“You have it all wrong . . .”
Lucky thinks about it. “Maybe he doesn’t. Why did you use her as a deal closer? You could have shown me a photo of her on a horse, or in a neat lawyer suit holding a briefcase, with no make-up?”
“Yeah,” Adam breaks in, “Do you think our man Lucky is so vain that you could entice him up to Montana with a hot woman? I’d do it, but Lucky?”
Jane punches his side and says, “Why are you trying to hook her up? She can’t find a man in Montana? Something smells fishy here.”
Clarence takes an 8 1/2 x 11 photo of Lucky from his briefcase, the same photo on their L&P website, and places it next to Summer’s photo. Everyone huddles to look at the two photos. “You have to admit, they look like the perfect couple. Don’t they?” Nobody could argue his point. “The thought of romance came to mind but let’s not get off on the wrong foot. There is no need to insinuate that I’m doing something that’s inappropriate and unprofessional. Summer is both a beautiful young woman and an extremely bright attorney. I wouldn’t bring her on this case if I didn’t think she could help. As far as how they entertain each other . . . it’s none of my business.” He looks at the others and concludes, “Or yours.”
Lucky nods and looks at the photo again. Even though he could take or leave the case, his fantasy of spending this rainy-day morning in the arms of a beautiful woman was now being channeled into a new fantasy, the thought of the possibility of sleeping with this man’s beautiful daughter. But then again, he knew better. He holds the photo up. “I don’t mean to insult you . . . but Peter has a point. It appears that she’s a sexy carrot appealing to my male ego, and not my professionalism.”
“Yeah. What about this sexy carrot?” CJ offers. “His professionalism rejects it every day. Maybe showing her photo was a bad idea.”
“Transparency is never a bad idea,” Clarence answers with a stern look. “Summer’s a big girl. I didn’t have a photo of her on a horse, or with no makeup, only the one I shoved in my briefcase before I left. Clarence stares at Lucky and his team. “Do you people have any idea how difficult it was for me to find the right detective for this case? A Blackfeet detective to solve a Blackfeet murder mystery? Or for me to beat this storm, flying from Montana in my own plane? My purpose is clear. I’m willing to hire you and pay you well to solve this murder. I have no doubt you’re the right person for this case. She’ll help. Now are you ready for my presentation?”
Lucky stands up and says, “We’re sorry if we offended you. There’s a lot going on here. My team is about to be hired with a lucrative contract. I was informed this morning that a young girl’s body was found in the Willamette River. The Police Captain told me that she may have escaped from the same farm I’m planning to spy on tomorrow morning. So, I need to leave this afternoon, on my motorcycle, drive there, in this storm.”
“The dead girl was from the Ruhl farm?” CJ says with alarm. “She had the mark?”
“She did,” Lucky answers. “So, I need to consider that this may end up being a more compelling case, then going to Montana.”
Clarence’s eyebrows squished and says after Lucky spoke. “’You’re spying on a farm. Where?”
“It’s in Newport, Oregon, on the coast. I’ll need to take my Ducati, because it has a silent muffler. For spying. I’ll be back tomorrow evening. I’ll know by Monday if I’ll be free to come to Montana. You two can work out the details of compensation. I’ll let you know.”
With that said Clarence stands up, moves behind Lucky and puts his two hands on the younger man’s shoulders.
Lucky’s mind wonders. He considers if would he’d be more concerned with pleasing this old man’s daughter, than her father? Perhaps. His truth is that beautiful women like Summer scare the hell out of him. His love relations with good looking women have been sketchy at best, always eventually disappointing. By just looking at her photo Lucky had a premonition of falling madly in love with her. He certainly didn’t want to be in love with a woman who lives in Montana. There were so many other things he still needed to do right here in Portland, beginning with the Ruhl Farm early the next morning.
Somethings happening here and we don’t know what it is.
Lucky opens his eyes. It seems as though a minute ago he was sitting with his team. They’re all gone and now only Clarence and JJ remain, both staring at him.
“How long have I been out of it?” he asks. Neither one answers. At this point he’s not sure what just happened. Lucky remembers. I was wondering if I would be more concerned with pleasing this old man’s daughter, than him. He was thinking there were many other things he still needed to do, right here in Portland, beginning with riding his Ducati into the storm, in just a few hours. What’s this dream I had? I was in a tipi with a man who looks like Clarence.
“Clarence, did you somehow hypnotize me and plant a totally bizarre dream in my head?”
“Of an old Indian who looks like you, in a tipi, talking to a hawk and a frog . . . about a Crow Indian scout named Two Crows? My name.” Lucky wonders about Clarence; who he really is. “You’re trying to fill my head with a fairy tale . . . that you’re that Grandfather and I’m that Two Crows, to make sure I go to Montana with you. When in history did this dream occur?”
“1876. I remember now. Custer. That’s the year of Big Horn.”
JJ interrupts, “What are you talking about, Lucky?”
“The dream I just had. The one Clarence put it in my head.” With JJ’s bewildered look and as each minute passes, the daydream he just had seems more like a hallucination, like he’d taken a drug; a dream which made absolutely no sense. “What was that about? You want me to solve a murder. I get it. What does this 19th century fable have to do with anything?”
“It’s not a fable,” Clarence softly answers. “Do you understand the concept of multi-dimensional reality?”
Lucky and JJ say “What?!” at the same time.
“There’s this here and now reality and an 1876 here and now reality occurring simultaneously. For this reason, it’s most important for you to return to the Blackfeet reservation.”
Lucky and JJ again say “What?!” at the same time.
“I am here to take you there.” Clarence sits upright and speaks with the power of a white-haired buffalo. Lucky stares at the old man and suddenly realizes he’s facing a shaman. There is no doubt now in Lucky’s mind that he shouldn’t ignore this unexpected turn of events. He has to know more. What am I getting myself into? he thinks while not losing eye contact.
A life transforming experience, Clarence thinks back as he stands and again puts his palm on the back of Lucky’s neck.
Lucky’s head quickly spins. His eyes close and he’s back in the tipi. This time he definitely recognizes the shaman dressed in 19th century Blackfeet clothing, Grandfather, as he is known as in that time. Clarence in this.
The elder adds chaparral, and some of his best tobacco to his fire. Sparks and embers rise up like tiny stars in the darkened tipi. Settling on his buffalo blanket, bare-chested on this humid night, he closes his eyes and asks for a vision of his godson Two Crows.
He sees Lucky Two Crows instead.
Being that he is also Clarence, he welcomes Lucky with little hesitation and asks if he can share a vision. Lucky takes a deep breath and nods, not sure if he’s nodding in the present or the past.
Grandfather passes his pipe to Lucky. “Smoke.” As he takes a lung full, he realizes this could not be happening in present time with JJ watching, Clarence as the shaman says, “From now on you will be here but not here. You will see through my eyes and hear through my ears. You will see the vision I am seeing, that of my grandson. This is in a time before he was healed and taught the medicine way. Do you see him now?”
In the open prairie, silhouetted by a full moon, Lucky sees a warrior hunched over, his stomach on the horse’s bare back. It takes all the warrior’s willpower to not fall off; to keep riding. Grandfather knows, the way a seer knows, that Two Crows will make it here this very night. Seeing the hawk in the sky above, he is reassured.
“I see a man on a horse but can’t make him out.”
“He is you, in his time. He will arrive in his village that night,” he says to Lucky. “Remember, this is in a past time, last year our time.”
Wolf Eyes stands up and walks to the neighboring tipi of Sits-in-the-Sun, the woman who feeds him, and asks her to summon White Feather; to be ready to help her husband, who had been shot. “He will be near death, having spent several days on horseback with a bullet in his back,” he tells her. “Bring your daughter to Big Mouth’s tipi.” When she hears this, White Feather cries in fear and in joy, that she will soon be seeing her beloved.
Its past midnight when Two Crows arrives at the village just as Grandfather foresaw. He was smart enough to wear black moccasins, so he would be recognized as a Blackfeet. Two night guards carry him to the tipi of the deceased warrior Big Mouth. There Sits-in-the-Sun’s daughter, White Feather, Two Crow’s wife, gives him water, mashed yampa root to swallow and herbs for his fever. Together the women remove the bullet and place poultices on the wound. All the while they cry, chant and pray for his recovery. White Feather then spends the rest of the night by his side, her hand on his heart, visualizing him with the great health she has always known.
Grandfather, in his tipi, chants throughout the night, sending healing energy to his grandson. For Lucky it’s like watching a video of a past event.
The next morning the two women continue nursing the unconscious young man. They drape wet cloth over his hot fevered body, smudge him with sage and other herbal smoke, and continually lift his head to make him drink. He remains unconscious. White Feather asks Grandfather how he found their village, riding while dying, as it has moved many times, now hidden in the curve of a river. He tells her the hawk led him home. She wishes he would wake up. She has many questions to ask him. She has missed him terribly.
“You are strong, Two Crows. Today you will wake up so we can embrace. I have waited five long years for you to come home,” she whispers in his ear before she leaves the tipi for her morning meal. “Please wake up.”
Grandfather enters and sits at his godson’s side after she leaves. He fondly remembers when Two Crows and White Feather played together as children. They were best friends, until he was captured by the Crow at seven. He returned as a grown man, they married, and he left again, feeling obligated to his fellow Crows scouts. His returning, nearly dead yet alive, is the answer to not only White Feathers undying prayers, but his. He will finally teach Two Crows the way of the High Pony.
“Does this story have anything to do with your daughter,” Lucky asks.
“You will soon know the whole story,” Clarence says directly to Luck. “Once you are in Montana.”
As he comes out of his trance, JJ mumbles, “What the hell just happened?”
The master moves aside, dodging the pouring rain.
Clarence and JJ are gone. Lucky is at the table, and his team are taking off their rain gear. He’s confused. Something had just happened with Clarence, he had dreams of another time, and yet here he was, in the same seat, one hundred and fifty years later.
“Did you miss me?” CJ asks. “That Clarence dude wanted privacy with you, so we went out and got some pizzas and beers. Still raining like shit out there.”
Over lunch, which Lucky wasn’t too interested in, still working on the hearty Mary Jane’s breakfast, in front of their gas fire, the team finally returns to the Ruhl Farm conversation. Peter outlines the plan. “This will be is a basic reconnaissance operation. Lucky will ride his motorcycle to Newport later this afternoon, somehow dodging the storm, which according to the weather report, won’t be so intense forty miles south of Portland. He will spend the night in Newport, and take the back road to the farm, check it out, take photos, shots from above with the drone. Hopefully of the Russian guards will be carrying illegal sub-machine guns. Don’t make them use them. If convenient, but don’t risk your life, steal some potatoes, and get out before six am.”
“It all sounds crazy, exciting and do-able. Wish I could come,” CJ offers.
Lucky suggests returning to the farm around noon, when there’s more activity to photograph, but in the end, they decide it would be way too risky. “We just want you to see if anything is happening that early in the morning, and report back: a piece of cake,” Peter concludes. “We probably won’t see you on Sunday, and Monday afternoon CJ and will be going to Seattle.
”We’ll be instant regular customers at Seattle’s trendiest Starbucks, befriending workers while doing our detective thing. And get paid for it,” she offers. “Maybe we can meet Monday morning.”
By twelve forty Lucky is back on the street. He waves down a taxi for the half-mile ride to house. Once there, he stands in the rain and looks up at the clouds. Dark and foreboding, open like a faucet aimed at earth. A steady wind and swirling downpour add to the gloom. He sprints inside and into his garage.
His 1940 classic Ford coupe sits there all dry and polished, his Aikido gear in the boot. He thinks about grabbing it and waving down another taxi for the two-mile drive to his dojo. He shrugs his shoulders. What the heck? She needs a rainy-day adventure. He starts her up and heads out into the storm.
Lucky patiently endures the funky slow windshield wipers, as he plows over the Burnside Bridge onto the quickly flooding streets, to Water Street, now appropriately named. He’s thinking how fortunate they cancelled the parade. He was planning to dress in his old powwow Blackfeet warrior outfit and ride his horse. The old car is one thing, but there is no way he would want his stallion out on these slick city streets.
As he drives slowly through the rain, he has a daydream. He descends like a ninja into the Ruhl Farm, knocks ten Russian guards unconscious. He enters the distillery and sticks a crowbar in the gears. He then floods the place and absconds with their computer hard drive. As he drives away on his motorcycle, the whole farm blows up in a fiery inferno.
Thank god that was only a dream, he thinks, as the explosion that never happened startles him.
As Lucky gets closer to the dojo, he thinks about all the things that could go wrong with their Ruhl Farm plan. Maybe I find incriminating information, but to what end? Their hidden cameras would record it all, and if they really are the Russian Mafia, the truth would be twisted. “American Indian terrorist breaks into Toledo farm, beats up innocent guards, and steals potatoes.” And then the FBI, CIA, FDA, NSA, the Piedmont Syn cartel Russian Mafia goons, separately or all together, would raid his apartment Monday morning: fifty of them in full combat gear breaking down Lucky’s door and sticking Uzi’s in his ear. Do they still use Uzi’s?
He decides all this dreaming and making up shit is fear-based nonsense. He will go and check it out, see if there really is Russians guarding the place, take some photos, and then just ride away. He needs to stick to the master plan.
After parking in his place up front, Lucky enters the dojo. Jimmy, the same Police Captain who is also Lucky’s Aikido sensei, greets him, and after donning in his black hakama and white gi top, they meet in the middle of the dojo mat. After twenty years of training with Jimmy, Lucky has five black belts. Jimmy has six. Together they conduct the one p.m. Saturday class. Today they decide to begin with a demonstration.
As fifteen students watch, Jimmy and Lucky bow to the altar and to each other, saying, “Onegaishimasu,” meaning please let me train you, I am in your hands. Lucky then becomes the uke, the attacker, and Jimmy the nage, the one receiving the attack. Although Jimmy is almost thirty years Lucky’s senior, he easily moves with every attack and continually throws his assistant into high falls. After at least thirty kata’s, they change positions, Jimmy attacking Lucky. Now he is able to thwart the strikes and send Jimmy flying. Fifteen minutes of this intense sparing later, they kneel down and face the altar, and bow. For the next thirty minutes they walk around helping students with their kata techniques. Jimmy claps to end the class.
As always, Jimmy and Lucky head to the sensei’s apartment, which is behind the dojo. They walk through the noren curtains, down the hall, and into his living room kitchen area, which overlooks the Willamette River. With his sensei’s gesture, Lucky sits on a zabuton, while Jimmy prepares the tea.
He pours them both a cup of hot roasted Hojicha green tea, and then settles down across from Lucky, and begins, “You seemed a big anxious and distracted on the mat. What’s going on?”
“I told you about the Ruhl Farm. I’ll be heading down there, in the rain, in a couple hours. A stealth mission. Hoping the rain will let off just a bit. And I met this guy this morning. He wants to hire me to solve a murder in Montana. I think JJ committed me to be there for at least a couple weeks. I’m still not sure I want to go.”
“How’s either of those things going to serve you?”
“That’s why I’m questioning Montana. That will just help pay the rent. There are other ways to make money. My trip to the Ruhl Farm is one step closer to nailing those bastards one day.”
“I see. What will you gain from your trip to this farm? Actually?”
“I’m going on a spying mission. Take photos. Gather more information than we have now.”
“Why even bother? Sounds like you’re instigating. In Aikido we wait for the attack and respond appropriately.”
“I know. Some things you just can’t sit around and wait for. They’re like the heartless ninjas. These multinationals are subtly poisoning the people, for power, control and riches. We know that the son of the owner of Piedmont Syn runs the Ruhl Farm. That he’s labeling their GMO potatoes as organic and making illegal proof vodka. We heard it’s being guarded by armed thugs. A rural farm? This bullshit shouldn’t be happening here in Oregon.” Lucky pauses, “And then there’s the dead girl.”
Jimmy lets out a long sigh. “Don’t remind me. I had to tell Taylor about her. Now she’s all over my ass to do something. I’ll appreciate your friendship and support during this investigation. Wish you change your mind about Montana. I doubt you’ll be able to pin the girl’s death on the Ruhl Farm, while on your so-called spying mission. Did I already ask you if you have a screw loose?”
Lucky sits back and sips his tea, contemplating his response, hating any accusation of being nuts. “You did, Jimmy. Sort of. But I have a passion to save lives. These money mad cartels are poisoning our food, air and water, and someone has to stop them. Nobody else is stepping up to the plate. I thought this would all be resolved during the pandemic in 2020, but it’s still going on. More people are aware of what’s happening and yet the powers that be just sits back and allow the drug, gun and sex trafficking to continue. How many more dead girls do you want to fish out of the river?”
“I sure hope she’s the last. I get what you’re saying. You think you can do something about this . . . your little team?”
“Yes! When we have the right computer system. Jimmy, we both know that the toxins, already in people’s bodies, triggered by the virus, triggered by 5G, is what caused all those deaths in 2020. I’ll need to make a big statement about this. Not this weekend, but one day. This is a beginning. I need to find what’s true about the Ruhl Farm. What are the Russian’s guarding that’s so important? We need answers.”
While Jimmy shakes his head, Lucky thinks about it for a moment, and then continues, ”I’ve been studying the inner workings of the computer since I was eleven years old. We’ve figured out how to move through so-called impenetrable firewalls. My team is as good as it gets. By hacking we found out about the Russians at the Ruhl Farm, and their connection to the Piedmont Syn cartel. My stealth thing is at least symbolic . . . to get the ball rolling.”
“You’ve probably told me more about penetrating firewalls than someone in my position should know.”
“Dojo immunity. Remember?” Lucky replies with a laugh. “We cool?”
“Of course. I’m all ears. No badge.”
“Okay then. Truth is . . . we’ve been on this project for several years now, and have yet to do any illegal computer hacking, except little things like opening the Ruhl Farm files.”
“That’s good to know. When you do start up with your more important illegal hacking, what exactly do have in mind, besides stealing their money and shutting down the cartels?” Jimmy asks and they chuckle. “Seriously. You really think you can shut down one of the largest chemical cartels in the world?”
“I do. We will. Peter was a top executive engineer in a NSA company for years. He knows algorithms and codes to find our way into their secret vaults . . .”
“The NSA? Like what Edward Snowdon did?”
“For more altruistic reasons.”
“Impressive. Why aren’t you hacking into these places now?”
“They have some powerful firewalls. We know what we need. Problem is, it will cost us about a million dollars to purchase the right equipment . . . then it will be a piece of cake.”
“That’s all . . . a million dollars? Good luck with that. Even then, if you make one little mistake, you’ll be smack dab in the middle of their radar. You probably think their anti-hacker hackers are inferior to you.”
“Of course, we do. Well, I hope so,” he says with a grin. “We don’t intend to be in anyone’s radar. Of course, we don’t want to get caught. Like I said, we need to upgrade our systems before we do any real hacking.”
“Where you going to get the money . . . this million dollars?” Jimmy looks concerned as Lucky shrugs.
As they drink more tea, the conversation shifts into dojo matters. Lucky is the assistant dojo sensei, and since they’re both detectives, they’re constantly juggling their schedules. In the past few months Jimmy has settled into a routine nine to four, so his evenings are free. He doesn’t mind doing the teaching by himself while Lucky is away.
“So, what is it, generally speaking, that you’re planning to do at the farm, besides throwing wrenches in distillery machinery?” Jimmy asks, always interested in knowing about a potential crime.
“I doubt if I’ll throw any wrenches, but you never know.”
“Why not just forget the whole thing? Stay hidden, like you’ve been.”
“Jimmy, I’m passionate about stopping the poisonings. I have to do something, not just sit around and talk about it.
“I’d be careful about doing anything that makes the mainstream news, unless that’s what you really want. Are you still planning on hacking into Piedmont Syn?”
“Of course, we are! But, like I said, we’re not ready until there’s no way it will be traced back to us: so not until I find that million. You’re right, we’re still hidden, and no one has a thing to pin on us at this point.”
“You do know that hacking into a major corporation’s computer is a Federal offense. They call it cyber terrorism. If I could offer you any advice, I’m telling you to be damn sure you’re 100% untraceable before you even think of doing that . . . just saying . . . be careful and think twice before making your move, before you have the right equipment. Like we teach . . . always be prepared before you face a worthy opponent.”
“Thanks for your fatherly advice, sensei” Lucky answers and then is silent for a few moments, considering the Federal offense and how it’s wise to think twice before making any move. To consult wise elders, like Jimmy, who is urging him to take the Montana job now. His team needs money for more equipment, and this man Clarence is offering him a lot of it. “Part of me thinks you’re right, Jimmy. Maybe I am pushing where I should be stepping aside. You’ve always taught me as my sensei to ‘Don’t Push.’” He pauses for a longer time as Jimmy waits. “There’s a nasty storm out there. Not a good omen. This Ruhl Farm spy thing can wait for a couple weeks. My team will be busy on a new job. Maybe I should go to Montana.”
“Maybe you should,” Jimmy answers with a grin.
“Okay. Thank you. I’ll see you in a week or two. Wish me luck.”
‘With that said, Lucky leaves and returns to his home in the Pearl District.
We are golden – caught in the devil’s bargain
Clarence Two Moons calls and invites Lucky to share dinner with him at The Nines Hotel, where he’s staying. As the evening progresses, Lucky has become more intrigued about what’s in store for him in Montana and why Clarence wants to hire him to solve the murder of his friend.
The elder appears sincere in seeking his assistance, so once the dinner plates were removed, Lucky decides to give him his undivided attention over their second glass of wine. “Tell me what happened the night of this alleged murder.”
“Now you’re interested in discussing it? Okay.” He winks at Lucky as if knowing he’d come around. “The agrochemical giant Piedmont Syn had applied to lease ten square miles of Blackfeet Reservation land to grow their experimental bug and weather resistant, highly toxic I might add, GMO wheat. Their engineer’s contention was if they can grow wheat in Northern Montana year-round, they can grow it anywhere.” \
“What?” Lucky interrupts. “Even I know you can’t grow wheat under three feet of snow in a raging Montana blizzard.”
“We know that. It’s fascinating how greed supersedes logic with these people. Anyway, this story begins the night of this most important Blackfeet Business Council meeting. Piedmont Syn, whom I’m sure you’re familiar with, was demanding a yes or no answer to the, what Harold and I saw as their “ridiculous and possibly culturally damaging, proposal.”
“You were there?” Clarence nods and Lucky continues, “Wanting to send the greedy bastards on their way,” Lucky offers and the elder nods again. “I would too. The thought of growing wheat in the dead of winter is as ridiculous as growing bananas on the moon. You think the native people are that gullible?”
“Yes. The local newspaper editor was compromised, paid off, and wrote at length of the benefits of accepting the lease money. Harold Running Dog, the Council Chairman, was depicted as an idealistic has-been and his voice was stilled. The opposing logic was, ‘who cares what they grow twenty miles out in the boonies? We get the money this city desperately needs.’
“So, in the days up to the vote,” Clarence continues, “the nine council members, representing the will of a divided community, weren’t in agreement. The open forum community debate was in full swing. Harold was running the meeting with his usual projected strength and power, directing traffic, calling the next name to speak their piece, and for others to sit down and shut up.
“Then all of a sudden, without any warning signs, Harold slumped over and dropped to the floor. Everything stopped, the room went silent, and people stood on their chairs to get a better look. I rushed to him. It looked as if he were dead.”
“Interesting.” Lucky perks up. “Was he?” “Was he what?”
“I felt for a pulse, and fortunately, not yet.”
“You say he was a healthy man?”
“Very much so. The picture of good health in his early sixties.”
“Did you think he had a heart attack? That happens to people who appear healthy, you know. At this point did you think that someone tried to murder him?”
“Now you’re engaged. Good.” He smiled. “Simple answer. No. I had no idea what was going on at the time. We took him to the hospital and the doctor told us it wasn’t a heart attack or stroke or long-term health related issue.”
“What was it then?” Lucky queries.
“Once the emergency room doctors stabilized him, they said his kidneys were failing, and he needed to be hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine, one which they didn’t have. They gave him less than a day to live without it.”
“Why were his kidneys suddenly shutting down?”
“I concluded he was poisoned. I wasted no time and flew him to Great Falls, to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.”
“You’re a pilot? Interesting. Did you surmise that if Harold was Piedmont Syn’s pain in the ass, maybe they needed him to go away?”
“More like he needed them go away.”
At that moment Lucky is distracted by a ghost-like cloud sweeping across the room and hovering in the chair next to Clarence.
“Who is she?” Lucky asks as the faint image of a woman begins to materialize, pointing to the chair to his left.
Clarence looks to his right. “Go away White Feather,” he whispers.
“White Feather?” Lucky asks.
“Sorry, it’s too soon to talk about these things,” Clarence answers as the image disappears. “Just never mind.”
“But I saw her, Clarence. Who is she?” Lucky presses, not willing to never mind. “She looks a lot like that glossy photo you showed me, but from another time.”
“Please bear with me. It not the time to talk about this,” Clarence says, slightly shaking his head, as if embarrassed by the glitch in dimensions. “Please. Let’s continue.”
“Okay. You’ll tell me later.” After saying that Lucky’s mind begins to wander to confusing flashbacks of another century, to his time as a Blackfeet warrior. The woman seemed very familiar to him, as if he intimately knew her. She wasn’t Clarence’s daughter, and in an odd way she was.
“Lucky. You went far away,” Clarence says, as if he knew where. “May I continue?”
Lucky nods. “So, what happened next?”
Clarence goes on to repeat how the council votes. With nine members, any resolution needs five members to pass it. Harold’s against vote would have rejected the lease of land on the Blackfeet Reservation. End of the story. But the next day while Harold was fighting for his life, five Council members, one the sub-chairman, passed the proposal.”
“Fascinating. Kill the boss and life goes on for the bad guys.”
“That’s right. Harold wanted a six to three majority, to emphatically state that the Blackfeet people reject poison money and bribes. But with him out of the way, it would look like the people really want GMO farming on the reservation, which is exactly how the local newspaper twisted it. With the ‘Harold Murdered’ next day headline it stated that the people have spoken for improved sewers and roads. Which implied that Harold was some sort of traitor.”
“Wow. But I take it he was quite the opposite. A hero wanting to save his people.”
“That’s correct. Harold wasn’t budging. He was arguing for all five members to reconsider, to save our people from the ill effects of glyphosate.”
“Did the fence votes appear to be paying attention to Harold’s arguments?”
“Actually, they were. But in the end, it didn’t matter . . . with Harold out of the way it would be approved, especially after it was brought to the attention of United States Secretary of the Interior, for his approval.”
“The Secretary of the Interior has the final say on approval or disapproval of resolutions made by a sovereign Native American nation. Hard to believe but true.” Lucky knew this all too well. “He has to be on Piedmont Syn’s payroll?”
“The man is a multi-millionaire. As the Secretary of Interior, he earns $200,000 a year. If you look at his take from special interest groups and lobbyist, including Piedmont Syn’s, he’s obviously on all the big players’ payroll. Even before his appointment he was politically invested in opening Native American Reservations to strip mining, GMO farming and whatever the big corporations wanted. He would jump on the opportunity to approve a lease for ten square miles, or a hundred square miles . . . whatever the lobbyist want.”
“How big is the Blackfeet reservation?” Lucky asks, avoiding a political sidetrack.
“Three thousand square miles.”
“Are those ten square miles of it anywhere near Browning?” he inquires.
“It’s in the Northeast part of the reservation, twenty miles away.” Clarence answers.
“You’re a businessman. Most businesspeople would argue that if someone wants to hand you a check for a million five hundred thousand to lease a small piece of land twenty miles away, what harm is GMO farming that far away? It would be like businessmen here in downtown Portland concerned with what’s going on at a farm east of Troutdale.”
“I have no idea where Troutdale is,” Clarence answers. “And I’ve done my homework. You’ve been involved in cases where native farmers lost their land for infringement of patent rights, for unknowingly planting patented GMO seeds. Right?” Lucky nods. “Your argument is the same the pro-lease people gave. As we see it, even if it were a fifty-by-fifty-foot plot, growing genetically modifying food crops such as corn, wheat, soybean and rice, and then spraying them with toxic glyphosate, is a crime against humanity,” Clarence states.
“Right on,” Lucky can’t help but say.
Clarence seems pleasantly surprised by his quick reaction, then continues on with his political sidetrack, which he obviously feels important enough to share. “Howard fought for the future of the Blackfeet . . . you know . . . for seven generations ahead. He was willing to stand in front of the armed police with their rubber bullets and fire hoses like we did at Standing Rock, if it came to that. He told them that we are fighting a war; for our Nation, for our sovereignty, for our way of life. We needed to stop the big corporations here and now before one day they’d take over all our reservations and totally destroy our Native America culture. Unfortunately, most of our people are shortsighted. They think our way of life is poverty, and reasonably they want that to change, which means accepting anyone’s money now. Historically it was never about money with Native Americans, but since the white man that’s all it’s been about. What do you think about this, Lucky?”
“I totally agree with Harold, and with what you just said Clarence. Piedmont Syn is number one on my shit list. They will lie . . . and even kill . . . maybe your friend Harold . . . to get what they want.”
Clarence stares at Lucky for several seconds, then reflects, “Harold’s my cousin. Over the past forty years we’ve had many long talks about preserving our Blackfeet way of life and upholding our integrity as a nation. We are passionate about not selling out to special interest groups, oil companies, especially to mega-farms who poison food, livestock and eventually our water supply. We have fought for years to keep these elitist corporations from invading our sacred land. Now they have.”
Lucky can’t help but think that the time has surely come for a revolution; to put an end to being controlled by the greedy money lords and get back to a more pristine organic Turtle Island. “I’m sorry you couldn’t stop them. I want to stop them and lock up whoever killed your friend. Tell me more about what happened to Harold, and if you plan on challenging the passing of the lease.”
“Later,” Clarence answers, giving a quizzical look. “I’d rather discuss the specifics with Summer present. And your plan . . . to stop them . . . in private.”
“What do you want me to do once I’m in Montana?” I asked.
“In Browning you’ll do what detectives do, with our help. You’ll be a local who returned to your place of birth, curious to find out who murdered your uncle.”
“So, Harold is now my uncle. You’re my father and grandfather. I just hope your daughter Summer isn’t my sister. I may have trouble keeping my linage straight.”
“Don’t worry. But as far as you know, Harold may very well be your uncle. Right?” I nodded. “I’m hiring you because you have many skills which will come in handy . . . physical as well as mental. I heard you have so-called cyber abilities.” He winked and waited for a reaction that didn’t come. I wondered how he knew that.
“May I ask what you do for a living?” I was curious. This man exuded wealth, but not in an elitist way.
“I’m into alternative energy,” he simply answered.
“Since he wasn’t invited tonight, JJ has asked me to tell you we require a $10,000 retainer, plus daily expenses,” Lucky offers, not usually the one who negotiates prices.
Clarence studies Lucky, as if discussing money were an insult, and then says, “You can assure JJ that money is a non-issue. The check’s been written. It’s more than double your going rate. In addition, I will pay all of your expenses, until you return to Oregon.”
“I prefer flying first class . . . since money isn’t an issue,” Lucky jokes.
“I have my own private plane. You’ll be a guest at my ranch on the Missouri River, about twenty miles out of Great Falls. I see you’re not afraid of alcohol.”
“I’ve had a beer or two. I prefer red wine.”
“Excellent.” He pushes the envelope with the contract and check across the table. Lucky’s surprised the check says thirty instead of ten or even twenty thousand. After signing the contract, he hands it to Clarence who puts it in his briefcase, closes it, put on his suit jacket, and carefully fit the hard hat on his head. He has a commanding presence as he stands. “Dinner is on my tab. So, we’re all set?” he says, reaching out to shake Lucky’s hand. His grip is like steel.
“Do you know where I live?’
‘You’ll be surprised with what I know. I’ll pick you up at one, tomorrow.”
“I guess we’re all set then. I’ve been wanting something juicy to sink my teeth into. I’ll find out who did it, don’t worry.”
An Indian Prayer
Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds.
And whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me! I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
Ever hold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made.
My ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
The things you might teach me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother.
But to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
With clear hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset.
My spirit may come to you without shame.