This is continuation of a story that started as a writing exercise, My Scene. It is coming in flashes, both literally and figuratively.
A quick background: I am Derek Nantan, a North American Marshal in the service of the Wizard King. My territory ranges from the continental divide in the west to roughly Chicago in the east. I was tasked with helping Amy Hatcher, an Oscar-winning actress, by ridding her of a stalker that a local shaman suspects of being a warlock.
For those of you who skipped the last part due to graphic descriptions of an animal carcass, here are the Cliff Notes. Derek and Amy went to see what Ben, a ranch hand, had discovered and found an animal carcass with a warning note attached to it. The note read, “Soon I will come for you.” Also written on the note were several symbols which Derek could not read but looked like sand paintings of some kind.
Fire is a universal cleaner. The problem is, it tends to destroy the article you are trying to clean. However, if applied correctly, it kills disease germs and parasites, it can neutralize some poisons, and can eradicate the remains of many magical spells. It was the later that concerned me. So, I carried the javelina carcass well away from the house and other outbuildings, drenched it in gasoline and burned it. I began to dig a hole in the red clay and sent Hector, the boy who brought me the shovel and gasoline, to my jeep to retrieve the grey wool shoulder bag behind the driver’s seat.
I had finished filing in the shallow grave by the time he returned. I opened the bag and removed a small leather pouch. I took a large pinch of the tobacco within and held it up to each of the four directions beginning in the west and turning clockwise. I touched it to the earth and held the offering to the sky.
“Grandfather, have mercy upon me. I am a pitiful man. I ask that you receive my brother’s spirit as I ask him to forgive my taking his life. I only wished to end his suffering. I ask this not only for myself, but so that the People might live. Ho. Mitake oyasin.”
I cast the tobacco across the place we buried the animal and closed the tobacco pouch.
“Let’s go back to the house,” I said to Hector as I replaced the pouch in the shoulder bag.
I saw tears in his eyes as he nodded to me. I picked up the bag and put my hand on his shoulder as we walked. On the way, Hector turned to me with a questioning look.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Ms Hatcher told us you were Apache.”
“That wasn’t an Apache ritual was it?”
Hector still looked confused.
“The Great Spirit is not concerned with where your blood comes from,” I said, guessing what was bothering him. “The Great Spirit is concerned with intent.”
Hector nodded slightly so I continued.
“Man’s belief systems carry as many names as there are people. Each has tools and rituals to help the individual focus and connect with the Source of their beliefs whether its God, Buddha, Allah, the Green Man, or within themselves. The problem is that most individuals get so focused on the tool or ritual, that they forget the intent is what’s important. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“The key is to use the tool that works best for you as an individual. The tool only helps to make it easier for you to connect with the Great Spirit. It is not required. I have had many teachers.” I raised the shoulder bag and showed him the stone that was my power orb. “I choose to use the tools that work for me.”
“I understand. It’s kinda like Ben says, ‘The job is easier if you pick the right tool for the job’.”
I looked up and saw Amy watching us from the patio door.
“Let’s get inside,” I said. “I need to hear what’s been going on around here.”
We walked around the pool and Amy ushered us inside.