a short story by Cloyd Campfire
art by Gene Kloss
The bus roared down Central Avenue like a dinosaur itching to meet its Maker.
Other vehicles had to swerve out of its way when the driver cranked the beast away from a bus stop. A wanna-be passenger, a pretty good looking young woman, slumped panting after having run half a block just to have the door shut in her face. The driver, fiercely determined to catch up to the sacred schedule, could very well have been Buffalo Bill reincarnated.
Meanwhile, Davy Crockett reincarnated, that’s right, the real thing, sat day-dreaming out the window, one amongst many passengers, all bobbing along like corks on a stormy sea. Davy was hunting down a job ~ the modern way ~ with a resume. The carefully worked-out document, still needing corrections, ricocheted thru cyber space via a TVI community college computer parlor. That’s where Davy was heading ~ day after day. With his eyelids closing and opening in slow motion, thee olde reincarnated settler (he was 52 now) day-dreamed about having a pension and living in an old Route 66 motel.
Then the bus hit a big bump.
T’was morning on the edge of winter, crispy and pretty. The clouds above were bright white and deep purple. When the bus hit the bump, all those bobbing heads almost hit the ceiling, except Davy’s, which went thru it.
The bus had run over a drunk Indian. I could call him a slightly tipsy gentleman. I could call him a poisonally perturbed person. Or a dizzy critter. But the fact remains, the bus ran over a drunk Indian ~ a Pueblo Indian ~ and it was quite a bump.
The poor man died instantly.
Then the phenomenal happened, an extraordinary occurrence, a remarkable thing ~ otherwise there would be no tale to tell. The Soul of the Indian mangled beneath the bus, in its leap across the divine veil and in the midst of the big bump, swept thru Davy’s head. In passing thru, the jettisoned Soul shoved Davy’s head thru the ceiling of the growling transit. So, with his head sticking out the roof, Davy Crockett had his famous Pueblo Indian vision.
Every once in a while, the Sun rises with a bag full of tricks in its hand. Sometimes, as the Earth spins, it does a special little wobble. And on rare occasions, all the planets wink at the same time. Davy’s eyes bulged & his mouth fell agape. He was awe-smitten with wonder ~ for what he saw all around was no more Albuquerque. The restless city with all its insulting asphalt, traffic, and incongruent buildings, was inexplicably gone. And, of course, all the people who didn’t want to hire him ~ they were gone too.
All that was left was the virgin Valley of the Rio Grande ~ in all its withered leaves falling golden glory. Mile after mile, tall yellow grass grinned and waved and swooped down into the rather lush cottonwood forest, thru which wound the mud-a-blush so happy river. Here and there across the landscape 3 or 4 Pueblo villages sedately endured. There were some people out there too ~ Indians ~ dressed like they used to dress and with raven hair flowing like a dream down to their heels. They walked and talked around, cleaning out ditches and picking corn ~ in no hurry. Yes Ma’m, yes Sir, this was Davy Crockett’s famous Pueblo Indian vision!
And with butterflies. They were everywhere ~ painted colorful tints & hugs & kisses & hues ~
There was even a baby buffalo herd ~ with sparrows parked on the grazing animals’ backs & flitting & joking around.
A road runner dashed by in front of the bus, then a coyote chasing after the fleet-footed bird, as the bus floated along where Central Avenue used to be. The big vehicle was quiet. Perhaps it ran on wordless poetry now instead of gas. One Indian, a shepherd with a flock of sheep, waved as the bus slipped quietly by ~ like a dinosaur ghost.
Davy thought he heard someone clear his throat behind him. He managed to twist his head around, and beheld Our Lord Jesus and Holy Mother Mary sitting on top of the bus. They seemed to be enjoying the view ~ their arms around their knees, delicate smiles on their divineful faces.
Davy tried to bow his head but couldn’t and gasped, “Holy Mary, Lord Jesus, I thank Thee for Your blessings. I am not worthy.”
Jesus acknowledged him with a knowing glance. Mary’s smile gently aggrandized.
Davy, mouth agape again, twirled around into his former forward position, but not via his own volition. Somebody else did it. But who? Who?
Moving along now ~
Clouds slow-danced with the wind. The wind whistled a tune. Thunder rocked and rolled while ants chanted and Indians drummed. Rain fell with much pitter, much patter, for a moment. Then the sun came out and combed his flames, spit some fire. More clouds gathered ~ had a pow-wow ~ and left. This song went on and on without interruption. Rocks muttered silent rhymes. Everything came together ~ stars not yet lit, flowers not yet bloomed, el eternal lizard with the tilted head and the squinting eye. Absolutely Everything came together, started talking to Davy, and this is what Absolutely Everything proclaimed:
“Chirp chirp, yip yip yip, hisssssss ~ the Pueblo Nations are my friends. Pitter pitter pitter patter ~ they dance and grow their corn and every year they are reborn the most peaceful feather this land has in its hat ever worn. Whistling wind and twirling dust, eternity or bust, they’re the oldest civilization on this continent as your steel turns to rust. Leave them, their land, their water alone. They respect and love it while you attempt to chew it to the bone. He-haaa! He-haaa! In 1680, the very first American Revolution took place when the Pueblo Indians booted the Spaniards outta here. These Castilians outlawed the dance, burned-up the prayer sticks, hung the Medicine men. Now they and their priests were slaughtered and gone. Pile o’ pumpkins!… 144 moons later, beckoned by some of the Indians to return, the Spaniards did, and they and the remaining Pueblos together chased after the Navajo and Apache raiders. The dancers danced, the corn grew. The kivas and the mission bells more-or-less sang a tune together, in the name of the Father, the Son, and ~ Hello, Mexican Independence! Forty or so twirls of the planet around the sun later, not one Pueblo Indian voted to remain a Mexican citizen when the U.S. took over ~ took over and burned-up the plundering Navajos’ crops and killed their stolen sheep and put the last incorrigible Apache on the train headed east into the belly of the beast ~ gurrr!!!… Tweeter tweeter, gurgle gurgle gurgling creek, relentless Anglo and Hispanic population growth bred the coveting of Pueblo land, Pueblo water, & the whittling-away back-n-forth legislation of yo-yo Law. So you water-skied on the sacred lake from which flowed all life’s blessings, & tossed your trash upon its shore. And you attempted to religiously assimilate these peaceful folk who were in harmony with me, into your asphalt-spreading, earth-suffocating, prison-sprouting, television-numb-brain society!!! Don’t mess with my Pueblo Nations anymore, ye stunning cunning crack whore, or you’ll be never never never more!”
Needless to say, Davy was overwhelmingly chagrined by this rude addressment from Absolutely Everything. If a drug addict with both feet in the gutter had addressed him in such a way, that would have been one thing. To have Absolutely Everything refer to him as a stunning cunning crack whore, was something altogether else. It was as if he represented something larger, more troublesome, than himself. Needless to say, once again Colonel Crockett’s mouth, yes, went agape. In fact, surrounded by all this pulverizing phenomena, our illustrious frontiersman was turning into a drooling idiot. And he could not make reply.
Time rolled along and so did the bus, too smoothly, it seemed, to be real time and a real bus. Was anybody else in the bus? Or was it just Davy and his beautific Divine Company on the roof? Over the Mighty Rio without a bridge and without getting wet, and up the West Mesa, the city transit lollygagged along, then with an expansive relaxed u-turn, began the return trip back from whence it came. The Sandia Mountains paternally beamed out yonder.
Mr. Crockett’s head had cleared magnificently by this time, to such a degree, in fact, that he became clairvoyant. And whoa! The wide sky over the valley and mesas had become an appallingly spiritual scene. An armada of clouds stretched across the purplish blue heavens. And atop each and every floating cloud gleamed a pueblo, a ghost pueblo, many storied and terraced. It looked like a Native American celestial invasion.
Down below, from the 3 or 4 more earthly villages scattered about the landscape, and from others that could not be seen due to the undulation of the territory and its flora, from amongst these adobe communities was discernable the rhythmic boom of the Indian drum. Everywhere there were gatherings, large and small, of people adorned with colorful feathers, paint, some masks. They circled around here, there, and every-where. They danced. They sang. The earth vibrated, the wind hummed, with a Pueblo hymn.
And from the celestial dwellings above there floated downward many a spanky winged child ~ each adorned with a feather or two upon their head, some with many, and some carrying bow and arrow. Their foundling wings fluttered here, there, everywhere, as they soared and circled closer and closer toward the philharmonic vibrating valley below.
This bountiful panorama around Crockett filled him a-brim with what I can only describe as ~ religious fervor ~ a firmament of emotion in the old man’s being that was no less than a profound Love for Absolutely Everything.
One by one, 7 Native American cherubs (or were they kachinas?) alighted upon the roof of the floating bus. They gathered around the protruding head of Davy Crockett. Jesus & Mary scooted back a bit to give them room and, slowly but surely, with the stomp of one foot, then the other, the little angels (or kachinas?) began a slow easy-going Round Dance.
Today, let’s do the tarantula. Let’s do the scorpion. Let’s do the rattlesnake. Let’s twirl your hi-tech automobile over the horizon and breed a donkey instead. Ohhhhhhhh, the Oil Wars are comin’. Those Oil Wars are cominnnnnnn’. The only thing I want to dig on is a Kiva. You got a society now that breeds fascist control and crack-head shame. The water is going going gone. You’re house is too big and your direction is wrong. You had better start singing the quieter, more harmonic ooooooold adobeeeeeee song. Native shrub and dirt is where it’s at. Your green green lawn is gonna dry up along with all your fat. Why don’t you slow down so that we can get along? Let’s live and die in peace with nothin’ nothin’ nothin’ to steer us wrong.
You won’t legalize the popular herb ‘cuz if you do, your prisons will empty and those who run them will lose their profit. You’re trying to outlaw tobacco too. If you make too many laws none of them will be obeyed. You’re breeding outlaws for the future.
This used to be the Land of the Free ~ before your boat landed. Now it’s a Land of Laws. And your boat is going to sink ~ too many laws. You can’t even blow a kiss without breaking one of your contemptible laws. Robin Hood is comin’. I tell you, Robin Hood reincarnated is cominnnnnnn’ back ~ & us poor folk are gonna squander all your riches & make-do with beans and rice, as usual, & a stubborn little donkey who won’t move if we work him too hard, & a humble hut of adobe, with an underground chapel, a Kiva, out back for our more spiritually inclined moments.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Amen.
Davy couldn’t tell if the cherub was a little girl or a little boy. The others had all swirled away.
“What’s your name?” Thee old man’s tongue was working again.
The Celestial Kid wouldn’t answer. She or he just plopped down into an Indian sitting position and peered with smoky eyeballs at Davy as if wondering where was the rest of the frontiersman’s body. The cherub, with a playful smile, fluttered her (or his) wings like a dog might wag his (or her) tail. And the little angel continued to stare at Crockett, albeit in a sympathetic way, like he was some kind of anomaly.
Davy got shy, started looking around at all the surrounding natural & supernatural phenomena. Finally, he looked back at the heavenly little critter & said, “This is quite a painting we got here of the past.”
The Kid glanced around, softly chuckled, and said, “Past? This isn’t the past. This is the future.”
Crockett gagged, old man phlegm in his throat. With red bleary eyes squinted shut, he gagged and gagged and coughed it up. When he opened his eyes, he was back where he was supposed to be, that is, the present. The baffled time traveler (really?) was pale-faced and a-drool with shock.
The bus was parked on the side of the street. Inside, a couple emergency techs had hold of Crockett’s legs, holding him up. Meanwhile on the roof, a fireman cut around Davy’s head with a giant pair of metal-cutting pliers. A medic was up there too, and a cop. A ladder was propped up against the bus. Emergency vehicles and patrol cars were parked all over the place. Rubber-necking passengers & pedestrians crowded around on the sidewalk, making wry comments. A pretty woman walked by, seemingly oblivious to it all.
Moments later, Crockett stood on a grassy knoll next to the sidewalk staring at the sheet-covered corpse of he who had gotten run over. Crockett stood in deep contemplation for many moments as all around him the chaotic scene cleared-up. He stared and stared at the sheet-covered corpse. He, himself, unhurt, was without a scratch. He knelt on one knee, lifted a corner of the sheet ~ and stared at the battered face of a dead man.
An Indian ~ a Pueblo Indian ~ stared back. Davy imagined the corpse winking ~ but it did not do so. After a while, Davy thought he recognized the face but he was not sure. An Indian feller had offered him a ride at the mission in Flagstaff a bit more than a year ago. They were both staying there for a couple days. Davy, broke, had been hitch-hiking to the Queen City of the Rio Grande for his own final crucifixion, where he had not one friend & did not know a soul. Everyone gets crucified in the end. Some folks manage it better than others. Some get a quick one. Davy still owed this man $12 gas money.
Crockett backed off when the emergency techs stepped up and capsized his contemplations. They rolled the corpse into the back of an ambulance, shut the door, and drove away.
This tale would end about right here, except one more thing ~ one more extraordinary thing. The pretty woman who walked by earlier, walked by again. She was the kind of woman Crockett would like to meet. He hopelessly wished she would turn around, come back and talk to him. Then she did! He recognized her, now, from her movies ~ Julia Roberts!
Eventually she offered him a ride home. He accepted. Wouldn’t you?
“This is where you live?” incredulously asked she when they stopped in her swank Cadillac in front of Veterans Campus. A couple Fire Watch fellers openly admired her & her car from behind the fence. In fact, their mouths went ~ agape.
“Yes,” said Davy. “This is where I live. It’s a lot of fun. It’s the Disneyland of homeless shelters.”
Ms. Roberts studied Veterans Campus ~ the nationally renown transitional zone ~ for vagabond veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. T’was resurrected out of a spread-out ramshackle old Route 66 motel. The rich & famous actress seemed to regard it as if it were a cold distant poke-mark on the moon. She turned & studied reincarnal Davy Crockett with his captivating new aura, sitting next to her in the front seat of her car. Finally she said, “Mr. Crockett.”
“You can call me Davy.”
“Davy, why don’t you come with me to my Kiva hide-out in Taos?”
Davy thought for one lonnnnnnng heart pounding moment. “I could be your groundsman.”
“Exactly!” said Ms. Roberts. Suddenly she was wearing her million dollar smile. What could Davy do? What could Davy say?
Text Copyright Clyde Collins 2015