The car pulled up, a dusty sedan, almost an indiscriminate color and make. I walked up, having chosen a tank top and shorts, and sandals to wear for the journey, since the day was already brutally hot though the sun had barely risen. It didn’t look epic journey ready, it looked more like a Bic disposable car, the kind you see littering roadways abandoned for dead.
I had already admitted my travel plans were open ended, and you had already said that some of what you had in mind would be time consuming, and other parts would happen out of time altogether, laughingly.
“Ok,” I thought to myself, “You are getting in a car with a man you don’t know and going somewhere you have no idea, for unknown purposes….tabloid shit, this!” As the inner dialogue bitched, I smiled and buckled in.
“I have someone I want you to meet.” I looked over at you, and said, “OK,” amazed that my usual curiosity didn’t drive me to ask more. Instead I watched the hues of the morning sun waft soft on the landscape, and nursed my coffee, contentedly.
We didn’t speak. It didn’t bother me. Much to my amusement the car seemed able to put up with brutal punishment, we were going fast on heat rippled roads marred with holes. “Bloody hell, I’m in a car with a God/Gonzo mutant.” I thought, and secretly named the car Shark. Shark seemed to like fast.
I hit the joint you offered listening to Neil Young. As the surroundings became more desert-like, I began to feel unease. The desert had never called to me, even when I walked its ancient places with a friend years before. It tolerated me as I gave it my respect, but we never really meshed.
I wondered if it was some ancient Native American place of Power we were going to. You barely slowed as we drove through yet another small town. I looked up as we fairly lurched into a fairly sedate neighborhood. Nothing mystical looking here, dope deal perhaps? It could be anything, but we were definitely headed somewhere now.
The houses were small ranches, some littered with yard art, others broken cars, but nothing like the slums of Detroit where I was raised. Lower middle income suburbia. Nondescript homes and yards. Innocuous.
As we pulled in the driveway, I noticed an older man sitting there, his hair white and skin weathered. “Ahhh,” I thought to myself, “an elder.” This must be who I was supposed to meet.
“El, what have you brought us?” he spoke ‘Al’ like it was ‘El’. It fit you. “I thought you were coming by today.”
“This is Diane. Diane, Short. Short, this is Diane.”
Slightly nervous, I pulled out my cigarettes, and offered him one. “How are you feeling today?” I asked. Brilliant me, remembering Native American protocol for asking well-being, and offering tobacco. He laughed at me, “Don’t smoke anymore, not that shit.” You snorted. I was embarrassed now, but grinned at the internal image of this ancient Native guy boofing pot.
“Maria’s inside, why don’t you go have a chat and grab some sun tea, while we men catch up?” Short said, brushing his hand toward me and the house. I felt totally dismissed, disappointed and went in, not bothering to make sure the wooden screen door didn’t slam. I wanted to absorb the wisdom of the elder, and God damn, what was that? My temper flared with the perceived misogynist slight.
I found her in the kitchen, open to the door off the right of the entry, the smell of food was warm and inviting. No herbs hanging, or decorative southwest art, in fact it was quite the impressive kitchen. We cooks judge by efficiency, not decor. Stainless appliances, abundant counter space, deep Moen sink. Cool.
“Ahh El’s friend, Short thought you were coming.” She was about my age, round of face, with smiling eyes. “If they want tea, they can get it them damn selves.” she said. “Like we are their damned maids? Its bad enough I have to cook all this for the feast tonight.”
I decided to like her.
“Sit” she glanced toward the table.
“No thanks, not only am I not fond of fetching, I don’t sit well either.” I smirked. “Got another knife? I’d rather be doing something. I’m a lousy guest.”
Amused, she decided to like me too.
She rolled a few onions toward me, and passed a knife. She laughed, “As it should be, dog commands should only be for dogs. My friends call me Ria, ok?”
“Hell, Ria, dog command don’t even work on my dogs, I live with wolves.”
“Wolves, how in the world do you get them to do anything you want them to do?”
I grinned. “You make it think its in their best interest, or you make them think its their idea, same as men!”
We cracked up, sisters in inflection and humor.
We made small talk then, her asking if I was married then, (used to be) about my kids, (grown) gardening, (yes) vacations, (anywhere by water) and just shot the shit as women getting to know eachother do, her answering the same back.
“So, how long have you and El been hooked up?” she raised a pointed eyebrow over her leer. I looked down and said “Well, we haven’t exactly…”
“Priceless,” she interrupted, “the air is thick with the hormones between you and you haven’t fucked him yet? You don’t strike me as a woman not to take what she wants, why the hell not?”
My face burned. “This time, for once in my life, instead of taking what I want, I want him to take me.”
She looked at me and said, “Well, what you do not offer, El will not take.” She considered a moment, looking at the expression on my face.
“Good lord, girl, do you know what kind of fire you’re playing with?”
I nodded at her. “Oh yes,” I thought, “I am playing with a God.” I said nothing more. “Maybe, but if you drive him to where he has to, beware what you get.” she warned.
I gave her a knowing look, that look a woman gets when she knows what she wants. We both laughed. I am sure she knew your true nature, but just as sure she wasn’t going to tell me. The moment passed. We chatted more.
Well, I may not get to talk to Short, but I was certainly enjoying myself with Ria anyway. We made short work of the vegetables. Eventually I asked about the feast, who all the food was for, and she said “We are going to kiva this evening.”
“Good weather for it,” I replied, “big rain tomorrow.” She looked at me funny, remarking she hadn’t caught the Weather Channel yet.
Without thinking, I said “Oh, I haven’t either, I just know.” I couldn’t read her face, but she got decidedly less friendly. Shit, people hate when I say things like that, and I usually know better, but she had put my guard down. My friends are used to it. “I smell it.”
She stared at me a moment, hard. I held her look, unwilling to go submissive and look away. I had been alpha to wolves too long perhaps.
“God damn it, El, Short, get your asses in here now!” She was loud, aggravated. They came in, howling with laughter, decidedly more stoned than I had left them, wearing shit-eating grins and trying to look innocent. They didn’t pull it off at all.
“You bastards, what did you bring me? Fuck with the Medicine Woman, see if you can trick her?” Oh man, she was going into a full blown rage, unaided by their gales of mirth. “Wolf-talking, water-loving, sex-fiend, can smell storms a day out, son of a bitch white-woman who has no idea who she is! Or what she is!”
“Calm down Ria.” you said, now serious as a funeral. “Thats what we were trying to figure out. I didn’t want you to meet her all full of notions, I needed you clear.”
She deflated. My mouth, I am sure was hanging open.
“Enough. No need to upset Diane. Ria, please, you know what tea we need.” Short spoke, and Ria raised an eyebrow and left the room.
“Come, little one, sit by an old man and give me a thrill.” Short’s attempt at a leer made me grin, despite myself. I walked over to the couch, and sat with him. “Don’t be frightened, it will all work out, and the tea will help us all figure it out.”
I sought your eyes, feeling totally bewildered. Your look was gentle and kind, a rare soft smile gracing your lips. Thats all it took to make me horny again. I looked away. Ria was who you wanted me to see. My mind tried to replay what she had said, and what it all meant. Short patted my knee, “Calm yourself girl, Ria meant you no disrespect. She just hated being surprised. It has been a long time since anyone surprised her. She likes you, she won’t hurt you, besides, you are El’s guest.”
She stalked in with four mismatched coffee cups, long black pony tail swinging. I chose the blue one of course. Red, yellow, black, blue, directional colors I noticed, right before the acrid odor hit my nose. “Drink this? What the fuck, datura root, peyote, what the hell is this?” I thought, suddenly panicking, “Like i can take anymore weirdness today.”
“Is this part of the Kiva ceremony?” I asked. Ria said softly “No, your nature would be too strong to be at Kiva. Until we know the nature of your incarnation, no, even then…you must gain control. This a weak tea, no ceremony, it will help you.”