The Aftermath: Banishment

The Aftermath: Banishment

“A Real Friend is one who Knows your
Faults and still Loves you
In spite of Them.”
Grandma

I was in deep shit. Not only did I take her Virginity, I went ahead and got her Pregnant. Now I must leave my family and my whole Village. One factor was in my favor, I had a Real Friend: Joshua.

Joshua and I had been friends as far back as we can remember. Joshua showed his loyalty when he admitted to the counsel that he had been the one who stole the booze that lead to the events that Infamous night. It had no effect on my punishment: Banishment. So Joshua threw himself on the mercy of the counsel. “I will leave here with Jarl. I am culpable.”

“Now way, Joshua! I and I alone must be punished for this . . . Uh . . . Crime.”

“You are my Friend, Jarl, and I join your Quest for Redemption.”

“Very well. The council has spoken: both Joshua and you are hereby Banished”

“No wait. Josh you cannot do this! I do not accept this sacrifice.” I pleaded.

“Jarl, you are my Friend until the End of Time.”

As we gathered our backpacks, Joshua noticed a note in his bag. It said simply: “FAG” So Joshua and I left, never to Return? Alone in each other’s faults.

We approached the nearest village and were not allowed in the front gate. So they gave it a wide birth. It was the case at the next three villages who knew of their crimes already. Joshua and I trudged our path without a word: Alone in our
thoughts and prayers. When will this punishment end? I ruminated.

What have I done? Who have I hurt? Repeated in Joshua’s mind as he prayed to his Ancestors.

“Joshua, you have made a True act of Selflessness. You will be rewarded in this life and the next.” Then Joshua broke the silence. “We will be there soon; I can feel it!”

“Be where?” I questioned.

“Where we’re supposed to be.”

“Yeah, right!” I scoffed. “We will always be Marked from this day forward just like Cain in the old stories. Get used to it!”

“No Jarl, my friend. This, Now, is the first day of our New Life. Time is on our side, Java. Every day, the Closer we are to Fine.”

“’The Closer I am to Fine?’ Bullshit!”

“You make a bad Optimist, Java.”

“Goramn it, Josh, quit calling me Java. That’s my True Name!”

“I’m here for you, Jarl . . . We’ve won the anti-lottery, my friend. It cannot get any worse than it is right Now!”

“Now that’s right.” I admitted. “We’re Starbuxed!”

“If we are at the bottom, then there is Hope . . .”

“What if we just keep skipping off the bottom and falling down again?”

“I tell you the Truth: This is the beginning of the End. For my Ancestors have spoken the Truth to me.” Replied Joshua.

“When?”

“They came to me while we were walking in Silence. I forgive you, Java.” He said softly.

Taken aback, “Thank you, Joshua, my Brother.”

“You are welcome, Brother.”

The Brothers Trudged On.
The Fireside Song

Later, we sat close to the Fire as frost was in the air and I began to sing:
Our circumstances were truly dire.

The air was heavy with the thought of our Sin.
Where to start, where to begin?

We know our Friendship keeps us warm.
We give each other shelter from the Storm.
I’m here on my soapbox, here to Inform.
Our Love is so strong that the World will Transform.

The song over, both of us sighed and lightened the grip that we held on our blankets. Despite the cold, we both felt an inner warmth. Warmth from the ancient ritual of Song. I spoke first to break the Spell: “That was Tremendous, my brother.”

“I felt I was Home.” Joshua shed a tear.

“Me too,” I said with a long sigh.

After a dreamless sleep, Joshua and I woke to the “Caw Caw” of two Crows that were eating last night’s dinner. Both of our bodies ached from the previous days Trudge. However, we both felt somehow refreshed. I attempted to scare off the two Crows, but they insisted on finishing their meal while keeping one eye on us.
I’m into superstition: Black cats and Voodoo dolls. I feel a premonition, that Crow’s gonna make me fall.

“Is this omen good or bad, Joshua?”

“I’d say Good. They seem to be enjoying themselves.”

“Caw, caw?!?” I asked.

Good. We’ll be better when are bellies are full.

“Caw, caw?!?”

Yes. We are here to help you.

“Caw, Caw?!?”

No, I don’t know.

“Should we follow you?” Asked Joshua.

Yes. We are satisfied, now. Do as a say: Try to keep up! And with that both Crows took flight.

Joshua and I packed quickly and took off in the same direction as the Crows: Due west. The pace was quicker than we would like, but we knew we had to keep up. By noon we were exhausted and fell to the ground: Spent. But the Crows flew on. On a hunch,
I took out some bread and threw it on the ground. Both Crows circled back and began to eat with one Crow on sentry duty Yes, we are hungry, too. I smiled to myself . . . so we ate and then packed up and moved on.

As the day neared darkness the two Crows landed in a tall white pine tree for twilight was a dangerous and powerful time of day. Plus it is easier to setup a tent before the sun sets. Crows are the Kings of Twilight so they felt safer to converse with the two travelers. Where do you two think you’re going?

“We seek new Adventure.” Joshua lied.

Are you seeking or are you running from? Hahaha! Everybody wants to Rule the World. Hahah! The Crows were in a good mood: Enjoying their role as guides: Knowing they would soon eat again. It comes naturally.

I questioned: “Who sent you?”

Odin, of course. I am Muninn and this is Huginn.

“Memory and Thought in Old Norse.” I explained to Joshua. “These are Ravens not Crows. Thank you for your Service.”

My pleasure. We are at your Service.

“What a gift, Java!”

As darkness fell with no light from the New Moon, Joshua I finished a meager supper. When Joshua threw another log on the fire sparks flew into the air. Then he began to sing:

Twilight Song

I met two Ravens today.
Why they came, I cannot say.
Odin’s own: Muninn and Huginn,
Memory and Thought in unison.

Munin and Thunin guide our Way.
From their Path I will not Stray.
I Trudge the Way Unknown.
Our Past we cannot outrun.

The days they run together.
No Home for a tether:
Renegades on the Run,
The Old Ways we do not shun.

With no news at all from Home,
We’re Cursed, yes Cursed, to Roam.
All we own is on our backs:
Living the Life of an Amnesiac.

The next day was warmer because the Sun was out the entire day. I kept my eyes on the Crows and Joshua kept his eye out for a path. The phrase ‘As the Crow flies’ has new meaning for me. When we needed rest, we would stop and put out food for the Ravens. Sometimes the food attracted other animals as well: hawks, buzzards, squirrels, mocking birds and little finches. None of these spoke, however. The Ravens, Muninn and Huginn, in their true form were half again as large as a normal Crow. This fact helped me pick them out in the sky.

Several days after they met, Joshua and I found ourselves looking down into a gully much larger than either had ever seen. The other side was only 50 yards away, but it might as well be on the moon because of the depth of at least 3000 feet. The Ravens stood on the other side. You must get over here, as soon as possible. The depth is only an illusion. Walk out on Faith! Just then Joshua noticed a dust trail on the horizon. Now! You must come! They are coming for you! Walk out on Faith!

We did not move: like 2 deer caught in the head lights. Run! Run Now! I was waiting for courage to run on Faith. “Do what they say, Java!” Screamed Joshua as he ran toward the cliff. To his delight he ran onto solid ground where there should be none. I followed close after. On the other side we hugged each other and the two Ravens watched. The two SUVs stopped short of the edge of the cliff. They spoke through a loud speaker: “You are Trespassing on private property!”

Java yelled back: “Were! You mother flowers!”

A while later as we made camp, I sung:

Here we are Safe and Sound:
Our Blessings do abound.
To our Fear we have not caved:
By two Ravens we were Saved.

We used to be full of Fear:
Wanting to just disappear.
Now we both have the Courage we need:
Free in both Thought and Deed.

Fear is the mind killer.
I know you will concur.
You can Learn for yourself:
‘The only thing we have to Fear is Fear itself.”

False Evidence Appearing Real.
If you believe your Fate is sealed.
No Free Will can you find:
To your Fate you are resigned.

My friend for me did sacrifice;
He did not even think twice.
We are Masters of our own Fate;
Our Future do we now create.

Both men slept well for the first time since they left.

I had a Dream last night . . . that I met Steve Jobs outside of a clinic. I was broke, homeless and desperate. I asked: “Are you Steve Jobs?”
“Yes.” He took me into a warm embrace and said: “Bless you, my son.” And I was. Then he looked me in the eyes: “Your Faith will set you Free. Go in Peace!” And I did.
End of Dream.

Joshua and I woke from a restful Sleep.

“I had the strangest Dream last night.”

“Me too! I met Steve Jobs.”

“No way! Me too.” Jarl was incredulous.

“‘Your Faith will set you Free.’”

“Exactly!” I exclaimed. “What the eff is that about?”

“We need to find someone to interpret the Dream for us.”

“How bout I interpret yours and you interpret mine.” I suggested.

“That might work.” Joshua was dubious. “You go first.”

“So . . . Yeah! Steve Jobs represents Christ who wants the best for you and will provide for you what you need.”

“I can see that. But who the Hell is Steve Jobs?”

“I think he was a King in the Old Times.”

“King of what?”

“He cured malaria.”

“For real?”

“I think so . . . Now it’s my turn. Someone will give you a gift . . .”

“You already . . .”

“Don’t interrupt me! You already have given a Gift of Love and Forgiveness. The Gift of Grace.”

“Oh. . .Really?”

Gia’s Rage: Evolution Strikes Back Chapter III

Gia’s Rage: Evolution Strikes Back

Chapter III

As far as I knew, Professor Yaklov Kalganov was the grandson of two artists killed in Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s. In 2001 he began teaching at a small liberal arts school in Ohio: Hiram College. He took the position of Chair of the biology department after a long yet unremarkable career at New York University as an associate professor. He was well-liked by his students there, but unequipped to handle the politics and demands commonly found at large research universities. Rumor has it that the decision to move to Hiram was made primarily by his wife, Anna, who never liked New York City anyway.
Soon Professor Kalganov’s human evolution class became so popular among students and even some of the faculty that he had to teach it in the largest classroom on Hiram’s small campus. He went from a small fish in a large sea to an on campus rock star.

Hiram’s biology department already had a reputation among liberal art schools as a top notch program for undergrads who wanted a leg up on others for graduate school: especially medical school. When Professor Kalganov first showed up to chair the biology department, his colleagues resented the fact that someone from their ranks was not promoted internally. However, because of Professor Kalganov’s undeniable charisma, most of the faculty came to respect him and some even to love him.

I met Professor K., as his students lovingly called him, in the fall of 2005 as one of sixty students allowed into his human evolution course. As an English major I was the only upper classman in the course who was not a science major. One of the main reason Professor K’s course was so popular was that anyone who made a B+ or better was eligible for twelve spots to join Professor K. on a summer trip to the Rift Valley in Ethiopia during the summer session for hands on research. Of course I desired one of these coveted spots and was willing to go to any lengths to get one of those coveted spots.

Since bribery was not morally a problem for me at that time, on the last day of class I brought blackberry buckle for Professor K: my grandma’s secret recipe: “Professor Kalganov. I brought you some of my grandma’s world famous blackberry buckle for you.”

“Zarl.” He pronounced my name. “Thank you. You shouldn’t have.”

“Goes great with whipped cream or some Breyer’s ice cream.”

“I will have my dear Anna pick some up then, Zarl. Thank you again.”

As the final was optional for those who had an A average, I left the classroom and returned to my apartment to complete the application for the trip to Rift Valley. I have loved Ethiopia since I had my first taste of Yirgacheffe coffee from there a few years ago. Growing up in the 80s, I also remember the awful videos of children starving in Ethiopia during the famine there. My Mom would remind me on evenings when I refused to finish my dinner that there were “starving kids in Ethiopia.” Guilt was never a good motivator for me as a child, nor has it been since. I had to go on this trip.

My next exam was at two that afternoon for German 311: Advanced Conversation. I did not have close to an A average, but the oral exam was required anyway. As the baking of the buckle interfered on my study time, I was not as prepared as I should have been. However, as I was one of Professor Anderson’s favorite students, I was not afraid of failing. And German was only my minor anyway. As I walked to Professor Anderson’s office, I fantasied what it would be like to walk the same ground as our not so distant ancestors of ancient Ethiopia.

Gia’s Rage: Counting Coup Part VI

Gia’s Rage:
Counting Coup

Part VI

At the end of the 12th day as we were making camp at twilight and the Ravens were at rest in the branches of a large birch tree, we heard drums in the distance: a steady hard, soft heartbeat.

“Do you hear that too?” Joshua asked me: his voice dropping to a whisper.

“Yes, of course. Where is it coming from?” I replied with a scowl on my face.

“There, to the West.” He pointed at the setting sun and then covered his mouth for the international sign for “Shut the eff up.”

I shrugged, then said under my breath: “That’s interesting” was all I could think to say.

“Should we check it out? Do some recon?” Joshua suggested using hand signs this time in complete silence.

“Most def.” I signed silently and grabbed my bow.

“Agreed!” Joshua signed back. We both nodded and left each other with a brotherly hug. “Listen for my ‘Caw, Caw.’” I whispered in his ear.

Joshua set off at a trot toward the South and I set off toward the North. We wanted to approach them and surprise them from the behind. Just like at home, as our Ancestors had done so many times before, we were going to attempt to count coup. In our village the most respected Warriors were those who had counted coup several times in battle or during raids for horses. For me it would be my first attempt in a real world situation. I was stoked: my palms sweating and my heart beating to match the drums I heard in the distance. My thoughts were dominated by the childhood games we had played that prepared us for the Warrior’s Way. Now was the time to bring those skills to fruition. I pictured in my mind the Vision Quest that all of us taken had before we became a Man and were given our Name. Mine was Coyotl: the Coyote. Then my thoughts fell on my brother Joshua who was Named the same Spring as me. He was called Mongwu, the Horned Owl: the straight man to my Coyote tendencies. However, Joshua sometimes seemed to raise more hell than I did or at least he caught it more often than me.

I forced myself to focus at the task at hand: controlling my breath as my Master had taught me in my youth. Reaching out with my five senses to discover my environment and the oncoming dangers. Then, I used my Third Eye to see the Unseen. A picture appeared in my head: Five women and three men in a clearing gathered around a large bonfire playing drums of different sizes and makes. The flow of sound entered my soul and brought about a Calm I had not felt since leaving home. I knew then I had nothing to Fear from these people. Finally, I sung my “Caw, caw” to Joshua and he replied that he had reached the same conclusion.

We both walked into the clearing with our arms held high as a universal sign of submission. I announced: “We heard the Heartbeat of your drums and are here to answer your Call of Peace.” The whole group looked up at me, but the hard, soft heartbeat did not falter.

“Greetings!” I tried to get their attention. “My name is Coyote. This is my brother Horned Owl.”

Still the Beat did not falter. At last the Crone of the group spoke and the Spell was broken: “Welcome, Coyote. Welcome Horned Owl. My name is Janet Olsen and we’ve been looking for y’all for a week. Nice to finally meet you both. Won’t you join us around the Fire? Would ya like a cup o’ joe?”

“Of course.” I replied. “Thank God. We ran out of coffee a days ago.”

“You’re welcome. Come sit.” She motioned to a couple of green folding camp chairs.

We both sat down with a sigh of relief. They were friends, not enemies. We were blessed.

Janet asked: “So you followed the Ravens to us?”

“Yes. We somehow knew that they would not lead us into Danger.” Joshua answered as his coffee cup was filled.

“Cream and sugar?” Asked a young African woman with an unfamiliar accent.

“No thank you.”

As my cup was filled Janet continued: “I’m sorry for my rudeness. It’s been so long since we’ve had guests. This is Thomasa our cook.” Pointing to the young lady pouring our coffee. “To your left is Opi Chi Chi: the first bird of Spring. She came to us only six weeks ago when we passed though St. Louis.”

“Hello, Opi Chi Chi.” We both got up to shake her hand.