Boj: Chapter Fourteen, Page Three

   One day, Ed disappeared. Ed sometimes went missing for a few days at a time, off on one of his quests for inner vision, so Boj did not worry right away.

   "I cannot guide people where I have not been myself," Ed would say on his return, and smile.

   During his absences, Ed primed Boj to keep watch on the tracks in his place. He gave Boj detailed instructions; never touch discarded food or drink or drugs, glass is mostly useless as an emotional conductor, paper is worthwhile mostly when it holds specific images, metal has great power because it is forged, alloyed and durable; everything the boy found would have to be carefully cataloged as to the date and place of its discovery.

   Ed kept stacks of boxes of calendars, newspaper clippings and magazine covers. He hated recycling because it tended to mix images for people who touched the relics. If they were confused to start, contact with a double imaged object sent them spinning. Then, they would not return to Ed's help for the second or third time. Ed never took any pay the first time someone came for direction. Only on the second or third session would Ed take money or a blanket, food, tobacco, or peyote buds. He never took anything on the first visit because he had to see if his magic helped. If people grew more inept at living in this world while they sought the next world under Ed's care, Ed changed their treatment or sent them off to another healer, without pay.

   "You cannot file insurance with me," Ed would say grinning at first and then turn serious. "I will not take your plastic. I am not some fool Indian you can visit for a photo, a little dance and then buy some beads assembled in China."

   "I am a healer," he finished. "I guide people to still waters where they can drink and quiet pastures where they can eat without hurting their bodies with the food they eat."

   Ed just vanished one day. Boj never saw him again. The hogan remained with all its stacked boxes. Ed left and he never returned.

   Boj never forgot Ed. He remembered the songs and stories Ed taught him. He could start a fire in falling rain because Ed showed him how. He could tie snares for small animals because Ed taught him how to use his shoe strings to feed himself outdoors.

   Ed was a master of finding fish, though he was mostly too proud to eat fish. He liked rabbit, possum, squirrel and he was very fond of raccoon because they were fierce, fat and clean. He would never trap for pelts, though the county offered to pay him a handsome bounty for pelts from the small field wolves they called coyotes. Ed said his signs often came from the Coyote People. He would not kill them for any reason.

   "The whites hate the Coyote People because they do not know how to hear them," Ed often said. He never explained how to hear the Coyote People or how to keep them from killing one's pets or small livestock.  He just admired the Coyote People.

   "If I listen to the Coyotes long enough," Ed said, "I will get to where I can talk back to them. Then, I can get them to talk to the other animals for me. I will get the other animals to go to the Earth Mother. The earth will be restored, more green and wet and cool, like it was once. The plants will grow up and cover all this hot cement."

   Suddenly, Ed was gone, never to be seen again. The coyotes had stopped their howling. The earth grew dry and hot.

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