THE CROW MYSTERY
Lucky Two Crows
In the first part of Book One, The Blackfeet Mystery, Lucky passes through the Crow Indian Reservation. That night at the Crow Bar in Harding, Lucky is confronted by Indian militia of the Native American Army. He meets a woman at the bar who tells about many missing young men. Something bad is going on at the closed prison, and they want Lucky to find out what.
This book has been plotted out, and has yet to be written.
Lucky Two Crows:
The sun was setting when I arrived at the Wild Wind Cafe, just north of the Crow Agency Town, in Southeast Montana.
The sign was barely readable, and if I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have passed it by. The large run-down two-story clapboard house was a mess, either in great need of paint and repair, or a bulldozer. There were no trees around it, any grass or plants, just dirt. Three rusted wrecked cars sat dead in the yard, covered in tumbleweed; there wasn’t a drivable vehicle anywhere in sight. Maybe there was life to this place ten years ago, but now I doubted if it had a coffee machine, or anything to eat or drink. My only clue to life in the old house was the smoke coming out of the chimney. It peaked my interest. I parked the truck and headed to the front door. I was questioning why Clarence sent me here.
The handle turned, so I walked in. To my surprise, the interior was pleasant and comfortably arranged. The large room had an open river-rock fireplace, with real logs burning. There were several antique wooden tables and chairs, an old leather couch and three matching easy chairs in front of the fire. Several bookcases housed a substantial library of books. Framed hundred year old photos filled all the wall spaces. Opposite the fireplace was an ornately carved hardwood bar with ten stools, backed by a large mirror and a full array of liquor. There was nobody in the room.
“Hello,” I yelled out. “Is anyone here?”
“Somebody has to keep the damn fire going,” an ancient rumble of a voice said from behind me. I turned with a start. I could swear there was nobody in the room I had just entered, but there he was, a very old Indian man with half his yellow teeth missing. His deeply wrinkled face was held together by a scraggly beard he probably hadn’t trimmed in forty years; long strands of gray reaching mid-chest. The man had to be over ninety years old, looked about one hundred and twenty, and was as skinny as a rail. “You looking for a shot of whiskey, boy?”
“You have soda water?” I asked, still dumbfounded. The man was dressed all in brown. Brown pants, brown moccasins, brown calico shirt and a plain brown vest, covered by a brown suit jacket, which he probably bought new in the nineteen forties.
“Yeah, got some of that sodie water. Can put a nip of Jack in it for ya, no problem.” When I shook my head, he ambled for the bar, and gestured me to follow, and to sit at one of the stools. In his own slow pace, he managed to place a tall glass with ice on a Wild Wind coaster, next to an opened bottle of soda water. He came around and sat at the stool beside me. “I’ve been expecting you,” he said. “They all come back eventually.”
“Expecting me? What are you talking about?”
“The scouts?” When I said that I suddenly remembered that I was in Crow country, not so very far from where the battle at Little Big Horn was fought.
“The Crow scouts?”
“Come back to make peace with their souls.”
I was now wondering if I had entered a haunted house and this old man was one of the ghosts. The water tasted real, the bubbles fresh. “And you know that because . .?”
“I was one of ‘em.”
“Last time I looked, that war was fought around one hundred and fifty years ago. You look pretty damn old, old man, but not that old.”
“You don’t remember me, do you?”
“Remember you? How could I remember you?” With this asked, the old man left his stool and slowly moved across the room. “It’s my first time in this area . . .” I stopped talking as he took an old framed photo off the wall, then came back and handed it to me.
“See here.” He pointed at one of the twelve Crow Indian scouts in the photo, all overly dressed in hodgepodge assortments of western and Indian clothing, holding their Winchester 44 rifles. “That’s me. See’s Clearly. You and I were the only ones in this photo that didn’t die at Big Horn. Oh no, I forgot. That there’s Dog Boy.” He pointed to another scout crouched in front.
“You and I?”
“See here? That’s you. Two Crows.” I stared at the photo in disbelief, tears welling in my eyes. The warrior in the photo looked exactly like me. I could help myself. I began to cry. My dreams and visions of Two Crows were true. It was definitely me.
“After the battle, they sent me to Blackfeet country to kill you, and bring back your scalp. I found you, but couldn’t do it. You were my best friend. You told me, and Dog Boy, to go home, to come back here. This is where I’ve been ever since. I’m the only one who survived.”
“That’s impossible. That would make you somewhere around one hundred and seventy years old.”
“What do you mean why not? You can’t be that old.”
“But I am.” He looked at me with sincerity as I wiped my tears. “It’s good to see you again Two Crows. Been too long. I got a shack in back if you want to stay a few days. We can talk story, like we did back then.”
I wanted to run; run as fast as I could from this impossible dream. I still had the photo in my hands and I looked once more at Two Crows and then at See’s Clearly. Although one hundred and fifty years older, I could see the resemblance.
“Dog Boy ended up marrying that white woman Martha. They had something like eight children. She died normal and he lasted to around thirty years ago. I sure miss him.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. “You’re one hundred and seventy years old?”
“Give or take. I quit counting. But nobody believes me or gives a shit. I got a secret to keep living.”
“Which is . . .”
“Ain’t saying. You wanna stick around a few days or not?”
“I gotta go. I’ve had a long day on the road, need a good hot shower and a comfortable bed. I’ll find a motel in Hardin.”
“Fair enough. But listen up, Two Crows. We got some big trouble here in Crow country. We could use a good scout to sort things out.” How he knew that I was still a scout, or a detective, seemed minor compared to his age, so I let it pass. “Go to the CrowBar and check things out. If you’re lucky, you won’t get scalped.” He laughed. “I guess you are lucky.” Did he know my name?
I paid for my soda and said what he wanted to hear: that it was good seeing him again and I would be back soon. “Ahh . . . I might have to wait another century,” he said with a chuckle.
As I drove off I felt I’d just experienced a very strange hallucination, like I had been on some sort of shamanic mushroom trip. I couldn’t get Gracie Slick out of my head,
“One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small. And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all. Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall. And if you go chasing rabbits and you know you’re going to fall, tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call. Call Alice when she was just small.
When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, and you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low, go ask Alice I think she’ll know. When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, and the White Knight is talking backwards and the Red Queen’s off with her head, remember what the dormouse said, Feed your head. Feed your head.”
After checking into the Hardin Inn, I went to the dimly lit CrowBar, hoping to get a decent meal. The waitress was around thirty years old: a Crow woman named April. She was pretty and sweet; a single mother of a nine-year old boy who needed two jobs to make ends meet. She perked up when I told her that I was an Indian Rights detective from Portland, Oregon.
I settled on the fish and chips and a cold Deschutes draft. She poured my beer, and then sat across from me. She seemed a bit starved for good company, and said this was my lucky night, since there were no customers. “We need an Indian Rights detective. You may be the answer to our prayers,” she said as the front doors opened and four big Indian men bolted in.
April stood up, and appeared to be frightened. The men all wore dark sunglasses to match their all black clothing; black boots, black jeans, black T-shirts and black leather vests, with a logo on the back. They were exceptionally overbearing, behaving like they owned the place.
“Get over here woman and pour us our beer,” one of them shouted as they reached the bar. April gave me a long look, and then slowly moved behind the bar. The alpha leader barked, “Get your ass in gear woman. Start pouring. Didn’t I tell you to have our beer ready when we walk in the door? Is that so fucking hard to understand?”
April shook her head as she reached the tap with the first mug. His voice filled the room, “You may be pretty, but you’re one stupid squaw. Where the fuck’s the nuts?”
She looked over at me, as if I was supposed to make this not happen. She put nuts on the bar, and after she finished pouring the beers, she headed back towards me.
“Wait a second, honey. Did I tell you you could leave?” The alpha grabbed her wrist and pulled her to his chest, looked down and said, “I bet you’re a fine piece of ass.” The other three laughed, and he added, “Tell you what. You tell that fucker over there to leave. We lock the doors and my boys will watch while you and I do it on the pool table. What do you say, girl? I’ve seen the way you look at me. Time you had a real man fuck you good.”
April shook free of him and hurried back to my table. She had a pleading look in her eyes. “Please help me.”
I couldn’t believe it. Apparently this man thought he owned the town, and could say or do whatever he pleased; could have whatever he wanted, without censor. No woman anywhere deserved to be treated this way. I stood up and walked over to the four men, who were posed like they were defending the bar.
“That was a disgusting display of mental rape. I suggest you apologize to April and never treat her like that again. Do you understand what I’m saying? ” I said in a calm voice.
“Fuck off,” the alpha leader barked, standing a little taller.
Three big dumb Russian two days ago, and now four big dumb American Indians, I thought. Why can’t I have a quiet meal? Eat in peace. Talk to a pretty woman. Take a hot shower and have a good night’s sleep. Am I a magnet for bullies, or what? “I will. As soon as you apologize to her, and promise you’ll never touch or sexually harass her again.”
“What the fuck? Who are you telling me what I should do, asshole? Get the fuck out of my face. Get lost.”
“Yeah, get the fuck away from us. Nobody fucks with the American Indian Army, you dumb shit,” the second guy said.
I stood my ground and assessed the situation. Four against one. All my size. Younger. Maybe stronger. Much dumber. No high powered rifles or Glocks, at least none I can see. Probably hidden knives. It would be a challenge; a nasty fight. A lot of meat to toss around, but I can take them. I took a deep breath, preparing myself. “What are we looking at . . . if I fuck with you?” I asked a rhetorical question in a calm voice.
“Four against one, you dumb shit. Let me put this in a way you’ll understand,” the alpha boss said in a matching calm voice, attempting to display an equal intelligence, and authority. “You’re not from here. You don’t belong here. How we treat our women in Hardin is none of your fucking business.”
He paused so his logic would sink in, and then looked me up and down. “You have a pretty face, probably a fucking Sioux, definitely not Crow.” The others ventured to guess other nations, followed by their boss telling them to shut up. “That your truck parked outside?” he continued. I didn’t respond, poised for their first aggressive move. “Classic Ford. We noticed. Showroom perfect. You’re not some poor motherfucker, are you? College degree? Clean-cut white boy in brown skin. What do they call that?”
“Tootsie roll?” one of the others answered.
“Something like that. We know your type. Defender of the white fucker’s laws. You come here thinking their rules apply on our land. Think again, motherfucker. Our land. Our rules.”
“Why don’t we take him out back and beat the shit out of him, boss?” the apparent second in command suggested. “Why you letting him waste our time? We take him out back. Fuck him up. Throw his brown ass in the dumpster. We come back. Eat our steak. Drink our beer. You fuck the bitch. I steal his truck. You hear what I’m saying?” The other two laughed, thinking it a great plan.
“I hear you. Not a bad idea,” the boss answered with an approving frown, and then looked square in my eyes. “Here’s how it’s going to come down, Tootsie Roll. You have two choices. Get in your pussy truck and drive away, and never come back. That’s your best bet. Or . . . my boys here take you out back and fuck you up . . . while I fuck the bitch on the pool table.” They all laughed like it was great fun. “While you’re moaning, all bloody in the dumpster out back, we eat our steaks and drink our beer. April here will be happy, having had the best cock ever. She’ll beg for more.” The men laughed louder. “So, this is your last chance. Turn around and walk out that door.” I didn’t move, so he yelled, “Get the fuck out of here!”
“Not before you apologize to the lady.” I answered in a calm voice. I was ready. I nodded to the front door, and April went over to lock it.
The alpha dog looked at his henchmen. Then, thinking he would take me by surprise, attempted to sucker punch me with a quick roundhouse, expecting to connect his fist to my face. Mistake. I grabbed his arm and used his force to spin him around, back into the bar. I could almost hear a lower rib crack as he smashed into the hard wood. It had to hurt.
The other three goons looked at their boss holding his ribs, as I backed up and waited for them to come. With his “What the fuck are you waiting for?” the bar brawl began. For the next ten minutes they barely touched me. They would charge and I would redirect their bodies, sending them to rearrange the tables and chairs, or to bounce off the walls. Their use of the pool cues didn’t help, as I used then to my advantage: some were broken over heads, but not mine. While I did my very best to subdue their unrequited blood lust, I looked for openings to jab the boss in his ribs a few times, slowing him down to quarter speed. Soon any forward movement was a painful effort. While all this was going on, April had the foresight to find plastic ties in the storeroom. She bound the feet first and then hands when she had the opportunity. When the last brute could no longer get up, we made sure all their hands were strapped securely behind their backs, and their whining muffled with duck tape. I dragged them all to the front door while April straightened the furniture.
April turned up the music while I sat back down. She brought me a cold beer and I finished my fish and chips. The leader definitely had a couple broken ribs, looking quite ill at ease, while cursing in mumbles behind the duck tape. I supposed I made a new enemy.
The cook had left the bar when the fighting began, so April had time to sit with me and explain the situation. The leader, Red Bull they called him, maybe after the drink and probably not his given name, was the so-called chief of the local militia, call the American Indian Army. They guarded the underground quartz mine where she worked. She didn’t know why a quartz mine needed guarding, but figured they found something else down there. Whatever it was, it didn’t show up in the books she was keeping, nor did the salary of the guards with high- powered rifles. She had spoken to miners she knew, but they claimed to only be mining quartz. She wondered if whatever else they found down there, which required the guards, had anything to do with the twenty local young men who had disappeared in the past year. Nobody knew where they went, and the mothers and grandmothers where desperate to find them. The local authorities wouldn’t help them, so she was hoping, since I was a big city detective, and knew how to handle myself, and she liked me, that maybe I could stick around and find out what was going on.
I told her that I was on my way to Browning to solve a murder, and was only passing through, and I would be gone first thing in the morning. April said she would call the Sheriff as soon as I left. She would tell him the truth. Red Bull and his men were sexually harassing her, and some stranger didn’t like it, so he beat the shit out of them. She would let the Sheriff deal with how impossible that sounded, and yet there they were, bound and gagged on the bar floor.
I promised to stay in touch, and said it was possible I would one-day return to help find the missing boys. I needed to stay on purpose. I first needed to deal with the Ruhl Farm issue after I returned from Northern Montana. I couldn’t promise, but whatever was going on in Hardin definitely piqued my interest. I paid my check, said goodbye and headed to my motel, for a much-needed shower and good nights sleep.
What had I told my Aikido students? Aikido was the way of love, not war. Once they had mastered the way of love, and put themselves in that energy field, there would be no reason to ever use their Aikido in a real street fight. And here I was, the teacher, engaged in two street fights in three days.
I was a great technician of the martial art, but how far removed was I from the way of love?