THE BLACKFEET MYSTERY
Lucky Two Crows
The above drawing of two crows is one of my art creations. The cover art of Lucky Two Crows, as well as Taylor Banks and Robert St. Clair, is by American Indian Thai artist Paradorn Threemake. These books have a metaphysical component, where present characters are also alive in a past or parallel life. In a real life twist, Paradorn is 100% Thai, but looks like an American Indian, dresses like one, and draws like a true American Indian artist. Even his real Thai last name, Threemake, sounds like its Native American.
Lucky Two Crows is a 36 year old American Indian Rights detective. He is also an athlete, a martial artist with five blackbelts in Aikido, a former powwow performer, a motocross rider, an anti-GMO advocate, a musician, and a computer hacker, which no one is supposed to know about. Lucky lives in Portland, Oregon, is quite handsome, and single. His hidden passion is to start a cyber revolution against the large GMO Agri food corporations, but at the present time he can’t afford it. This story is the first important step the fulfillment of his life-long dream.
Lucky Two Crows:
As I sat in front of the blazing fire in my Pearl District apartment, I studied the turn of the 19th century brick walls.
Rain pitter-pattering on my tin roof summoned the image, the sounds, of sixty-five years of churning printing presses, previously occupying this room. The polished cement floor, a mosaic of spilt ink, was now covered with Navaho rugs from pow-wow weavers. The feathers on spears, drums holding lamps, and paintings of warriors and maidens, comforted me. I had planned a quick nap before going out. With the fire as the room’s only light in the late afternoon darkness; a relaxing gloomy mellow calm before the storm, I closed my eyes and began to drift away . . .
I jumped, as my windows shook from a canon blast of thunder, splitting the sky above me. The pitter-patter made way to a heavy downpour pounding on my tin roof, questioning my resolve. Only a fool would venture out in this weather, into this torrential storm, which, according to reports, would last for days to come.
But I had to go. We had planned out this important reconnaissance mission. A scout was needed, and this was my last chance to go before Montana, where a murder waited to be solved.
I’m an American Indian. One hundred and fifty years ago, I wouldn’t have considered the weather. If it was time to hunt, or steal horses from an enemy tribe, or as an Army scout, to do the will of a mad master, I would go without question. Men like me would stand strong against the driving rain, or a winter blizzard, because it was who we are – warriors. Today I‘m a twenty-first century warrior, with the same resolve.
Before setting out into the storm, I covered myself from head to toe in waterproof leather. My jacket was velcro’d into my gloves, my pants into my boots, my high collar to my helmet. I was toasty inside, maybe too toasty. NASA would have provided an interior fan. Or two. I reminded myself that this cocoon was better then being drenched to the bone. Much better. My change of clothes and tools, even my bow and arrows, were in waterproof containers. I was well prepared, a seasoned biker, an off-road racer, trained to maneuver my Ducati through every conceivable obstacle; rain, snow, mud or what have you.
A raging downpour wouldn’t bother me. Not too much.
But I was wrong. The rain was like fire; the first ten miles out of Portland that late afternoon was like a death ride through the fiery pits of hell. Pretty much. The unrelenting downpour came to me at sixty miles per hour. Puddles on the highway I couldn’t possibly dodge, appeared out of nowhere, jerking my front tire, forcing quick maneuverings to avoid a hundred and eighty pound splat on the glazed-over highway. Me.
As the monster eighteen wheel semi’s sped by me in the other lane, their water sprays and suction drafts conspiring to suck me under, my mantra became Turn back. Turn back. Turn back. The awareness of danger and one obstacle after the other expanded my instinct to survive. I became hyper-focused, with no other choice but to continue on.
Looking up, I envied the men in their beasts, their cozy box homes on eighteen wheels, with surround sound country music and maybe a Jack Russell on their lap to keep them company. I started singing in my mind, six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight, as the wind and rain kept smashing against me. My new mantra was, I’m gonna make it home tonight. I’m gonna make it home tonight, as I searched for gaps between lingering rain drops on my helmet visor, and beads of sweat dripping from my eyebrows, to see clearly.
Inside my leather cocoon, sweat gathered at my collar, and dripped down my chest. My pits were wet, my butt was wet, and still, I soldiered forward, glad there was no ice on the road, or deer in my headlight, or snakes to thump over, or whatever would cause me to fly into the next ditch, or slide under the moving beast, and die.
And, as crazy as it was, I felt totally and completely alive. It was as though all my systems were functioning as they were designed; at the highest level of alertness and awareness. When I thought, just maybe, I had mastered this storm, the rain died down.
By the time I reached Salem, an hour later, a gentle benign rain welcomed me, and from there to Newport the storm was only a memory.
I chose the first motel as I entered Newport. Once in the warm room, I abandoned my cocoon, and lingered in a hot shower. I ate an immediately forgotten dinner in the diner across the street, before settling into the dry bed, with soft pillows, and Tom Bodett turning out my lights. The last thing I remembered before I passed out was this song,
Well I pulled out of Pittsburgh heading down that Eastern seaboard.
I got my diesel wound up and she’s a running like never before.
There’s a speed zone ahead that’s all right,
I don’t see a cop in sight,
Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.
Reality is much bigger
Than anyone imagined
Lucky Two Crows:
I studied my reflection in the Motel 6 mirror, and wondered why I push myself the way I do.
My team and I are the enemy of all forms of illegal farming in Oregon; still planning effective anti-GMO strategy. We’re anxious to get something going, but this particular spy mission could have been postponed a few weeks, until I returned from Montana. Waiting a few days until the weather cleared, then flying commercial to Great Falls to begin the murder investigation, made more sense. A murder investigation? I wonder why I accepted that job. I’m certainly not a criminal detective.
The answer is always the same. I love challenges. Solving a murder is a something new, something I had never done before. Riding my Ducati in a storm was a thrill. I’ll admit I’m a bit addicted to pushing myself to pass personal tests, overcoming an even more challenging obstacle. I’m a bit of a thrill junkie. Is spying on the Ruhl Farm at five in the morning just another challenge, yet another thrill? I suppose so.
Thinking about riding my bike in the storm last night and breaking into the Ruhl Farm this morning, Jim Morrison came to mind,
Riders on the storm. Riders on the storm. Into this house we’re born. Into this world we’re thrown. Like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan. Riders on the storm.
Was I a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan? Was riding into the storm, spying on the Ruhl Farm, more than just a thrill? Is it my fate as a warrior to do these things? Or is all this the beginning of a bad dream?
Lost in these thoughts, standing bare-chested in front of the mirror, the image of myself shifted. Feathers appeared in my long flowing hair. Bone beads draped down my brown chest. Each side of my face was lined with seven fingers of war paint. I studied a different me, a warrior me from another time, and heard the name Two Crows. But I’m Two Crows, I thought, though I knew it was also the name of this other-time warrior before me.
I closed my eyes and shook my head, and when I opened them again, he was gone.
Looking at the real me in the mirror, I chucked. Why didn’t I think of painting my face? Yes, I’m ready to go into battle. I am the Blackfeet warrior, and an Aikido master. Maybe even a Japanese ninja from a past life. Spying on the Ruhl Farm would require a bit of black-clothed stealth from my many selves.
It was still dark when I got to where I had parked my Ducati. I checked the tire pressure, and revved it up for a clean sound check. Since I’d be driving down a rugged back trail, needing to get in and out very quickly, and quietly, I was glad I installed the silencer package. It was important that no one heard a thing, or knew I was ever there, until I was long gone.
I left at precisely four-twenty. This time I was dressed all in black, with a thin, but highest-quality, windbreaker to protect me from the morning chill. I put my tools: the high-powered binoculars, a long zoom-lensed Nikon, wire cutters I hoped not to use, plastic straps and duck tape; things like that, in my small backpack. An oiled leather case, with my bow and twenty arrows, was bungie’d to the side of the bike. I would partially unzip the case once I left the highway, so I could pull the bow and an arrow out in seconds, if necessary. I actually couldn’t imagine any reason I would shoot an arrow, but you never know.
Before I left Portland I spent an hour studying the Bureau of Land Management terrain map, and memorized the coordinates of the logging road entrance, and the cat-trail which would lead into the back of the farm. My iPhone, with a BLM GPS app, which would indicate the coordinates at any particular place, was magnetized to my gas tank in front of me.
I roared down the highway away from Newport at eighty miles an hour. I knew I could out-race the police to the logging road, and lose them once there. As it ended up, there were no vehicles on the road that early in the morning.
A tap on my mounted iPhone indicated I was approaching the side road. Once I turned onto it, I slowed down; a bit bumpy with many puddles yes, but quite, serene, and lovely. The sun was barely peeking above the horizon—deer munched an early morning breakfast, hawks flew overhead. It was four thirty-five when I passed a small trailer next to the road, not far from where I figured the cat trail down to Ruhl Farm would begin.
I stopped about a hundred feet past the trailer, engine purring, and thanked God it wasn’t pouring down rain. Not even drizzling. All was still.
Suddenly I was jolted into full awareness. I heard some pounding sounds, and then felt a jing-jar against my helmet. I spun my bike around. He was hard to see, almost like an illusion, but there he was, a huge man in the road fifty feet away, moving forward, shooting bullets at me! One of them had cuffed my helmet. I had to put him out of commission, not only to protect myself, but our whole investigation would be blown if he phoned about me being there. Or if I were dead. I didn’t ride in that terrible storm, only to get dead on a beautiful morning. No way.
Instinctively, I pulled my bow out of its case, set the arrow, grateful that I often practice archery in the early dawn, quickly aimed, and fired. It hit its mark. Half the arrow sliced through the bicep of the arm holding the gun. He screamed in pain, falling to the ground. I slipped the bow back in its case, raced to the man and pulled the arrow out, grateful it was a target arrow and not one made for deer hunting. To quiet his moaning, and stop him from shouting, I duck-taped his mouth. I then cut off his long sleeve, wrapped it around his wound, then secured it with more tape, to stop the bleeding. I tied his hands and ankles with plastic straps, then pulled him into his trailer. Ten minutes had passed.
I checked the time. Fifteen minutes before five a.m.
The back trail was a cleared dirt road to the right, and easy to find; the distillery a couple hundred feet below in clear view. I stopped to consider my next move. Why is the back gate open at five in the morning? It didn’t seem right, even though I wondered, Why the gate? Bear and deer could get in, wolves and bobcat, I guess, but why have a back gate and not close it? What’s with the guards? I took a deep breath, and felt something wasn’t right, in my gut. It was like I was heading into an ambush. I reviewed, as detectives do. An armed guard, awake and aware on a back logging road, at five in the morning, a Sunday morning, and, Why did he shot at me? Did the guard have orders to kill anyone who wandered down the road? Does the Ruhl Farm have mortal enemies? Why would they if they are only distilling vodka? Where they expecting an enemy to approach at any time? At five a.m. in the middle of the Oregon boonies? I parked my bike behind a tree and covered it, took my backpack, then moved to a lookout point, with a full view of the compound.
Slinking down behind a log, I looked through my high-powered binoculars, surprised to see three armed guards stationed near the back entrance. Three guards? Why guards this early in the morning? Are those AK-47’s? Holy shit. AK-47’s!
I now knew that if I had planned to sneak in, it wouldn’t have been worth the risk, so I relaxed and waited. I took a bunch of photos. My only concern was if a guard decided to walk up the hill to check in on his friend, tied up in the trailer.
I closed my eyes and again saw myself with feathers in my long hair, beads and bones dangled down my bare chest. I was strong and self confident. This time I wore Army issue blue pants and beaded moccasins. I had no doubt this Indian, like me, was Blackfeet. Myself from a past life? Why do I keep thinking about him? What are these short flashes and dreams? Flashbacks when I dressed up like a warrior in powwows? But I never wore blue calvary pants. Strange. Maybe I should do past life therapy.
I decided to go. What am I waiting for? I looked at my watch. Five fifteen. The guards below were smoking and talking. I got shot at. I wounded a guard, but beside that, there was no reason to be there.
The unmistakeable sound of an approaching ATV got my attention. A long-haired backwoods hippie stopped it in the path, not far from me, and got out to pee. The ATV’s back bed was filled with boxes. I snuck around like a Japanese ninja, opened one of the boxes, and extracted a bag, then returned to my hiding place.
I estimated the number of boxes while the hippie re-zipped his pants, got back in, then drove the ATV down the hill. The guards stopped him, opened a box, sniffed the contents, then waved him past. I follow him with my binoculars and took a photo of the building he drove into. The guards went back to their smoking and talking.
I too sniffed the bag. Marijuana. Although it was legal in Oregon to possess weed, trafficking wasn’t. I felt the weight, a pound, and estimated how many pounds would fit into each box times the number of boxes. 36 boxes x 40 pounds in each box. I did some quick math. At $200 a pound, that meant it was worth nearly three hundred thousand dollars on the street. I wondered how many ATV loads came down the hill each week. Since the Ruhl Farm definitely wasn’t a medical marijuana clinic or package store, it had to be some sort of illegal drug smuggling operation.
I wondered if this place was part of Piedmont Syn’s diabolical master plan. An international drug smuggling operation? What else is down there? Nukes in those silos? I wondered if the CIA, the FBI, or the Oregon Army National Guard would care if I told them, since just about everything, except the pound of weed I stole, was conjecture. I’d want to shut the farm down, but would they? First question they’d ask was how I knew about these illegal activities. We hacked into the Ruhl Farm computer, I would say. Yeah right. Suddenly I realized if I did anything else, beyond already putting an arrow through that guard’s arm and stealing a pound of weed, our whole investigation would be lost. He was Russian. He said something to me in Russian. I think it was ‘you fucker.’ Why Russian guards? I began to think that even if I got past them, to what end would it serve to steal a potato, or even disable the distillery machinery, and shut down their operation? It wouldn’t be reported and they would be up and running again in no time.
I needed to get the hell out of there.
Before leaving, I bandaged the burly guard’s arm, and asked if he spoke English. He did, and I lied that I was an ex-special ops soldier, today an innocent bow deer hunter, and was only defending myself, since he was shooting at me. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I said I had no choice to fire back since, naturally, I didn’t want to die. His accent was thick, and we both apologized for over-reacting, though I didn’t believe him. I untied him, ready as a martial artist to move with his attack. Instead he told me if I ever come back he won’t miss. “You be dead next time,” he said as I waved goodbye and said “Have a nice day,” and headed back to check out of Motel 6.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. The guard called down as soon as I drove off. After reviewing the surveillance tapes, they saw the whole thing. I was even caught stealing the marijuana. According to whoever ran the operation, nobody could know this. I was a dead man now. Not next time. Now.
But I didn’t know this, and feeling safe, and in no hurry, I kept my speed under sixty as I cruised down the highway towards Newport. But then I had an intuition. I pulled over to the side of the road and listened. I heard the still far-away, yet distinct sound of motorcycle engines. More than one. I pulled out my binoculars. Three high powered bikes were speeding toward me.
The movement of the dance.
Is the desire of the soul.
Lucky Two Crows:
I had to think quickly.
If they knew what I had done to the guard, maybe what I saw, would they be wanting to have a friendly talk with me? Probably not. Should I hide behind my bike and shoot arrows at them? They would have sub-machine guns, for sure. Arrows against bullets? Maybe not the best idea to do again. I looked over at the ditch. Was lying there dead my fate? Of all things, Frank Sinatra’s voice filled my head.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.
I’d been playing Sinatra on my sax, and now, in an odd way, at this odd time, his words inspired me. I needed to pick myself up and get back in the race, and do what? I would wing it. There was no way three Russian brutes with machine guns were going to take me out of the race. Almost instinctually I reached for my iPhone and texted Clarence. Newport. Yaquina Bay Road. Russians. Danger. Help? At the very least, they’d find my body.
I decided on East-West diplomacy. Wasn’t it always back and forth bullshit? I heard the ding. A text from Clarence. Hold them off. I’m on my way.
I knew I had to lie, if they gave me the chance. There wasn’t much time to think, or come up with a solid plan. As I was taught in Aikido, I needed to think on my feet. Orchestrate my reality. I had an idea. As they approached I held up my arms as a sign of surrender. As soon as I figured they could hear, I shouted, “Don’t shoot. I’m with Piedmont Syn.” That got the leader’s attention.
The three goons parked their big Kawasaki Z800’s and walked towards me, actually closer then I expected. The biggest gorilla got right in my face and spewed in broken English, “What you say, asshole? Better be good, or your life shit.”
“I’m independent black ops. Work for Blackstar, I was hired by the old man Piedmont,” I lied with all the strength and coolness I could muster. “He wondered if someone like me can get into Ruhl Farm and shut down his son’s whole operation. Apparently he thinks junior’s an idiot.”
That got a smirk out of all three Russians. “You can not get past us. We are best. Ex-Spetsnaz. Hand to hand, nobody stand chance.”
“You think someone like me couldn’t beat the shit out of all three of you at once?” They all laughed.
“You are funny man. Are you Indian? Where your tomahawk?” They laughed again. “How we know you tell truth?” the leader asked.
“That I can beat the shit out of you?”
“Why you no tell Sergey you were with Piedmont Syn? He said you deer hunter. Put arrow in his arm. Maybe you lie.”
“He came too soon. Had to get him out of the way so I could do my job.”
“Why you leave? Not finish job?” he asked, probably curious on how Blackstar agents work. He must have heard they were the elite in his profession.
“It was too easy. Back gate wide open. Three guards smoking and not paying attention. I could have snuck in and blown up the whole damn distillery, and walked away without anyone seeing me. The old man didn’t want me to destroy anything, or kill anyone. He just wanted to know if I could.”
“What do you mean bullshit. I was given an assignment and I carried it out.”
“We have you on camera. You not escape. You are here. We can kill you now.”
“And what good would that do? This whole conversation is being filmed and recorded, and watched as we speak at Blackstar’s operation facility.” The three guards suddenly looked around, and noticed my iPhone with the magnet on the side of my gas tank, pointing right at them. “You kill me, and the next Blackstar agent will kill you. That’s what we do. But I have to tell you, unless you use your pussy guns, there is no way you could kill me.”
“These no pussy guns,” the thug argued. “Brand new AK-47’s.” When he cocked the rifle to point it at my Ducati, thinking to blast my iPhone to hell, I used his upward movement of the rifle, pushing it farther up to take him off balance. This was all I needed to do to pick myself up and get back in the race.
This aggressive movement took them by surprise. As the first guy moved to regain his balance, I used his momentum to spin him around and heave him into the other two, while disarming him. As they all hit the pavement, I threw his AK-47 into the ditch. The first guy up charged at me. I took his arm and spun him head first into their motorcycles, knocking all three bikes over. The first Russian was up. He pulled a knife, and came at me with all his might. When I whipped him around, his knife accidentally stabbed the second man in his arm. I bent the first guys wrist back, took the knife, and threw it away. I then dropped him to the pavement and kicked him in his face. Not normally something I would do, but he was asking for it. When he yelled in pain, since I most likely broke his nose, I grabbed the wound of the bleeding man, dug my fingers in deep, then took his rifle as he screamed in pain. As he third brute came at me, I hit him in the head with the rifle, took his, and in rapid motion threw them in the ditch. With no rifles, one man trying to stop his bleeding and the other stunned, I focused on the leader. He was slowing getting up while reaching for his holstered Glock 17. I ran to my bike, pulled out my bow, slipped in an arrow and pointed it at his heart.
“One move and you’re a dead man,” I said to him. The other two stood up, and one motioned towards his hand gun. “I’m the real deal.” I looked at the guy thinking about his gun. “You want to be first? I could put three arrows in three hearts before you even think of what just happened. You want to test me?” He put his hands in the air.
“You want kill us. Kill me now,” the leader said in great Russian macho fashion. “I find you and kill you good, if you no kill me now.”
I don’t kill people. I disarm and send the attacker on his way. This man should know better then to make the same mistake twice. I figured he was trying to save face, and most likely I would never see him again. “We both work for the bad guys,” I lied. “Technically we’re on the same side. I don’t kill comrades. The three of you got lazy. You need to train more. I will recommend they spare your lives. You can go.”
The three men probably felt more ashamed of their failure then anything. They believed my story of the camera recording everything, and were probably thinking of how they could escape their fate right now. But their life and passports and work was at the Ruhl Farm. Without another word, they mounted their Kawasaki’s and headed back the way they came.
I checked my messages. Another one from Clarence said, Meet me at the Newport airport. I thought of what just happened with the Russians, and Sinatra again, more of the same song,
That’s life, that’s life, I tell you, I can’t deny it. I thought of quitting, baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it. And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try, I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly.
As I headed to Newport I thought about Clarence, it looked like I was about to fly anyway. But first I needed to check out of Motel 6.