Planet Waves | When The Heart is Right by Parris Bonds


When The Heart is Right | Fiction by Parris Bonds

One of those perfect, mellow September days revealed itself to northern New Mexico, which would be difficult to surpass because most of its days were near perfect. This was one of those lazy days where shimmering sunlight, 70° temperature, and dry, fragrant air, all combined to produce a feeling of suspended contentment, of a mild happiness.

Uncaring, Alessandra lay on her stomach in bed, one arm slung over the side, her fingers brushing the floor. She had no energy. Not even enough to pick up the half empty bottle of rye on the floor next to her hand and finish it off. Dishes sat in the dishpan unwashed. Ubiquitous sand coated the few pieces of furniture. She wore only a house dress, neglecting even the propriety of undergarments. Her hair, now almost shoulder length, was an invitation for a packrat to nest.

She simply couldn't find anything to care about anymore. She tried. Truly tried. Had even attended the latest and well publicized planning meeting of the Indian Defense Association, held this time at Bert Phillips's house. She had volunteered suggestions regarding Washington policy so that Henri could better present his information to the various Pueblo tribes. Poor Henri, he had looked overwhelmed but determined.

In the distance, the soft ringing of the morning's school bell by some unseen hand brought her full circle: back to Jeremy and his absence. With him gone, she just couldn't find a purpose for her life. Oh, she wasn't suicidal. But if one of New Mexico's frequent lightning bolts struck her dead . . . well, that'd be all right, too.

Except, it seemed she was condemned to live . . . at least, live through the emotional pain. The physical pain, the stabbing pain in her chest, her lungs, had become a hated companion ­ detested as much as her self alienation. This sense of living outside herself, outside of life, was becoming too much for her to endure. She had not considered herself fragile, yet she knew she was surely slipping over the edge into madness.

Still, she could not bring herself to end her sequestered existence.

She heard rustling in the sala and turned her head toward the door. Man stood there, shrouded in his preferential white, his dark skin contrasting the white as aspen did mahogany. His dark eyes, large nose, and full lips were a kachina mask, representing the spirit of the invisible forces of life.

"We walk."

She turned her head away, toward the cream-colored wall. "No."


Puzzled by his simple response, she raised up on her elbows and stared at him. "You can't make me." It was a statement inflected with curiosity, not a petulant defiance.

"A child's answer. I come because you want to walk. Your Spirit wants to talk to your head."

"Oh Man, not this morning. I feel like shit."

His heavy-lidded gaze scanned her face. "Look like shit, too."

She groaned and flopped back down, this time on her back, and fastened the hatches of her lids. "Not today. Please. No cheerfulness, do you mind?"

A finger lifted her left lid. Near her face, his eyes twinkled. His wide mouth was curved with mirth. "Yes. I prepare. We go. You get well. In spirit, first."

"Indian humor leaves a lot to be desired," she grumbled.

"We go."

She sighed. "Let's get this over with." By now, she realized his will was unyielding when he chose to exert it. She pushed the coverlet aside, sat up, and swung her bare feet over the edge. But she sure as hell wasn't going to bother to change her dress or comb her hair.

What a fashion plate she was. She doubted if any of her friends from the past would recognize her now.

If Man weren't her friend . . . . Perhaps it was precisely because he was . . . how comforting to have someone who knew her as she was. Not the facade of daughter, debutante, wife, mother. Just knew her from the perspective of Alessandra the individual. Knew all her weaknesses, her pettiness, and forgave her. She felt she could tell Man anything. That she was whole in his sight.

He collected her moccasins from beneath the straight-back chair and knelt, first slipping one on, then the other. Amazing, the energy coming off him was almost palpable.

Annoyed by his insistence, she said nothing, swept past him, and headed for the rear door and the portal. She stood in its shadows. Intense sunlight was not a comforting prospect to her throbbing head. "Where to?"

He had in his hand her riding jacket, which he must have taken from the peg on his way out. He gestured to one of the cottonwoods along the acequia's banks. A pair of horses were tethered there.

She flung him a blistering look of mistrust. "I thought you said we were going walking."

"We ride first."

"You said walk." She could be insistent, also.

"We travel far ­ to Blue Lake. Then we walk."

Her eyes widened. "Blue Lake's sacred. No white men are permitted there ­ right?"

He grinned again, and instantly she detested anything or anyone who could feel good that morning. "But your are a white woman."

She hadn't ridden in years. And only bareback a couple of times as a child. These unsaddled horses, hers a plum red piebald and his a baldface pinto, didn't look like children's ponies. Halters for the horses were fashioned of maguey fiber, with magenta and green tassels.

With difficulty, she mounted. On unshod hoofs, the two horses padded silently along the sandy path, as though with reverence they shared the import of this spiritual journey the humans undertook.

As usual, Man didn't feel conversation was significant. He appeared to be wholly self contained . . . unless one watched him carefully. Then one noticed his whole being spoke continually through his acute awareness of the most minute detail. Small animal tracks. A bent aspen twig. A shrill bird call. The pink cloud-streaked sky.

And if all this registered with him --- and more, then the most minute detail about herself registered with him.

As the horses climbed higher and higher, their flanks began to steam, mingling with the sweat off her thighs. Juniper and the pungent cedar scrub offered scant shade. Further up, up into the folds of the crystalline-rose mountain, blue spruce, aspen and birch grew denser ­ and more aromatic. The air was cooler ­ and thinner. She could imagine all kinds of spirits able to penetrate the thinner air from beyond man's reality.

But, then again, her imagination was quite freely liberated from normal constraints by her consumption of alcohol during the night.

Still, all her senses were stimulated. After a while, she gradually had the feeling that the magical woodlands expressed spiritual messages, that the mountain had its own consciousness.

Having not eaten since the evening before, and that being only a bowl of Peg's stale dry cereal, Alessandra's stomach was rumbling. Man heard it, too, turned and grinned, and pointed eastward and farther up the mountain. "We eat -- there, up at waterfall."

Even more than eat, she wanted water to flush the alcohol that seemed to ooze from every pore of her skin and to cool her aching head. So, when a thin stream joined the edge of the path, she wanted to dismount, but Man ignored her longing glance and pressed on upward. The cañon path grew narrower, fringed with fissures of rock fallen away. Perforce, her piebald fell in behind his pinto.

Ahead, the stream tumbled from a high, steep cliff above and cascaded over the opening of an old cave. The water's roar was deafening. The ground was damp here, and mist washed her face and cleared out her foggy brain. The horses slid in the sticky clay but regained their footing to pick a pine-needled path leading off a short distance.

Finally the evergreens opened magically onto an emerald clearing with a brook running through it. Gifted with the melting of winter's heavy snows, the meadow did not suffer the drought that hounded the desert below.

Man dismounted. Relieved, she did the same, her thighs aching, her knees wobbling. Posthaste, she dropped to her knees on the brook's grassy banks and quaffed the cold water spilling from her cupped hands. "God, I must be a cosmic whacko," she muttered. "Going up the mountain to see Moses. All I need is a burning ­ "

Man paused from stripping soft twigs from pine branches. "What?"

"This is a private conversation," she moaned. "Do you mind?"

His smile was disgusting. He set to spreading twigs he had collected for her to sit on ­ indicating it was a protection against the damp ground. From the ample folds of his blanket, he produced a tuft of green fern. "Mint ­ she takes away mouth's bad taste."

She rolled her eyes. "Now that's real tact." Sampling the mint, however, she grudgingly had to admit he was right. Undoubtedly, that explained the Indians' consistently sweet breath.

Next, he opened his large palm to show her wild strawberries.

"A grocery store as well as a drug store," she laughed dryly. "Yes, I can be bought." Quickly, she gobbled the tartly sweet offering.

He put his forefinger against his lips, indicating silence, and nodded toward the a clump of pines. At first, she didn't understand . . . then she saw the deer. Three doe and a fawn were gracefully, cautiously approaching the brook. They halted. Their ears pricked up. Then, majestically, the deer resumed their vigilant pace.

Man leaned near, his two long braids swinging forward either side of his strong neck, and explained in a low voice, "No bucks."

She looked at him as if to say, "So?"

"Fox, wolf, mountain lion . . . he might come. But he under spell of female. She strong one in nature. She make the magic. The wild beast, he must follow where she leads. He must be sacrificed. Eaten . . . taken in." He thumped his midsection. "And made into new force. For this, we have deer dance."

"I watched you." She popped another strawberry in her mouth.

"I know."

She choked the strawberry down in one swallow. Had he spotted her perchance? Or had he been watching for her? She didn't know what to reply. Some snappy repartee like Lawrence would make? Some profound remark like what one would expect from Jung. But in that halcyon sunlight, anything less than truth, her truth, could not get past her lips.

And what was her truth? That was the problem. She didn't know.

He passed her another strawberry. And waited.

"What do you want from me?"

"No thing."

Everyone wanted something from her. She felt nervous. She looked down at the strawberry she still clutched. It had died her palm scarlet. "Do you want me to say something?


"Why are you so patient with me?" No one could be that patient. But he was. His patience was as permanent as Mystery Mountain. As unceasing as the sunrise each morning.

"I wait. One day you see -- Great Spirit has brought you here, me here, for purpose hidden from you, me. Like mariposa lily hidden beneath the soil until time is right. Until heart is right."

She stood up. Hurled the strawberry into the brook and watched it skip once. Brendon should throw so well. Damned Indians and their sense of inevitability. "Where now?"

"Up there," he said and headed off to get their mounts.

"Don't you ever get cranky?" she called.

No reply.

Leaving the glade, the horses followed a trail beveled into the mountain side. Shadowy forests fell behind. Off to her left, infinity waited. One false step . . . . She held her breath, as if the very act of expanding her rib cage could displace the piebald's sure-footed gait. Up, up, ever upwards toward a crest wreathed in clouds. Here, the sunlight was pure white and shining strangely,

By late afternoon, the horses crested the that sheer granite face. High above the world, she could look out upon wave after wave of blue shadowed mountains and occasional troughs of pale sage desert.

an continued on along a trail bordered with sweet-scented ferns. It dipped, rose again, and dipped once more to come out at last onto a ledge that afforded a view of a small, but deep lake below. The turquoise hue of the sky, Blue Lake was set at 13,000 feet in a bowl rimmed with slopes of dark purple forests. Their towering spirals were reflected in the glass-like water.

"My people's church," he said.

Looking at the pristine, oval-shaped lake made her dizzy. Not from the height but rather from the way the translucent water glistened and wavered, despite its apparent utter stillness. All around her, she could feel the dance of unseen currents. The very air was electrified. Her breath came short and shallow. A mirage, she thought.

No, a living power emanated from that site.

She listened to the strong pulse of the mountains . . . as strong as Man's drum which had beat so long the night she had been ill she had no longer been conscious of its sound. She listened to the pulse of her own blood. It beat together now in syncopation with the mountain's pulse.

"Tonight, we sleep . . . there." Man pointed at a clearing nestled among the pines, about a hundred yards from the shore.

Sleep? She hadn't come prepared to camp out. But what the hell.

By the time, they descended to the clearing, dusk's half-light set everything to glowing and quieted the forest creatures for those last magic moments.

She slid from her horse in exhaustion. "Ohh," she groaned, rubbing her rear, "the government must see about getting you Indians automobiles."

He watched her pained, wobbly steps and grinned. "Come here."

Her eyes narrowed. "Now what?"

He rolled his eyes, crossed to her, and swung her up in his arms.

"What are you doing?" She glared at him, her most ferocious glare that she used on Jeremy when he had pushed her too far. It didn't work on Man either.

He carried her down the steep pine-clad slope to the magic lake, where its waters flowed out into that endless stream that tumbled down the mountain, through his village, and on to the Rio Grande that supplied other Indian tribes.

There, at the lake's outlet, Man shrugged out of his blanket and passed it to her. "Wait."

He waded in knee high. He wore a white cotton shirt, belted with a knife sling and loose trousers that clung damply around his muscled brown legs. Suddenly, he lunged. His hand sliced the water smoothly, cleanly, and came up with a fish, a slippery, wriggling fish. When he had two, he waded back toward her. A solicitous smile tipped his massive cheek bones and lightened his face. "You like trucha?"

"I don't know what it is ­ and I don't care. I'm hungry enough to eat one, bones and all."

Soon, he had an aromatic fire going in the clearing. Then, he rose to drape her jacket around her. "Cold later this high at night." He retreated to his side of the fire to prepared the fish.

That single kindness threatened to overwhelm her. She watched his sensitive fingers. They deftly wielded his knife to slice off the trout head and filet brother fish . . . all done with a reverence and contemplative mindfulness that he gave to every deed, every thing. Father and grandfather of the very trout he prepared had swam in the Rio Pueblo and fed his father and grandfather.

"I don't ask what your Indian name is," she said, "but you never use my given name. Why not?"

His white teeth gleamed in the darkness. "Funny name you have been given. Burro name. Al-ass-andra."

She loved the way he emphasized the syllables. "And you can do better?"

His hand canted. From beneath his deep lids, his dark eyes sent her a playful glance. "White Woman Waddling."

She grinned and chucked a pine cone at him. The sizzling fish, the waning twilight, its deep silence enveloping the forest, Man's sculpted face, thrown into red relief by the firelight . . . she never felt more as if she belonged somewhere than right here, right now.

With a soft sigh, she said, "The doe this afternoon . . . you said that she spellbinds the wild beasts with female magic. I don't think I really understood what you were trying to tell me. Do you mean I have this magic, too."

He looked across at her. "No. You gave away yours."

His reply startled her. "Believe me, if I ever had magic, I would remember ­ and I don't."

His passed her a grilled fish, served on a flat rock. "You gave him away long ago, before memory."

"Oh? To whom did I give my magic?" She pealed the last of the flaky meat from its bones. Eyes closed, she savored the tender, succulent fish. Oh God, nothing ever tasted so good.

"Your husband and father ­ you let them steal your magic."

Her lids snapped open. He was watching her. Somewhere in that primal forest, an owl hooted.

"To lose your magic ­ this soul loss. This cause of illness . . . and death."

She stared into the depths of those mystic eyes and asked the question whose answer she suspected she always had known. "Then my death is near?"

"Always near. But your soul's choice. Now . . . later."

"I'm not afraid," she said firmly and then shrugged. "I have so little to keep me here."

He sat studying her. Below those heavy lids, his eyes seemed to search every recess, every crevice of her body and mind. Transfixed by this mysterious process, she remained passive, unresisting, opening herself to his examination.

At last, he nodded, as if satisfied with an answer he had found, and rose to leave the clearing.

What if he didn't return? She felt like a good squaw, sitting, waiting for her man.

When he did return, he held forth a cedar branch and hunkered down before her. "Much honor, sacred tree has. She no rot. No weather can destroy her. Older she grows, more beautiful she is."

"I like your words," she murmured. She was intimidated by the sheer power emanating off him.

He leaned to his left and poked the branch into the fireplace's hot coals. The branch took light and began to smoke. Still kneeling before her, he waved the cedar's perfumed smoke around her, so that it enveloped her. She inhaled deeply, partaking of his ritual of sanctification, for that was what it seemed to her . . . as though she were being purified.

He sat back on his heels, his head thrown back and observed her through slitted eyes. His gaze was intense, piercingly sweet. His hand reached out touched her, just above her left breast, and she trembled violently. "Heart is open now. She can love again." Then he touched the area just below her right breast. "Then lungs. She breathe again. Forever easy."

With that, he left again. She did not move. She sat, legs crossed, eyes closed, absorbing the sounds of the night ­ the coyote's lonesome call, the crickets' clicking, the smell of the pungent smoke surrounding her. And a humming . . . not that of a human, not even of an insect or any living thing --- but a high-pitched, continuous humming, nonetheless. It made her feel lightheaded.

Next, she heard Man's voice, coming like a chanted mantra from somewhere beyond the clearing. The pressure in the air around her seemed to shift, to lessen. In back of Man's chanting the humming amplified until it drowned out his voice and became a great whir, fanning her face. Then it rose above her, circumferenced the clearing and passed from hearing. All was silent.

When she opened her lids, he was there again, sitting before her. She had not heard his returning footsteps. "I am well?" she asked but believed she already knew the answer.

"Your are well. It is for you now to choose to take back your magic."

She smiled, feeling strangely happy, and stretched. Life bubbled in her like champagne. "Oh, Man ­ I want to go swimming. Tonight. Now."

He canted his head, eyed her oddly.

"Oh, no," she countered, "not this time, you don't. Enough mind reading for now." She grabbed his hand. "Come on. This moment may not happen again. Let's enjoy it."

As she tugged him down the slope, he watched her with amusement as he would a child.

Moonlight silvered the water. Unabashed, she doffed her clothing. Her jacket and house dress and moccasins fell in a heap on the shoreline. Strangely, she felt no embarrassment, although with Brendon she undressed out of sight in her sacrosanct bathroom.

She tilted her head back and opened her arms wide in delight. The night's cold hair goosebumped her skin and peaked her nipples. Above her upturned face, the stars had never shown so brightly.

"The Night People twinkle happy," Man said.

She waded in to the cold water and gasped. Courageously, she took a plunge beneath its surface and emerged sputtering. She swept back hair plastered to her cheeks and neck. "Well, are you coming in or not?"

Until that moment, she hadn't considered the implications of her question. Man dropped his loose white pants, shrugged out of his shirt. He glowed copper in the moonlight. Slowly, still facing her, he unbraided his hair until it cascaded in a black waterfall over his shoulders and chest. He waded in.

She watched the water rise up his muscular thighs toward his penis. In its softened state, it still appeared large and powerful. Then the water engulfed it, his wash-board waist, and his head as he submerged himself. The blue-black water was too dark. When he surfaced, only feet away, he surprised her.

Feeling her feminine power surge through loins and belly, she waded to him, halting so closely that her nipples brushed his lower rib cage. She peered up at his mahogany face through her eyelashes. "I've never said this to another man," she said in a husky voice she didn't recognize, "but I want you. I want you between my thighs. I want you ­ " her fingertips lightly touched his organ, " ­ here, this buried in my female folds."

His eyes flared. His breath drew in sharply. His steady, glowing eyes took her in, held her. She saw a mysterious smile in those night-darkened eyes. And, yes, a male's appreciative gaze. He made a motion that quickly enveloped her face. One gesture with both hands . . . or was it her imagination, because his hands were at his sides again. "I no have your magic. You must take it back from elsewhere. Come, little one, we rest now."

Disappointment surged like a wild fire through her. But what else could she do but dress? She was cold now, shivering, and certainly didn't want to remain alone in the eerie lake ­ even if a petulant part of her argued for it.

Sapped of her strength, she collected clothing, followed his large shadow up the slope to the clearing. Red embers still sparkled among the remnant's of the fire's ashes. Man spread his blanket, indicating she was to lie upon it, and retrieved two more blankets from the horse packs.

She was too tired to make any response. She simply dropped to her knees and slid onto her side, her head on her crooked arm.

He then draped her jacket over her and surprised her by laying down behind her, encircling her waist with his arm and cupping her against his body. "Wind Old Woman, he blow cold tonight."

The sky had been so clear, she felt sure he was wrong. And, held safely within his body's contours, she did not care. When the wind whistled, he drew the remaining half of his blanket over them. She turned to face him, snuggling even closer seeking his warmth. Her cheek was pressed against his smooth chest. She deeply inhaled his clean, masculine scent. He and his land were one and the same and she wanted to be a part of them. She knew she could never return to her feted East. She belonged somewhere now.

* * * * *

At that altitude, rime covered the withered strawberry vines in the morning. Winter would be coming. Then the Be-still Time, when there would be no riding of iron-shod horses, singing, wood chopping, or even hair-cutting within the plaza walls. Mother Earth would sleep.

In his heart, his body, his soul, Bear Heart knew that sleep would not come easily for him for a long time, if ever. This white woman's spirit called to his. Yes, his body wanted hers. If it were as easy as that, he would have mated with her back there at the clearing and assuaged his lust. She was as much a part of his rhythm as was Wind Old Woman and Night People and Corn Woman.

The inviolate mystery of the gods had summoned her from afar for him to heal . . . but for him to love?

Where then was his duty to his people? Could he become as his friend Tony, leave the tribe and forsake his calling as a shaman for this woman with her funny name Al-ass-and-ra and her funny ways. Then, too, what would become of Mud Woman? Could he hurt so many for just one?

Could he deny that one for many? This woman was blind and deaf to her incredible inner strength. Her undiminished beauty even in its most ravaged state. Her ferocity when cornered. Her resiliency in the face of odds that would crush another. A powerful woman this. When she awakened, she would discover her weapons, her gifts. She would be formidable. And, as always, desirable.

If she didn't die first. Not from lung weakness. From starvation. She was starving for love.

Were she his, he would approach her with reverence, as one does the sacred, ceremonial kiva that sank like a womb in the dark, compliant earth. She was that circular, ceremonial house that represented female fertility within Our Mother Earth and entered by runged poles.

Just so, with deep respect and adoration, he would enter her. Enter her womb until ecstasy, like that reserved for especially religious ceremonies, took possession of the heart, the body, the spirit.

These thoughts occupied his usually calm and centered mind as he and the white woman descended cañon after cañon, ever following the Rio Pueblo from its source to the Pueblo plaza.

At the plaza, all appeared as usual ­ the men lounging against a sunny wall and rolling corn husks cigarettes, the children wading among the stream's rushes, a barefoot old woman splitting cedar for adobe ovens that resembled brown breasts. The wheat that went into a woman's bread making, wheat the man had sewn and scythed from the fields, was flesh of their flesh. In the winter, the men sang rhythmic grinding songs to their women as they cleaned away the chaff and ground the wheat. So life giving.

Yet something dark hovered over the village.

Then he saw Tony. The blanketed Indian strode with quiet purpose toward him. Only at the last minute did Tony seem to notice the white woman. He greeted her with a grave nod, then spoke to him in the Tiwa language. "The man Henri ­ he's been shot. Outside the Picuris Pueblo. Doc Martin says no good. For you to come."

Bear Heart glanced at Alessandra, weighing if he should tell her. He suspected his friend Henri also loved this woman. Her indomitable spirit overshadowed all other bands of light. Like Henri, she tried to avoid responding to Life's questions. "Henri is hurt. Come with me."

Her eyes widened. She nodded.

Off the plaza, a windowed alcove in a big adobe's southwest corner served as Doc Martin's delivery and surgery room since it afforded the best natural light. Many old-time Taoseños were affectionately known as 'Martin's babies.'

Not a baby but a dying man lay on the alcove's examination table. Doc Martin's weathered, wrinkled face was grim. "Henri took a hit in the chest." He held up a mushroomed bullet. "A 30-ought, most likely." The doctor's droopy eyes left Al-ass-andra and fastened on himself. "Henri is bleeding internally. Massive bleeding. Nothing more I can do."

Al-ass-andra gasped and tried to edge past the doctor, but he held her firm. She looked over her shoulder. 'Man, please!"

"I can look?"

Doc Martin nodded and stepped aside. Bear Heart left Tony and crossed to the table. He picked up Henri's still-warm hand. No life pulsed there. But his spirit hovered near. Trying to intuit what was wanted, Bear Heart stared at Henri's noble brow, the closed lids behind the shattered glass lenses, the pallid face and blood-speckled lips.

Did Henri's soul want to remain?

Bear Heart wanted deeply to help his friend, but Bear Heart's power animal, Brother Raven, whispered, "Be Careful." He felt great pressure and a twinge of anxiety with these others in the room looking on.

Breathing deeply and slowly, he began to raise his own energy. Remember the connection we have with all life. Remember our connection with other circles in nature ­ the moon, the sun, the earth, the drum.

He felt life force pumping through him, coming in through in and going out through the hand he held. He felt blood pulsating through every vein of his body and a tremendous amount of heat rising up through him, in his solar plexus and arms, into his face. He felt very big. He kept his thoughts centered on his heart. On guard against evil. He was drawing from the power of Life and giving back to it at the same time. It was time to begin.

He splayed his upper torso across Henri diagonally, his heart positioned over that of his friend's, and begin to chant. Softly, at first. Then, moderately faster, until his mind was whirring, until he no longer was aware of who he was. He had the sensation of slipping down through his drum, down through its tree's core, down through the holy cedar tree trunk, down into the Lower World where he went for soul retrieval.

Brother Raven is perched on a limb, awaiting him. He inquires of Henri's soul and is told it has been stolen from its body by an enemy. Not of Henri's but of the Ancient Ones. He wants to talk to Henri's soul. Brother Raven tells him to go to the Middle World, move through and past time and space.

With Brother Raven on his shoulder, he travels to the Nonordinary World, walks with stealth to the river's edge. Standing by the canoe, waiting for him, is a member of the Ghost Clan. He wears a Kachina death mask. Politely, Bear Heart asks to be taken to Henri's soul.

Paddled by the Kachina, the canoe floats in the dark along the underground river that is Henri's lifeline. Sulfur fills the dense air. Somewhere, water boils, hisses like a dragon. Steam pours forth like lost souls frantically searching. Bear Heart's pulse is pounding. To become lost here for eternity is terrifying.

At last, the canoe comes to rest beneath Blue Lake. The Kachina's head rotates to face Bear Heart. The mask is smiling. Brother Raven shrieks a loud "Caw," and soars upward. Bear Heart follows, swimming against the water, until a subterranean current lassoes him and pushes him up, up. He's running out of breath.

Far above him, Brother Raven flies upward through the ascending whirlpool. Bear Heart follows. And emerges into the Fifth World.

Henri is sitting cross-legged on the banks of Blue Lake, exactly where the woman Al-ass-andra had stood, her beautiful white body contrasting with her midnight darkened hair. Brother Raven perches on Henri's shoulder.

Henri rises, smiling sadly. His eyeglasses are still cracked. "I've been waiting, Man." He reaches his right hand out to touch Bear Heart on his chest, where his heart is. "I knew you would come."

"I've come to bring you back, if you wish, friend."

"I would like, but ­ look." Henri's hand sweeps out, indicating the vista. Where once blue mountain range shimmer like wave after wave as far as eye can see . . . as far as eye can see, in the far distance, is water. Only the Pueblo Land rises above the water. Where once sand had blown, now lush trees grow. "I must stay here to help the Fifth World. True to your People's prophecy, the old countries of India, China, Egypt, Palestine, and Africa have destroyed the world you come from."

Bear Heart nods. This fits in with what the old men have always been prophesying about a white race that would come and swallow them up so they would almost disappear from the earth ­ except they be strong and keep the eternal fire burning in Sacred Mountain. "I understand. Farewell, friend."

Returning to Ordinary World was more difficult for him because he was exhausted. Brother Raven left him when they reached the Sacred Cedar Tree.

The woman Al-ass-and-ra's tortured wail drew him back through time and space into the doctor's room. Man opened his eyes, straightened, and had to recenter himself before he turned to those in the room, watching, waiting. Al-ass-and-ra, her palms covering her face, was weeping.

He spoke with truth, with compassion for her. "Our friend's heart is no longer right for here." ++

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