Journey to Love

Chapter Forty-one


by Sequoyah

Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott



“Are we?”


“Are we what?”


“Wolf, are we friends?”


“I don't understand.”


“That's just it. I don't know you. We were sex partners, maybe even lovers, but we were not friends. We don't know each other. This is wide open country. You can see for miles. You can drive for miles and see no-one. Once I leave the clinic, I may spend eight hours and see less than eight people. I have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to reflect on my life, on what I'm doing or not doing. Tonight I got to thinking. I can talk for hours with Jeremy, about his childhood, the things he likes and doesn't like, his heartaches and successes, his dreams for the future. We can be together for an hour without speaking because we don't need to. I know he would give his right arm if I needed it. I know I would for him.


“Then there's Levi. We were sex partners, but we were and are also friends. We know each other's secrets, our strengths and weaknesses. I'm not as close to Levi as I am to Jeremy, but he's a close second, a very close second. Then there's Philip. He's a distant third to Jeremy, but he's still a very good friend. Do you understand? We are friends, but you and I have never become friends. We were too intent on being lovers. When I listened to you talking about your internship, I realized I did not know you. I do not know the man who parties until 4:00 in the morning. I do not know the man who spends the night with first one man, then another. Can you understand that?”


“What I can't understand is how you can go to some god-forsaken place where there's no civilization and think it's the right and good thing to do. We are young. We are supposed to be having fun. We are supposed to be enjoying life, not stuck in Bumfuck Gulch. Don't tell me you are having fun and enjoying life.”


“You won't believe it, but I am. Wolf, yesterday on my way into town, I stopped by a couple's home and saw two healthy week-old twin boys that I delivered. How can you enjoy life more than being part of bringing new life into the world? Fun? What can be more fun than finally reaching the point where you can give your horse her rein and gallop across the ever-changing desert? Good drugs? I deal everyday with good drugs. Drugs that save lives, improve the quality of life, give a brief time free of pain. Yes, Wolf, I am enjoying life and having fun.”


“I'll never understand you,” Wolf said.


“My point, Wolf. Had we taken the time to become friends, we would always have been a mystery to each other, but we would also understand each other and you know, Wolf, I'll take that over a good fuck by a stranger any day.”


“Well, I hadn't planned on telling you this way and at this time, but I moved in with David last week. Sorry it had to be this way but, after what you have said, I see it was not a mistake.”


“Wolf, the only mistake is that you are doing it again. You are hopping into bed before you know each other. I hope it works out. I'll call Louis and tell him you'll be getting your things in case you want them before I get back. I do wish you luck, Wolf, and I don't regret a moment we spent together.”


“Goodbye, Derek.”


I closed the phone and lay back on the bed. No tears, no feeling of emptiness, just a great feeling of relief. Wolf and I might have had a great life together, but it would have had to be built on a better foundation than our relationship was. I was sorry that it had not been and realized that our relationship was over. I think I had known that almost since I arrived, but dreaded admitting it to myself and telling Wolf. Now I had a great sense of relief. Sadness as well. Sadness for what might have been. I know that I loved the man -- well, the man I’d thought he was. I had sadness because I’d lost what we might have had together. I was also sad for Wolf who was, I was afraid, headed down a road to disaster.


In the morning at breakfast, Kathryn said, “You must have had a wonderful talk with Wolf, Derek. You seem a lot... well, I was going to say happier, but that doesn't seem to fit.”


“Relieved, maybe?” I suggested.




“Relieved and sad.” I then told her about our conversation. “I only hope he's careful with the sex, the drugs and alcohol,” I concluded. “I really wish the best for him, I do.”


“But you’re relieved.”


“I am. I was afraid he’d be deeply hurt when I talked to him and he was not. Does make me wonder if I can ever have a real relationship, ever really be in love and be loved.”


“I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” Kathryn smiled and that made me feel better.


On the way back, we stopped by the gasoline storage tank and filled the five-hundred-gallon trailer tank we had left on our way out, making our trip do double duty. Back at the clinic, all seemed in order and we unloaded the Land Rover and parked the trailer tank at the generator before going to the garden to gather what produce was ready. We picked sweet corn, tomatoes and several kinds of peppers, as well as green onions and a few other things. Back at the house, Kathryn set me to preparing meat for tacos while she mixed the meal to make them with. While she was cooking them, I chopped vegetables for salsa. She had not been successful in finding a lettuce that would do well in the canyon, so we had bought some and sour cream. When all was done, we took our food outside under a cottonwood tree and had tacos and beers. After this summer, I knew that any taco I had would taste like cardboard in comparison.


We had just finished eating when Richard drove up. I quickly opened a beer for him while he put together a taco, covering the filling with chili sauce which was so hot it barely needed cooking. After he finished his first mouthful, he asked, “Good trip?”


“Very good, especially the half-hour showers,” I laughed.


“Understand. All well in the East?”


“All's well, had a long talk with my dads...”


“Your dads?”


I realized that I had been around Richard for a month and neither of us had talked very much about ourselves. “Yeah, but before we get into that, I understand you are courting a young lady in Canyon De Chelly.”


Richard actually blushed and said, “Yeah. I am.”


“Tell me it's none of my friggin' business if it's too personal, but are you friends?”


“With Lupe? The woman I'm courting?”


“Yeah, with Lupe.”


“Very good friends. We have known each other since high school. We both lived with relatives in Chinle and went to high school there. She came to escape an abusive alcoholic father and I came to escape drugs and depression which had driven one of my brothers and a good friend to suicide. Neither of us were into sports, but got very involved in studying our own culture. We had the usual problems high school kids have, and helped each other overcome them whether it was a broken heart, the death of someone we loved or simply a zit before a dance. We told each other secrets we told no-one else. I never had a male friend I was as close to as I was to Lupe.”


“Were you ever girlfriend/boyfriend?”


“In high school?” I nodded.


“No, never. I don't think it crossed our minds. I never looked at Lupe as a potential girlfriend. She was my friend, my buddy.”


“So what happened?”


“After high school, I joined the Army and Lupe went on to college. We kept in touch for a couple years, but gradually lost touch. She became a therapist specializing in addiction and related problems. She was working in Colorado when her husband was hit head-on by a drunk driver and killed. That was five years ago. After a year of grieving and depression, a fellow therapist got her interested in the success some were having with Native American children who had lost their way by bringing them back to their culture, usually on a reservation.


“She had ancestral land not too far from Chinle,” Richard said, and then laughed. “I forgot that you Easterners get upset when we talk about 'not too far' when it means twenty or so miles. Anyway, she took half the money from the settlement she got from her husband's death and established the Pueblo, a camp for Diné, our real name. She intended to make it co-ed but, after research, decided to make it for males, young men between fourteen and twenty who have been in trouble with the law. The place and the program are both simply called the Pueblo.


“We reconnected when I sought an elder to work with concerning my heritage and ended up with one who works with Lupe at the Pueblo. We spent hours talking about what had happened since high school and then about our hopes and dreams for the future. Then one night we had been sitting and talking for a couple hours when I looked at Lupe and saw a beautiful woman I had not noticed before. On impulse, I leaned over and kissed her. Well, we've been working on what that means for a few months now and this weekend I kinda asked her to marry me.”


“You kinda asked her?” Kathryn asked.


“Well, I was afraid she'd say 'No,' so I just asked her, 'Lupe, would it be okay if I asked you to marry me?' and she nodded and laughed. I asked, 'Would you say yes?' and she nodded. So I said, 'I take that to mean we're getting married,' and she nodded.” Kathryn and I were laughing like mad which made Richard blush even more.


“Happy for you, Richard, but does that mean I'll be alone out here?”


“We have less than eight weeks to find someone to come here. Lupe suggested I operate out of her place. Old Doc Andrews, who is about eighty now, can no longer run around, but he can be my supervising physician so my PA status will be protected.”


“Sounds like you are serious not only about getting married, but also about your work. Okay, you have less than eight weeks to get someone for Kathryn and get a wedding organized because you have to get married while I am here.”


Richard nodded then said, “So back to your dads, Derek.”


I then told Richard my story, much of which Kathryn had not heard.


When I finished, Richard asked, “So you're gay and have just broken up with a boyfriend in order to be out here?”


“I guess you could say that although I don't feel like I have broken up with anyone. It's more like someone I kinda knew just moved out of my life.”


“'Kinda knew?' That have anything to do with the question about whether or not Lupe and I were friends?”


“Sure, I got to thinking while I was in Page about my friends and realized my boyfriend and I were never friends. I guess that was the reason why who I thought he was and who he is aren't the same.” Richard and Kathryn both nodded.


I had been at the clinic over a month and was doing routine calls on my own. Tuesday, Kathryn asked me to make a call several miles from the clinic. “You'll need to take Sundancer because you'll have to ride horseback the last five or six miles.” I hooked up a single-horse trailer, got Sundancer loaded, checked my supplies, especially water, and was ready to leave as soon as I set the GPS to the coordinates Kathryn gave me and had her check them. “You might check on as many of the others on this list as you can, but get back before dark.”


I drove to the where the GPS indicated I should park the Land Rover and take Sundancer. I reset the GPS for the next leg of my trip. My life depended on the GPS as I could never have found my way in the desert without it. It was like a maze. I finally arrived at the floor of a small canyon where an old man sat outside a hogan, sunning himself. He and his wife lived in the traditional manner, depending on the small plot of arable land and a few sheep. All else they needed was purchased with rugs the old woman wove which, nowadays, were few and far between, but still commanded top dollar. They were sparing with the few supplies they had to buy and managed.


The old woman was recovering from an ulcer on her leg, the results of her diabetic condition. I checked it and it was healing well. I had brought her next supply of insulin. While insulin could be stored at ordinary room temperature for four weeks, the days out here often got much hotter and in the winter it got too cold, Kathryn had told me. The old man had dug a hole near the small water hole and lined it with stone. It maintained a temperature acceptable for storing insulin for four weeks, but they couldn’t depend on someone from the clinic getting by every four weeks. As a result, a tiny refrigerator which used a thermoelectric module maintained a temperature for longer storage as well. All it required was sunlight for the solar cell.


I was on my way back to the Land Rover when I spied what looked like a bundle of clothes to one side of the trail. I rode toward it and got off of Sundancer to investigate. The bundle of clothes turned out to be a young man about my age, Indian or mostly Indian, who was in bad shape. He looked as if he had been severely beaten. One arm was at a strange angle and had to be broken as was one leg. I checked for a pulse and found his was weak, but steady. He was unconscious and I was sure I was beyond my depth here, the clinic was miles away and probably no-one was there as I knew Kathryn and Richard were going to be gone most, if not all, of the day. I called Richard first and got no response, then Kathryn. She answered promptly. By the time I reached her, I had managed to get the young man's vital signs and did what examination I could without moving him.


After giving her his vital signs, I was surprised at her first question, “Derek, do you see any signs of a struggle?”


“None,” I replied, puzzled.


“Any indication he might have walked to where he is?”


“No, but there are drag marks with footprints beside them. I would guess he was dragged to where he is. Both disappear not too far from him as he is sheltered from the wind, but a short distance away, the wind had blown away any tracks.”


“Okay, we can assume his neck and spine are intact since had they been damaged, dragging him would have done more damage. How far are you from the Land Rover?”


“About a mile.”


“Can you get it closer?”


“I'll have to unhook the trailer and back in, but I can get within a couple hundred feet, I think.”


“Be careful. I don't want you stuck out there. That would help no-one. Get as close as you can, get him in the Land Rover and head for the clinic. We should arrive about the same time.”


I knew moving him with his broken limbs was a definite no-no without splints. There were, of course, splints in the vehicle. I rode Sundancer to the Land Rover, unhitched the trailer, tied Sundancer to the front bumper and climbed into the Land Rover. I backed it as close to the man as I dared. I got out, got the splints and larger medical kit from the back and walked to the young man.


The bones in the arm seemed to slip in to place easily and I splinted it, hoping I had actually set it. The leg was another question altogether. I carefully splinted it and then surveyed the situation. I still had the problem of moving him. Physically I thought I might be able to carry him, but that didn't seem like a good idea. I suddenly had a bright idea and said to myself, 'Okay, so we're not in Plains country, but why not use a Plains Indian device?’


I took the stretcher from the vehicle, carefully got the young man on it. I untied Sundancer from the front bumper and backed her to the stretcher. Sundancer had a lot of smarts. A lot of horses wouldn't tolerate doing something as out of the ordinary as Sundancer did when I rigged the stretcher as a travois. When we reached the Land Rover, I picked up the ends of the stretcher and managed to get Sundancer turned around and backing toward the vehicle. When I could rest the ends of the stretcher poles on the gate of the Land Rover, I did so and climbed inside. Again, I called to Sundancer and gave her instructions to back up. When her butt was against the gate, I hopped out and unfastened the stretcher. It took some effort, but I soon had the stretcher inside and strapped in place. I gave Sundancer a big hug before tying her to the back of the Land Rover and driving back to the trailer. Once I had her loaded, we headed for the clinic as fast as we could, which was not very fast. Kathryn was waiting for us when we arrived.


The two of us got the young man out of the Land Rover, on a gurney and took him to an examining room. “We'll need to save his clothes for the authorities, but keeping them in one piece is not as important as getting them off of him.” Out came our scissors and we started cutting the clothes from our John Doe. When he was undressed, Kathryn examined him and said, “My real fear is internal bleeding. From the looks of the bruises, this happened some time ago. I wonder why he was dumped in sight of the vehicle and trailer?”


“They may well not have seen them,” I said. “I found a spot sheltered from the wind and had they been coming from any direction except the north-northeast, the vehicle and trailer would have been hidden unless they looked back after dumping him.”


While we were talking, Kathryn was continuing her examination. She finally asked me to wheel the portable x-ray around and she did several x-rays. She had recently been given a digital display so x-rays were almost instantly available. “Damn good job on the arm, Derek. I'll put a cast on it, but I couldn't improve on your setting it. The leg, well, I'm not sure it can be set without surgery. He needs to be in a hospital with an orthopedic surgeon, but maybe the two of us can set it. How are his vitals?”


“Good, better than they were.”


“Fine. While I cast his arm, give him a bath so he’ll be clean in case I do have to do any surgery.”


She had finished with the cast when I had washed all of him I could reach. We turned him over and I washed the rest of his body while she studied the x-ray of his leg. After studying it for ten minutes she said, “I don't think he needs to be moved again any more than can be helped. We'll make one attempt to set the leg and if we are lucky, we can set it. If we fail, he'll have to wait until he is in better condition and go to a hospital. Even if the leg has to be re-broken, I don't think he can stand a lot more in his condition.”


Kathryn gave me instructions as I held him and she pulled and manipulated the leg and finally said. “That's it. Derek, we've done it!” Twenty minutes later, the young man was in one of the clinic beds, his leg rigged to a system of pulleys and his vital signs looking good. However, he was till in a coma. Kathryn had wondered about brain swelling. But, she had no real way of measuring it beyond what doctors had been doing for years.


After we had done all we could do, Kathryn called the tribal police and reported the attack, but since they could not question the man, all the evidence they had were his clothes. The officer who came for them also took his fingerprints in the hopes they would be on file. When Richard got back, Kathryn had him do an exam as well since he had dealt with beatings in Iraq. He had no suggestions for additional care.


Late in the afternoon, there was a radio call from the police. “Your patient has been identified as Jayden Marshall Fulton. He has a bit of a record from last year when he was picked up for hustling in Phoenix. We contacted his father who lives in Gallup, New Mexico. He denies the boy’s existence. He said he had a son until a year ago, but he doesn't now. Talked to Lupe up at the Pueblo and she said sounds as though he was a two-spirit, disowned by his father. Anyway, you have a name now. Might do tests for STDs. Guess a drug test would be meaningless since I’m sure you have given him something.” Kathryn thanked the officer and promised she would keep them aware of how he was doing.


One of the three of us sat with the man around the clock until the fourth day when we were all exhausted from keeping the clinic going and spending eight hours with Jayden and doing the chores that had to be done. Kathryn called a halt. “Outreach will have to wait, but then nothing is pressing. One of us can sleep in the room and check on Jayden every couple of hours. We'll do only what is absolutely necessary to keep the clinic going and we'll get some rest.”


“Beginning with you,” I said. She started to argue and I cut her off with, “Kathryn, let's face it. We're young, you're not. Get to bed.” She laughed and left for her bedroom. I got Richard to take the first shift sleeping in the room and I worked around the clinic cleaning and checking supplies. After cleaning up and resupplying as needed, I sat at the desk and worked on a report for Drs. Bailey and Levey. As I was preparing the report about finding the young man, I remembered I had taken a few photos with the point and shoot camera. I found the camera and uploaded them. I radioed the tribal police that I had some photos from the scene and was told someone would pick them us as soon as they could get by.


When I started looking at the photos, I remembered we all had been so busy I had neglected Sundancer. She had been as important a part of the rescue as I was. Unfortunately, the canyon was not a place for growing apples although we did grow beautiful peaches. There was adequate pasture for the horses and any food we grew or hauled in was not for the horses, but Sundancer deserved a special reward, so I swiped a couple of carrots from the garden for her. I gave her a good currying and brushing and then the carrots. She was a happy horse.


As I walked back toward the clinic, I saw a strange car coming down the trail from the rim of the canyon. Something was wrong, very wrong, because it was a luxury automobile, not one for the terrain.



Contact: You can contact Sequoyah at

Map: I keep a map with pins marking where readers live. I would appreciate an email from you so you can be pinned.


Donate: Bandwidth costs real money. A donation to Awesome Dude—convenient button provided—will help keep Awesome Dude sending good stories your way.