Journey to Love
Fast and Vision
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
I expected to have to wait two weeks before I had a response to my letter. Jayden would get mine Saturday and his response wouldn't be mailed until the following Saturday. I would have it two weeks from today. Nonetheless, I, as always, rushed home from class to read the letter he mailed the Saturday before.
‘Beloved One,’ his letter began. ‘I have had a most interesting week, to say the least. Last Monday, Lupe told Richard he needed to go see Kathryn. She didn't seem to know why, but was certain he needed to do so. Everything was fine at the clinic. The new PA was doing really well and a nurse practitioner had joined the team. When Richard was getting ready to go, Skywalker started whinnying and prancing around the corral, tossing his head. He finally jumped the fence and ran to the horse trailer. Richard found it all very strange, but knew he needed to bring Skywalker to the Pueblo. When he arrived Lupe and I went to meet him and Skywalker came to me and wouldn't let anyone come near me or me leave him. I spent Monday night in a bedroll at the base of the cliff, Skywalker standing beside me.
‘Tuesday morning, just before sunrise, Richard's teacher, the medicine man, came to where I was with Skywalker. As soon as Skywalker saw him, he started tossing his head and whinnying. The medicine man told me to put on a clout and tie a red band around my head. “When you are dressed, bring your bedroll and come to me,” he told me. I did as he asked and when I got there, he dusted me with corn pollen, told me I was to take only my bedroll and water. “You will ride bareback. Skywalker will take you where you need to go. You are to stay there, fasting, until you have your answer.” When I told him I didn't know what the question was, he just smiled.
‘I mounted Skywalker and he headed into the desert. He seemed tireless and I rode for three hours by the sun. Skywalker then went through what seemed like a maze and down a steep trail into a canyon. At the bottom was a hogan*, a small pool of fresh water and plenty of grass for Skywalker. Since he seemed to be in charge, I didn't bother to hobble him.
‘I went into the hogan and spread my bedroll. It was very hot down in the canyon, but cool inside the hogan. I lay down and was soon asleep and dreaming or maybe I was awake. I wasn't sure. My mother came to me, sprinkled me with blue corn meal and spoke to me in Diné, telling me she loved me and that I had been chosen. She didn't bother to tell me chosen for what. My father appeared and tried to tell me I was worthless and evil, but every time he opened his mouth, a blessing came out. Then Big Walt appeared. He told me how much money I could have made if I had stayed in the business, but when he tried to show me money, what I saw was maggots crawling over him. He ordered Sammy to kill me, but when Sammy touched me, a gentle feeling of strength and power came over me. After that, I fell into deep sleep.
‘When I awoke and stepped outside the hogan the moon had set and the only light was from the stars. I went to the pool and drank, then washed my face in the cool water. I sat on a boulder, looking at the stars and thinking about my vision -- I was sure it was a vision and not a dream. In the vision I had been assured what you told me was true. I wasn't worthless or dirty. My mother watched over me and my father, completely against his will, blessed me. Those who would tempt me and harm me were powerless against me. I knew all that was true. I was, again, very sleepy and went back into the hogan and lay down.
‘In what I was sure was another vision, I was at the Pueblo, standing before the Council. The Council told me I had accomplished what I needed to do at the Pueblo. “We are sending you out to be the young man, the young Navajo you have discovered yourself to be.” I was in traditional dress, but when I looked down, my clothing slowly changed. I wasn't sure how I was dressed, but it was not as a traditional Navajo. Then I saw a silver and turquoise bracelet on my arm and knew that I was to be a Navajo, but live in the modern world.
‘I again drank from the pool, washed my face and sat watching the stars. I had been at the Pueblo long enough to relearn what I had known about the position of the sun, moon and stars and I was very confused. Only a short time ago when I had been sitting in the same spot, the stars had told me it was approaching dawn. Now they told me it was an hour or so before midnight. I guess I had misread the stars earlier because I was sure of the time now.
‘For a third time, I entered the hogan and was overcome by sleep. As I slept, I saw myself walking in a deep canyon, lost. Then the medicine man who had been my mentor spoke to someone -- I think it might have been you, but I wasn’t sure -- and he called me and I came out of the canyon. This time I did not wake up immediately, but entered dreamless sleep. When I woke up, the sun was almost directly overhead. It was noon of my second day in the canyon and I had lots of questions, but no answers.
‘I saw Skywalker a short distance down the canyon and walked toward him. He would not allow me to approach. That could prove a problem, but not right then, so I didn't let it worry me.
‘The canyon was surprisingly cool, unlike the day I arrived. While I was wearing only a clout, it seemed constricting, so I took it off and lay in the sun. I was lying on my stomach, watching an insect making its way over the grass, headed for an unknown destination. I turned on my back and, I guess, dozed because suddenly I was standing, legs apart, arms stretched over my head. I stood for a long time, then suddenly I knew I was to wash in the pool. I don't know how I knew. The pool was small, but large enough that I could stand in it, the water reaching my knees. I scooped up handfuls of water and poured them over my head and body. The water running off me was black, as black as night. I kept pouring water over my body until the water was clear, clearer than the water in the pool. I scooped a handful of water from the pool and drank deeply. It was cold, sweet and refreshing.
‘I stepped out of the pool and saw the sun was touching the rim of the canyon. Soon the sun was gone, but a bright moon rose, painting the canyon with its silver beams. I still had not put the clout back on and stood, my body silver in the moonlight. As I stood, a figure appeared before me, dark, almost black, in a shadow. I remembered Kathryn's warning about the Black Ogre Kachina, but I was not afraid. As I stood there, the figure stepped into a patch of moonlight and I saw a beautiful, much-loved man standing before me. It was you, Derek, and you started dancing and as you danced, you sang, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I am in love with Jayden Marshall Fulton the Fourth.” I reached out for you, but you disappeared. I was heartbroken and went into the hogan and lay down, heavy-hearted, but then I heard a chant, “Jayden, I love you. I love you, Jayden.” I whispered into the night, “Derek Edward Wilson, I love you.”
‘The next morning Skywalker was waiting at the entrance of the hogan. I drank from the pool, washed my face and mounted Skywalker and he took me home.
‘I do love you Derek Edward Wilson. I do love you. I had my answer and you have yours.
‘It was sunrise when I reached the Pueblo. The ride back seemed much shorter than my ride to the hogan. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, I thought I had been gone a day and two nights, but discovered I had been gone five nights and four days. I had time to write you before someone went for the supplies and mail.
‘Derek Edward Wilson, I love you!
When I finished the letter, I shouted, “Yes,” at the top of my lungs and went dashing downstairs. “Auntie, Auntie,” I yelled. There was no answer. I looked everywhere and finally opened her door after knocking. She was sitting in her chair, a smile on her face, her hand warm, but she was not breathing. In her hand was a letter addressed to me. After I dialed 911, I sat down and opened the letter.
‘I wrestled a promise from the Almighty that I would live until I knew you were happy. I don't know what was in the letter from Jayden beyond the fact that you are now happy. Don't be sad for me. I have lived a long life and you have filled my life with joy, hope and happiness since we first met in Lexington. My body is worn out, beyond repair. Maybe with some patching here and there, my heart would beat and I would breathe, but I would not be alive. Now you are happy and I am happy and that's the way I want it to end.
Somehow or other I couldn't be sad. Sure, I would miss her, we all would, but she was right. None of us would want her living as half a person.
As soon as the EMS arrived, they contacted her doctor and the paperwork began. I called the children and all of them told me where to find her funeral arrangements, the name of her attorney and anything else I needed to carry out her wishes. She had made it very clear that she did not want a dragged-out ending to her life. She was to be cremated and her ashes taken out to sea as she had done for her beloved husband. I left the picking of the date to the children since they would have to work out flights and so forth. I called Mom and my dads and wanted very much to call Jayden, but while that was not impossible, it was so close to it that I dismissed the idea.
Auntie's daughter, who lived in DC, called and said the family would be able to gather Tuesday and for me to call the undertaker and see if the ashes would be available and if he could arrange a boat for us to scatter the ashes Tuesday afternoon. I did so and he said he could arrange all that and asked how large a boat we would need. I had no idea. He asked if I thought there would be more than twenty. I remembered the house behind us and all who had been a part of study groups last year and those who had met her when this year's study groups got started. We'd need a cruise ship! Keeping things relatively in hand, I told him a boat for ten would be adequate. That would take the immediate family and I would arrange a memorial service for the rest.
Finally, everything was in place and I could relax. I called Levi and Jeremy and asked them to come over. When they arrived, I told them Auntie was dead and about Jayden's letter and hers. We had a bit of a cry, then opened three beers and started telling Auntie stories. After the third round of beers, we were really rejoicing having known her.
Levi was retelling the story of her disposing of Geneva and her bratty granddaughter when my phone rang. I flipped it open and before I could speak I heard, “Derek Edward Wilson, I love you!”
Without hesitation I replied, “Jayden Marshall Fulton the Fourth, I love you. Now where the hell are you that you have a telephone?”
“Maybe the Phoenix airport waiting for a flight? Yeah, that's where I am and I just have minutes to get aboard my flight as the last call has been made and I'm running. Tried to call several times, but got a busy signal. No time for the whole story, but have someone pick me up in Norfolk at 10:00 in the morning. Love you, Derek Wilson. Bye.”
“Love you, Jayden Fulton.” He had already closed his phone when I spoke.
Jeremy and Levi were looking puzzled, but they were no more puzzled than I was. I told them all I knew and was debating trying to get a phone call through to the clinic. I knew it would be very expensive and likely not very successful.
“Derek, remember David Reese, the physics guy in the lit study group last year?” Levi asked. “He's a big ham radio man. I bet he could help out.”
“Know where he lives?”
“No, but Steve at the house probably does. He's also a physics person.”
It took an hour to track David down, but he was more than willing to help and asked us to meet him at his place where he had all his equipment. He started explaining how it would work and I said, “David, I have trouble with a cell phone.”
“Well, if I had the coordinates, that would be a start. Of course having the call letters would make it a breeze.”
“You mean like WXYZ calling ABCD?” I asked. He nodded. “Then it's a breeze,” I said and reeled off the call letters.
Five minutes later, Kathryn responded with the clinic's call letters.
“Derek. Where are you? What's going on?”
“I'm in Norfolk. David Reese from one of last year's study groups is getting through to you by the magic of physics. I'm the one who needs to know what's going on. I got a call from Jayden about an hour and a half ago. He said he was in Phoenix, about to miss his flight and to have someone meet him here at 10:00 in the morning.”
“Then he made it. He'll want to tell you the whole story, but he had an encounter with the Old Ones. A very powerful experience.”
“Yes, I know, he wrote me about that.”
“The Pueblo Council met day before yesterday and again late last night. They concluded that Jayden had a true vision and had done all he could do at the Pueblo. He needed to be sent out, sent to you. They held the ceremony at dawn today. While he was packing, Richard was at the motel on the phone trying to get flight information when a man overheard him and tapped him on the shoulder. He’d flown in on his private jet to visit Canyon De Chelly yesterday and was flying to Phoenix this afternoon. He asked about Jayden and Richard told him briefly about the Pueblo and that Jayden had finished and needed to get to Virginia. The man said Jayden could hop a ride with him. Apparently they did make it in time for Jayden to get a flight to Norfolk. He's yours, Beautiful Boy.”
“Wow! Wow! Wow!”
“You sound like a happy man.”
“No kidding. Lot going on here, but I'll write. Hugs to everyone including Sundancer and Skywalker.”
We broke the connection and after we did, I asked David about the cost of what he had done.
“Twenty cents, maybe, for electricity. Of course the equipment isn't cheap and you have to have a licensed operator. What's wrong with a telephone?”
“No signal. No landline.”
“May be a senior project here,” he said. “I'll talk to you later.”
“Thanks a million, David,” I said and we all went back to my place.
After we -- I -- had settled down somewhat, Levi asked, “What will Jayden do when he gets here? The semester has started. He did graduate high school, didn't he?”
“He had to. You can't come out of the Pueblo until you do. Likely he got his GED. I don't know if one of the community colleges has open enrollment or if there are online courses you can start anytime. He'll have a very good idea of how to proceed. The Council will have made sure of that. How am I supposed to sleep tonight?” I did finally get to sleep cuddled between Levi and Jeremy.
We very seldom cut a class, but this was a very special day and we all cut our morning classes and were at the airport when an excited and exhausted Jayden came through the gate. He was in my arms in a flash and we were exchanging a kiss which would have made a porn star blush. We finally broke it, looked into each other’s eyes and repeated the kiss. Jeremy and Levi were leading a cheering section and some asshole was leading the booing section except they were not booing. They were filling the air with their hatred.
I don't know why they were there, but a crew from Regency Broadcasting Network had a field day and the 750 Club ran the tape over and over while commenting on how the gay agenda was damning the country to hell. Of course, that was followed by an appeal asking for money to defeat ‘the homosexual agenda. To stop the gay steamroller which will crush your sons.’
Auntie's funeral instructions included a credit card to use for everything and I used it to rent motel rooms for family members. As they called in with arrival times and all, I reserved rooms. Jeremy and Levi were providing taxi service for those flying in. I was very surprised when the Lynchburg crowd decided to come until Eloise said, “They smell a will and money.” All the family would be present except Jason who was at sea.
I had asked the lawyer who was executor of the will if it would be possible to have the will read Tuesday while all the family was gathered, and that was arranged.
Auntie had the last laugh as always. As her offspring were scattering her ashes, the wind made a sudden shift and blew the ashes back on them. The Lynchburg crowd were very upset, Geneva demanding the estate pay for her damaged clothing. The others got a good laugh out of Auntie, as always, having the last word. Her daughter who lived in DC thought it was especially funny and the two of us had tears in our eyes from laughing. When I finally had control of myself I called out, “Way to go, Auntie,” and imagined I heard her laughing.
Back at the house, Jeremy, Levi and Jayden were handling a reception, working together as if they had known each other for years. Other students -- from Levi's place and study groups -- were assisting and all was running smoothly.
Things went anything but smoothly an hour and a half later when the family gathered in the living room for the reading of the will.
Auntie had been a wealthy woman. I knew she was not hurting for money, but I certainly did not know she was as wealthy as she was. Basically, her stocks and bonds were to be sold immediately after her death and the executor had done that. The cash was to be divided equally among her sons and daughters with one exception. Half of Jason and Geneva’s share went to Eloise. Eloise was also to receive a house and lot in a nice section of Hampton.
The explosion came when the section concerning the house in which we were sitting was read. It and the car were to go, 'free and clear to Derek Edward Wilson.' Additionally, she had established a trust fund for my education and one for upkeep and maintenance of the house until such time as I had earned my doctorate or decided I would go no further in my education.
Geneva, of course, led a charge, ranting and raving about my having stolen her inheritance. “I will sue. I am filing a challenge to the will first thing in the morning!” she shouted in her best harpy voice.
“You might want to give some thought to that,” the lawyer said quietly. “That goes for any of you who wish to challenge the will. All of you, at one time or another were in a bind and needed money. Auntie was shrewd. She had you sign a note for any money she loaned you. She, of course, told you it was just a formality and she never mentioned the money again, but the notes are here and valid. I guess you all trusted your mother, as well you might but clearly -- at least in some cases -- she did not trust you. Should any challenge be filed against the will, any notes signed by the challenger are due immediately. Remember, you began signing such notes when you were young. All of you signed one to buy your first car. The interest was at the prevailing rate, which was often low, but years and compound interest have added up. I will be happy to provide anyone who likes a copy of the notes and their present value but, let me say, in no case is the total less that a cool million and in one it approaches one and a half.”
I practically had to hold Lucille, the daughter from DC, in her chair she was laughing so hard.
“We're leaving!” Geneva said. “I have never been so insulted.”
“Pity” Jackson called after her. “I can see why Jason's feet barely hit solid ground before he's back aboard a ship. Derek, thanks for making Mom happy. She had been extremely depressed before she found you and afterward she was a new woman, like the mom I knew growing up.”
Paul shook my hand and said, “No way I can improve on what Jackson said. Mom was dead and living in a dead house until the two of you made it live again. Good luck.”
Lois, the daughter who lived in Seattle hugged me and said, “Derek, stay as beautiful inside as you are outside. Enjoy this place with my blessing.”
Lucille was the last to leave and when she approached started laughing again, “Derek, today couldn't have been better! That was so typical of Mom. You need anything or if Geneva gives you any problems you have my number. I doubt she will show her face again as I know she and Jason owed Mom the most.”
Suddenly everything was quiet except for a bit of noise from the kitchen. I headed in that direction and found Jayden, Levi, Telvin and Jeremy, with the help of several others, cleaning up after the reception. Honestly, there had been so much to do, Jayden and I had had very little time together, but now things would settle down and we could get on with our life together.
I helped finish up and the four old friends and Jayden went upstairs. As soon as we were seated, Jeremy said, “Okay, where do you stand? I know Geneva charged out of here like a raging bull -- or I guess cow -- and that had to be a good sign.”
I told them the terms of the will and the fact that the house and car were mine. “There's even a fund to take care of the house. Jayden, I cannot believe you are here!” We exchanged another hot kiss and Jeremy laughed and said, “And I can remember when the boy couldn't kiss.”
We all had been so busy with Auntie's funeral that Jayden and I had decided we wanted a relaxed time when he would tell me the whole story of being here. I asked him about it and he looked a bit uneasy and whispered, “They'll think I'm nuts.”
“Try them,” I responded.
Jayden started by telling how he came to be at the clinic, his recovery and going to the Pueblo. As clearly as a Navajo can explain to someone who had no idea of the people and country, Jayden described the Pueblo and what it sought to accomplish for young men who needed to be made whole. “I know this will seem really weird to you, but it's what happened to me.” He then told them essentially the same thing he had written me. “Most who go to the Pueblo stay for at least a year. There are some requirements for leaving; for example you have to graduate high school or earn your GED, which I did.
“However, the decision as to when you are ready to leave rests with the Pueblo Council, twelve elders who make that decision. It can be a long process and the person they are considering is sitting with them, not speaking. The Council can sit for ages without speaking as well. In my case, they wanted to determine if I had made up a fantastic story or if what I experienced had happened. Mostly we all just sat for a couple hours and then I was dismissed. The elders would leave and sometime later meet again. Finally we were all sitting in silence when the room seemed to disappear and I saw this house. I guess the elders did too because I was told to pack and here I am.”
“Now what?” Telvin asked.
Before he could answer, we heard someone on the stairs and a man appeared, a man I had never seen before. He definitely wasn't someone you'd want to tangle with. After he looked around the room, he motioned toward the stairs and a sharply dressed man came into the room. Immediately I thought of Big Walt and his henchman.
*A hogan is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. They are usually round and cone-shaped, but they may also be square. A traditional hogan is made of wood and packed mud and earth in varying amounts, with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune.
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