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The South Dakota Review, Spring, 1984, Volume 22, Number 1


Cal Thunder Hawk


Old Lame Bull’s Spook

The Great Spirit and the Holy Ghost appeared to Old Lame Bull, the Kiowa-Creek shaman from Oklahoma, during a Native American Church peyote ceremony in Anadarko, and they revealed to him that he had been chosen as the Keeper of the Faith because of his humble Indian manner and his knowledge of traditional Indian ways, and also because he believed in Jesus Christ and often prayed to him in his peyote visions. The two sacred apparitions even provided him with a spiritual companion -- the Great Ghost -- to assist him in defending the faith: The Way. Then they armed Old Lame Bull and the Great Ghost with supernatural powers to war against the devil and evil heathen works. They became the champions of the Holy Ghost and the Great Spirit -- scourges of Satan and his pagan counterparts.

Old Lame Bull became a medicine-man -- the kind from down south who consort with demons and ghouls. He raised the dead and healed the sick. He was also a sorcerer of love and hate potions, and of good and evil omens, and your basic miracles and curses, too. He also conjured thunderstorms, tornados, and blizzards of snow out of that small and deadly cloud that followed him everywhere, but even though his powers had dominion over man and beast, he directed his greatest powers against the disbelievers. There were scores of skeptical Indians he had driven insane. He struck them down with bolts of lightning out of the clear blue sky, then he twisted their faces into hideously frozen grimaces, and he afflicted their minds with a howling, raging madness which contorted and paralyzed their limbs so that they soon bore their crippled minds behind those horrible masks and limped to the welcome graves. Quincey, his nephew, even told me so.

Old Lame Bull had lost his tiny medicine-bundle when it had been ripped off of the rawhide cord around his neck during a fight in the Seaside -- that notorious Indian bar in Tulsa -- and the devil, realizing that Old Lame Bull’s sacred medicine was no longer protecting him, seized the opportunity to entice him with all kinds of temptations. The devil pursued Old Lame Bull all over Oklahoma throwing wine and women at him, and eventually rolled him and relieved him of all his land-lease money in the alley behind the Seaside late one night after Old Lame Bull had three times turned down all the kingdoms of the world. Satan finally chased him into Texas and lost him there. Old Lame Bull moved in with Quincey and laid low in his house just down the hill from mine.

It was a peaceful and beautiful summer evening in the country -- quiet and warm -- and the sweet scent of lilac and sage softly arose in the lazy breezes while fireflies swarmed in the twilight shadows and stoked the comely wind. I was playing a game of dominoes with Quincey on his porch -- beating him badly, too -- when I suddenly heard a grunt from behind me. I turned and looked, and that was the very first time I laid eyes on Old Lame Bull.

He was hacking up the most vilest and tremendous wad of spit that I’d ever seen. It must have had roots way down into his feet because I saw the joints of his toes flexing beneath his thick leather boots as though they were pulling back on whatever was trying to pull away from them. I saw it slip from his feet and snap to his knees, then it loosened and caught in his hips where it bent him in half. It bunched up in his gigantic stomach and suddenly shot up to his throat and he choked and gagged. Then it bulged out both sides of his cheeks and puckered his dark lips into a tight little knot. His head suddenly whipped back and shot forward and he cut loose of that bugger and splat! It slapped against the side of my brand new softball cap and spun the bill over my left ear and knocked my cap into my dominoes and tipped over Quincey’s board.

Old Lame Bull was hunched over with his eyes closed and his hands on his knees. He heaved and snorted as if he were in pain. He was drawing up another one with roots into the bottom of his soles, I swear, and I decided to punch him before he could blast me with another one. I pulled back, cocked a fist, and I aimed for his kisser -- I wanted to make him swallow whatever he was working up -- when Quincey held back my arm and said, “No, partner! You’ve just been baptized and blessed with a power that overcomes evil and the devil himself!”

“I”ve just been spit-on, Quincey!” I said. “And he’s fixing to spit on me again --”

Splat! Right between my eyes.

© 1984 Cal Thunder Hawk