Here is this weeks excerpt from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Stay tuned for next week’s.
He went to the entrance, got down on all fours and crawled in. Hanna followed and I followed her. We entered and went to the left around the pit in the center. John and Hanna located and I located next to her, sitting cross legged. We were on bare dirt. It smelled of sweat and some other smell I couldn’t define. Others followed, six other men and five women, until we were fairly packed in. I was uncomfortable in confined places to begin with, and to be crowded in with strangers made it even more uncomfortable. I took some deep breaths and tried to relax. I felt my heart pounding.
When all were settled, Raymond began placing the red hot rock into the pit with a pitch fork. Then he lowered the flap. It was pitch black. I suddenly felt the intense heat hit my body like it might feel to walk into a blast furnace. John began a chant with words I guessed were his native Lakota language. While I didn’t understand, I was guessing he was calling in the spirits as Hanna had said. My nervousness had left. I was becoming entranced by the chanting. I could feel some sort of emotion building in my chest. I looked around in the pitch black and could swear I saw shapes moving about. I immediately closed my eyes. John finished his chant and apparently poured a ladle of water on the rocks because I heard the sizzle and the steam hit me like a punch. It was so hot. I immediately began to sweat. I heard one of the participants begin to speak, also in Lakota. After some time the first person ended and everyone said, “Ho,” and another started.I was finding it hard to breath and was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. It proceeded around until I was up. All I could say was, “I pass.”
At our bi-weekly Zoom chat with some cousins on Saturday, folks were reminiscing about thanksgiving dinners when we were kids. Folks were talking of the turkeys, cranberries, casseroles, deserts, etc.
I never tasted turkey until I must have been around ten years old. As I recall, thanksgiving dinners were usually chicken, potatoes and gravy with maybe green beans, corn, or some other vegetable. It’s the way it was. I also cannot recall any of my school classmates or friends ever talking about having turkey.
On Thanksgiving Day when I was around ten years old, I was’t feeling well so my parents left me with the hired man, my dad’s cousin who lived with us, while they went to celebrate with my mother’s family, that year in Dubuque, as was tradition.
When they returned home late afternoon, they had brought me a whole turkey leg. I was feeling better, excited and hungry for the leg. Thinking it would be like a chicken leg, I started in on it and the first thing I ran into was some sinew. The meat was tasty so I continued but, to this day, I’ll never forget the frustration of trying to eat around all the sinew in that leg. Thus was my first taste of thanksgiving turkey.
During this Covid year, I’m very much looking forward to the nice eight-pounder my wife and I are going to enjoy on Thursday, regrettably alone as so many others most likely are, at least those who want to be safe.
Unlike some folks I know, I love the leftovers. Yum.
Here is another excerpt from my latest novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Stay tuned for next week’s.
We drove west, following the directions, to John’s house, a nondescript ranch, with a dusty drive and parking area. There was no lawn or shrubs. A few more houses were scattered about. They all looked the same, all were nondescript . . . and sad. It all seemed so desolate. I pulled in. Hanna got out and looked at me with a pleading face. “I really wish you would reconsider doing the sweat with us.”
“Thanks, but no. I need to get going. It’s already getting late. It’s been nice to know you and best of luck . . . with everything.”
She gave me one final look of puzzlement and sadness, turned and walked away with her backpack and guitar. I watched her for a moment as she found a place for her tent. I drove back out on to the highway and started to head south a few miles and pulled over to argued with myself.
I really hate to see her go. I was enjoying her company. There was something about her that I found attractive, something more than her looks. But, on the hand, I like things predictable. I don’t do things like this without researching, planning, and accessing all risks. What would happen if I went and did this sweat thing? What would happen if I did? Oh what the hell! Russell, be adventurous for once in your life. Go back there and see what happens. She wants you to do this. But why should I do anything with someone I just met, a hitch hiker for god’s sake. You like her. Do it. So you loose a day. So what? You certainly have the time. Why rush? Take time to enjoy.
I took a deep breath, turned around and headed back and found Hanna putting up her tent. “So what do I have to wear to this ‘sweat’ thing?”