by Grasshopper

Chapter 19

Just as Davy pulled the ribbon and the sparkly paper slid off, Jase wondered how the man had known there was a child in the house.

"Davy! Wait! Let me have that b.............................,"

Davy's eyes whipped toward his father, the box opened and the scorpion inside raised its venom-filled tail.

desert hairy scorpion
Desert Hairy Scorpion
Bark Scorpion with Young
Bark Scorpion with Young

Scorpions, arachnids distantly related to spiders, came into existence before all spiders and insects. They are nocturnal hunters that hide in dark cool spots during the day. Their venom, used to paralyze their prey, is carried in their tail. While the four inch long desert hairy scorpion is the largest and least toxic and the two inch bark scorpion is the smallest and most toxic, a sting by any scorpion should be taken seriously and medical treatment sought immediately. Though relatively scarce in this area, they are here. Any rock should be rolled over before fingers slip under to lift it. Female scorpions, like the vinegaroon, carry the young on their back until their first external skeleton is shed when they drop off and become independent.

Pictures and text courtesy of http://www.myrtlekraftcottage.com/myrtlekraftcottage/ScorpionsPhoto.html

"Davy! Drop the box! Do it!" Cody yelled. Davy stood terrified, his eyes wide, watching the creature inch toward his fingertips.

Suddenly, the night erupted with the whirl of a loud growl and a gray body flung itself across the porch to knock the box from Davy's frozen hands. The scorpion dropped with a soft thud to the wooden planked floor. Namid knew his duty. Leaping between his boy and the one who would harm him, the great gray coyote snarled and slammed his paw down hard. He felt the sting, felt the tingling of the poison as it shot into his pads and up his front leg. He lifted his paw and slammed it down again, harder this time, the killing blow. His shining yellow eyes rose to meet Davy's frightened brown. His boy was safe.

The venom began its work, shooting through his nervous system, his front legs numbing, and he fell. His muscles began to twitch and his body shook.

"Daddy, do something!" Davy cried. "Ole Three Paws! Daddy!"

"Cody, hot water and soap. Davy, stand right where you are, no closer. Let him see you," Jase ordered, as he ran to his truck to get his kit. That coyote had saved Davy! Jase didn't have time to think about that yet, but he knew what he'd seen.

Davy crooned softly to the big coyote, "You saved me. I know you did. Daddy will fix you up. You'll be okay. You saved me." He squatted down in Ole Three Paws' line of vision and smiled. 'You'll be okay."

Cody brought hot water in the dish pan from the sink, kitchen towels and a bar of Dial soap. He walked carefully toward the coyote who was breathing too heavily. Jase came back with his medical bag.

"He will be okay, right Daddy?" Davy said, his voice wobbly.

"He'll be okay, Davy Boy. That doesn't look like a local scorpion, not from the size or coloring, but scorpion stings are usually like wasp stings, just stronger. Here, you hold my bag while I............," He reached out to touch Ole Three Paws' leg, but the coyote growled deep in his throat. Jase jerked his hand back, "Not as out of it as I thought. I don't want to knock him out, not with all that venom in his system."

Davy set the bag down and crawled closer to Ole Three Paws. "No, Davy, get back here," Jase said, 'We don't know how much pain he's in."

"You're okay, aren't ya, ole boy?" Davy soothed. "Can I help you feel better? Will you let me help you?" He reached out his hand and touched the coyote's swollen paw gently. "See, Daddy? He's my friend."

Jase looked up at Cody. Cody shrugged his shoulders. "I have no idea, Jase. Let Davy try." He sat down near the coyote with the water and soap.

Jase had Davy wash the swollen paw with soap and pat it dry. Cody put ice in a ziplock bag and Davy sat very still, holding the icebag onto the swollen leg. Jase filled the two syringes, one with a morphine-based solution for pain and one with an antiserum. "I have to give him these two injections, Davy. You need to get out of the way now. He might not like it."

Davy eased his leg under Ole Three Paws' long snout and began to rub the top of his furry head. "He'll be brave, won't you boy? No ole shots will make him cry. Daddy's gonna give you shots to make you better. Be real still," he murmured.

"This is unfuckingbelievable", Jase muttered under his breath. He touched the coyote's back, rubbing gently with his fingers to let him know his hand was there.

"It's okay, Daddy. He's ready."

Cody stood with his hand pressed to his mouth as Jase lifted the loose skin and injected one, then two needles into the coyote's flesh. Ole Three Paws didn't flinch.

"See, he's very very brave," Davy sighed. "He will be fine now, right Daddy?"

Jase wiped the sweat off his forehead. He had been terrified that the wild animal would leap up at any moment, but there he lay, with his gray muzzle on Davy's leg, his yellow eyes watching Jase's every move.

"Yes, he'll be fine now, Davy. We'll make him a bed out here on the porch and let him sleep while the medicine does its job."

"He could sleep in my room, you know," Davy said slyly, his face very innocent.

Cody laughed, "I'm thinking that's a big no, little man."

Davy giggled, "I didn't think so. I'll go get him some covers." He eased his leg out from under the coyote's muzzle and said gently, "I'm going to get you a blanket and a pillow. You wait right here."

After the screen door banged shut, Jase said quietly, "Who would do anything like that? Why would anyone try to hurt Davy like that?"

"You said that salesman told you his name, Jase," Cody frowned.

"Yeah, he said it was...............Oh, shit, he said it was Jefferson. I wasn't thinking......"

Cody slammed his hand against the wall. "That son of a bitch! Davy could have died!"

"We don't know for sure that.....................," Jase started.

"Oh yeah........we do. It's just like something Mackenzie would do. He's a spiteful fucker who thinks he can get away with anything. Son...of...a....bitch!!" Cody growled. "I am SO sorry, Jase."

"Come here, you," Jase said gently, tucking Cody into his arms and holding him close. "This is not your fault. This guy's never getting you back. I just can't believe he'd come here, to my home, and try to hurt my son. What was he trying to prove?"

Cody sighed. "I've been thinking about that. He likes hurting people, Jase. He likes pain. I mean, he really likes it. He talks about it like it's a friend of his. I think he wanted to hurt Davy to get to me somehow." He hesitated, "Maybe I should just go back before something does happen."

"There's no way you are ever leaving me again," Jase said quietly. "I think we need to give Walt Crisp a call and let the FBI handle this."

Davy came back out onto the porch, dragging his patchwork quilt and his own pillow with Wil E Coyote on it. "I brought my best stuff cause he's my best friend." He headed back over to the wounded coyote and sat down beside him. "We're gonna make you a comfy bed, okay? Daddy is gonna have to kinda pick you up. You let him now, k?"

Jase lifted the heavy body and set him on the quilt that Davy had laid out by the porch swing. Davy eased the pillow under the coyote's head and then stretched out beside him.

"I don't think that's wise, Davy Boy, he might..........," Cody started to say.

"Three Paws wouldn't ever hurt me. He's my best friend," Davy said, all the assurance in the world ringing in his voice.

"I wonder how he knew to be here?" Jase questioned. "He must have been waiting out there in the dark."

"Maybe the wind, Jase. Maybe Niyol told him," Cody said softly.

"Do you believe that?" Jase asked skeptically.

"Do you believe that a wild desert coyote helped Davy find his way in the woods, saved his life tonight, and is now lying on our back porch with his head on Davy's pillow?" Cody came back.

"Well, there's that," Jase smiled ruefully. "I guess Tommy and Charity are looking out for their boy."

They sat quietly rocking until Davy had fallen asleep. Lifting him from the quilt, Jase said softly, "I don't know how you knew to help him, but I owe you a great debt, Three Paws. You might have saved my son's life. You're welcome here."

Jase and Cody had talked long into the night about what to do. Jase wanted to keep Davy home from school for a few days, until he talked to his FBI friend. Cody finally got him to see that Mackenzie Jeffers was a showoff. The man did things to show how powerful he was. They couldn't just stop their lives because of him.

"I'll take him with me to Shiprock," Cody decided. I'll stop by the school and tell them that Davy is still feeling uneasy about the murders. I'll get his work and he can do it while he's with me." He sighed. "People around here are gonna think we're peculiar, with all that's gone on lately."

"I don't care what people think as long as Davy's safe. I'll call Walt in the morning and get him going. We'll find that freak and shut him down," Jase growled.

Morning found the coyote gone. Davy was heartbroken at first, but Cody explained to him that Ole Three Paws was wild and he lived in the desert. His family was probably worried when he didn't come home last night. "You'll see him again, Davy."

Davy fixed up a bowl full of left over enchiladas and garlic bread and set it out on the far side of the barn in the shade of the giant saguaro. He squinted into the sun as he heard a faraway coyote cry. "You come eat now, Three Paws."

"I'm not going to school?" Davy grinned. "Alllllright !!!" He did a little happy dance in the middle of the kitchen floor.

"Don't get used to it," Jase tried to frown, but the corners of his mouth curved into a half-smile. "We just need to know you're safe today."

"Who put the big scorpion in that box, Daddy? Did they want it to sting me?"

"No," Cody said quickly, "We don't know what that was about, but there's no one who would want to hurt you, Davy Boy." He cut his eyes toward Jase and they agreed. "Now, finish those waffles. I'm a working man. I don't want to be late my first day."

Cody was a little worried that he shouldn't be bringing Davy, but his safety was more important than this job. He'd just wait and see how things went.

The hug Jase gave Cody before they left was a little tighter, the kiss a little fiercer, the look in his eyes deep and penetrating. "Be safe!" he whispered. "I wish I could just keep you in my pocket."

Cody's eyes twinkled, "Then you never would get anything done." He kissed Jase one last time and they left to climb into the old truck for the drive to Shiprock.

"Keep your cell on!" Jase called.

"Will do. Love you," Cody's voice floated back on the dry breeze.

Jase punched in the number of the FBI office in Albuquerque. "Agent Crisp, please."

They talked for a minute or two about Charles Taylor and how the old murder cases were wrapping up. "The parents of all those girls have finally gotten some closure," Walt said, his voice sad. "It's better than nothing, I suppose."

"Walt, we need your help again," Jase said.

Walt replied quietly, "I figured this wasn't just a friendly call. What's up?"

Jase told him as clearly as possible what had been going on. He hated so much to tell Cody's story but he knew that his friend would respect Cody's privacy as much as possible. As he finished, he punctuated the facts with his own declaration, "I'd kill the fucker with my bare hands if I could, but I'd rather spend the rest of my life with Cody and Davy, not in prison."

"I hear you and that's the right decision," Walt said. "Let me take care of this. I'll contact the office in New York. They're bound to have a file on this guy. No one does the things you accuse him of without leaving a trail. I'll get right on it this morning. And Jase....,"


"If he's here; if he's still in New Mexico, let me handle it. You call the minute you know anything. Don't try to take him down yourself. I'll call the airport and find out if he's gone back. You go on about your business. I'll make some calls right now."

"Thanks, Walt. I'm just worried about Davy and Cody. If he tries anything else.........,"

"I know, but you take it easy. We'll get this guy. He won't be hurting anyone else, you have my word on that."

Jase stood on the back porch staring out over the shimmering desert sand, his eyes searching for movement. "Don't even think about coming near my family again, you piece of shit." He punched #1 on his cell. "You okay?"

Cody smiled, "Yep, we're on the road. Davy's got all his schoolwork and I'm gonna organize that little shop. Did you call Walt?"

"Yes, he's on it. Just keep your eyes open."

"Don't worry about us. We'll be fine," he turned to grin at Davy, "Right, Davy Boy?"

"Tell Daddy to stop worrying. If that scorpion man comes back, Ole Three Paws will bite him in the butt," Davy laughed.

"You hear that?"

Jase chuckled, "Yeah. Be safe, see you at four."

Cody closed his cell and Davy giggled, "How many times you think he'll call today, Cody?"

"About 90 million," Cody grinned.

"A bazillion," Davy countered.

They sang to the tunes on the radio and let the warm desert air blow through their hair.

Mackenzie Jeffers had been sitting in one of the window booths of the GoodLuck Café in Drifter waiting for the ambulance to come screaming by on its way to Shiprock. He assumed that after the scorpion stung the boy, he would be taken to emergency. He drank five cups of sludge coffee as he waited impatiently for the lights and siren.

By eleven o'clock that night, he decided that the boy had not opened the box. There had been no ambulance, no emergency run. Frustrated, he strode across the parking lot to his motel room. Maybe tomorrow, the boy had to see the gift box and he would open it.

But, as he walked out to his car the next morning, he saw the old truck go by with Cody and Davy, heading down the highway toward Shiprock. The boy didn't look hurt; they were laughing and Cody was talking on a cell phone. His plan had failed! The scorpion couldn't survive in that box another day.

If Cody and the boy were going to Shiprock, that meant Jase McBride was alone. Maybe that was what was meant to be. Maybe he was supposed to get rid of McBride, so that Cody would belong to him again.

A smile on his face, Jeffers walked into his motel room and reached under the bed. Pulling out an expensive black leather bag, he couldn't resist opening it for a quick look at his toys. Lifting one of the scalpel-sharp knives up, he watched how the light shone on the silver. Digging down into the case, he found the one he had used to make Cody whimper. He breathed in deeply, still hearing that sound in his head. Perhaps this was what he would do. He wondered what the sound of Jase McBride would be like when he too whimpered and begged for mercy.

He wouldn't wait. He couldn't. His disappointment over the scorpion was thick in the air. Enough of this! It was past time for Cody to come back. Get rid of the obstacle and the boy was his.

He headed out to his rented car, tossed the black bag in the trunk and drove slowly out of town, turning on the old Aztec Mine Road that ran behind the McBride land. The dust rose up around the Lexus and Jeffers squinted into the bright morning sun.

The wind, Niyol, whispered angrily, blowing hot and dry across the peaks and ridges. This man was wrong. This man did not belong here. He brought pain and death.

"Where is my son?"
"He is with Helaku. He is safe."
"Help them....we must help them."

Tumbling and flying, the hot desert wind screamed across the ravines and mesas. Ancient eyes, ancient hearts watched the devil climb from his car and look toward the east. A whipping gasp of hot sand and wind blew across his face, rashing his cheek.

Mackenzie Jeffers covered his mouth and eyes with his hands, cursing the wind. "This desolate damned country," he muttered, "Not fit for anything. McBride is welcome to it....except," he smiled, "He won't be here much longer to appreciate it. Cody will come home with me once his precious Jase is gone. I will even take the boy. He might fetch a pretty penny."

"Hear his evil words."
"He will not have my son."
"The land will destroy him."

Niyol strained against its anger. The blood and breath of the ancestors roiled in the thick summer air.

Jeffers chose not to listen to the wind. And in doing so, he chose his own fate.

Cody parked the truck in the shade of the same cottonwood tree in the alley behind the craft store.

"Davy, come on. Let's see if it's okay that you come to work with me."

"I'll be really quiet. I promise, Cody." Davy wasn't real sure why he was missing school and here with Cody, but he did see that he was in the way.

Cody smiled and reached out his hand, ruffling Davy's hair. "We'll just see what's what."

They found that there had been no reason to fret when Cody found a note tacked to the front door:

'Cody, the kids are all sick and I can't come in today. Clean up if you want and I'll see you tomorrow. Jenna
Ps....if someone buys something, yey us !!'

"Looks like I'm on my own here, Davy."

Davy looked around the messy little shop. "There sure is lots of cool stuff in here," he said, picking up a small kachina doll made of corn husks, "But it's all piled everywhere."

"That's what I'm going to do today," Cody smiled, "Make some sense of this shop."

"Can't I help you?"

"How much homework do you have?"

Davy glanced at the paper Mrs. Bailey had handed him. "Just some reading and these math worksheets, I can get it all done in no time."

"Okay, but it's gotta be done by bedtime."

"No prob," Davy laughed. "What do we do first?"

The two spent the morning sweeping and dusting and moving display cases around. As Cody arranged the jewelry, pendants, rings and earrings, in a pretty display in the front window, he held one carved stone in his hand.

"That's one like Mz. Ally gave you, isn't it, Cody?"

Cody turned the smooth little stone over, finding the tiny Kokopelli symbol on the back. "Yes, the same artist made this one." He held the rock and rubbed his thumb over the carving, but there was no feeling of belonging, no zing of urgency like when he had held his mother's necklace. Suddenly, he needed that pendant back. He wanted to wear it next to his skin. It was the only thing that linked him to his father......his true father.

"Davy, it's almost lunch time. Let's go get some burgers and take a little drive. There's someone I want you to meet."

Mackenzie drove along the old unused road until it stopped...simply stopped in the middle of nowhere. He could faintly see the path back, but there was nothing in front of him. Unused to the desert, he hadn't thought to find a landmark to guide him.

Stepping from the Lexus, he pulled expensive binoculars from the back seat, climbed awkwardly up the steep jumble of rocks and studied the land to the south, faintly picking out the sun glinting off the tin roof of McBride's barn.

Frowning as sweat began to soak through the expensive French handsewn shirt and the sun beat down on his head, he was tempted to climb back in the car and drive back to Albuquerque for a cold Strawberry Margarita and that pretty little Indian waiter who had served him so well, but he'd come this far. Might as well get it done. Then he could go back to civilization, taking Cody and the boy. He had such plans for them both.

Wishing he had thought to bring water, Mackenzie Jeffers turned his head toward the McBride ranch. How hard could it be to walk across the sand to confront McBride and kill him? He knew that one more blow to Dakota's heart would hand him over.

He smiled, thinking of the time in Rio de Janeiro, when he had used these same knives. Yes, he loved pain....the pain of others, the fear in their eyes, the sob in their voices.

Choosing a sharp five inch blade from his satchel and dropping it in his jacket pocket, he confidently put one Gucci loafer in front of the other, sinking slightly in the hot white sand.

The wind swooped and circled, like a bird of prey, watching its enemy. "He is a fool. We will crush him. He does not know the power of the shifting sands." Niyol called to the snake, the scorpion and the hawk, to the coyote and the wolf. Angry dust devils swirled, gathering strength as the sand flew in powerful thrusts. The enemy's car disappeared in the cloud of flailing sand, his eyes filled with grit, his face rasped by the heat of the sun.

Jeffers held his arm up to shield his eyes from the sudden scorching blaze of the sun. Disoriented, he turned back towards his car only to find he could no longer see it behind him.

"God almighty," he yelled, to no one. Especially not to the God Davy believed in. Sinking to the sand, he knelt on his knees, waiting for the sand storm to die down.

Jase had finished all his large animal runs for the morning and decided to head back to the house for lunch. Cody had left him a plate of leftovers to nuke and he wanted to be home when they got back. He was still nervous about the scorpion and knew that Jeffers was out there somewhere just waiting to hurt the people he loved. Why Davy?

Jase sighed, thinking about everything that Davy had been through these last few weeks. No ten year old should ever have to be afraid, not like this. He climbed down from the truck and stood looking out over the desert.

"Tommy, if you're out there, and I have a feeling you are, watch over him. I've raised him the best I could and now, with Cody, he's happy. Help me with this......you and Charity."

Feeling a little foolish, Jase headed for the house, stopping on the back porch to call Cody.

"You okay?"
"You're going where?"
"Oh, okay."
"Be careful. Call when you're headed home."
"Love you too."

Jase listened to the silent house as he ate his warmed over chicken paprikash. The house creaked with the odd gushes of hot wind coming off the sand. He never wanted to be here alone again. He remembered the days when Cody's Grandpa Edgar had been alive, when Charity was alive and Davy was a little boy. He had grieved for Tommy and felt a huge hole where his heart should have been.

When Charity was killed, it was as if his whole world had crumbled. All he had left was a little boy that he didn't know how to raise and who demanded love that he didn't have to give. He had almost ruined both of their lives.

Then Cody Taylor came, all New York City, all dark skinned and caring, wise beyond his years. He had fought Cody, fought hard to stay in the deep hole of despair he had buried himself in. Cody had just stayed....stayed and made him look at himself.....see what the grief was doing, to him and especially to Davy. Jase never wanted to go back into that hole again. All he wanted was Cody and Davy and the life they would create right here on this piece of New Mexico desert.

That was what kept him from getting in his truck and searching for Mackenzie Jeffers and blowing his brains out the back of his head. He wanted to, God knows he could feel the anger deep in his chest, but he wanted to stay here with Cody and Davy more. He would not become a murderer and lose them. If Jeffers came here, then so be it, Jase would defend his family and his home, but he wouldn't lose his world by going looking for cold blooded murder. He wanted to, but he loaded his shotgun instead and laid it across the kitchen table.

The house phone rang, the answering machine picked it up on the third ring. "Jase, Walt here. He's a nasty piece of work all right. I.............,"

Jase grabbed up the receiver, "Hey Walt, what's happening?"

"Oh hey, Jase," his FBI friend said. "I made inquiries to the New York bureau and they have a file a mile long on our man. No convictions; he's a slick character with good lawyers. Several missing young men suspiciously linked to him but no proof. The agent on his case, name of Feeney, says anything we can give him will be welcome. You heard anything else?"

"No, I just can't figure out why he went after Davy like that. It had to be planned, what with the 'gift for a child' and coming to the house. He wanted to hurt Davy. That scorpion was gift wrapped for my son."

Walt sighed a heavy sigh. "I think he wanted the attention off Cody so he could grab him. We won't know til we catch him."

"I want him dead, Walt. Cody is terrified of him and he's tried to hurt Davy."

"I know, Jase, I'm a dad. I'd want to kill anyone who came close to my kids. Hold on and we'll find him. He won't slip out from under this one. He'll go away for a long time."

"But, if he's got lawyers...we both know how fuckers can just slide under the law today. I want him gone."

Walt frowned, "Jase, don't do anything foolish. "

"I won't, but damn, I feel so helpless, just waiting for him to make some kind of move against my family."

Niyol could feel the anger spilling up from the house, " We must stop the devil before it reaches him."

Quiet Water murmured, "We must protect Jase."

"Yes, we must keep them safe." The wind called to Namid, "Come, find the one who would hurt your boy. The sand has twisted him. Go lead him falsely."

Cody and Davy drove along the dirt road that led to Kajika's desert home.

"You're going to meet a remarkable man, Davy," Cody said quietly, as the small Indian dwelling came into sight at the base of the clutch of terra cotta rocks. "He is blind and yet he 'sees' these beautiful carvings."

"How can he do that?" Davy asked. "I can't do it and I can really see."

"I have no idea how he can have these pictures in his head and carve them so easily in the rocks."

"Maybe he wasn't always blind," Davy offered. "Ty's grandma went blind cause she was real sick last year, but she says that she can still see colors and animals in her head."

Cody thought about that. Maybe Kajika could tell him about his father; what he looked like, the color of his eyes, his hair. If he hadn't always been blind then there was a chance he might be able to share something of the man who had created Cody and Elijah. Maybe he would be more open today.

They stopped in front of the little cottage framed by the sheep fencing. A new blanket hung from the rail by the door, the turquoise background with the squash blossom buds adding a splash of color to the white wash of the walls.

Hok'ee, the brown furred mongrel, barked at the strangers. "Hok'ee, remember me? I came with friends to see your master the other day," Cody said, his voice soft and friendly. The dog cocked his head to one side and then stood quiet.

"Where is he, Hok'ee?" Cody asked as he and Davy walked toward the dog slowly. He sniffed the air, walked over to Davy and sniffed questioningly. As if satified, Hok'ee turned and headed in the direction he had gone the other day, rounding the base of the rocks and disappearing into the shadow of the big boulder.

Following the path led by the scruffy dog, Cody felt Davy close by his side. They came around the wall of rust colored rock and found Kajika working with his sharp knife, his feet folded up under him, sitting in the middle of a black, white and gray woven rug.

His hair was pulled back in a long braid, but the sharp contrast of the streak of white against the cold black was sharply evident. He didn't raise his eyes, but kept on chipping gently at the dark gray rock in his hand.

"Does he speak English?" Davy whispered. Cody nodded his head.

"Kajika, it's Cody Taylor. Abner Johnson and Sani brought me here to talk to you. I've brought someone to meet you. May we come closer?"

Kajika's mind was racing. Here was Helaku, his son. Sani had told him that he was indeed a child of the sunshine. He raised his sightless eyes toward them and nodded once. Cody and Davy came closer to the silent man and squatted down in the sand beside the rug.

"This is Davy McBride. He's the son of the man I love. He's the son of my heart." Cody felt Davy grin and move closer to him. "I wanted you to meet him."

Kajika could feel the pride and love his son had for this boy. It was no more than he himself felt as he listened to Cody's voice. Kajika was a hesitant man, one who had learned through years of darkness to listen to the hearts of others. He was listening to Cody.

He spoke softly, so softly that Cody and Davy had to lean in to understand. "I am pleased that you have brought this young one to my home, Helaku." His voice was light, like the sound of the summer breeze touching your face. Cody closed his eyes and let the murmurs drift across him.

"Kajika, is there more you can tell me about my father?" Cody whispered and opened his eyes to watch the older man's face.

Kajika felt a little of the wall crumble. He wanted to know his son. "Your father was a man like any other. He fell under the spell of passion and love."

"Did he talk of my mother? He bought the pendant for her, right?"

Kajika touched the front of his soft cotton shirt, feeling the pendant pulsing against his chest. "Yes, he asked me to make a special stone for someone that he loved."

Davy watched the two men, so much alike. He stared at the scar on Kajika's temple where the white streak of hair began that ran straight through the thick blackness. He reached out his fingers to touch the scar.

"No, Davy," Cody said softly.

"Let the boy do as he wishes." Kajika tilted his head to one side, feeling Davy's movement.

"How did you get hurt?" Davy asked, his fingertips stopping just short of the puckered skin.

"An evil man hurt me and when I awoke I could no longer see."

Davy made a worried sound in his throat, as if feeling the pain himself.

"It is all right, little Pakwa," Kajika smiled, "It was long ago."

Cody watched the exchange, watched Kajika press the pendant to his chest as he spoke to Davy.

"Did you know my father well?"

Kajika was silent so long, Cody thought he hadn't heard. Then, "Yes, we were close."

"Then you must know what happened to him, where he is buried. I want to honor my father.'

Kajika seemed to fold in upon himself. There was no honor for him. He had craved what he should not; had spent these years alone as punishment. The gods had blinded him to remove the sight of the beautiful woman, but she had stayed in his heart. Now, here was the son of their bodies asking to honor him. It was not to be.

Sighing, he slowly removed the pendant from his neck and held it out for Cody. "This is all that is left of your father. He disgraced himself and was punished. Think of him with kindness, my Shiye."

Cody stood up quietly, the pendant dangling from his fingers. "Thank you for talking to me. We'll go now and leave you to your work." He held out his hand to Davy.

Davy moved in slowly, on his knees, to put his arms around the older man. He rested his cheek against Kajika's and whispered, "Goodbye, Acheii." He felt Kajika's arms tighten for a moment and then let him loose.

As Kajika listened to the footfalls grow dimmer, he let the tears fall down his cheeks. As he had lost his sight, so had he lost his son, his shiye. The god's punishment was complete.

Jase sat in the rocker, his eyes closed but his mind listening to every sound. It was closing in on 4:00. He had just spoken to Cody and knew they were driving through Drifter heading home. He had the feeling that something or someone was watching him. He wanted this over.

Mackenzie Jeffers tried to wipe the sand from his eyes, his nostrils, his ears. Every crevice of his exposed body was full of grit. The landscape looked different. He turned in circles searching for his car and the rocks where it had been standing. The wind had whipped him in confused turnings and he wasn't sure where he was anymore.

Suddenly, this didn't seem the good idea it had this morning. If he could just figure out the direction to his car, he would go back to the motel. There was no clue in the sand or the sky or the looming rocks. The sun beat down on his unprotected head and he felt the first stirrings of fear, a feeling foreign to him.

He tried to remember anything about the desert, tracking the sun, but that had never been important...til now. Squinting into the brightness, he looked at the descending sun and decided to follow its path. Something from his childhood whispered that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. If he just followed the setting sun, he'd go east and come to Drifter.

Yellow eyes watched from the top of the mesa. The wind had commanded Namid to keep watch over the evil one who would hurt his boy. A low growl rose in his throat and five other coyotes stepped up beside him to watch the evil one walk further and further into the desert. He was on their home ground now. Lifting his head, Namid let out an eerie howl, followed by five other strong voices.

"Namid keeps watch. The evil one has come to play."
"He will learn. The desert is a good teacher."

The sand whirled and whistled down over the mesas, along the arroyos, still dry in the summer heat. Evil had come to the desert, but the desert was not afraid.

After dinner, Jase dried the dishes as Cody handed them over to him. Davy sat at the kitchen table finishing up the schoolwork he had missed.

"Whoaaa! Hey Cody, listen to this," Davy laughed. "George Washington had to have all his teeth pulled out and he had fake ones made out of hippopotamus ivory, cow's teeth and metal. They used wood to hold the teeth in his mouth. Is that gross or what?"

"Better than no teeth and trying to gum a big juicy steak," Jase chuckled.

"What ARE you reading?" Cody grinned.

"My social studies book, all about Valley Forge and stuff. It says he would stick his finger in his mouth when he was arguing with an enemy and pull it back out with the teeth chomped onto it and scare the bad guys into forgetting what they were saying."

"Now, that's truly what we send you to school," Cody snorted. "A well rounded education."

Settled on the back porch to watch the last of the sun's colors disappear behind the horizon, Cody told Jase about the visit to Kajika.

"It was odd, Jase. He knew my father well but he has nothing to say about him. I know he knew how much I wanted to hear something, anything. I get the strangest feelings when I go there."

"Like what?" Jase asked.

"I don't know really, like I should know something, but I don't."

Davy came out and plopped down on the top step.

"Davy, when we left Kajika's today, what did you say to him?"

Davy frowned, "I could kinda feel how sad he was and I knew he would cry after we left. I remembered what my friend Jimmy Three Trees calls his grandpa. I wanted him to feel better, so I just told him bye and said Acheii."

"You called him grandpa?"

"Yeah," Davy looked uncertainly up at Cody, "Was that okay?"

Cody felt a feeling flutter across his mind. He thought back to what Kajika had said:

"He is dead to you. The night wind carries his voice."
"He disgraced himself and was punished."
"An evil man hurt me and when I awoke I could no longer see."


Jase looked over at the tone in Cody's voice, "What?"

Cody's eyes stared out over the cooling desert sand, unfocused and wide.

"I never heard my father's voice in the wind. Kajika has never said that my father is dead, just dead to me."


Cody fumbled with the words, "Davy, do me a favor. Go call your friend Jimmy Three Trees and ask him what "Shiye" means."

Davy jumped up to make the call and Cody raised one eyebrow, his thoughts all coming to the same conclusion.

The sun set. The night wind began its search for souls to comfort and souls to protect. The lean desert coyotes kept their vigil, their bodies low to the ground, their eyes angry and narrow. The evil one had lost his way and struggled further and further into the land of lost souls. The click of the scorpion's tail, the flutter of the bat's wing, the slither of the desert viper, each of these brought a terror to the evil one.....he had chosen his fate. He was no longer the predator. He had become the prey.

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