A modern day Odyssey; Odd Whitefeather returns in this chilling tale that spans generations. Huckleberry Brindle has been exiled for five years after the loss of his demolition crew. The town of Carlton is losing its men and the people turn to him for help. Huck meets the love of his life, but she exists in another time. Can they overcome impossible Odds and remain together?
There were three members of the Grand Medicine Society, known in the Ojibwe language as the Midewiwin, standing outside the Mide lodge. The lodge had taken days to build and it had been abweson anokiwin, sweat work, for three old men. Still, they did not complain because each of these men knew that the completed lodge would protect them from evil, and that an evil spirit was definitely headed their way. The lodge was constructed of poles made from birch saplings. Three tall poles stood in the middle of the lodge, one for each man at the ceremony. The men lashed the frame together and then set about cutting the many pine boughs that needed to be placed carefully around the structure. There was no sign of rain, so no roof had been needed. Three dead dogs stood guard outside the door and the men had to step over these before entering the lodge. The old ways needed to be followed to the letter, just as they had always been.
The afternoon was warm, but an occasional gust of wind helped keep them cool. The Mide lodge sat in the middle of a small clearing deep inside the Fond Du Lac Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. Odemini Gissis, or the month of June, had been cool and wet, but with the new sunshine the surrounding forests had come to life. The sounds of life came from all around them and it helped lift their spirits.
Odd Whitefeather would be first as he was the youngest of the group. Barely into his mid-nineties; leather-faced and solemn, Whitefeather entered the lodge in his everyday clothes, faded blue jeans and a tired denim shirt. Much to the relief of the others, he took off the straw hat and left it outside the door. He was tall and lean with long white hair that hung to the middle of his back. He remained standing until the other two men entered the Mide lodge.
The next man to enter was Wawanishkam, known as Crooked Walker, (one who covers much territory.) Crooked Walker was said to be at least one hundred and five years old. He also had long white hair, which he had tied back over misshapen ears the size of saucers. He was dressed in his summer outfit; a fringed buckskin shirt, buckskin leggings, and a pair of fine moccasins that never seemed to age. Like Odd Whitefeather, Crooked Walker stood tall and erect for a man of such considerable age. He stood next to the younger man and waited for the last of their group.
Dog Breath carried the sacred piece of birch bark, known as the Mide roll. The roll had been engraved many years ago with a bone stylus and the lines had been carefully filled with vermillion, to protect it against the ravages of time and the elements. The time had come to complete their number and the Mide roll needed to be shared with the newcomer, whoever that person might be. This needed to be smoked over and discussed among the three. Some people said that Dog Breath was one hundred and fifteen, but no one knew for sure. He was a fierce looking man, still lean and muscular despite his great age. He wore a simple breech cloth and walked on his bare feet. Like the others, his wrinkled face was painted green on the top half and red on the bottom. Like the others, his Mide bag, Medicine bag, was tied to his side and filled with things he would need.
They sat down on the floor of the Mide lodge and smoked for a long time. Crooked Walker nodded in appreciation at the flavor of the tobacco. Odd Whitefeather had visited many tobacco shops looking for something that would remind the others of the old blend. The shopkeeper had sold him the pipe tobacco, which he had called the Fragrant Vagrant, for twenty dollars. He had hoped they would like it. They hadn’t smoked in many years. They used Crooked Walker’s pipe which had been carved out of the antler of a whitetail deer.
Dog Breath began to speak after they had finished smoking and he had set the long, ornately carved pipe, aside. “Tell me about your grandson,” he asked Odd Whitefeather. “We should know about him and his character. You say he is a good man?”
Odd Whitefeather nodded and began to speak, but he was cut off before uttering a single syllable. He had grown used to this over the years, just as he had the unmistakable smell of the breath of the man across from him. He sat and listened as Dog Breath asked him yes or no questions, answering each of these with a nod or a slight shake of his head. Dog Breath had a deep voice that sounded like a bear’s growl. He spoke in the old words, using sign language to accentuate their meanings. A beneshi, little bird, sat above them on top of the middle pole, which they all took to be a good sign.