The T-Rex of Tsegi Canyon – 5

March 4, 2016  |  Fantasy  |  Share

Mrs. Littletree went to their battered refrigerator and brought out a handful of ice cubes; these she dropped into three glasses and then she poured out a measure of soda from the big bottle of ginger ale that had been in the bag. They savored their drinks as if sipping fine whisky.

Mr. Littletree folded his hands across his stomach in the mode of a storyteller, and Leland perked up. “Thank you for courtesy we do not see that much of today,” he said. “Your parents brought you up wisely and well. It is true that I know something of what you seek. My brother told me the story long ago.” He paused to stare into space.

Leland tucked his sweating palms into his pants pockets. He could feel the revelation coming.

“But my brother had a good reason for keeping his secret. Even when those white men came to the canyon with their tools for digging. He did not tell them about the bigger bones he’d found.”

Patience, patience, Leland told himself. I must not look too eager. Instead, he nodded politely and waited. But Hosteen Littletree had gained a rapt audience and he was ready to drag out his tale.

“You see, for many years our people, and some Hopis, have had a sacred spring about a mile and a half from the place where my brother found the little lizard. We have kept our prayer sticks there, and do not allow anyone to know where this place is. One day about two years after my brother showed the white men where the bones were, there was a big rain, not common in this area.” His paused as his wife poured him more soda.

“He had gone to check the prayer sticks. There was an alcove near the spring, and he thought he saw something different.” The old man eyed Leland intently, but he knew he needed to just smile and say nothing.

Satisfied, Mr. Littletree continued. “There was what you call it, a fossil, etched on the surface. Jaws with sharp teeth and claws, very wide. It must have been a very big creature.”

Leland whimpered softly, and Mrs. Littletree chuckled. She knew what her husband was about, and was enjoying it greatly.

“Why, those jaws were bigger than the entire little skeleton Henry had found. But he also knew, too, that those white men would be very eager to dig it up, and the spring and the shrines would be in danger. He told our headman and was ordered not to speak.”

When he didn’t speak for a moment, Leland thought it would be safe to ask a question. “What has changed, Hosteen Littletree, that you might tell me now?”

The old man sighed. “Well, everything is changing. Most of all the weather. You must know we have had unusually bad weather over the last few winters. My grandchildren tell me this is something new and dangerous. Our planet is warming. Too much carbon in the air, all the noise and pollution.”

“We were wrong as a people to allow so much industry,” Mrs. Littletree put in, shaking her head mournfully. “Look at the losses from uranium.”

Leland nodded vigorously. The Navajo Nation had paid dearly for the powerful metals that fueled the cold war and scientific “progress.”

“Three years ago, my brother knew his time was coming. He had his eldest son take him to the sacred spring,” the old man resumed. They found everything had been washed away, all the prayer sticks, and the spring had dried up. In the alcove, more bones were showing. Our medicine man came with a Hopi priest, and they proclaimed the spot was no longer sacred. We have another location, instead, not far from the ancient ones’ ruins.”

Leland supposed they were speaking of Keet Seel. He raised his eyebrows in question, for hikers could make their way to this site.

“No,” Mr. Littletree said firmly. “It is in a remote place, they cannot find easily. In a direction away from the trail.”

“Hosteen,” Leland quavered. “Are you willing now to have a white man like me look at this site?”

“Yes, my son. I am too old to take you, but my grandson Russell can lead you there. If there is to be digging, it is far enough away not to bother us, and it may bring new money and attention to the Monument.”

Leland rose from his chair. “I honor you in the memory of my father. You will have made his dream come true. Not to mention, mine.” He laughed, and stopped, stunned by the mist that flooded his eyes.

It was Mrs. Littletree who came to the rescue with a tissue and a laugh. “Now, it’s never wrong to cry when you’re happy, young man. Especially if you make your loved ones pleased.”

His old man would be vindicated. Carla would scold and cry, but she’d be happy, too. And they would be so proud that he had remembered his manners, here deep in Tsegi Canyon, so the Tyrannosaurus Rex would soon be free to roar — if only in human imagination

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