Grey Deer

John Grey Deer  surveyed the reserve. It had taken him four days and as many nights to drag his old bones to the top of this pinnacle but the view was worth it.

Refusing to pay attention to his complaining joints he calmly unrolled a red and brown woolen mat, as ancient as him and,  looking at the setting sun far off into the distance, sat down and lit his pipe. 

“You’ve come a long way to die old one.”- the voice sounded like boulders crumbling. Grey Deer took a long puff from his pipe before slowly turning round to face a very stern looking buzzard.

“You have no sense of tact, do you Mosau’u?”

The Death Spirit ruffled his feathers. “I thought I’d dress up for the occasion.” The voice seemed to come from an underground cave beneath the great bird.

Grey deer held the creature’s gaze. “But first, I have a request.”

“I know what you want Masichuvio and the answer is no. Little Tiponi’s time is due. I shall visit her after you.”

“You call me by my Hopi name, you listen to me!” The old man raised his voice slightly. “…or I will refuse to die.”

“That is unacceptable, the other gods will never allow it!” the underground boulders churned.

“Chrome poisoning is not natural, you must tell them her time isn’t due!”

“Only a warrior who completes an impossible task can postpone someone’s death and that’s final.” The spirit of death punctuated with a loud sqwawk.

Grey Deer stood up with surprising agility and faced Mosau’u, nose to beak. “Then give me a task now.”

The buzzard leapt back with a flap of wings. “Now?” Mosau’u looked around at the bare sandy top of the rocky pinnacle. He slowly turned his beak back to the old warrior with a new gleam in his eye.

“Very well, Masichuvio. Walk off this peak without falling. If you succeed, little Tiponi lives, if you fail…well you know what happens next.” The buzzard’s talons scraped the soil in anticipation.

“Walk off this?” the old man said, carefully making his way to the edge of the drop.

“Yes,” the rumble managed to sound gleeful.

“All right…” Grey Deer took a few steps out and turned around, suspended in mid-air, grinning.

“NO! That is impossible! Only spirits can-“

“Look behind you Mosau’u,” the old man said. The buzzard spun around and there, on the ancient mat, John Grey Deer’s body was still sitting and peacefully smiling at the horizon, a thin twirl of smoke could be seen, coming from the pipe resting in his lifeless hand.

“I think you should be the one to tell the other gods,” said Grey Deer’s spirit, “I’ll make an appearance at Tiponi’s house tonight. Enjoy your meal “

With a victorious warrior’s whoop, the old man disappeared, leaving the buzzard alone. Mosau’u stood gazing balefully at the dead man, all hunger gone. “Ahul and the others will be furious at this news,” the death spirit groaned and flew away, leaving the old smiling man’s body intact.

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