It Wasn't in the Cards

Henry going on a road-trip, cashing his welfare check, packing his gym bag, walking to the Greyhound Bus Station in Queens. 

He buys an open ended ticket— good for as many miles as you could log in a month between New York State and California.

Henry didn’t know where he was going and didn’t care. He could stay high, holding a little of everything. 

Snorting heroin on the Newborn Turnpike reaching Pennsylvania, passing out as the bus sped through three states, waking up in the Chicago station. 

A Native Indian women, a true beauty with long raven colored hair—  parted in the middle leading to braids tied with strips of buckskin— sits down in the empty isle seat next to him. Introducing herself to Henry saying, “Howdy white man, I’m Winona the first daughter of Leonard Crow Dog the Lakota medicine man. I’m going to visit my daddy at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.” Henry saying, “Wow that’s a mouth full, I’m Henry, I thought most Indian folks weren’t much for talking but you break the mouth baby.” 

Winona pulls a flask from her beaded dear-skin jacket pocket, sipping some and passing it to Henry.

This is going to be a killer trip, a beautiful Indian women built like a brick shit-house, pure spirited like a young spotted pony. 

Henry taking a long pull from the flask saying, “Jack Daniels, I can tell we are going to get along doll.” He lays a few lines of cocaine on a small mirror placed on his knee, Winona goes down on the lines like a pro, snorting em up saying, “ Henry I love you, I’m so high.” 

At Midnight the bus pulls off the Iowa Turnpike for snacks and a pee stop.  

Henry and Winona go into a truck stop diner called Big Rig Paradise for a meal.They order steak and eggs, pancakes and plenty of coffee, enjoying the meal, not wanting to miss the bus. 

On the Greyhound bus heading west they snort heroin to come down, falling asleep in each others arms.

They wake up at the main bus station in Sioux Falls arriving in the mourning, getting off the bus and going to a Motel 6. 

Sleeping through the day until evening, then going out to eat and have a few drinks.

Downtown on Main Street the pair ducks into a dive called Mama’s Crowbar, sitting in a corner booth— ordering tacos, beans, rice and shots of mescal. 

Arm in arm, unable to resist each others charms, doing shots and getting drunk. 

A group of Native Indian bucks swagger into Mama’s Crowbar, Henry and Winona hidden in a booth in a dark corner. She says,“ Henry those bucks who walked in are from Pine Ridge, they aren’t going to like it if they see me with a white man.” 

One buck walks to their booth and says,”Winona what are you doing here with a white man?”She says, "I love him Otaktay," he then says, “You’re the first daughter of the great Leonard Crow Dog—either we bring the white man with you to Pine Ridge tonight or we take him into the alley, cut him up into pieces and stuff them into a garbage can like rotten buffalo meat.” 

Henry wanting to disappear, crouched under the table. 

Winona saying, “Ok take us to Motel 6 so we can get our things.” 

The bucks in a caravan of old pick-up trucks reach Motel 6 in minutes, getting the couples's bags and speeding off into the night.

Driving the back roads, secret routes that only the Lakota knew through plains and streams, reaching Pine Ridge Indian reservation that morning. The lovers delivered to Leonard Crow Dog’s compound, a group of mobile homes circled like Conestoga covered wagons.

Winona’s mother Enola hugging her and asking,” Who is the white man? He is in danger here, get him inside.” 

Winona saying, "He is Henry mother and I love him." 

Enola takes them to a trailer and they go inside, Henry face to face with the great Leonard Crow Dog, laying with his shirt off on a sofa watching F Troop re-runs on TV saying, “Winona my first daughter I see you brought the white man, Eats Own Words to meet your father.” Looking at Henry saying “Eats Own Words, the blue belly soldiers on TV make me laugh, I think your great great grandfather was a blue belly soldier whose name was Sends Mixed Signals“

Enola says to Henry, “Eats Own Words and Winona will do a sweat lodge to get cleansed before their wedding when the sun breaks.”

Henry wondering what time "When the sun breaks was?"

Enola taking Henry and Winona to a tee-pee that will be their home after the wedding, Henry thinking a hundred miles an hour planning his escape.  

The couple alone in their tee-pee, Henry and Winona snorting heroin, passing out. Henry waking at 3AM, digging a hole in the dirt under the back flap of the tee-pee, crawling through the hole to get out, going to a pick up parked near by, opening the door seeing that the keys were in the ignition. Henry looking up and thanking the Great Spirit.

Off in a flash, driving into the night, driving in the opposite direction of the moon, reaching the highway and following the road signs to Sioux City. 

Leaving the pick up truck at the bus station and using his open ended ticket to get to New York City. 

As much as Henry loved Winona he knew life on Pine Ridge Reservation, living in a tee-pee, eating fried bread and beans... 

Wasn’t in the cards...  

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