Taos: A Novel
by Lydia Nolan
© September 9, 2012
Prologue: A By-stander’s Observation
This is a story about a journey. A journey from darkness to light. A journey from innocence to wisdom after knowledge and understanding is experienced. It can be harrowing, but it can also be rewarding, because this is human progress and evolution: to become one fully.
Many things must be realized before we can finally find ourselves. There are roots, and then there are wings, but only when we understand all the in between—do we fly.
“Get back here, ya’fuckin’ whore!’ The man was drunk. He tore at the woman’s long hair, pulling her back into the house as she tried to escape out of the front door.
“Run girls, run!” She screamed while she was hurled back into the living room. Two very small girls who were too young and frightened to know how to escape their father, tried to run out the front screen door only to be blocked and have the hefty wooden door slammed in front of them.
“David, stop, PLEASE! Let the girls go, I need help! I’m going to have this baby any minute…” The man wound her hair around his fist and slung her back further into the living room, cracking her head against the kitchen doorway, blood trickling from her nose and eye.
Bear Woman was in excruciating pain with labor pains. She was full term. The blood flowing in her brow gushed into her face. She persisted without remedy.
“Girls, GO! Get help from…”
The two little girls tried to run past him again, but he stopped them both, again. He grabbed each of their arms, slinging them across the room onto the davenport. The younger of the two began to scream like bloody murder. The elder of the two tried alone again, narrowing her eyes and growling at her father, running into his stomach. He laughed and slapped her face, then she too, began to scream and wail.
“Don’t give me your mother’s looks!”
“David, PLEASE! Don’t hurt them, please… Help me, I need help.” Her eye and nose began to swell.
The man was distracted by his wife’s groans, and seemed to register for the first time, the trouble she was experiencing. But his compassion was shortlived.
“Oh. You need my help now, do you? Okay.” He picked up his wife and lay her almost compassionately on the bed. While doing this, the elder girl ran out the door. The little one followed her now.
The drunken husband, David, laid his wife down and stared at her long and hard, as she was groaning and sniveling with tears of pain and eyes of longing for mercy.
“Please David, let the women help me, I cannot have this child alone—there’s something wrong….”
“You managed to have the child all alone, didn’t you, Mother of God? While I was missing in action on the other side of the world—did you have mercy for me? No!”
“I didn’t know you were alive, David, I thought you were dead!” She heaved and groaned, passing through another delivery pain. “David, please forgive me.”
“And that was how you grieved? By fucking another man? And what about that fuckin’ coward, where is he now?”
There was a knock at the door, and a few women from the reservation stood outside, one with a baby in her arms. The little girls had been crying outside while the women gathered there, calling out to Bear Woman:
“Let us in, we wanna help! Bear Woman, are you okay?”
“Shut up!” He yelled at them. “What do you want!” He ran out of the bedroom and opened the heavy wooden door, peering out.
“We wanna help, Bear Woman needs us, she called for us.”
“Who told you that load ‘a crap, all she needs is her husband, all she needs is me!!”
The women remained quiet. They were focused on the signals they were receiving from his parents who were outside at the street, they had retrieved the two little girls. They also heard Bear woman’s grunts, wailing and whimpering.
The two little girls had run off while David took Bear Woman to the bed. They had called the women to help their mother, and one of the women called their grandparents immediately as instructed by Bear Woman the day before. Then they drove up all the way from Boise, Idaho.
It looked like the little girls would be safe now, by their grandparents. They would be alright. The grandfather seemed bereaved but careful not to enter the house. He stepped out from his car and waited to see if the women would be allowed into the house.
“David, please,” Bear Woman called out again, “let them come in, I need them, I’m bleeding, I need…”
“I need my rifle,” David snickered at the whole scene. “I’ll see to it they are treated properly, alright. I’m sure they all know your boyfriend, too…”
He went to retrieve his rifle in the gun case, in which there were many arms. He grabbed his favorite hunting rifle and cocked it, then headed for the door, pushed out the screen, and aimed at the women with it.
“Now get out before I send all you Indian whores to hell!” The women ran as fast as they could, wailing with anxiety. Then, David saw his father.
“What do you want, old man?”
“You told me to come and get the girls, didn’t you? Well, I’ve come for them…”
“Have you got them?”
“Yes, I have got them, Son… Son, please, let’s…”
“Then, get the fucking hell outta here, ‘Ol Man!”
“Davie, listen… Where’s your wife? Where’s Bear Woman?”
“Don’t call her that!”
“Okay, son, but where—where is she?”
“She’s dead, and so’s the baby.”
The grandmother in the car gasped and began to lament: “Davie! Oh my son! What’s happened!” She rattled and wailed, and lamented without comfort except for holding her two little granddaughters, who were sniveling with desperation, calling out to their mother.
With that, the grandfather shivered, then jumped back into the car. The grandmother put the little girls, both crying in the back seat, strapped them in, and then they were gone in the split of a second.
“That’s it.” David whispered to himself. “It’s over now.”
There were beads of sweat dripping into his eyes as well as bitter tears that fed his lips. He started to cry, sniffed some, then lowered his gun, exhausted from the whole scene.
The women had already scattered and run away. When the disheveled man returned from the front door, he remembered the reason he was there. He went back into the room. There she begged for her life, and for mercy, but instead he proceeded to slap, punch, and shove her off the bed.
“What kind of woman fucks around while her husband is fighting for our country in Viet Nam? You can deliver that bastard kid yourself, since you decided to have it by yourself, right? Sure. Get on with it!”