By Maggie Fuller
He was a short, stocky middle-aged man with generic features and coloring. His once reddish hair had turned gray throughout. He could have been anyone but he was someone they called Crazy Dog.
The night was more interesting than the man. The air was heavy with all that an impending storm lends to the senses. No moon. Not an owl to screech or call. No stars to see. A slight warmth from the ground rose around the ankles but the upper air was cool and damp – shoulder-shivering damp. Angry, drunken, crying sounds from a party rang across the way to the river and its bridge where Crazy Dog had run alone to shriek his grief.
Crazy Dog was a violent man. He was anybody’s worst nightmare if he’d been drinking. He was no one’s friend. He was mean through and through. He was one of many like that – one of many young and old and aging Indians who ran in a circle that ran into the ground. He used to say that the Red Road was a hard road. He’d tried to walk in the traditional ways but he believed more in fear – fear of his white half, his father’s half, than in any Indian man or way.
All his life he had been told by elders that he would die by drowning. He was thinking only tonight of how he might die by hanging. He thought of Wakan Tanka – the Creator – and tried to pull the song, any song, even a Sun Dance song into the fore of his mind to save himself, but he could not. He knew he had done too much that was wrong. He knew he was wrong from the beginning. When he was eight years old, an elder called him a girl. He flinched at the memory of all the others laughing at that joke.
Crazy Dog tried to hang himself but slipped while climbing up on the wooden bridge rail, fell into the river and drowned. The river rushed on. An owl may have called. Maybe the midnight sky cleared and the stars reappeared. Maybe the air warmed and dried. Maybe the Creator paused for a moment to notice Crazy Dog pass along in the river to be caught and held by a sunken tree root.
He could have been anyone but he was Crazy Dog, who died by drowning, alone in the deep and quiet of night.
Copyright Fuller 2016