THE MEDICINE MAN, HIS LOVELY DAUGHTER & NUTMEG
[What follows is adapted from and enlarges upon the actual preface to RSVP: Invitation to an Alchuklesh Massacre. It includes more of the backstory of the author's early years. I hope you enjoy it.]
* * *
Once, when I was just twenty and fresh out of the military, the opportunity of being Tribal Historian for a confederacy of Indian tribes fell in my lap. I was to travel the U.S. with an itinerant medicine man and his gorgeous teenage daughter. The first time I saw her, I gazed upon a bronze tan covering her sleek body. She wore a short buckskin skirt and had jet black hair, sporting two braids with an actual feather, for God’s sake, tethered to each.
She smelled faintly of nutmeg and romance.
I was to accompany them to the various reservations across the U.S., compiling mountains of notes while learning—as the medicine man promised I would learn—the true story of the American Indian. Later I would document it all for posterity.
All I had to do was go home and pack, dole out my goodbyes and return in one week.
But, I was a lad of twenty and my mother had something to tell me:
“They will kill you and steal your money,” she argued. Fact was I had no money. They’d have found that out soon enough. What I did have was the promise of sixty or seventy more years in my bag of life … unless said bag was wantonly emptied and its contents strewn along some lonely road by these two peripatetic miscreants.
* * *
At this point, how many readers are asking, “Why would you listen to her?” And, really, had I heeded, instead, my youthful exuberance, and embraced the future, I actually just might have compiled that gargantuan history. Who knows? And, in the process I might have risen to undreamt-of heights of spiritual awareness. Then too, how about all those romantic detours from which I would emerge smelling faintly of nutmeg?
As I think about it, the real question I should ask is: “Why did I allow her fears to lodge themselves so snugly in my soul that they would reverberate there at least once more while I was still relatively young?
Fast forward five years:
* * *
I was living the bohemian lifestyle in Los Angeles, in a communal house I shared with three others. Every day was an adventure in which we guzzled cheap wine from gallon jugs, argued heatedly over the placement of a comma and dreamt out loud. It was a damned good life!
I don’t know who came up with the notion—I think it was Joe—that we should buy bikes and ride from California to New York. I’m sure each immediately rejected the idea in his own private mind, but it nestled like a grain of sand in the oyster of my brain. Over the next few days while they were working, going on their dates and engaging in drinking and partying, my tiny grain of sand quietly grew to a precious pearl. Call it the pearl of thrilling possibilities.
When I announced to the group that I would be buying my bike the next morning and would begin my adventure in two days, they met it with stunned silence. But, soon after, they cheered and assured me that if they didn’t have their damned jobs, they would certainly join me. Secretly I felt a touch of superiority.
However, that night I felt something more. Something powerful, compelling, sinister. The pearl had settled in the pit of my stomach where it transformed and grew to the size and heft of a cannonball while I lay there staring at the ceiling. Call it the dread of the unknown. Call it the powerful undertow from the past. Call it …
”A truck will run you over.”…
”Nah, ma, I’m gonna be careful.”
”You’ll get a flat in the middle of nowhere.”
”I’ll fix it!”
”You won’t. You don’t know how. It’ll be cold and rainy, your socks will be soggy … and you won’t … know … how!”
Next morning, while the others were at work, I was on a bus back to Santa Maria.
* * *
That I didn’t go with the Indian and his daughter in the first place—That was one of my major regrets … But, it might go far to explain my interest in the history, the myth and above all, the romance of the American Indian.
Lest we forget, RSVP: INVITATION to an ALCHUKLESH MASSACRE is first and foremost a novel—a tale, whose telling meanders at times on that magical landscape where history, myth and legend meld. So, for any reader who is also a historian of the Chumash People, just relax and enjoy it for what it is. You may, if you wish, interrupt your reading now and again with: “It is just fiction. It is not history. It is just a story.”
Because that is all it purports to be.
* * *
And… now the promised Stats:
For “RSVP …”
Total Books Given away End of 1st day: 12
Ranking in Kindle Free Books end of 1st day (12 midnight): # [no info available]
For “THE GREATEST …”
Total Books Given away End of 2nd day: 144
Ranking in Kindle Free Books end of 2nd day (12 midnight): #2,828
Ranking in Kindle Free Short Story Collections end of 2nd day (12 midnight): #42
I suppose it would be sophisticated, cool, and, well … adult to let these figures squirm on the page without further comment, but no one ever accused me of having any of those attributes. Midway through the two book Promo, to say I am disappointed is an understatement.
I know that a three day promo for two books should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint, but yesterday’s first day for RSVP: INVITATION to an ALCHUKLESH MASSACRE started out not as a speedwalk, not even a regular walk, but a freakin’ stroll … and at that it hit the wall at one-half mile! Twelve! Given away! FREE !… at the end of the first day! I’m horrified that someone might return his free book and I’ll end up at eleven!
But, enough wallowing. Deep breath, Jay, deeeeeep cleansing breath! This is the last day for THE GREATEST short STORY[ies] [I've] EVER TOLD. I’d love to see a push on this, particularly in the Short Story Collection Ranking. To bring it from #42 to #10 in the Kindle ranking could translate to further actual dollar sales after the promo ends! And that’s all done by getting your free copy!
So, I’m asking all of you who’ve read this far … if you haven’t grabbed your free copies of both these books, please shoot over to Amazon now and do the deed! You’re eBook bag can never be too full! Get them now. Read them later. It means a lot to me. If you’ve already got yours, geez! Thanks, humbly! But, if you haven’t — or you just remembered a family member or friend … Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/12u5UeH
Thank you dear friends and followers. See you at the blackboard tomorrow.
Love you all dearly,
From → The Writer's Life