Wild Western: The Legend of Johnny Smokers #3

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Edited By cbishop

RANKED 1st BY VOTERS IN CHARACTER CREATION CONTEST #24!

DateThe Legend of Johnny Smokers #3ViewRead the...
04/09/15Two Rivers(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanationLast Issue:
TNot so much violence- guns, knives, teeth or clawsStranger in the Storm

He woke with a start in the teepee, but a hand, old but firm, rested on his good shoulder before he could attempt to sit up. Johnny looked at the hand and followed the arm up to the face of its owner, the shaman Two Rivers- so called because his people say two rivers run through him: his own spirit, and the Great Spirit. Right or wrong, he was one of the wisest men Johnny knew. Right now though, he had a stony look of pain, calm, and angry contemplation that only Indians seem able to master. The old man pressed Johnny’s shoulder one more time, silently telling him to lie still, then said, “It has been many moons, Johnny Smokers.”

Johnny winced, then smiled lightly. His last name was Smuckers, but the old Indian had always said it “Smokers,” and Johnny loved the man’s daughter too much to insult him by correcting him. He could barely look at him now, sure that Maria’s brothers had told him how she died. Johnny expected death, and had no doubt that this man could deliver it. Eyes closed, he started carefully, “Two Rivers…I…”

“I told you that death would find my daughter Running Rivers if you took her as your wife, and here we are,” the shaman said in a voice that rasped like dry leaves. “I gave her up to the Great Spirit when she accepted you as her husband despite my warnings,” he continued. “My anger over her death was spent many winters ago. You need not fear for your life here, Johnny Smokers,” he said knowingly. “For how can I kill you when all that is left of Running Rivers now runs in you alone?” Pressing two fingers over Johnny’s heart, Two Rivers said, “Bound together by the Great Spirit, the river of her spirit now runs in you.”

Now it was Johnny’s turn to look pained. He squeezed his eyes shut tight, and placed his right hand over Two Rivers’. The old man did not flinch from his touch, and after a minute, Johnny said, “Thank you, Two Rivers.”

The old shaman smiled, and stood to leave. “You are welcome, Johnny Smokers.”

Then another thought came to Johnny. “Two Rivers?”

The old shaman stopped at the entrance to the wigwam, his hand resting on the hide wall.

“If the river of her spirit runs through me, does that mean that the river of her mother’s spirit runs through you?”

He looked over his shoulder with that mix of pain and calm, but no anger, gave the briefest hint of a smile and a slow nod.

Johnny smiled back, “Then with the Great Spirit, shouldn’t that make you Three Rivers?”

The old man smiled more definitely now as he turned around fully. Bringing his index fingers together as he walked back to Johnny, he said, “When Mourning Mist and I were joined, our rivers ran together.” He moved the joined fingers in front of him in a wavy fashion, indicating the movements of water. “Once two rivers run together, how do you tell which river the water came from?” Holding the two fingers up together, he twisted his right hand closed, and rolled the left over backwards, now holding the index finger and middle finger up together. “So those two rivers,” he said, folding the middle finger down and turning the index finger back forwards to Johnny, “now become one.” He smiled. “So with the river of the Great Spirit,” he said holding up the other index finger again, “Two Rivers,” he finished.

Johnny nodded slowly, but looked confused. “Then…shouldn’t the Great Spirit run together with you too? Shouldn’t you be One River?”

Two Rivers looked at Johnny with a smile and said, “One does not join with the Great Spirit until they pass from this world, Johnny Smokers. The best we can hope for until then is to run alongside, and drink from his waters.” Leaning towards Johnny with a gleam in his eyes, he held up two fingers again and said, “So Two Rivers,” and laughed lightly, Johnny laughing weakly with him. Patting the man on the shoulder lightly, he decided to sit next to him again and said, “Now rest. We shall talk more when you wake.”

“Tomorrow then,” replied Johnny.

“I did not say tomorrow,” answered Two Rivers.

Johnny worried at that, but soon closed his eyes to sleep. He dreamed terrible dreams of wolves that stood like men, his wife screaming, and a river in which he found peace and safety, because the wolves could not cross it.

***

When Johnny woke, his shoulder felt better, but he was stiff as a board, and his mouth was dry. Two Rivers still sat beside him. The shaman held a small bowl of water to his lips, he drank, and once the pain from swallowing subsided, he asked, “How long was I sleeping?”

“The fever from your wound took you, and you slept a sleep like death for a moon.”

Johnny thought for a second, repeating, “A moon,” then started with shock as he said, “A month? I’ve been asleep for a month?” He tried to sit up, but Two Rivers put a hand to his shoulder, just as he had done a month ago, and he laid back.

“Yes, and while you slept, Coyote came looking for his knife,” answered Two Rivers. He held the gleaming blade up for Johnny to see and smiled. “We did not let him have it.”

Johnny studied the blade and asked, “Why does that and the arrows of Maria’s bro…” He caught Two Rivers’ scowl and corrected himself, “Running Rivers’ brothers killed a wolf man with arrows, but I emptied my guns into them, and they just got back up.”

Two Rivers turned the blade over in his palm, and holding it up again, he said, “Silver can kill them. I do not know why, but we found much of it in the cave at the foot of the mountain, and we use it to make our arrowheads, our knives, and to tip our javelins. We ran Coyote off with them, as we have done many times.” The shaman studied the knife for a moment before placing it on the ground before him. Johnny could tell that something else was coming, so he waited.

Next Issue: Where All Rivers Run.-
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbOriginally Presented In: CCC #24.
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#1  Edited By cbishop
Read more Wild Western:Wild Western Roundup
OC Names:
CharactersObjects
  • Coyote*
  • Great Spirit
  • Mourning Mist (deceased)
  • Smokers, Johnny (Smuckers, Johnny)
  • Smuckers, Maria (Running Rivers) (deceasd)
  • Two Rivers
  • Coyote's Knife
*Public Domain names can be used in an OC capacity.
Comic Characters used in this fic:
CompanyCharactersLocationsTeams
Non-Fiction:
  • -
  • -
Public Domain
  • -
.Full Fan-Fic Index. (My library of fics)

Thanks for stopping in! :^D

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#2  Edited By cbishop

tbe

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#3  Edited By batkevin74

@cbishop: Seriously this echoes my upcoming chapter of Red Fog, editing I go

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@batkevin74: I had noticed a similarity in this scene with Two Rivers, and your initial scene with Morgan and his aunt. You stayed with it once they left the teepee though. I glossed over the next two weeks with a time jump. You got more characterization out of it. :)

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@dngn4774: Also, you are one of a few who read this chapter apparently - it's only gotten like half the views of the other three. Can't figure that out. I mean...the third chapter? Hokay. ;}

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@cbishop said:

@dngn4774: Also, you are one of a few who read this chapter apparently - it's only gotten like half the views of the other three. Can't figure that out. I mean...the third chapter? Hokay. ;}

This chapter is noticeably more allegorical than the others, so it might fly over some readers's heads. The dialogue itself (particularly the conversation about the meaning behind Two Rivers' name) feels like a back in forth that a user would have with the OP, if that makes any sense.

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@dngn4774: I started to just write Two Rivers' dialogue, with no description of the hand/finger gestures, but I really wanted the hand gestures in there. I was worried about it slowing things down and confusing the reader.

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@cbishop:

I like Two Rivers explanation. And his character.

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@wildvine said:

@cbishop: I like Two Rivers explanation. And his character.

I was surprised to find myself having a lot of fun writing Two Rivers. I knew a shaman was essential to Johnny Smokers' origin, but I had no idea he was going to be like Two Rivers. I guess I hadn't really planned to humanize any of the Indian characters, because it's not like I know what Native American life was like, and the social workings of tribes and all that. So I had planned to write it in-and-out: Johnny's involvement with Coyote draws the tribe's attention, the shaman does what he needs to do and says what he has to say, and Johnny moves on. All the shaman was really needed for was the warning about the gun and knife, so that was all I was planning on. <sigh>

But then I had questions: why would the tribe be around to know JS had any interaction with Coyote? Why would they bother to help JS? Why would the shaman take an interest? How do I get JS to the tribe? On the other end of all that was: what's Coyote's problem with JS? Is it random? If not, then what? And no matter what the problem is, how do I make it serious enough to sustain a "Western legend" type of story? So it became the love triangle. That'll keep it going! :)

So it evolved as I wrote it. When I first said Maria's brothers had helped with the herd, they and Maria were white. In fact, they were white right up to the point that I realized there were four werewolves there that JS could not realistically get away from, so he needs help, so enter Graycloud, who also realistically is only going to be help against one wolf, not all four. So now I need outside help, and so enter the Indians who know how to defeat Coyote. But Johnny's still going down in this fight, so how do I get him to the tribe? Bam, the Indians are Maria's brothers, and she's a Native American wife.

From there, it didn't take long to realize that the shaman's interest could have simply been that JS was involved with the supernatural Coyote, but it would be stronger if Maria were his daughter. Once I realized that, I had to think about how the shaman would feel about losing his daughter in so horrible a manner. I needed him to not be pissed off with JS, because he fulfills an important part of JS's origin that he probably wouldn't do if he were ticked. So the only way to get around that was that he had dealt with the anger already, and so the wise man really came out. lol

Like I said, he was a lot of fun to write. :)

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#12  Edited By Wim_Garnet

Far from slowing down the section, the hand gestures really made it work. An inventive way to make something spiritual into something visual for the reader. Nice!

Was werewolf lore less well known in American culture in the 19th century? The thing about silver feels like one of those things that "everyone knows."

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@wim_garnet: ha! Good question. I honestly don't know. I came at it like it was something unknown. I'll have to check into that.

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