Sacred Ground

The old mule saw the figure standing on the left side of the path, stone ax in hand; so it stopped. Impatient, Zeke struck the animal using the lead-rope, trying to make it move, but it refused.

“You ornery, stubb’rn idjit! Git movin’!”

Then the figure stood in the narrow between the walls of the canyon that formed the ancient Sioux foot trail. When the mule saw the figure again, it leaned against the wall to its right, trapping Zeke and out of anger, Zeke punched the animal.

“Come on, you ol’ fool! We ain’t got all day!”

Then the figure stood behind the pair. By this time the mule was so scared he refused to move either forward or back and with no way to turn right or left, it lay down, where Zeke kicked the mule..

Then the donkey asked Zeke, “What did I do to you, that makes you treat me like this?”

“Because you’re a stubborn beast!”

That’s’ when Zeke saw the figure, who had moved back to block their way forward. Frightened, Zeke quickly turned and yanked his double-barrel shotgun out from under the canvas covering his supplies tied to the donkey’s back, and held it up towards the figure.

Unfazed by the sight of the shotgun, the figure asked, “Why do you treat your mule like that? He’s only trying to save your life!”

“From what?”

“From what’s ahead.”

Zeke flipped back the canvas covering his supplies and returned the weapon to its hiding place.

“There ain’t nothing but trail ahead. Besides this here’s a mirage and I’m hallucinatin’ because of the sun again.”

“No. There is trouble ahead.”

“Outta my way! I wanna see for myself.”

Zeke moved quickly by the figure and deeper into the narrow canyon. As he did, several Lakota arrows found their mark in the center of his chest and he toppled over dead.

The figure looked at the mule, saying, “He should have listened. After all how often does one learn their mule can speak?”

The mule answered, “Because he was the one that was stubborn, that’s why he wouldn’t listen. In spite of that and the way he treated me, I’m going to miss his companionship.”

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