We camped on a low bluff overlooking the river a mile or two from our homes. The “three amigos” were eleven or twelve and the outing was our first time camping alone. The leashes were off. We had been hard at work. Our canvas-covered lean-to was in place held steady with freshly cut green saplings. Bedrolls were laid out, rocks placed in a circle for the campfire later and the wood to feed it gathered and stacked. Our intentions were to catch fish then clean and roast them over our campfire. Just in case we were well provisioned with Vienna sausages, Deviled Ham, and soda crackers. Danny had snuck out a pack of his daddy’s Viceroys from its carton and Charlie a deck of his mother’s canasta cards.
We fished with our cane poles until the sun dipped behind the tall water oaks on the western side of the river before giving up our culinary ideas. Instead, we would dine on cold Vienna’s and warm soft drinks. As darkness fell we lit off our campfire, lit up our after-dinner Viceroys and toasted our first step toward adulthood with bottles of Orange Crush. With the dark surrounding our campfire, our talk involved girls and the ones we would most like to sleep with as if we knew what “sleeping with a girl” entailed. Later we would combine poker with our girl talk.
As late night turned to early morning and the full moon rose above our heads, our conversation turned to ghost stories and tales of particularly graphic murder scenes until one by one we nodded off.
I thought I was awake, opening my eyes to the shadows cast by the bright full moon now chasing the unseen sun to our west. Swirls of fog rose from the ground and began to take on the shapes of men, clad in animal skins, with spears and warclubs facing off against each other. Somehow, I knew I was safe, these ghostly forms were not here for me. I began to hear their yells and the grunts of their effort, some of the yells turning into howls of pain as a spear point or clubhead found it’s mark. The battle was close in and personal. Blood stained both the victor and vanquished.
I turned to see if Charlie and Danny were seeing the battle and instead found myself awake and my vision blinded by the rising sun. As quickly as the warriors had come, they had disappeared. I never told Charlie and Danny what I had seen. I feared their ridicule. I did tell my Native American grandmother, someone who would never ridicule me.
I told Nannie my story and asked, “Nannie, what did it all mean? It was so real. I could hear their screams and smell the blood being spilled onto the ground.”
“It means nothing, yet means everything Jethro. Your forefathers fought for control of the land and the trading routes along the river. In some cases, they fought each other. Deaths were violent and released great energy. Sometimes the spirits come back attempting to find their way to the ‘light.’ You are not the first one to see the great battles but only those with the ‘sight’ can see it. Your great, great grandfather was a great medicine man. He controlled great magic, you may follow in his footsteps.”
Thirty years would pass before I thought about my dream and the conversation with my grandmother. I would not think about it until Olivia began to sit at the foot of my bed.
Excerpt from the adventure romance with ghostly overtones, OLIVIA by Don Miller. Please visit his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM