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Rez Dogs and Scooter Trash

By Deirdre O'Dare

Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

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Copyright 2018 Deirdre O’Dare

ISBN 9781634867092

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs |

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All rights reserved.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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This one is for Marti and her “Rez Dogs” who gave me part of the idea. It's also for a fallen soldier in Iraq whose mother went to great lengths to get a pup he'd been playing with the night before he was killed. Too many good men and women and too many good dogs have come to sad ends. I wanted a happy ending for some, at least in my mind and heart, and that's why I told this tale.

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Rez Dogs and Scooter Trash

By Deirdre O'Dare

Chapter 1

NM State Highway 164

Mid-afternoon, late winter

Sometimes a man just had to ride—fast and far. The bad part was you couldn’t outrun those damned demons, no matter how fast or far you went. Memories, mistakes, and missed chances always rode right along. In the end, all you could do was say fuck it and keep on keeping on.

Adam Bolt, Navajo and Kiowa, veteran and rebel, knew he’d missed his era. He should have lived about 1850 when his steed would have been a ragged but tough mustang stallion, one he’d walked down in the wild and tamed himself. He’d be a solitary warrior, someone they told kids stories about at night…cautionary tales to the boys and warnings to the girls. Wild stallions were hard to find in 2012, though, so he rode his Harley instead. With the custom paint job he’d done on the scooter, it never disappeared in the crowd, and by now most folks on the Rez knew who just blew past them.

The biting wind whipped his hair, tearing it free from the braid hanging down his back. It had been one hell of a fight, but somehow he managed not to cut his hair, even when he joined the National Guard and went to the Middle East. Claiming religious freedom finally won the day. In the end, though, it was a pyrrhic victory. He’d served out his six-year enlistment and made a fast exit, but the rebel and troublemaker label would likely follow him until doomsday.

Even behind his mirrored sunglasses, the same wind stung tears from his eyes. There’d be a storm by nightfall. Maybe this one would bring some much-needed moisture. They didn’t call the reservation area high desert for nothing. Although it could get plenty cold, mostly it stayed very dry.

In the back of his mind, a voice much like his mother’s chided him, ordering him to slow down and put his helmet back on before he crashed and cracked his skull.

Do I look like I give a flying fuck? If they have to come and scrape me off the road in an hour or two, who’s left to care?

From what he’d heard, a roach or a snort of dream dust could make him feel all better. Even a bottle of cheap wine might help, but he refused to surrender his soul to drink and drugs. In the end, those demons would be even worse. For now, he’d wrestle with the ones he’d earned and owned, letting alone the kind that sneaked in on the shadows of a brief respite.

Near sundown, he turned off the highway onto a narrow, dusty double track. It led him a couple of miles to the little house crouched under the sheltering bulwark of an eroded, rusty-hued cliff. The place wasn’t much, but it was home, a safe den to return to, lonely but totally his.

He wheeled the bike under a brush-roofed shelter, kicked down the stand and then threw an old tarp over it. On his way across to the door of his house, he passed the faded, rusty Chevy pickup. It had once been his grandfather’s. On the dented bumper a newer sticker boasted, My other car’s a Harley. What’s yours? He slapped the left rear fender, much as he would the haunch of a horse he’d turned loose.

After a second’s pause, he continued to the never-locked front, back and only door into the house—a house he’d designed and built himself. It stood near the site of the crumbling hogan in which he’d grown up. That ruin held many ghosts, even tchindis, but he didn’t fear such lingering spirits. If he left them alone, mostly they’d leave him alone. His personal demons were newer and held little trace of the local haunts.

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Not long afterward, across the Navajo Reservation to the south, in Gallup, New Mexico, Michael Dufrane drove his battered van into the Motel 6 parking lot and stopped across from the door marked Office. In the lot’s circle of light, he saw the first swirling flakes of snow, borne on a biting northwest wind. Although he knew he must be thrifty with the foundation’s funds, the van was loaded to the gills with gear he’d need to begin his project. And it was getting cold. The heater didn’t always work and he would not want to leave it running all night anyway. Sleeping on the ground tonight didn’t look feasible and trying to drive much farther didn’t either. But with any luck, tomorrow he’d be there.

He’d finally found his passion. For his first eighteen years, his sole purpose had been escape—from poverty, from an abusive biker father who came and went, and from the hurtful labels like trailer trash and, even worse, slurs directed at his racially mixed ancestry. He’d managed to get into the army right after 9-11, the first step in his get-away. In Afghanistan, he’d encountered representatives of the International Foundation for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (IFPCA). In their quiet but determined way, they’d been fighting right alongside the troops, rescuing dogs and occasionally other creatures caught up in the storms of war. When he helped rescue a puppy for the family of a fallen buddy, it all started to come together, although the seed lay dormant for some time.

The idea, buried deep in his soul, emerged once he’d completed his enlistment and recognized military life was not right for him as a career. He wanted to do visible good, not kill or repeat the violence he’d always known. He could readily identify with abandoned animals, and those neglected or actually abused. Been there and done that. A child was almost as helpless as a dog or cat in the face of cruel treatment. Although the search had taken some time, he’d finally found and met with people responsible for operating the IFPCA. He’d even convinced them he could work for them.

After he saw a TV special about dogs on the western reservations, where poverty, disease, drugs, and alcohol took their toll on almost everyone, his goal zoomed into focus. It might not be a huge thing, but he knew he could help. Opening the shelter in Black Gap, New Mexico would be the first step. Tomorrow. He felt the magic in the concept: future, purpose, progress, even power in the ability to make a difference. Safe and snug in the simple room, he slept hard but well, free of the nightmares he often suffered, where brutality and violence painted everything in shades of red.

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The next day, Adam went to work as usual. He knew he should probably leave the motorcycle home and drive the old truck, but the storm had blown past, leaving only a trace of snow, so the roads were not too bad. Although he was supposed to set a positive example for a bunch of kids, many of whom were already starting down wrong paths, he could not equate motorcycle to bad-ass, even though he knew most did. He believed intensely in what he was trying to do, but some things were just too big a sacrifice. Even if some called him “scooter trash,” he could still help these boys avoid his kid brother’s fate and maybe fight some prejudices at the same time.

He’d been off with the army when Randy started down that dangerous way of gangs and drugs. The kid got in with a bad crowd, started drinking, and doing MJ before going on to worse drugs and then…Adam had to shut off that memory before he lost his focus. Hurt too fuckin’ much—still. Nothing would bring Randy back. The only way Adam could atone for not being there when his baby brother needed a firm hand was to turn lives around for all the other kids he could reach.

As he slowed to turn down the lane to reach the Grey Hills boys and girls club, he pulled in behind a beat-up van with out-of-state plates and stickers all over the back. Apparently saving stuff was the driver’s thing—whales and polar bears and the usual plea to spay and neuter. Adam appreciated some but not all of the sentiments expressed. Sometimes he felt the world held too fuckin’ many do-gooders. He did not think of himself in that light at all. He was a native working with his own tribe, not an outsider, after all.

A blasting horn very close behind him gave the only warning before a monster truck hurtled past—even though Adam had his turn signal flashing. The old van swerved, the driver clearly caught by surprise. For an instant, Adam held his breath, sure he’d see a crash, but the truck blew on by and the van steadied.

Even though it was too late, Adam threw a finger at the speeding truck. Motorcycles got little love from most drivers, but this was a town, whether it looked like one or not. There could be livestock, kids, drunks, or oldsters driving really slowly at any turn. They’d be hard to miss if you were going too fast. Just last month he’d lost a cousin to such an accident. Sure, Joe had been drunk and maybe stoned, walking down the white line so as not to get lost, or so he’d always said. He’d done it a hundred times before, but this time was one too many. The car that hit him had not even stopped and no one saw the accident.

Adam exhaled a long hard breath. Get a grip, he told himself. There’s a lot to be mad about, but just being mad doesn’t fix any of it. He made the turn and bumped down the dusty road to the steel building sitting in a barren patch of sandy ground. He and the five other directors of the youth center project had dismantled the former feed store barn and rebuilt it here since Christmas. In a few weeks, they’d start some landscaping to soften the structure’s boxy lines, lay out baseball diamonds and maybe a football field, put up some basketball goals. Rez kids really liked basketball.

He had no idea where the money would come from, but somehow they would find it. He’d said he’d get it if he had to take a gun and go rob the casino, speaking only half in jest. Other than sell his scooter, there wasn’t much he would not do for this cause.

As soon as he stepped through the door, he saw Josie Benally. She served as the Gal Friday for the project and had a stake in the game similar to his. Only it had been her son…It didn’t take a psychic to see she’d been crying and had probably hardly slept last night.

He paused, thinking a quick prayer for calm before he approached her desk. “Joz, what’s wrong?”

She swallowed and sniffed before speaking. “They busted Bobby last night. Meth. I thought we’d reached him, helped him. Now this.”

Bobby was one of their special charges. He’d lost his dad in Iraq two years ago, another unlucky member of the New Mexico National Guard. His mother had begun a drastic slip into alcoholism after that, and Bobby, then twelve, was left pretty much on his own. Such kids were fair game for the gangs.

“Fuckin’ shit! Not Bobby! He’s been clean for six months.” Adam swallowed the sour bile of defeat. “Damn the filthy scumbags pushing this poison on our kids. We’ve gotta get them all behind bars. I’d never make a cop, but right now…” He laid a hand gently on Josie’s shoulder. The Dineh were not touchy-feely type people, and Adam less so than most, but sometimes that was the only way to tell someone you shared their anguish.

“At least he didn’t OD. We can work with live kids, even if they’re in deep shit. Let me get on the phone and see if I can get him out of the hoosegow and fostered with me for now. Any other great news?”

“Somebody rented the old Dollar Store building, the one we thought we might get for a computer lab for the Youth Center. Some out-of-town group with a long fancy name and an acronym. Maybelle Tsosie heard it from her cousin who works in the real estate office.”

He shook his head and snorted as he headed on toward the partitioned cubicle that served as his office. “Maybe a blessing in disguise. We couldn’t afford it anyway. One step at a time.”

As he reached for the phone to make some calls on Bobby’s case, a strange image flashed across his mind. He saw the van from out on the highway parked behind the former store. A man carried boxes and bundles in through the rear door.

What the fuck? He shook his head to clear the vision and focused on the work at hand. Whatever went on there was no concern of his one way or another.

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Chapter 2

Michael set another bundle of wire panels on the floor and dug a bandana out of the back pocket of his jeans to wipe his face. The wind had wolfish teeth, but he was still sweating as he humped load after load of cage parts and other gear into the building. This was going to take a lot of work, a hell of a lot of work.

Oh, the basic structure was sound, but it had been designed to be a retail store, not a shelter for dogs and any other critters he might be able to collect and save. There was a restroom—which would have to suffice for his needs for the time being. Some moveable partitions served to wall off a living area and a facsimile of an office. The technician was supposed to be here later today to install his Internet and telephone. He set up a battered iron cot and stacked the few boxes of his personal stuff in that same corner. A microwave, an ice chest, and a card table would serve as his kitchen and dining room. Maybe in time he could afford to rent a place, but living here would have some advantages as he worked to get the facility up and running.

As he stumbled back out the door again, he began to wonder how he’d crammed so much stuff into his old van. Maybe the stuff had reproduced as he drove west from the IFPCA offices in Illinois. Tomorrow, a bigger truck with yet more stuff was due in, so he had to get the van unloaded today and at least start organizing things.

Something made him look across the unpaved parking lot to the south side of the building. Later on he planned to fence part of the area and maybe develop some space for larger animals like horses, sheep and goats or cattle, but that would have to wait a while. But now, although he had not heard the machine approach, his gaze fell on a powerful black-lacquered Harley rolling slowly toward him decorated with tribal motifs in scarlet and gold.

The bike was impressive, but its rider even more so. The man had to be well over six feet for he straddled the bike and did not stretch at all to place both his booted feet solidly on the ground on either side. Everything about him seemed to carry a threat of power and violence, at least to Michael’s perception. Memories of the father he’d feared until he’d finally left home swept over him, memories that still had him mentally cringing. He could feel the slam of a heavy fist, a metal-studded belt slashing across his ass or a backhand slap that sent him flying. Folks in his hometown had called them scooter trash, trailer trash and worse because his mother had been half black and his father a leader in the most bad-ass biker gang in the area.

The uptown kids didn’t respect the wrong-side-of-the tracks folks, no matter how tough they were alleged to be, it seemed. They sure didn’t fear bullying the “trashy” kids anyway. And Mike’s dad would not defend him. “It’ll make you tough,” he’d always said. “Man up, boy.”

While the stranger did not resemble the senior Dufrane in any way other than his black garb, Michael’s gut clenched. Who was this guy—apparently an Indian—and what did he want?

Even behind the reflective lenses of the biker’s sunglasses, Michael could feel the force of the man’s stare. He stood there, one hand negligently resting on the left handlebar where a helmet hung, clearly seldom used. After a moment, he lifted that arm and crossed both arms across his powerful chest, his face impassive as if graven from the region’s ruddy stone.

“So,” he said, after a few silent seconds, “who the fuck is IFPCA and what are they or you figuring to do here?”

Damn it, I am not going to let anyone bully me or back me down. There are animals out here that need help, and I’m going to do the job. Michael set his burden down and took a step in the biker’s direction. He paused, barely aware he’d adopted a similar stance, feet apart and braced as he folded his arms across his chest. It wasn’t as impressive a chest as the other man’s, but Michael was no ninety-pound weakling. He had muscle and wiry strength. He’d even been the boxing champ in his middleweight class in his army platoon. No Indian biker with an attitude was going to send him running with his tail between his legs.

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