Tommy - The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl? - Chapter 84


Tommy
The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?

A Novel By Teddie S.

Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 84
The barbecue and the reporter.

We were now in our apartment in Albuquerque waiting for the summer session to start next week. Amy has two classes that she needs to take.

We’d had also found maps of the parks in Albuquerque, and one of the parks had a trail that sounded interesting, and we’d taken a two-and-a-half mile hike on a loop trail. And we found out that we haven’t adjusted to the climate and altitude in the area. Albuquerque is a little over five-thousand feet above sea level, and back home is only about nine-hundred feet.

And now we were back at the resort, going to a barbecue. A barbecue where we were going to formally award the Chief Nastas Todachine Memorial Scholarship to Dibe Bylilly, and where we were probably going to lay all of our cards on the table as far as the scholarship was concerned thanks to Chief Peshlakai.

Ajie, my grandmother, my aunt and uncle, and I were walking towards the barbecue. And Ajie was carrying the plaque. As we got close to the hotel, my Uncle Paul said, “Kai and Ajie, go into the hotel and to the registration desk. Shilah is the desk clerk tonight, tell him that I said that I wanted you to wait in the office. When we’re ready to start, I’ll send your aunt to get you. And she’ll bring you in a back way, and no one will see you. Then when I call you, come out front.”

I said, “It’ll be good to see Shilah again.” Shilah was the desk clerk that rescued me from being attacked when Amy and I were here two years ago.

“He’ll enjoy seeing you too.”

Ajie and I headed for the hotel, and grandma and my aunt and uncle continued towards the barbecue. As Ajie and I walked into the hotel lobby, Shilah looked up, and “Miss Kai! Miss Ajie! What a surprise.”

“It’s nice to see you, Shilah, and under better circumstances than last time.”, I replied.

“Yes, it is Miss Kai. What can I do for you?”

“We’re doing something special at the barbecue tonight, and Ajie and I need to hide out until my aunt comes and gets us. My uncle said to go into the office and wait.”

“That’s fine Miss.”, Shilah said pointing at a door behind the counter. “The door is right there.”

“Thank you, Shilah.”

Ajie and I went into the office and waited. The barbecue usually gets started at around six. About five minutes before six my aunt walked into the office, and said, “Come on you two.”

We got up and followed Aunt Ruth. Not out the main door of the hotel, but down the hall and out a back door. We followed a path that led around the back side of the hotel to where the barbecue is held, and to an area behind where the musicians and singers were.

We stood there with my aunt for a few minutes, and we watched Dibe dancing with her friends. Then we saw my Uncle Paul walk up to where the singers were. He held up his hand, the singers and musicians stopped, and then the dancers stopped.

Uncle Paul then picked up a microphone, and went into his usual speech, as he said, “Yá’át’ééh alní'íní. And for those of you that don’t speak Navajo, that means good evening. And we, the staff of the resort, would like to welcome you to our regular Friday night barbecue. And we hope that you enjoyed the dancers, singers, and drummers. They will be back.

“But tonight before we serve the food we have something special to do. First, there are a few special guests that I’d like you to meet. Would Chief Kinlicheeny please join me. And for those of you that don’t know who, Chief Kinlicheeny is, he is the Chief of the Navajo Nation.”

As Chief Kinlicheeny walked up to a nice round of applause, I whispered to Ajie, “I didn’t know he was here.”

Then my uncle said, “We also have Naainish Yazzie. Naainish is one of our medicine men.”

I hadn’t noticed Naainish either, but he’s usually here. And he also received a nice round of applause as he walked up and stood with the chief and my uncle.

“Now. Our next two special guests have something very special to do. So, would Kai Nez and Ajie Nez please join us.”

I’d been watching Dibe, and she wasn’t paying attention to what was going on, but when my uncle said our names her head whipped around, and her eyes got big.

Ajie and I walked out and joined the Chief, Naainish, and my uncle. When we were out there, my uncle handed me the microphone, and said, “Kai, the microphone is all yours.”

I took the microphone, looked at Dibe, she was smiling, and I smiled at her. Then she got a worried look and shook her head no. I grinned and nodded yes.

I spoke into the microphone, and said, “Thank you, Mr. Biakeddy. Ladies and gentlemen, Yá’át’ééh alní'íní. Good evening and I promise not to keep you from the delicious food for more than a few minutes.

“Three years ago when Ajie and I first came out here, we met many wonderful people. And I’m going to tell you about two of them. The first one was Chief Nastas Todachine. At that time he was chief of the Big Medicine People Clan. That is my grandmothers and mothers clan. Ajie and I were made honorary members of that clan on that trip out here. Unfortunately last year Chief Todachine passed away. He had done a lot for his people and is sadly missed.

“After he’d passed, Ajie and I talked, and we decided that the Chief’s memory needed to be honored. So with the backing of a number of the tribal leaders, including the two gentlemen standing to my left, Ajie and I put together and provided the initial funding for the Chief Nastas Todachine Memorial Scholarship. And this year is the first year that the scholarship has been awarded.

“The second one of these special people that I want to tell you about, you have witnessed dancing tonight. She is one of the dancers who has been dancing for you. She is a very fantastic native dancer and has won many awards.

“Ajie and I met her three years ago, and she impressed us. Her goal in life is to be a medical doctor. And after we’d talked to her, we felt that she had the drive to complete her quest.

“Last year we were able to get to know her better, and we could see the determination that she had in her spirit to further her schooling. And it was then that we decided, with the approval of the tribal elders, who should be the first recipient of the scholarship.

“So, I would like Miss Dibe Bylilly and her parents to please join us.”

We paused as they made their way to where we were standing. Dibe was here very quickly, and Ajie and I got a wonderful hug. While I was getting my hug, Dibe whispered, “Kai, I’m so happy to see you and Ajie.”

I whispered back, “And we’re happy to see you too, Dibe.”

Once Dibe’s parents and grandmother had joined us, I continued with, “Dibe, it is with great pride that we present you with this plaque commemorating that you are the first recipient of the Chief Nastas Todachine Memorial Scholarship.”

Ajie handed Dibe the plaque, Dibe looked at it, then she hugged Ajie. There was applause from the guests. Then Dibe turned to me and hugged me. And while she was hugging me, she whispered, “Kai, you are so wonderful. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome, Dibe.”, I replied. “You deserved to have this scholarship.”

“You really embarrassed me.”

I smiled as I said, “We wanted to. Do you want to say something?

“No … I … I … Yes.”

I handed Dibe the microphone, she took it, and said, “I … I just wanted to say thank you to two wonderful people. They have helped make it possible for me to pursue my dreams. Kai and Ajie, thank you for everything.”

Dibe handed the microphone back to me, I went to give it to my uncle, but he said, “You know the drill, introduce Naainish to say the prayer.”

So, then I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been told that the food is ready. So, after Naainish says a short prayer, we will eat.”

Then as I handed the microphone to Naainish, I said, “Naainish.”

Naainish said a short prayer, handed the microphone back to me, and I said, “Thank you for putting up with our little ceremony. The food is ready. Please help yourself and enjoy.”

As I handed the microphone to my uncle, with a grin, he said, “Well I think I’ve found my replacement.”

“Huh?”, I said.

“You did great with that presentation. And I think I’ll put you to work announcing at the barbecues.”

“Hmm. That would be one way to get a free meal on Friday nights.”

“But we only hold these in the summer.”

“I’ve wondered about that. Speaking of food, come on Ajie we need to get in line before Uncle Paul does.”

My uncle frowned at me, and grumbled, “Kai.”

“Can I join you?”, Dibe asked.

“Of course you can. But we don’t have anywhere to sit.”

“There’s room at my mom and dad’s table.”

We got in line, got our food, and went over to where Dibe’s family was sitting. As we sat, Dibe’s dad said, “That was a nice presentation, Kai.”

“Thank you, sir.”, I said. “It was important to us that we did it properly.”

“There is a reporter here that will want to talk to you later.”

“That’s fine. I was expecting it.”

“I thought that you might be.”

“Kai?”, Dibe asked.

“Yes?”, I replied.

“How long are you and Ajie going to be out here this time?”

I grinned, looked at Ajie, looked back at Dibe, and loudly whispered in her ear, “At least two years.”

“Two years!”, Dibe almost shouted.

“Yes. Ajie and I are doing our masters work at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.”

“Wow! That’s wonderful. I’ll get to see you.”

“Yes, you will. Where are you going to school.”

“I've been accepted at four of the schools that I applied to, but we picked the University of Colorado. They have an excellent pre-med program. But it’s five and a half hours away, and I’ll have to live in the dorms.”

“Look at us. It’s a three-day drive out here.”

“But you’re older. Besides you’ve been away from home before.”

“Dibe, you’ll be fine. I’ll give you our phone number, and you can call us anytime that you need to talk to the old folk.”

“Kai, you’re funny. I’ve got to go and dance. I’ll see you later.”

“One last thing, Dibe.”, I said. “I think it’s important to embrace your native heritage, and I know you’ll be mad at me for this, but Ajie and I will call you Dibe from now on. No more Dee.”

“Kai. Ajie.”, Dibe said. “Nothing you could do would make me mad at you.”

Dibe handed her plaque to her dad and ran over to the dance area. Her father looked at me, and said, “You’d let her call just to talk.”

“Sometimes all that someone needs is to hear a friendly voice.”

He smiled and just nodded yes.

Then I asked, “Mr. Bylilly, do you have a pencil and paper I could borrow.”

“Of course.”, Mr. Bylilly replied with a smile. “I’m a reporter.”

He took a pad and pen out of his pocket and handed them to me. I found the first blank page and wrote our names and phone number on it. And as I hand it back to him, I said, “Be sure Dibe gets this.”

He looked at it, smiled, and said, “I will. Thanks for everything you two.”

As we got up, I said, “It’s our pleasure.”

We walked around, talked with a few people, listened to the music, and watched the dancers. Then a man approached us, and said, “Excuse me. Are you Kai and Ajie?”

“Yes.”, I said. “And you are?”

He took a business card out of his pocket, and as he handed it to me, he said, “I’m Hastiin Tlizilani. I’m a reporter for the Navajo Times. Mr. Bylilly may have told you that I’d be here.”

“Yes, he did.”

“Can we talk?”

“Of course. Let's find a place to sit.”

As we walked, Amy whispered, “Are you okay with him?”

“Yes.”, I whispered back.

But I guided him past where Mr. Bylilly was sitting. And as we walked past, Mr. Bylilly said, “Hello, Hast.”

And Mr. Tlizilani said, “Hello, Mr. Bylilly.”

I felt better about Mr. Tlizilani.

The three of us found a quiet place to sit and talk. I filled Mr. Tlizilani in on the background of the scholarship and why we were doing it. And what Chief Peshlakai has attempted to do. And what I’d done to stop him.

Mr. Tlizilani appeared to be aware of everything I told him, except what I’d said that we’d heard from Dr. Etsitty about Chief Peshlakai telling people that Ajie and I had helped him set up the scholarship.

Mr. Tlizilani asked us some questions, which we answered. Then I asked him if he’d spoken with others. He told us that after Mr. Bylilly had told him about the problem, that he’d spoken with Chief Kinlicheeny, Naainish, my grandmother, Mr. Bylilly, and others.

Then Mr. Tlizilani told us, to be fair, he had to speak with Chief Peshlakai. I told him that I was concerned with retaliation of some kind. He assured me that he’d talked with Mr. Bylilly about this and that no names would be mentioned. But he said that since we, in public, had said that we’d started the scholarship, he would have to mention that in the article that he was going to write about tonight’s presentation. But with the other article that he was working on, an investigative one on Chief Peshlakai, that he wouldn’t need to mention any names.

I looked at Mr. Tlizilani, and asked, “Are you telling me that there is more to this than just us?”

“Right now.” Mr. Tlizilani said. “I can only say that it’s deeper than the two of you. Shall we say that you’re the iceing on the cake.”

“Iceing on the cake?”

“It’s shown some people who were on the fence the true face of the beast.”

“That’s an interesting way to describe him.”

“It is. I understand that you know Dr. Etsitty at the University of New Mexico.”

“Yes.”, Ajie said. “She’s the preceptor for my masters.”

“Have you met her husband, Tahoma?”

“No.”

“He might be a good friend to make. He has no use for Chief Peshlakai.”

“We’ve heard that.”

“From who?”

“Kai’s grandmother.”

He smiled, and said, “Haseya Devereux. If I’m not mistaken.”

“You’re not.”

“You two have some powerful friends.”

The three of us walked back to the area of the barbecue. We stopped, I offered Mr. Tlizilani my hand, and said, “Mr. Tlizilani, it’s been a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to reading the two articles.”

As he took my hand, Mr. Tlizilani said, “Kai and Ajie, it’s been interesting meeting the two of you. And your information will be a big help.”

Mr. Tlizilani went to find Mr. Bylilly. And Ajie and I went to find my aunt and uncle, and when we did, we also found grandma.

Grandma asked, “Who was that man that you were talking to?”

“That was Mr. Tlizilani.”, I replied. “He’s a reporter for the Navajo Times.”

“What were you talking about?”

“A little nosey, aren’t we grandma?”

“Child! I’m your grandmother, and I care about you. And I’m concerned about who you talk to and what you talk about.”

“Grandma, calm down. I was kidding. We talked about Chief Peshlakai. And I know that you’ve talked with Mr. Tlizilani too.”

“Child. I’m sorry that I reacted the way I did. But I’m concerned about you.”

“Grandma.”, Ajie said. “You have to learn to take Kai with a grain of salt. She can be worse than Tom.”

I looked at Ajie and said, “Thanks.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“There was one thing that Mr. Tlizilani said that puzzles me. He said that I have a lot of powerful friends. I don’t know anyone like that.”

“Kai.”, Uncle Paul said. “Think about it. Who was standing next to you when you were making the presentation to Dibe?”

“Ajie, Naainish, Chief Kinlicheeny, and you.”

“Okay. Who is Chief Kinlicheeny?”

“Chief of the Navajo Nation.”

“Okay. Who is Naainish?”

“A medicine man.”

“Yes. And not just a medicine man, but a very well respected medicine man.

“Who is Mr. Bylilly?”

“A reporter.”

“Then there’s grandma. She’s still a member of the Navajo Nation’s Council. And there are others.

“How many people do you think could walk up to Chief Kinlicheeny or even Naainish, and talk to them the way you do? Not many.

“And you. You have a certain air about you that says, I know I’m special, but I don’t care that I am. I’m easy to talk with, but don’t cross me. I’ll stand up for what I believe in.”

“Oh.”

“Do you have some powerful friends? Kai, you may not know it, but without a doubt, you do.”

I looked at Ajie, and she was looking at me with that cute little smile of hers, then she said, “Kai, honey. Believe what your uncle just told you. You have some wonderful friends, and some of them are powerful.”

“Aunt Ruth.”, I said. “I want to sit and meditate at the bonfire tonight. And we left the rug that you gave us at the apartment. Can I borrow one from the house?”

“Honey.”, Aunt Ruth replied. “Our house is your house. You don’t need to ask.”

After things had died down at the barbecue, Ajie and I started walking towards my aunt and uncle’s house. We saw Dibe and her family walking towards where I figured that their car was parked.

Ajie and I caught up with Dibe, and I said, “Dibe, you going home already?”

“Oh hi, Kai. Aije.”, Dibe said. “Yeah. I came with my parents, so I’m going home with them.”

“Would you like to sit with us at the bonfire tonight.”

“Like last time.”

“Yes.”

“I’d love to.”

“Where do you live?”

“Near Santa Fe.”

“We could run you home.”

Dibe looked at her dad. And her dad said, “Go on honey. I know that you’re in good hands.”

“Thanks, daddy.”, Dibe said. “And I won’t be late.”

“We’ll take good care of her, Mr. Bylilly.”, I said.

“I know you will, Kai. We’ll see you later.”

Dibe continued with us to my aunt and uncles house. We went in and back to our room where I picked up a rug. Dibe saw Tom’s clothes laying on the bed, and asked, “Who’s ugly boy clothes are those?”

“Mine.”, I replied.

“Yours! … Oh. That’s right. I forgot. You’re a boy.”

“You forgot that?”

“It’s hard to remember that you are a boy, seeing you as Kai.”

I smiled, and said, “Sometimes it’s even hard for me.”

I folded the rug, hung it over my arm, and said, “Let's go to the bonfire.”

The three of us walked to the bonfire, Dibe was still in her dance regalia, and of course, Ajie and I were dressed in a fancy way. As we walked towards the hotel, we received some smiles and nice comments from the guests.

When we made it to the bonfire it was blazing, we walked to our favorite spot, and I laid the blanket on the ground. I looked to the other side of the fire, and there were a number of guests there, as well as my aunt, uncle, grandmother, Naainish, and Chief Kinlicheeny. The three of us sat on the blanket. I sat in the middle, Ajie sat on my right, and Dibe on my left.

I whispered, “Dibe, just like last time, relax, and concentrate on the fire. And don’t be surprised if Naainish chants. You may sense something or maybe nothing.

We sat there in silence, and we heard Naainish start to chant.

I think we meditated for about ten or fifteen minutes. Then I looked at Ajie, then at Dibe. And they both appeared to have finished. We got up, I picked up the rug, folded it, and placed it over my arm.

We walked to the other side of the bonfire. I found Naainish and said, “Naainish thank you for the nice song.”

“You’re welcome.”, Naainish replied. “I thought it would help.”

“Help what?”

“The three of you find your spirits.”

“I did feel something.”, Dibe said. “It felt good like it was happy.”

I smiled, and said, “Dibe, I’d say that your spirit is happy with what you’re doing.”

The three of us talked with some of the guests. Then Ajie and I had to run Dibe home, so we told my aunt and uncle what we were going to do. They both said to drive carefully.

Of course, we talked on the way to Santa Fe. And Dibe asked, “So did I feel my spirit tonight?”

“Only you’ll know that for sure.”, I replied. “You said that you felt something happy. I feel that it was your spirit and it was letting you know that it was happy with what you’re doing with your life.”

“How do you know these things?”

“Dibe, I see things, I feel things, I know things that I have no way of knowing, yet I know. Like when we first met you, and we sat together at the bonfire, I felt that you would accomplish whatever you attempted.

“Dibe, let me ask you something. Do you remember the first time we sat together at the bonfire, and you asked me what I was going to do for my people when I graduated?”

“I did?”

“Yes, you did.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t remember.”

“That’s okay. But you challenged me.”

“I did?”

“Yes. And do you know what my answer to your challenge was?”

“No.”

“The scholarship.”

“The one that I received?”

“Yes.”

She sat there for a moment, then said, “And I was the first one to receive it. Why?”

“Because we, Ajie and I, felt that you would put it to good use by becoming the doctor that you want to be. And we felt that there are others in the Nation that could use help, so the scholarship will keep giving.”

Dibe sat in silence for the remainder of the drive. Then as she got out of the car at home, she said, “Kai and Ajie, you two are so wonderful. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”

“Dibe.”, Ajie said. “The only thanks that we need is for you to do your best.”

“I promise you that I will.”

“We know you will.”

It had taken Ajie and me about two hours to make the round trip from the resort to Dibe’s house outside of Santa Fe and back, and I’m glad we weren’t going back to Albuquerque tonight. I was tired.

When Ajie and I were back at the resort, we cuddled together in bed, and she said, “So it’s sometimes hard for you to remember that you’re a boy?”

“Huh?”, I replied.

“You heard me. You told Dibe that you sometimes find it hard to remember that you’re a boy.”

“I did?”

“Yeah. You did. And if we weren’t so tired, I’d show you that I never forget that you’re a boy.”

I shook my head, and said, “You can be so bad.”

“Uh huh.”

She rolled over, cuddled close, and went to sleep.

~o~O~o~

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