It was 40, Deliverance:



DELIVERANCE. The southwest furthers.

If there is no long anything where one has to go,

Return brings good fortune.

If there is still something where one has to go,

Hastening brings good fortune.


I looked out at the moving Clark Fork and then turned out the lamp and got into bed, staring up at the sudden headlights shifting across the ceiling and passing on as cars came down from the bridge and drove past the Elgin.

Tomorrow Id see the lake.

Sleep deeply until you wake, when both worlds become one, I said in the dark between lights, remembering Mrs. Blackdeer at the Cottonwood Reservation, her prayer and her heavy soapstone statue of the Sleeping Child.

Id shown her my antler and shed gripped my wrist and asked if I believed and to please her Id said yes, admitting I didnt know much about him, and then shed told me the Sleeping Childs true story.

Tell Wes, Bill, she said. He wont talk about the lake.

Wes and I had found Joe White Horse crawling along the road that Saturday before wed gone fishing by the rock cliff. Wed taken Joe home to Cottonwood as he slept on the blanket in the pickups bed, with his ruined boots and bloody knees and palms and the white Sleeping Child shining on a cord around his neck —

Then I was walking along the lakeshore, watching the water wash up in little waves, making the sand sparkle.

I noticed that the black sand with yellow pyrite scattered through it had turned red and hard and suddenly I was looking down from one of the sandstone towers on Crucifixion Rock at my fathers ranch in Grass Valley.

Way deep, past the shadows of aspen, I saw the tropical fish from the Blue Fin flicker in Wess hidden stream below the stair-step mesa where wed caught the rainbow trout.

Beyond the yellow fish, the sun was glowing, sunken in the water.

I climbed down the tower, looked once and stepped off the ledge, letting myself fall through the air.

I hit feet first and sank fast with the slender golden fish diving at my side, past drowned cliff houses and a sandstone stairway until I was through the lakes blinding circle of light and wading a shallow river toward the familiar teepees on the shore.

Across the still water green as glass, I could see a figure in deerskin in the tan village.

It was the girl Id seen before by the river. Her beaded shirt glinted an odd green and blue in the strange sunlight.

I gripped the antler Sleeping Child and started to wade faster, lifting my knees and running and running, splashing cold water as I started to shout a secret Indian word Id just remembered.

I saw her brown face smile, her long, black hair shone nearly white, and she began to raise her hand to wave.