Grounded Feathers


Davis Begay and I never anticipated we were changing the world on our last day of school in May of 1975. If truth be known the reality of what we did probably still lays unreal in the most forgotten way for both of us. I should leave it alone. Something tells me that when you dig up prolonged goodbyes, you discover them to be neither, and somehow you discover something else. The issue here is a missing piece of a puzzle for me. A lag of sorts, a nagging, a dark spot on my soul, like when you awake to find someone has died and you don’t know why. The thought occurs, that if curiosity killed the cat, then I better seek to become a lion, because when all is said and done here, Pandora’s Box is going to be exhumed and ripped to shreds.

That blessed Navajo boy, that part of my soul that will never leave me. My immortal brother. We planned it that day. There are those of you who will read this and know us, but you didn’t know this. You would not have dreamed our dark arts, the changing of our eyes, you would not have perceived. If you think deep, if you remember, a quaking reality will occur, a fermenting of fire, terrible hearts, knowing eyes, bearing witness of what two young boys knew inside. The last day of school. That day when the well ran dry, when life turned round in the sky and we ran, played hooky just the two of us, wandering the floor above the San Juan Valley. You frolicked in your childhood, you should have. We should have, rather we didn’t, and what we did, is now in motion, and it cannot be turned back.

Time is constant, it turns in a sphere, and as it takes and spins, it changes, and so as we found it we framed it to our twin souls. Like yesterday, like I could trace it, like a cover I would hide in memorial if I could. We ran as the day dawned, we entered the plains above the valley, laughing, eyes ablaze, we passed the edge of time.

Somewhere there above the valley. Above Kirtland, New Mexico we found the abandoned oil tanker. The lone piece of Americana languishing from an era of Eisenhower and Jack Benny. The rust and the revelation of steel elemental, grounded in sand, placed like a beacon summoning two young ghost home.

Now I can feel it, cool metal, alchemy in May, perhaps the smell of ancient oil, may be the aroma of time. We ran there, undetectable we were summoned there, before summer, and just as Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon the previous September we found something deep beneath our feet that gave our childhood sins to forever.

We saw the ransom to the southwest of the tanker. It ran along the ground, although it should have flown. It had fallen through time, from the time of Enoch, untouched by giants and demons. A bird of the sea landing on the high plateau of the four corners. An omen, a gift to young prophets seeking the first vestibule of manhood, summoning the first rhyme. A temptation, to reveal the future, and seal the past from what we did not know.

Destiny dictates stories, death cannot be changed, silence stands still underneath the noon day light, and the trick of light made the fallen fowl appear human. A stone perhaps, a brilliant killing, without hesitation or planning. A fallen silence, dead, its eyes immortal and chiding. The blood that trickled like the Nile running to the North created a story that filled both of our eyes with shame. I decorated his face with crimson lines, he painted mine, and in unison we bowed in trepidation and tenderly kissed the kill. The feathers we grounded for the future, and to this day I believe they cry out summoning the spirit of Able to do away with time.

We sat in silence, watching the future, tasting our guilt and yet knowing we shared something deeper than our classmates’ only minutes away. We made prophecy and rhyme and cursed the day when our souls would no longer touch. We watched the afternoon turn empty, and laughed at a strange coldness that we began to understand. We were Sages in the beginning of an apocalyptic age that in our innocence we had brought energy and karma to. We settled a day on grounded feathers, and in this world nothing from that day will ever change. – דָּנִיֵּאל 03/01/2014

Davis and I met up for the first time in thirty-one years in August of 2007. Time had changed us only outwardly. We stayed away from the discussion of the sacrificial sea bird, and what we saw on that last day of May in 1975, until it was time to say goodbye. Only then as we hugged each other as brothers do, and the tears fell did we both admit to seeing the mist erupt from the ground over the grounded feathers, and make its way skyward.

The Secret Panel

The Secret Panel

In 1971 while most American’s were watching the horrors of the riots at Attica Prison in New York, and worried about Richard Nixon removing gold and silver backing from the dollar, two young lads from small town Americana were having none of that.  These two bright eyed village talents had books to read and mysteries to solve, worlds to create and under the cover of darkness, with flashlights in hand, puzzles to find the pieces to.  In the end as in the end there always must be, one would look at the other, and in that late sleep over hour of half past three the secret panel would be found.  It was then that Frank and Joe Hardy alias to Jason Waite and Danny Swearingen could find slumber to rise another day to hunt the saboteur of the next case at hand.

The small rural community of Kirtland, New Mexico was a long ways from the Vietnam War, and China being admitted to the United Nations in 1971.  A quiet Mormon farming community surrounded by a natural gas plateau, and the Navajo Indian reservation was well over a hundred miles away from the nearest interstate.  The consolidated school district was well administered with kind values and pride.  It was an uncomplicated time and held the golden years of my childhood.

Jason Waite was a smart kid.  I look at his picture occasionally on Facebook and he still has that Hardy Boy hey let’s go solve a mystery look to him.  He was my best friend.  He might tell the story different now, but I believe we first met over a pile of Hardy Boy books in the Grace B. Wilson Elementary School library.  The school library had a nice set of fourteen to eighteen of the original Franklin W. Dixon Hardy Boy books from the twenties and thirties.  Jason and I had already made our way through most the school’s collection by the time we met.

Our friendship soon took us above the realm of book club fanaticism with heavy emphasis on how we too could become mystery solvers in our small community.  The Hardy Boy Detective Handbook provided us with a guide on where to look for crime and how to solve it.  The winks and nods, and perhaps secret handshakes assured us who could be suspect and where the clues might be to prove that justice might prevail.  One of us found a guide to dusting for fingerprints.  I had powder from my Sears Golden Science chemistry set and with great ingenuity we set about making our own fingerprinting dusting set.  I still marvel that one or both of us didn’t lose a limb, but it does seem we might have lifted a print or two off of a coffee table somewhere.

The best  were the sleepovers.  With the weekend ahead, a Friday night with Jason arriving at my house or I at his held great possibilities for the best of adventures.  One way or another the one to arrive always held clutched tightly the latest acquisition of a Hardy Boy book bought with hard earned allowance monies.  What was soon to follow well into the evening were deep discussions on the villains in “The Yellow Feather Mystery” or Aunt Gertrude’s role in “Footprints Under the Window” or who was prettier  of the Hardy Boy’s girlfriends Callie Shaw, or Iola Morton.

Discussion can only last so long for two energetic mystery filled lads.  Filled to the brim with homemade root beer that Jason’s mom had dutifully produced we would dawn our detective gear, and with our flashlights in hand we would seek the cold darkness.  Our search of a broken burglarized window somewhere or a muddied footprint that we could follow would have been in vain, but our imaginations never failed us.  The Secret Panel was always found.

One morning in early October one of us I don’t remember which, arrived in breathless rapture waving the sports page from the Farmington Daily Times.  In it was the most wondrous miracle.  Connie Mack baseball season was at hand in nearby Farmington, and one of the teams coming in from the East coast produced a young man by the name of Frank Hardy.  Jason and I dared to wonder if it could be true.  Were the Hardy Boys real!  We discussed the marvel at hand for days, and then it was that the second miracle was fashioned.  We were given the opportunity to go to the game with Jason’s brother and his girlfriend.  I think I might have broken down and cried that day.  It was truly a time of revelation.  The secret panel was about to be opened.

The night of the big game Jason and I arrived each clutching our favorite Hardy Boy book.  Our strategy was well thought out, even if not put to paper.  We hoped to catch the young Mr. Hardy after the game if not before and relieve him of his autograph, as well as have him answer a few mystery laden questions.  The plan to find Frank Hardy before the game didn’t pan out but we were not to be deterred.  Anxious and excited we found our place in the filled stands and looked out over the heads of many looking to find but just a glimpse of Frank Hardy.  Our anticipation grew.  We discussed the possibility that Joe Hardy himself might be among us, watching his brother perform his sportsman obligation.  The possibility was that the whole Hardy family might be present.  We had ourselves whipped into a fine frothed fury when the young lady sitting to my immediate left spoke to us.

I don’t remember what Young Mr. Hardy’s sister’s name was.  I’m sure Jason doesn’t either.  I doubt we cared.  The introduction and identification of the young lady sitting to my immediate left slowed the world down for us.  It brought the cold hard slap of reality to our young minds.  The fact of no sisters being involved in the Hardy saga was a detail we could not deny.  Our sadness was inconsolable.  The secret panel was to be a secret no more.  We were growing up.

I haven’t seen Jason Waite in 37 years.  We connected on Facebook a few years back and now and then we chat back and forth with a text or two.  We still talk about Hardy Boy books and growing up in Kirtland and what a simple golden time it was.  One or the other of us still will bring up the Connie Mack Frank Hardy.  It’s good for an inside wink or secret handshake among old friends who were once known to each other as Frank and Joe Hardy.  – דָּנִיֵּאל –  11/14/2013