The Man Who Talked to Starsbyjthserra©
For years I had an intense interest in the ways and mysticism of the ancient shaman, reading everything I could find on the subject. While the books and articles provided some background into the teachings, I still longed to meet one of the old shaman, one of the wise ones who lived off the land and taught today's young shaman. I realized I would finally get that opportunity as I turned off the highway and headed down the long, straight road to the reservation entrance.
Dust kicked up off the crumbling asphalt roadway as my truck bounced over the potholes and washouts. All I could see in the vast plains that surrounded me were clusters of small huts, some trailing long lines of smoke from the small metal stovepipes. Most of the huts had a beat up car or truck parked nearby. Junked out and rusted wrecks dotted the landscape too.
In the distance I saw a larger cluster of buildings and knew I was heading in the right direction. After a few more minutes of bumpy, rattling driving, I drove into the parking lot of a building marked "Information Center." The siding was weathered and damaged in spots, but overall it appeared that the building had been well maintained. I parked my truck and stepped inside the building. Just beyond a small entry foyer I saw a lady behind a small desk reading a book. I noticed her glance up at me, carefully mark her place and put the book on the desk.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"Yes, I understand an ancient shaman resides here. I was told he will talk to stars for people."
"You want to visit with the old one?"
"Yes, I want to learn about his ways, to hear him talk to the stars and learn of their wisdom."
"He's not here right now. He will be back after dark, if you like there is a restaurant here, he will be ready soon after dinner. The casino is also open but it is a forty five minute drive from here."
"No, no casino for me, I want to learn of your ancient ways," I said, glancing at my watch. It was five pm, perhaps an hour to an hour and a half until it got dark.
"I think I'll just go into the restaurant, what would you recommend I try?"
"I don't eat at the restaurant."
"Oh, okay, thanks for the help."
"You're welcome," she said, picking up her book again.
I went to the restaurant, a bit worried that the receptionist at the information desk had never eaten there. Surprisingly I had an excellent steak, with some flavorful grilled vegetables. I took my time eating, finishing up a little past sundown.
I returned to the information building, but found the door locked. I wandered around the building and saw several campfires where groups of tourists gathered. Off to one side, I saw a large fire circled by a number of colorfully dressed dancers. Looking at each of the smaller campfires I noticed several people dressed like the dancers talking to the tourists.
I wandered further until across the clearing I saw a very old man sitting cross-legged by a small fire. Figuring that this was probably the shaman I walked across the clearing and as I approached, I got a better look at him. His dark skin was furrowed with deep lines that echoed of ancient wisdom. He did not wear the colorful costumes that the dancers wore. He wore a gray shirt under a denim jacket. His long gray hair tumbled over the jacket like a mist over trees.
I heard him quietly chanting as I walked over to him. Without even looking at me he whispered, "Yes, I am the one."
"I am the one who talks to stars," he replied. "You were searching for me."
I crossed my legs and sat across the fire from him. "I understand you will talk to the stars for me if I pay you."
"That is true," he smiled.
I opened my wallet, handed him twenty dollars and asked, "Is this enough?"
Without answering he folded the money into his jacket pocket and began to sway back and forth.
"Gosi'pa' havi'ginu'," he chanted, "Gosi'pa' havi'ginu'." He chanted over and over for a few moments, and then he stopped staring forward.
I stared into his dark eyes and asked, "Are you finished?"
"Well, what did the stars say?" I asked impatiently.
He turned to me, shrugged and said, "I told you I talked to the stars, I didn't say they talked to me."
I thought of demanding my money back, but after looking into his eyes I decided to let it go. I stood up angrily and said, "Damn stars."
I turned and as I walked away, I could have sworn I heard: "Damn tourists."
I just shook my head and walked. In the distance I could see the bright lights of the casino glowing in the sky.