Doc Ch. 03bykingkey©
Grandpa Henry shook his head then grinned at me. "Believin' it in yer head, but not quite in yer heart, then hearin' it made real does shake a body up. Now I know why y'all looked so odd when I told you the date. Still, after some of the stuff I've seen them Lakota medicine men do, I guess this ain't a hell of a lot more strange. "
He waved me toward the barn. "We still hafta find you some decent clothes and things."
After our mutual revelations, we walked on into the barn and over near the tack room. Grandpa started rummaging around in a stack of wooden boxes, pulling one out to the side every now and then. Soon he had three setting side by side.
"Here we go ... this is all the stuff the army sent back. It ain't much – not for the six years you've been gone. Well there's a small mercy –– at least they didn't steal your guns or books. They even threw in your doctoring bag. Everything is here.
"You musta been well respected and liked for them to return everything you owned. Usually all that gets sent back to the family when a soldier is killed is the worst of the clothes. Troopers are not well paid and often come from poor circumstances. They rob their own dead, not just the fallen enemy. I saw a lot o' that when I was a lawman workin' out of the forts.
"Now then, the clothes look a might big but if we boil them and you wear them wet they should shrink a mite."
"You mean Clay's things don't you, gram – oops – I mean... Uncle Henry. Damn this is confusing."
"It sure is. You just look so much like Clay would have, if he had lived, and ... you're even a doctor."
"Well I'm not really a doctor. I just had a bunch of training in what I would call Battlefield or Combat First Aid, but compared to what they get now, probably as much or more than most of them around here. I've patched up wounds, removed bullets, sewn them up, treated sickness ... Hell, I've even delivered a couple babies."
"Shit, Son, that makes you about the best doctor in 200 miles, if not one of the only ones – there ain't many. And of those there are, you're prob'ly the only one with any real schoolin'. Some o' these quacks just bought a mail-order doctor's bag and hung out their shingle."
"Be that as it may, I'm still not really a doctor! Where I come from I'm actually a deputy sheriff and I thought, a good one."
"That's even better! This country can use more good lawmen. Since this damn gold rush, these hills'r full of no-goods, robbers, gamblers, renegades and murderers. Things are just getting worse with the Indians, too. A year ago there was about 800 white men in the Black Hills. The Indians didn't like it, but most of those whites were considerate and didn't cause much problems. Now we got more then 10,000, and more pouring in everyday thinkin' they will strike it rich. Damn fools! Most of them will either starve to death or be killed! Can't they see the main ones to get rich are the ones selling to the miners – the storekeepers, saloon owners, gamblers, and whore houses?"
"Speaking of gold, I know where some can be found right here on this land. When I was ten, I went poking around in a old mine and found a small nugget. Dad found out and took a pine switch to my ass. I couldn't sit right for a week."
"Just leave that alone! We work for our money here and we don't need the trouble it would bring. Your Pa was right. Sounds like he knowed the trouble gold could bring and tried to stop it from happening."
"Well, how can I make a living here then?" I asked.
"Hell, you're a doctor and you seem to know your way around the ranch pretty well."
"I was born here and lived here till I joined the military. Except for a couple real short visits, here and gone the same day, this is the first time I've really been back since."
"What! This is family land! Why didn't you ever come back?"
"I got tired of people calling me a half-breed, dirty injun and other names like that. It seemed like my whole childhood was one fight after another. Hell I'm proud of being part Indian and especially being Lakota, but even the Indians don't like breeds – at least in my time."
"Well we got some stupid people now too, but if Red Cloud has any say about it, that will change."
I had to hang my head in shame.
Grandpa uh, Uncle Henry, noticed and asked "What's wrong, boy."
"Custer's whole command was wiped out June 25, 1876 at the Little Big Horn River. Custer was a fool! He didn't listen to his advisers and split his command so he didn't have the troops he should've where he should've when he more-or-less walked into a trap.
"In less then 20 minutes over 200 soldiers were killed to the last man, including Custer himself. That set the American government off on revenge. The Sioux nation will be defeated in the next year and moved to reservations. In my time, on many reservations, there is violence, drunkenness, apathy and despair. School drop-outs rates range from 45 to 62 percent. Suicide among the indigenous people is twice the US national average and unemployment runs around 80 percent."
"That just can't be! They were promised this land! They have a treaty!"
"It's the gold and the greed. If there's anything worth any value, the government is going to take it no matter who they have to step on. In my time, in 1980 the Sioux won a Supreme Court case against the U.S. Government for 17 and a half million dollars plus five percent a year, totally over 105 million, going all the way back to 1877, when the government seized the Black Hills because the Sioux supposedly broke the Treaty because they defended their land against the gold miners.
"The Lakota refused to accept the money and instead demanded the return of their territory from the United States. In my time, it still hasn't been settled. The money is being held in a trust account. Some Indians want to take the money and some want to hold out for the return of the land. The bastards stole the land and still haven't given it back. Prob'ly never will. To the government it's all about money – everything can be bought. They can't understand to the Sioux it's all about the Paha Sapa, the Sacred Land."
"Can't we do anything about it?"
"I don't think so think so it's a big part of history so I don't think there's much hope of us changing it."
"But you know what's going to happen! Surely something can be done to warn them or something."
"I don't think so. In my time, they think if you could go back in time and make major changes it can destroy the future. I think if something was meant to happen it will still happen."
"But Clay, what about you being here? Won't that change the future?"
"I don't think so. I think we might be able to make minor changes that don't affect the future too bad, but I think fate will stop us from making major changes. What's meant to happen still will, probably, just with minor differences. For instance we may save one man from dying but the major event will still take place – there's no changing that.
"Maybe I'm meant to be here now. Look at the things that are going on. I started to tick them off on my finger. Firstly, Clay was killed and I look just like him. Secondly, He was a doctor and I've had enough training to be one in this time period. Third, I should have been killed in the accident I was in when I was put here instead.
"I don't know if there is a god or not but there's just too many things to be a accident. Something wants me here."
"Maybe you're right but I'd still like to do something for them. Shit! You 'resurrecting' my Clay has already changed the future, I think. An' rescuing a man who should have died, well, Hell – think! If he has children and they have children, and so on, and they all do something that the future didn't have before, then it all changes – like a big ol' snowball runnin' down a mountainside, the farther it goes, the bigger it gets, and the way we're playing it, you're that man who should have died but didn't. We gotta talk about this more when we got the time, because I think we can do something to help the People. Hell, they're family!"
To myself, I was thinking there was a whole lot more to Grandpa than first appeared. He was a lot smarter than he let on. He mentioned the Sioux medicine men, and seemed like he had more knowledge and experience of them than he really should. I really DID need to think about what he said.
"You're right, we hafta talk more when we have the time, and I'll think about it some more, OK? But ... for now, we'll just do what we can. Speaking of family – where is everyone?"
"It being Saturday, most went to town to get supplies and blow off some steam. Dove went to Red Cloud's camp. He's not there. Running Deer fell and broke her arm. She's real sick – they don't know if she'll make it."
"Then I'd better get changed. We'll head out there and see what we can do."
Looking in the doctor's bag from Uncle Clay, I cringed at the primitive (to me) medical supplies. It contained a bottle of whisky, a bottle of laudanum, a couple small knives, a couple probes, a pair of pliers, an ear trumpet and some dusty looking bandages. The bandages were more dangerous than useful, and the rest had limited usefulness. The whiskey might be more useful to soothe a nervous doctor than anything else. The laudanum was of debatable use because there was no label indicating the concentration of opium or other constituents. If I used it at all, it would be very sparingly.
"This stuff is mostly junk. We better swing by my Power Wagon to get some more medical stuff to add to the simple things in my First Aid pack here."
"Ok get changed from those weird clothes and I'll saddle a couple horses. Make sure to bring your guns. This is still dangerous country."
"I will, but I don't have any here; they're all in my Power Wagon."
"Use Clay's there in that box there. I guess they're yours now."
Looking in the box, I found two .44 caliber cap-and-ball Remington army pistols with two extra cylinders, each in a holster on a single gun belt, set up in a cross draw. There was also a Greener sawed-off 10 gauge shotgun and at the bottom of the box, a new Winchester Model 1873 in 44-40.
As I strapped on the gun belt, Grandpa hollered from where he was saddling two horses. "Can you hit anything with those?"
Pulling the cross draw, I started firing at an old pine tree. When it was empty I did a Road agent switch, pulled the other pistol and continued firing, hitting a pine cone with every shot.
"Damn, boy, I ain't never seen anyone shoot like that!" Grandpa exclaimed as I was reloading.
"I used to practice a lot, shooting at that same tree."
Uncle Henry led two saddled horses over to me. "We better get going then. Where is this 'Power Wagon' of yours? Can you ride too?"
"Only since I was four. I also used to ride saddle bronc at the county rodeos."
"Don't know what this rodeo is, but I know what a bronc is."
I mounted up. "Well I'm ready, let's get going."
I would like to thank my great editors Eviltwin and Ice Wolf they make my scribbling worth reading.