Shadows of Chaco Canyon: The Trickster

Shadows of Chaco Canyon, from Chapter Two:

The trickster lived the life of an outcast. His small dwelling was in the shadow of the trash midden. It required a powerful calling to undertake such a rigorous way of life, but it was a great honor. Valued for his comic relief and his mastery of the healing power of humor, there was always something laughable about his appearance. His hair was long and unkempt, with matted strands and errant spikes angling away from his head in all directions. Kee had seen him appear in public with an abandoned bird’s nest attached to one of the spikes. During winter months he was typically underdressed for the weather, in only a breechcloth, and fanning himself with a huge fan of turkey feathers. In summertime he could be counted on to appear bundled in several layers of clothing, complaining bitterly of the cold.

As they drew near, the trickster’s arm emerged from behind the doorway, but the rest of his body remained hidden behind the entrance curtain. His hand was curled, forming the head of a snake, and two fingers were extended to form a forked tongue. His arm swayed like an angry serpent. Two charcoal smudges on the edges of his hand formed eyes. The trickster slowly extended his arm, stretching his fingers until they curved like venomous fangs. It was mesmerizing.

The threatening buzz of a rattlesnake sounded an angry warning until a hollow gourd containing dried seeds rolled to a stop against Kee’s feet with a dying hiss. The trickster’s arm slithered back into the tent. When the snake reappeared, it was silent and missing its eyes. Blindly, it began groping. The snake found Neeva’s carrying sack and rooted through the contents with an exaggerated amount of effort.

All playfulness disappeared when the snake withdrew the knife. The trickster stepped outside, an uncharacteristic frown replacing his normal self-effacing grin. Any pretense of humor had disappeared abruptly.

For the first time, Kee saw the mortal man behind the honorary title, and he was afraid.


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