The Divine Spiritual Economy

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Geronimo

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Quite some time ago I promised to try and pull my weight around here by posting the occasional short story. Well things kind of spun out of control amnd I never really did it. What follows is the first in what will hopefully be a series of them.



“Every human being, no matter
what his attributes for good or evil,
is a part of the divine spiritual economy.
Therefore, each of us has his place,
& I cannot see that God intends to
exalt one over another.”

William Wilson
A Letter to a Friend
1964



One morning I found myself at The Mall in Columbia. I would say that I have no idea how it happened but the truth is that I know exactly how it happened. The reason was my wife Cassandra's friend Jesse. She needed some cheering up and I knew that there were a few stores here that fascinate her. While I make no pretense that I am in her league as a shopper I thought that the answer to turning her mood around might be found here.

Somewhere between the Aveda Lifestyle Store and Abercrombie & Fitch I realized that I was in over my head. I remembered visiting this place with Cassandra once but I realized now that I was just along for the ride. I was actually a bit afraid of stores with names like Caché and Kokopelli. They do not have stores like that on the reservation

I knew I needed a cup of coffee. The question was where to get it and, in this monument to affluence, I sought the ordinary and the comfortable. I passed by the Starbucks and headed for McDonald’s. With any luck I would pass by one of those booths with a guy selling gutter covers on the way. I may not understand what female footwear will be in fashion this spring but this Native American chief understands gutter covers. Besides there is nothing better to pass the time with in fast food restaurant than a well written home improvement brochure.

I got my coffee and decided to pass on the culinary delights. I grabbed a packet of sugar and one of those long flat stirrers and looked for a quiet table. I found one off to the side. I spread out and began to think about what to get Jesse. Maybe she would like gutter covers. Then again maybe not.

About two tables over was a petite red haired woman with three children. The youngest was an infant dressed in pink no doubt a girl. The older ones looked to be about three. One was a boy with curly brown hair. The other a girl with straight hair in perfectly matched pigtails. I was guessing they were twins. I was also guessing that they were a handful. I shook my head and decided that I ought to be minding my own business.

But there was something about the red haired woman that intrigued me. I found myself looking at her every few minutes. But each time I looked I renewed my vow to stay out and let her mange this little brood on her own. But then a few moments later I would look again.

“Chief” I heard her say, “Is that you? Is that Chief Geronimo?”

The sound of her voice brought the memories back to me. There was no question who it was. It was Karen. The same Karen I had not seen in about four years.

She fought back a smile and then waved me over. I picked up my coffee and walked over. As I stood in front of her I could hardly believe that this twenty something suburban mom was the same lady that was so famous for a certain revealing red outfit.

Karen introduced me to the kids. Sarah, the baby was sound asleep . Matthew and Nicole were fighting over the toys in their Happy Meals. I had no idea what to say.

“Well I’ll bet you never expected to see me like this” she said.

“No, no” I protested. “I knew everything would turn out alright for you.”

A smile came over her face. She knew I was lying. She always did. I think a smile came over my face too as I thought of the old red outfit instead of the green sweater and jeans she was wearing today. But, to be honest. She was an attractive woman in either scene.

“Look I admit it I was pretty wild back then.” She said. “I was not your typical office administrator. I ran away from home at sixteen, needed money and found out I had few marketable skills. That’s where Ronny came in. He took care of me---more or less, in between the beatings that is. I got away got my GED and then took the job on your reservation. But I still had a few wild oats to sow. “

“So what happened to you. I mean one day I was sitting in the office watching you to try to type while listening to a Prince tune. The next time I was there I was talking to your boss and asking him where you went.”

She took a bite out of her Egg McMuffin and adjusted Sarah’s covers. Then she gave Matthew and Nicole a motherly look. She opened her handbag and pulled out two small packages of crayons. Two pairs of three year old eyes lit up. Another crisis averted.

“Well” she said as she sipped on her bottled water. ”That is not all that uncommon. And Chief, you of all people should know that.”

I shook my head in agreement. Then I watched as Sarah began to stir and Karen made a silly face and rocked the baby with one hand as she took a crayon out of Matthew’s hand and handed it back to Nicole.

“The long and the short of it Chief is that I went back to school. “ she said. “That and I met a guy named Barry.’

“So tell me about Barry” I said.

“You know I forgot how much you like stories Chief” she said.

I have to admit that it was a weakness of mine. A weakness that I intended to indulge.

“Barry is a sweet guy.” She said while she used one hand to pull her red hair back with an alligator clip while the other cleaned ketchup off Nicole’s cheek. “His father owns a trucking company in Cockeysville. That’s where he works. Shortly after we met he found out about the Block”

I could tell that the rest of the story was tough on her. I wanted to cut her off. But she went on before I could stop her.

“I quit the office starting waitressing. The pay was Justas good and it allowed me a flexible schedule so that I could go to school. Then we got married and a pair of twins came along. I actually kept up with school. But at about the time I graduated I was pregnant again. The career thing is kind of on hold right now.”

“Well you look like you manage to keep pretty busy.” I said with a trace of wonder in my voice.

“I volunteer too” she said. “at a home for runaway girls. Girls that have lived on the street.”

“Giving back a little” I said.

“Well it’s not exactly altruism.” She said as she took Nicole’s barette out of her mouth. “I keep hoping I will see my sister. She left home a year and a half ago. No one has heard from her since.”

I was once again at a loss for words.

“Well we have to be going Chief” she said “But this was nice.”

I nodded in agreement.

“What brought you here by the way?” she asked. “Do you live here in Columbia?”

“No” I told her. I still live on the reservation. I am shopping for an old friend. You might know her she worked on the reservation at about the same time you did.”

“Don’t tell me” she said “Jesse the Julia Roberts look alike.”

I don’t really think of Jesse that way. She is shorter than Julia Roberts. But I suppose there is a resemblance.

“Well if she still has a thing for unicorns you might want to try that gift shop across from Lord &Taylor on the upper level. Either that or Walden Books. She loves poetry. But if you want her make her laugh see if Sam Goody has some karaoke tapes. That girl used to love karaoke.”

“All of those sound like better ideas than these gutter covers” I said showing her the brochure.

"Chief you are a really sweet guy but you can't go out and buy a woman guttercovers. It needs to be a little more personal than that">

I tried to tell her that these gutter covers came in an assortment of colors and could match the decor of any home. But she told me that this was not whata woman thinks ofas "personal". Who knew?


I sat in amazement as Karen lifted the baby, gestured to the twins and headed towards who knows what adventure in shopping. Eventually I went with a volume of French poetry and the salesperson at Sam Goody’s was a real expert in karaoke. I would never have guessed that.

Well that is it for this tale from the Chief. Take any moral out of it you choose.

See ya’ in July.
 

Geronimo

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Columbia Mall = Columbia MD between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD
 
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