That Guy Wolf Dancing

That Guy Wolf Dancing

A NOVELLA BY ELIZABETH COOK-LYNN
Copyright Date: 2014
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7zt979
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  • Book Info
    That Guy Wolf Dancing
    Book Description:

    From one of the writers of the twentieth-century Native American Literary Renaissance comes a remarkable tale about how to acknowledge the past and take a chance on the future. Rooted in tribal-world consciousness,That Guy Wolf Dancingis the story of a young tribal wolf-man becoming a part of his not-sonatural world of non-tribal people. Twenty-something Philip Big Pipe disappears from an unsettled life he can hardly tolerate and ends up in an off-reservation town. When he leaves, he doesn't tell anyone where he is going or what his plans, if he has any, might be. Having never taken himself too seriously, he now faces a world that feels very foreign to him. As he struggles to adapt to the modern universe, Philip, ever a "wolf dancer," must improvise, this time to a sound others provide for him. Like the wolf, Philip sometimes feels hunted, outrun, verging on extinction. Only by moving rhythmically in a dissident, dangerous, and iconic world can Philip Big Pipe let go of the past and craft a new future.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-423-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. CHAPTER 1
    (pp. 1-18)

    I felt a faked intimacy and was reluctant and nervous as I pushed back the curtain to answer her call light.

    “Even a li’l smack … anything,” she agonized.

    The woman’s smoky voice deepened when I entered her lair, carrying fresh towels from the aide desk.

    “Anything … anything.” She writhed and rubbed her wrinkled hands together and tried to touch me.

    I couldn’t tell at first glance whether this dark figure was a man or woman. The words spoken weren’t spoken harshly, nor was it a demanding voice. It was a voice filled with anguish that left an aftertaste...

  3. CHAPTER 2
    (pp. 19-22)

    That evening when the sun went down, I strolled around the lighted taverns and restaurants. Anyone seeing me might have thought I was a lonely man, but that would have been a wrong assumption. My great gift is that I feel inconsequential, and my life is satisfactory because it is unregulated and because I know that any real needs I might have cannot be met in this world where I find myself at the moment, so I have no expectations.

    It’s like marking time, sort of, like when you sit next to the creek and there are quick sounds of...

  4. CHAPTER 3
    (pp. 23-32)

    It was Monday morning following the mercy killing of the old-young woman by her shattered husband that I found myself walking carefully through the visitor’s lobby to the elevator trying to be unobtrusive and trying not to pay any attention to the yellow tape the police hung out. It occurred to me that if they were going to call what happened yesterday a police matter … a murder … I might be first on their list of people to question. When I got to the third floor I noticed a tall middle-aged man in uniform talking quietly with Robert at...

  5. CHAPTER 4
    (pp. 33-40)

    By the following evening I had pretty much forgotten about all this interrogation, which seemed like a bunch of crap to me, when my mother showed up driving a pretty decent-looking Chevy pickup. New tires and an intact paint job. Gun racks in the back window held a .30-.30 rifle and a .410 shotgun. It was about seven o’clock.

    It was always the same when I saw my mother, Clarissa. Uncertainty. Denial. Dread. I hadn’t made a practice of going home to her house to visit, so she always had to come looking for me, which was a puzzling phenomenon...

  6. CHAPTER 5
    (pp. 41-50)

    It’s true the roads traveled have been roads to uncertainty and disappointment, but we’ve never given up hope that the ancient, beautiful, indolent, expansive country of our ancestors might become what we need to survive.

    After my supper with Clarissa, I stood on the empty street, my eyes filling with unaccountable tears. I lit another cigarette and took several long, hard drags, blowing the smoke toward the chilly darkness. There was no wind. Every now and then the headlights of a car appeared around the corner.

    I don’t ever remember how my personal standoff with my mother began, but it...

  7. CHAPTER 6
    (pp. 51-58)

    “By accident!” Clarissa’s voice was still ringing in my ears. “That’s the way you always do things!”

    Her voice had been accusing and she seemed more disgruntled than usual. It’s an unfortunate fact of my life that this woman’s maternal admonitions won’t go away, no matter how hard I try to ignore them. I don’t seem to have my grandfather’s curious, smiling, grave way of turning her anger and contempt and curses into whatever it is that goes in one ear and out the other. Truth is, my responsibility to him was her powerful plea.

    “By accident,” she’d repeated in...

  8. CHAPTER 7
    (pp. 59-66)

    In the hours and days that passed after hearing of my “accidental” good fortune, I was neither irritated nor pacified by what was a clear motivation on the part of the old-young woman to aspire to whatever kindness she could give at what was a final stage of her disintegration.

    “Don’t think I’m a mind reader,” I said to some of the staff who kept asking what the gift was.

    “But, don’t you have some idea?”

    “Nope … not a clue.”

    Truth is, I thought about her and the gift less and less as I simply got back to work....

  9. CHAPTER 8
    (pp. 67-74)

    “How’d you get here?”

    “Hitched.”

    “That must have taken a while, huh?”

    I looked at Albert and realized that this was a small brown-skinned boy who had learned early the answers to a hard life’s questions.

    She looked down at him and drew him to her and kissed him on the forehead, pushing his long black hair out of his eyes.

    “Yeah. A couple of days. Nobody picks anybody up anymore.”

    “Too many serial killers on the road, I guess.”

    “Hunh? Do I look like a serial killer?”

    “No. No. I meant … ,” laughing.

    She didn’t give the Limo...

  10. CHAPTER 9
    (pp. 75-80)

    For a couple of weeks I was really distracted by the promise that I might see her again, but I did nothing to contact her. Maybe I expected her to show up again on her own. After that night, though, I felt really alone again, a feeling less random than ever before because now there was the possibility that this surprising meeting was no accident.

    It was the quietness of our time together that I valued, the feeling of some kind of vague, common recognition, an indefinable lingering. I watched television, went to work, spent lots of time at the...

  11. CHAPTER 10
    (pp. 81-90)

    Every day the following week I sat alone in my room like a man with no phone waiting for the phone to ring. Or a man with no friends listening for a knock on the door. I would go to work leaving the rumpled clothes unattended on the cot where I slept uneasily.

    It was a stranger’s room with an ugly, meaningless painting on the wall and a skillet filled with leftover fried potatoes on the stove, stained black on the inside. I often sat thankful for nothing but the quiet. I thought of how Dorothy hid her face away...

  12. CHAPTER 11
    (pp. 91-96)

    To make my day, Dorothy showed up again on Saturday. I decided that maybe the stars were in the right places after all, and I was nothing if not thankful because I was in real bad shape thinking of all the tasks left to me that seemed to be of overwhelming importance.

    “What are you going to do with the shirt?” she asked as she stood at the stove heating up some coffee.

    “I don’t know.”

    I put on a tape. It was George Jones and Tammy Wynette and they were singing, “We’re gonna ho-o-o-o-ld on …”

    I turned and...

  13. CHAPTER 12
    (pp. 97-104)

    At Big Pipe’s place, the bundle with the warrior shirt was placed on the table, and I thought the old man would open the bundle and look at the shirt right away. Instead he prepared the ritual smudging and then went outside to start the fire for heating the stones.

    As I watched his bent, frail body and his shaking hands on the wobbling cane, I felt a moment of real despair. I thought how disappointing it must have been to him that one son simply disappeared and another, my Uncle Anthony, had been a man who understood nothing of...

  14. CHAPTER 13
    (pp. 105-110)

    The scaffold seemed grand and at the same time flimsy in the prairie landscape. The wind, sharp and clean, seemed to me to have come from the first world when the stars were the only Dakotahs. To me, the whole thing was awesome and I couldn’t believe what was happening. The gift. So strange and unexpected.

    Now, the giving back.

    The scaffold was made out of new wood and we had spent days peeling the small, supple trees, much like the people peel the tipi poles that are used for them to gather at the Sun Dance. Drawn like fireflies...

  15. CHAPTER 14
    (pp. 111-120)

    The Church board of inquiry was meeting just a few blocks from the hospital. It was weeks after the repatriation of the artifacts, and it seemed like forever since I had said my last words to Dorothy, who was forever on my mind. I worked some on the night shift and slept during the day. Sometimes I volunteered for overtime. To be what I’m not and never have been seemed my lot. But I could think of little that mattered to me personally. I seemed to surround myself with people who would try to make me into something I never...

  16. CHAPTER 15
    (pp. 121-125)

    It was done. It was over.

    And at first I thought I felt nothing but relief as I stood up, disengaged myself from the crowd that had gathered, and walked slowly across the shriveled gray lawn to the Limo.

    The feeling that the husband was an old friend seemed to disappear like scent in the wind, and I thought he was nothing more than a man who had held illegal trust over a sacred object, and now it was done and any relationship that we may have had was depleted, and any agreement that might have been made was left...