As I trudged towards the library, drunk on sleeplessness and spite, a man appeared in the periphery.
I turned. A pony-tailed man with a bronzed complexion and perhaps fifty summers behind him hailed me from the immediate northwest. A man too old to be calling anyone “bro.”
“Hi,” I said, stopping.
He looked up at me, somehow managing to stare from beneath the brim of his ball cap, but over the rims of his glasses.
“Everything all right with you and your lady?” he said. “I mean, with your love life?”
“Do I look like I need any help?” My voice may have cracked.
But rather than say “Me thinks though doth protest too much,” he said “No way man, but who wouldn’t take the chance to get a little better, right? You, me, everyone! Shit yeah! Hey, take it from me, I’m a Navajo and a medicine man and I’m here to help you!”
It seemed impossible that I could actually be having this conversation, but there it was. If anything, I’m underplaying the strangeness.
He tapped his throat with the ridge of one hand. This did not mean anything to me. Then he pointed to the rawhide cord, from which dangled a sharp claw, about the size of a piece of candy corn.
“You see this amulet! Do you see it?” He tapped it. “Let me tell you what’s going on here with this amulet. I make it after taking if from the animal. I bless it!” He lifted it and kissed it tenderly.
“And I…” here he drew his elbows back and made fists as if he were about to launch himself down a ski jump, “…make it happen!” His arms exploded towards me, then sat there in the air between us.
Somewhere, a bird chirped.
“I mean, you gonna use this thing once, then you go to bed and go to sleep like everything’s normal, right? But then, she’s gonna grab you in the middle of the night! Part of you’s gonna be like ‘Oh no!’ but the other part of you’s gonna be like ‘Hey I better call for backup this is crazy!’ but then you realize it’s actually pretty sweet and you’ll say ‘Damn if that guy from outside the library wasn’t right! Strong like bull, that’s what it makes you!”
I have family on a Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. I’ve spent quite a bit of time out there. As far as I can tell, lines like “strong like bull” pretty much only get uttered by Navajos making fun of movies, or how American Indians are portrayed in movies.
“So now you’re probably wondering how much it costs, right?”
I walked by. I was late. He shouted something after me.
I do wonder what he would have charged. Anyway, things are pretty good for me, but if you are in the doldrums with your special someone, and you occasionally wish that you needed backup when thing start moving fast, let me know and I”ll see if I can find him again.