Seven Sides to the Story
There are seven bison remaining in California. They live on the slope of an excavated hill. At dawn they cluster together on the western edge of fence. There is no mountainside for them to hide in. White Buffalo Calf Woman gave the Lakota the sacred pipe. She was wakan and could not be harmed by arrow or bullet. The people had other weapons. She gave them seven sacred rituals and then disappeared into the white cloud of their disbelief. There are seven bison and 36,457,549 people in California. The largest terrestrial mammal in North America, the bison live in a paddock the size of a city block. Darkly furred and humped, bison can live for up to 20 years. In captivity their lives are more precarious; they suffer from alcoholism, poverty, a sickness of spirit. 60 million bison once roamed the grasslands of North America. There are seven circling their pen. There is only one way to tell you this. We are endangered. Current rates of depensation make it unlikely that we will ever recover.
Make a list of every fucking thing anyone has ever done to you. Go year by year, recalling every slight, every rejection and disappointment. This may take some time. At some point, your throat will close and your hand will spasm and freeze. Take a deep breath. Proceed.
Put words in other people’s mouths. You’re a manipulator. This shouldn’t be hard for you to do. Write aphorisms on strips of rice paper and place them into every open mouth you see. When people protest, tell them “it is not wise to beat your chest if your heart is stone.” Place you hand across their lips. Put some paper in your own mouth and chew.
Place a help wanted ad in the newspaper. Say, help wanted. No name or number. Nothing else. Just, help wanted.
Steal someone else’s pet, preferably one of those well groomed poodles. Keep it until its coat is shaggy, the bow lopsided and stained. Then send it home. You will have what you were seeking, a bittersweet week spent in the proximity of something cherished, the stolen property of someone capable of such an emotion.