They had managed, so far, to
pull off the bison-napping without hurting anyone in the process,
A small group of overnight
radicals, they had stormed the farm and took the white buffalo at
night. There had been only one old man working, depositing bails
over the fence with an hydraulic tine. He gave them no fight but
the men counted coup on his tractor by pissing in the tank. Each
one of them took turns, letting out a war cry, mid-stream. The
white bearded farm-hand stood, arms raised, watching the
Penny held a hand in her jacket
pocket, faking a gun. All of the liberators wore red bandannas to
cover their faces.
"Let's go, Turd. Back it up,"
ordered Crazy Bob, who had been the instigator and self-appointed
chief of the mission.
"Man, don't use my real name!
That farmer might hear you!" Turd bellowed. His full name was
Turtle, but it was shortened to Turd for obvious comical
He backed up the trailer and
the others set metal barricades on the side, to force the animal
in. It had been a good idea when they practiced it in the
daylight, but the night was dark and the buffalo tripped on its
way up the ramp. The beast floundered for a moment and then
bolted into the darkness of the enclosure. Buffalo shoulder
struck the front of the trailer and, with all its weight, made a
large dent in the metal.
John Boy secured the gate and
they sped away from the farm, buffalo snorts in their
Dog and Penny started to
make-out in the back seat of the extended cab truck. John Boy sat
in the back next to them, oblivious to their fondlings, staring
out the window. Crazy Bob was whooping a war cry from the
passenger window and, when they finally hit the asphalt, the
tires echoed his voice. The truck blew the first stop sign. Turd
drove for hours before they finally stopped. He had a box of
Little-Debbie's snack cakes and a two liter of Coke to keep him
It would take a while for the
authorities to find the old ranch hand. He was locked in a shed.
They had left him some crackers, a chunk of pickled bologna and
some strange type of round fluffy bread. He had instinctively
wrapped the fry bread around the pickled meat and ate it, never
having heard of an "Indian Dog" in his life. It just seemed to be
the natural thing to do.
The bandits drove off into the
night and, soon, it was morning. The truckload of Indians beeped
when they saw another Indian walking down the road. He had a
stringer full of rainbows and a turkey slung over his shoulder.
Crazy Bob hung out the window and waved his arms.
"Red Power brother!"
They whooped war cries as they
passed. Turd beeped the horn and nodded. Dog and Penny were under
a blanket, sleeping this time. The Indian waved at the passing
kids. Crazy Bob responded with a raised fist, in a gesture of
Indian solidarity. It almost reminded Crane of the motion that
German soldiers made as they marched to their fanatical
The truck and trailer pulled
into a veterinary clinic.
Three longhaired Indians piled
out. Two wore jean jackets and one had on a beat up old leather,
but all were in Levi's.
The veterinary assistant
watched them, through the window. He thought of hollywood. Today
had been the first day he'd seen an Indian come in to the office,
and now, here were three.
The Indians talked in a small
circle. Two of them waved their hands as they spoke. The other
one stared off to the west. Finally, the craziest looking one
entered the office.
Under the blanket, Dog and
Penny started to talk for the first time. They had spent most of
the two days they'd known each other naked. Not much conversation
had occurred. This was the very reason why he claimed he was
called 'Dog'. He would hump any leg he could.
"So, how old are you, really?"
Dog was finally curious.
"You won't be mad?" She clasped
"No. You can tell me now. We're
already in this whole thing together." He waved his arm, either
meaning the world at large or the immediate caper they were
currently tangled in.
"I'm fifteen," she
"Fifteen!" he choked a
"How old are you?" Her voice
was unapologetic. He couldn't tell if she cared or not.
"I'm twenty," he stated. "Old
enough to go to jail for you."
Dog pulled the blanket from
over their heads. His hair shot in electric directions from the
"And you're from Traverse? My
uncle was from there," he probed her, deciding to let her tell a
little of her story.
"Oh yeah," she was still
nonchalant. "What's his name?"
"That's funny, that's my dad's
All of a sudden it hit
They both froze, eyes locked,
then threw off the covers. They jumped from the truck and
straightened their clothes. Dog spit a few times on the
"Fucking cousins!" she yelled
"Not again!" grumbled
"Uh, yeah, we're here to bring
in a hurt buffalo. We called earlier. He got hurt loading up in
the trailer. His leg."
Crazy Bob looked at the
Veterinarian and said no more.
She waited for a moment, making
sure he was done.
"Okay, then," she would've
sighed but the look on the assistant's face was fresh in her
mind. "Let's have a look. Bring the trailer over to these side
doors," she pointed to the large slider, which entered into a
Jale slid the door open and
Turd backed the trailer in.
"Go ahead," Shelly said. "Open
A buffalo, unlike any Jale had
ever seen, charged into the corral. The animal ran around two or
three times with a three-legged gait, limping. He was obviously
damaged, but compensated well enough with the uninjured limbs. It
snorted a few more times and began to calm down. The animal was
covered with beautiful white fur.
"Oh, my God!" exclaimed
Shelly. She took a step back.
"That's right," one of the
Indians behind her said.
"Lets not use the chute," the
doctor decided, her heart racing. "We're going to have to tranq
him, Jale, get the darts ready and set the charge at about,
hmmmmm…" Shelly looked over at the buffalo. How much did the
"1500 lbs.?" The boy
"Sounds about right," she
nodded in approval.
The veterinarian handed Jale
the gun. Her hands were shaking. She hated the things. Even
though it was only for tranquilizer darts, it looked real enough
a weapon to her.
Jale beaded down on the rear
quarter, keenly aware of the Indian eyes watching him. It felt
funny to shoot at a buffalo with them staring in the background.
The dart smacked into the beast's ass, exploded the dose under
its thick skin and hung limp, imbedded by a barb on the
Jale and Shelly went to work.
They quickly reset the bone, not speaking the whole time. The
white buffalo slept through the entire procedure.
None of the Indians said a word
while the vets labored. When it was over, they all helped drag
the animal back into the trailer, using a heavy canvas.
Two more Indians had appeared,
a couple. Jale mentally noted that there had been six
"How much do we owe you?" asked
the crazy man who spoke earlier.
"That's a very rare animal
indeed," Dr. Shelly finally commented on the albinism, cleaning
her hands on a rough towel. "Where did you say you were from
again?" She looked inquisitively at the man.
Crazy Bob grew uncomfortable.
He shuffled between feet, avoiding her stare.
"How much?" he asked, ignoring
"150 bucks," she stated
flatly, understanding she had been given all the information she
Crazy Bob flung his hair to the
side, shaking his head, and dug inside his jacket, producing a
wad of hundred dollar bills. He peeled two of them from the outer
layer of the roll.
"Keep the change, for the kid,"
the Indian motioned toward Jale and put on his sunglasses. "I
thought it'd be more."
Jale had read stories about
the mystical white buffalo while studying social science. He was
almost sure that Dr. Shelly knew nothing about the legend,
because she was only slightly surprised when it first emerged
from the trailer. She had just appeared curious at the Indians,
who seemed to be frightened, almost in awe, of the animal.
In truth, it was the first time
any of the buffalo-nappers had seen the sacred beast in the light
of day. The eyes in each Indian face revealed their reverence. A
silent prayer passed between them. They were standing in front of
a living expression of god, as taught by their pan-Indian
traditions. Any arguments for having stolen it were obvious to
The truck and trailer returned
to the road. The sacred cargo had awakened and was feeling
It truly was a rescue
The overnight radicals were
back on the righteous high horse. How could they let that white
farmer exploit such a creature, sell tickets and trinkets, make
it dance for the news cameras?
"What these brothers did was an
act of liberation!" Crazy Bob intoned as if he were a host to
their own celebration banquet. "This buffalo can live in honor
and his teachings be shared among the people. The white messenger
will walk the rolling Black Hills that were meant to be his
grounds. Freedom for the enslaved brother!"
They chanted songs and whooped
their way down the road, resisting the temptation to stop at
reservations they were passing through, to show it off. This gift
would be shared with the people soon enough. The liberators
smiled big raccoon grins at each other, while Turd and Crazy Bob
made up songs about the raid and rescue.
They passed Manistee and
continued to Ludington, intent on boarding The Badger, the ferry
that traversed Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. No one
would ever suspect them of taking the boat! If anything, it was
more dangerous to cross the Macinac Bridge. Few arteries passed
through the U.P. If somebody had recorded their license plate
number, the State Police would arrest them right away.
The old man at the buffalo farm
hadn't been able to help the police, though.
"They looked like Indians," was
the best description he could muster. "You know, like in the
movies. Except no horses or feathers."
The Buffalo Liberation Team
secured their tickets and waited to board the ferry.
Turd had created the name, an
achronism for his favorite sandwich. He thought about the bacon,
lettuce and tomato in silent reverie. Bacon. Especially the
The team tried to act cool, to
not draw attention. They all put on shades and leaned back,
listening to a Pow-Wow tape.
John Boy stared at the endless
expanse of water.
Crazy Bob made his own
cigarettes, placing tobacco from blue pouches into rolling
papers. An untrained eye would think they looked like big
A security guard tapped at the
"Okay guys, who's smoking
He tapped the window
Turd rolled down the glass on
"Not us, Officer. It's just
Crazy Bob offered the lit
cigarette to the armed rent-a-cop.
The cop grabbed the spliff with
authority and sniffed at it lightly. Harmless, he thought and
handed the cigarette back to Crazy Bob. He started to go, but
caught whiff of something else, something sweeter and probably
illegal. He puffed his chest, noticing a suspicious plastic bag
on the dashboard.
The team had burned some sage
earlier, leaving the bundle in plain sight. A slight tinge of the
gentle, aromatic herb remained in the air. The cop misidentified
the package, and the smell, as Mary Jane, a.k.a. reefer, and
immediately pulled his side arm.
"Everybody out of the car!" he
commanded, leveling the .38, ready to shoot if anyone so much as
The five bandits acquiesced and
exited, standing against the side of the truck with their arms
spread, visible above their head's, fingers interlocked, exactly
as they were ordered to do.
The guard kicked their feet
apart as he frisked them, trying to be as rough as he could, so
they knew he meant business.
"What's this thing, then? Huh?"
He held up a sacred pipe made of red catlinite stone, that he had
found in a leather pouch in Crazy Bob's jacket. "Is this just for
The team sighed,
In fact, it was.