By C.A. Coffing
He came to town on a Harley-Davidson. He said his name was Wolf. He wore fringed leather and in the dark braid that hung down his back was a feather. He said he was Shoshone, from Idaho land. He met the Armenian Woman and moved in with her. She said when he slept, he muttered indistinguishable words. “Shoshone words,” he told her. The Armenian Woman loved him, and when she and Wolf walked through town, eyes followed him with admiration.
He taught a workshop to cancer patients at the city hospital. For two days, he taught them how to make medicinal pouches for healing with special herbs, stones, and sprigs of cedar. He taught them to meditate and chant in the Shoshone way for their cancer to go away. He sat cross-legged on the carpet and told them ancient stories to relieve their sufferings.
When the workshop was over, the cancer patients hugged Wolf, one by one, with real tears in their eyes. They said he had given them hope, given them a feeling of peace. One woman got down on her knees and put her hands in prayer, thanking him. The patients carried their medicine pouches with them; some wore them around their necks. Two reported back that they went into remission shortly after the workshop ended.
After the Armenian Woman piled Wolf’s belongings on the kitchen table and asked him to leave, she called his ex-wife. The Armenian Woman asked if he had cheated on her too.
“Of course,” the ex-wife said. “And he wasn’t Native American, so you know. He was born in Korea, adopted from a Korean orphanage. I have the birth certificate.”
That figured, said the Armenian Woman.
“Ten winters ago, he was in a hole so deep I could not reach him,” the ex-wife said. “Then one morning, after a snow moon, he awoke, looked in the mirror and braided his long black hair. He bought himself a fringed leather jacket, cowboy boots, silver rings, a turquoise feather earring, and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. From that day forward, he was Shoshone.”
The Armenian Woman laughed and cried.
Wolf died one spring ago, in Eastern Washington. He had been living with a new woman in a small house on the edge of a cornfield. The new woman found him lying in the driveway beneath a warm sun, the feather in his hair now gone. His body was empty when she found him; his soul had already left.