Dancing with Spirits

by Lyn

A sequel to Brule'

July 2004

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Sure wish I did.

Inspired, like the story Brule', by a concert performed by the musical group Brule'. For more information on them, visit their web sight at www.brulerecords.com .

It had been two years since Vin had been here, and that first time had been entirely by accident. He had been in Omaha on business and had been given a ticket to the Brule' concert held at Fontenelle Forest as part of their Native American Music Festival. The evening had been so meaningful to him that he had kept track of the group's tour schedule in hopes of being able to attend another performance. With the completion of the Gutierrez case and no new cases in the works, he found himself with the chance to use a vacation day or two and catch the group back where he had seen them the first time, in Omaha.

What he hadn't anticipated was having six traveling companions change their weekend plans to come along with him.

And so he found himself in Omaha once more after an eight-hour drive in a borrowed RV. The concert location had changed to a sub-division of Fontenelle Forest called Camp Brewster, and if anything, the location was even better than when it had been at the Visitor's Center. The area was heavily wooded, so much of the seating area was under an oak or maple tree. The backdrop was a cabin used in some official capacity for the camp. Tee Pees had been set up throughout the area in preparation for the following days activities. And the temperatures were in their low seventies. Perfect.

Since Vin had not been aware of the change in location, he had also not been aware that chairs were not provided as they had been at the visitor's center. But the men did not find that to be a problem. Buck found two attractive young ladies so he and JD were sharing their blanket. The others stood or made themselves comfortable leaning against trees or sat on the grass until the pre-show began.

The warm up consisted of a 22-year-old female dancer by the name of Thursa Dafoe. Vin remembered her as one of the dancers performing when he had been here two years prior. This time, though, she was the lead in performance. Thursa began her performance by lighting a smudge stick and running it around the audience. Vin breathed in the cleansing smell of sage as she passed him and made her way back to the stage. For the next hour Thursa explained dances and songs, played a flute made of cedar, and encouraged audience members (mostly children since they are less inhibited than adults) to join her on stage and dance with her.

And as she performed the Eagle dance, several hawks soared in the evening sky above her.

After a short intermission, the group Brule' took the stage and the real magic for Vin began.

The music soared through the trees and into the sky, lifting his spirits even higher than it had before. Paul LaRoche led the group from one song to another, taking the time in between to tell the story of his family and how he had discovered well into his adulthood that he was adopted from the Lower Brule reservation in South Dakota. He introduced the members of his group - his daughter Nicole who had been there at Brule's start; a man known as Eagle to his friends, the groups drummer, and a strong stage presence; and the newest member of the group, LaRoche's son Shane.

As the music continued, dancers would join them on stage. Thursa returned performing a hoop dance with twenty-seven hoops. A female jingle dancer and a traditional men's dancer also performed. And a young man in a large red and gold headdress made of three-foot long pheasant feathers gave a strong performance, varying from slow, precise movements to lightening fast spins. During one dance Thursa, dressed in eagle wings and hood, joined him on stage. The pair danced slowly, two birds soaring gently on stage as the birds above soared in the sky.

The darkness around them deepened and Vin found himself gradually moving back away from the stage into the darkness of the trees. The music surrounded him and he began to sway to the rhythm, the drum keeping time with his heartbeat, reaching down into his soul. He was a distance away from the crowd by now and without realizing it his feet began to move. He felt the beat of the drum, felt the woods around him, and more importantly, felt their presence around him... in him. His mother was here with him again. And Nettie too, so recently lost to him. And others. A woman in her early thirties with dark, wavy hair. A young boy of about 7 or 8. An African American couple. A woman with deep blue eyes so much like Buck's. A shorter woman with jet black hair and a huge smile. They surrounded him, embraced him and he began to spin, throwing his arms out to welcome them, his feet moving silently as he began to dance to the music that enveloped him in it's warmth.

Chris stood back under a tree, his arms crossed over his chest, and watched as his friend moved, thin streams of fog or mist seeming to join him and move with him. He was unsure of what he was actually seeing, but he knew that it was something special.

"Seems our young friend there is dancing with the spirits," a deep voice at Chris' right elbow said softly. Chris glanced over his shoulder, barely making out Josiah's dark shape.

Chris nodded and the pair turned away, Chris's hand reaching up and resting briefly on Josiah's shoulder as they returned to the stage area.

As the concert wound down, and LaRoche announced that they would do one final song while trying to beat the occasional sprinkle of rain, Chris felt Vin's presence at his side once more. LaRoche was calling his dancers up onto the stage to join them and the music exploded once more as the dancers moved. Thursa was back, doing a shawl dance. She and the young man in the headdress created motion and color on stage while the traditional and jungle dancers lent a calming presence to the color riot.

Then the dancers moved off and the music rose once more before ending. Workers moved up onto stage and began covering the equipment as LaRoche said their goodbyes and the crowd began to disperse. Chris and Vin waited under a tree for their group to gather.

"Buck, I can't take this girl's phone number!" JD's so-called whisper carried to them well before they saw him.

"Why not JD? She was your age, attractive, nice," Buck replied. "I don't see what the problem is."

"The problem is Casey would kill me!" came the answer.

"I do believe your young paramour would indeed cause you some grievous harm," Ezra's soft, accented voice joined the conversation.

"Now, what Casey don't know won't hurt her none," Buck argued.

Josiah and Nathan joined the group as Buck and JD debated the logic in taking, or not taking, a girl's phone number when you lived a good eight hours away from her, and the men slowly made their way to the front gate. They were in no hurry, knowing that the shuttle buses would be making numerous trips to the shopping mall being used for parking. Quiet conversations between the men kept them all occupied discussing the concert and the dancing, except for Vin, who remained silent but with a contented smile on his face.

The men remained at the end of the line, then finally boarded the last bus. Chris and Vin were the last two to climb aboard and as he stepped up into the bus, Vin turned back, his smile broadening as he watched several misty patches waver before slowly floating skyward. Then he climbed the last few steps and dropped into the seat next to Chris.

"Those misty patches," Chris said as he stared out into the darkness. "Pretty strange weren't they? Almost looked like... "

"Ghosts, Chris?" Vin cut in softly. "You don't believe in spirits do you?" he asked as he looked out the window and the one last remaining cloud of mist. The shape of his mother, smiling and waving, appeared briefly before floating upward into the night sky.