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Critically Wounded

drylake

“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world . . .  Nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float.”

—from Black Elk Speaks, Being the Life Story of a Man of the Oglala Sioux, c. 1932

Sally walks into the pharmacy to pick up her Zoloft prescription. She has an unsettled, anxious feeling because she just saw someone she knows from high school working the cash register at 7-11. Sally thinks this is about the worst fate that could befall a person but she is very wrong, and she knows she’s wrong. She can’t stop the flow of her thoughts, even if they are wrong, and especially when fear is attached. She was raised in a world of privilege, a world where the privileged grow so accustomed to their comforts that they have no gratitude. So they remind themselves to have gratitude. But it drains away while they sleep.

When Sally was in high school (with the cashier at 7-11) she read The Pearl, by John Steinbeck. In the story, a poor fisherman can’t afford medicine for his baby. Even though he finds a pearl to pay for the medicine, greed and corruption get in the way, and the baby . . . well, it’s pretty rough. Sally was very moved, even awakened, by the story. She never bothered to reread it, though. (It’s a pretty short book.)

Crazy Horse was a mighty warrior and an honorable chief. But the Wasichus (white men) tricked him and ran a bayonet through his side. That was the end of the world.

At the pharmacy, while Sally waits, everyone is talking about a massive train crash, north of New York City. A passenger train went off the rails. People were killed and critically wounded. To Sally, critically wounded means “probably going to die,” but maybe it means “admitted to ICU,” or even just, “in the hospital.” As opposed to “walked away without a scratch.”

A few people witnessed the train disaster from the windows of their apartments, in a high-rise building near the crash site. They just happened to be standing there, looking down. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It didn’t seem real.

It was real, Crazy Horse.

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