Copyright© 2017 by Ernest Bywater
David finished the first term of Year 10 before he left Australia but the US schools start in August not February. The different start dates and the time he missed has David unsure about what level to start at in the Window Rock High School so he arranges to be tested by the local school board. In some subjects he tests well enough to be a Junior, what they call Year 11 in the US, and in others he tests out as a Sophomore, the Year 10 equivalent. So he registers as a Sophomore, but in the advanced classes. He also registers for some extra credit and advanced placement classes. After he gets settled into the school he does a few advanced and college level on-line at your own pace classes from other sources as well.
The first few weeks at the new school are a bit busy while David gets familiar with how they do things in the Window Rock High School and many of the other students get to know him. He meets people and relationships grow, as is typical of high school life the world over. The help David gave people in Window Rock involved him with some of the students in their homes and now he meets others in his classes, thus he makes a lot of new friends. One of the hardest things for David to get used to is the school provided lunch. In Australia you can buy a lunch at school or you bring your own, but many of the US schools provide one from a very limited menu. He often brings his own because the school lunches are usually foods he doesn’t like eating. Some of his school friends ask him to collect his school lunch so they can have something extra to eat. David does this for them because he knows they’re often on limited food at home due to their family’s poor economic situation.
Like any school student he finds some classes interesting while some are a lot less interesting, but he does well in all of his tests and exams.
At lunch David sits at a table with a mixed group of students: some are from his classes and some are neighbours while some are friends of those in the first two groups. There are also a few other students who come and sit with them on some days. Most of them are from his year.
For sports David joins the Cross Country Team and he does well due to his overall fitness and his training from Dave. However, the training in moving across open country he gets from Long Arrow helps him to be a lot better than he was. Important things like reading the country for a safer or faster path, good map reading, how to best move across the country, and how to prepare for moving across the open terrain. On the cross country runs David wears a larger pack than the others so he can carry all of the emergency gear he has from his training by Long Arrow. At first the teacher objects to the backpack as excess weight slowing him down, but the teacher eventually comes to accept it as being part of how David does things. At the meets the pack is often inspected by the officials, but they allow him to carry it after they confirm it contains only emergency aid equipment and other safety items in it.
David doesn’t try to pick up a local accent but he soon starts to talk with the same accent as those around him. Thus he sounds like a local when he starts at school, which saves him from being teased about his old accent. He wonders how come until he realises he now has the same accent his mother spoke with, so it’s very familiar to him.
Life settles into a routine for David, a routine he enjoys and does well in, most of the time. There are a few bumps on the road of life, as is normal, but nothing major and nothing that can’t be dealt with after a little work and planning. Some of the most interesting bumps relate to his social life, both at school and at home.
One thing that catches David unaware is how important the school dances are to the students and the community in general. This is made very clear in the weeks approaching the ‘Homecoming Dance.’ David is used to the Australian school scene where most school dances are very low key and of an interest only for a short period before the dance. He doesn’t like the way some people are gloating about who they’re taking to the dance or how soon they’re asked out. Also, many are upset at who is already asked out so they have to look for another to ask out. The big shock is how many of the students suddenly change the quality of what they wear and how they look each day, only to fall back to their usual standard once they have a dance date; it reminds David of how peacocks and lyrebirds behave during their mating seasons. It’s clear there’s a lot more student social standing involved with it than he thought there is.
The dance is still three weeks away and David hasn’t asked anyone to go to the dance as he doesn’t intend to go. One of his better friends at the school says, “Light Arrow, you really need to go to the dance if you want to fit in here. Those who don’t go aren’t well liked. So get busy and ask someone to go.” After a long discussion he agrees to go to the dance. So he looks at the other students while mentally ticking off which girls have a date and which he wouldn’t ask out for any reason because some are just too bitchy for him to consider ever going out with them at all.
Near the end of lunch that day his eyes are roving over the students when he stops to look at one girl who lives near him. However, she looks so sad. Her father is dead and the family is poor, but they get by. He and Long Arrow sometimes help them out by doing minor household repairs to save them money. Some days David gives her a lift home, although she usually takes the bus to meet her mother in town. She’s one of those who likes to be called by her first name instead of her Navajo name.
Walking out of the cafeteria David moves up beside her and says, “I’ll give you a lift home today, Mel!” She gives him a stunned look because he made it a statement of intent instead of asking her if she wants a lift in the way he usually does. Surprised by his approach she simply nods her agreement to ride home with him today.
After school is over for the day they meet beside David’s car which is parked on the public road in front of the school and he opens the door for Mel. He’s driving down the road when she asks, “David, why do you park on the road and not in the student parking lot?”
He gives her a wry grin before saying, “I’d be breaking the law if I put this truck in the student car park. I leave my emergency gear in the back. It includes my first aid kit which has some over-the-counter medicines as well as a scalpel. Also, my camping gear includes sharp knives. None of that stuff is allowed on the school grounds due to Federal and State laws. I won’t go anywhere without proper survival gear and I won’t break the law, so I park on the road where I can legally park with the gear in it.”
“Good reasons! I wonder how many others have first aid kits that are in violation! Why did you insist on giving me a ride home today?”
“I wanted to talk to you but not in a situation where you’ll feel a lot of pressure from the others. This way we can talk in private!” She turns and half frowns at him. “Will you go to the Homecoming Dance with me?” She shakes her head no. “Why not?”
“I don’t have a suitable dress and everyone knows that. If I turn up with one they’ll know you bought it for me. That’ll embarrass me more than if I don’t go.”
They both sit in thought for a few minutes before David says, “We have three weeks. You’ll make your own dress!”
Mel gives him a stunned look then says, “I don’t know how to!”
“Then I’ll teach you! I was taught how to make my own clothes so I’ll teach you! We’ll travel home together each day and I’ll show you how by making a dress. You’ll copy what I do to make your dress. But today we go to Gallup to get material for some dresses and patterns.” Mel is so stunned by his plan she simply nods yes before she gets out her phone to call her mother to tell her they’re going to Gallup to get the gear she needs to make her own Homecoming Dance dress. Her mother is stunned by the reason for the trip so they talk about it for a few minutes.
An hour later the two teens are in a shop in Gallup while looking at what’s available in sewing machines. The sales lady is amused it’s David who’s asking about the capabilities of the various machines. When he selects one they move over to the patterns to have two copies of each pattern pack they choose of four dresses, two trousers, two coats which both have long and short coat versions, a man’s shirt, and a ladies’ blouse. Next is a number of the various tools they’ll need: tape measures, shears, chalk, pins, etc., plus a dressmaking book. Last is the material they’ll want, which is the hardest and longest part of the shopping.
Mel likes some patterned materials but David tells her, “We’ll wait until you’re a lot more experienced to do material with patterns. They’re murder to get the patterns aligned at the seams and they look terrible when they don’t.” He gets out a number of single colour materials and lays each over Mel’s shoulder while he looks at her from five feet away. They go through a lot of colours before he’s happy with his choices.
It’s just on closing time when David pays for five full bolts of cloth in the colours of light tan, dark tan, desert camouflage pattern, black, white, and six lengths of other colours in pale blue, mid-orange, mid-brown, silver grey, pale yellow, and lilac as well as the sewing machine, thread for all the colours of cloth they bought, extra needles, and the other tools they have. It takes the two of them, the shop owner, and her assistant several minutes to load all of their purchases into the back of the truck.
Back at home they unload it all before they clear a suitable space in Long Arrow’s home to set up the sewing machine so they can use it with ease. The main table is expanded to its full length so they’ve room to work on the material spread out on the table. Then they’ve dinner with both of the households eating together.
Mel thinks it funny David is teaching her to sew, but it gets stranger when her mother, Anna, asks to be taught as well and Long Arrow offers his assistance to help teach them both. They all laugh at the ladies being taught how to sew by the two men. After measuring Mel and sorting out the size markings they settle down to the work of measuring and marking material to get the best use of it by the careful laying out of the pattern pieces on the cloth in a way to minimise the waste of material.
David starts with one dress pattern on the white cloth and Mel has the other copy of that pattern on the pale blue cloth while Long Arrow and Anna use both copies of one of the trouser patterns on the two tans. They use four colours so they don’t get the cut pieces of material confused.
The first night is setting up the cloth patterns to cut the cloth out of. They leave it all set up on the table to do more tomorrow and end early so the teens can do some studying tonight. Starting tomorrow they’ll do their studying in the afternoon then the four of them will sew at night. That’s how it goes for the next two weeks while the dresses take shape.
One other thing David does the next afternoon is to find some sites on how to do make-up then he orders a large home make-up kit. When it arrives on Thursday they start working on how Mel should use the kit to her best advantage. He also takes time to teach her what he knows about matching colours for clothes. Then he enlists the help of Bright Star to help with the colour matching and make-up lessons. Mel recognises David is giving her a ‘Make Over’ and they plan to keep most of it for the dance so they can surprise the other students.
The first two dresses and trousers are finished ten days after they start the work on them. The next night Mel and David start on a blouse each of light tan and black while Anna and Long Arrow use the other trousers pattern on the black and the white cloth. Due to the experience with the first items they go faster, especially Anna and Long Arrow who are doing the same type of clothing as before. David and Long Arrow are faster than the ladies so they make extra clothes in the other colours.
Mel has a lot of new clothes made by the end of the weekend before the Homecoming Dance. Dresses in white, blue, yellow, both tans, and black; trousers in both tans, black, and white; blouses in both tans, black and white, skirts in both tans, black, white, and blue. Long Arrow and Mel are working on dresses in lilac and mid-brown while David and Anna are working on long coats in both of the tans and white.
The Monday of the dance week they start their campaign with Mel wearing the light tan trousers and dark tan top. They look stylish and they have no maker’s brand mark on them.
At lunchtime David is one of the first in the cafeteria while Mel is one of the last. When she walks in he waves her over and asks, “Is that the pair of pants your mother was making for you?”
Mel slowly turns around while saying, “Yes! And they fit perfectly. So does the top which was made at the same time.”
“They look much more stylish than most of what’s in the stores. How are you doing with your sewing lessons?”
“I’m doing well. I finished my first dress and blouse. I did it all! I was under supervision while I did it, but it’s all my own work. I’m working on a pair of trousers right now. The dress I made is for me to wear to the Homecoming Dance this week.”
“Good to hear you’re learning such a useful skill. By making your own clothes you’ll have a better wardrobe while saving a lot of money. Now you better get your lunch. After school I’ll see you at the car.”
Because they spoke in their normal voices those near them hear the talk, but not those not at the closest tables. However, the news is so good the other girls have to pass the word around about Mel learning to make her own clothes and how good they look. Naturally, all of the boys also hear what the girls are talking about.
For the rest of the week Mel wears a different outfit from her new clothes each day and the other girls all talk about how good they look. All of the girls really like the white dress when they do get to see it.
Before the Dance
There’s enough time between the end of school and the football game for all of the students to go home, get changed, have a meal, and return for the Homecoming Game which is followed by the dance. David still doesn’t understand why it’s called a Homecoming Game, but he doesn’t worry about it at all because he thinks many of the others don’t know either. He does realise the dance gets its name from the game.
David and Mel race home and shower then things change at that point. Mel is dressing at Long Arrow’s house but first David is giving her hair a rinse, trim, and style after she washes it in the shower. While drying her hair he uses a styling wand to give her straight hair a bit of a curl where it hangs down the sides and back while the front is a straight trim and he trims the rest back to be collar length after it’s curled.
Mel puts her make-up on while Long Arrow does David’s hair. His trim is very simple to do at a collar length. Then they both get dressed.
The two teens are ready to return to the school when Anna arrives home, and she’s stunned by how good they look. Mel’s different hair style really changes her looks, so does the light make-up highlighting her features, but the pale blue ankle length dress with the white three-quarter length coat all add up to make her look very stunning. David stands beside her in his black trousers, shirt in the same blue as Mel’s dress, black tie, and a white coat to match Mel’s. They look a good couple. Many photos are taken before the two teens can escape to go to the game and dance.
The game is outside so they both leave their white coats in the car and wear large long tan coats that hide their clothes when they go to the football stadium to watch the game. Mel and David return to the car to exchange their tan coats for the white ones after the hard fought game is won by their team, the Fighting Scouts, by a field goal in the final minutes of the game.
When the two of them enter where the dance is being held in the Events Center their matching white coats really stand out and they get a lot of attention. Also, very few recognise Mel due to her changed looks.
On reaching the table they have tickets for another student there asks, “I don’t think I know your partner, David! Who is this lovely lady?”
He smiles as he replies, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to Melissa Swift Rabbit Mason.” They all recognise the name but not the girl on his arm. Both Mel and David enjoy their friends’ stunned looks.
One of David’s friends asks, “Mel Mason, the Freshman?” He gets a nod yes in reply. “Mel, is that the dress you made for the dance?”
“Yes! And the coat is home-made as well. David convinced me to let him style my hair and he had me put some make-up on tonight.”
One of the boys says, “You really look beautiful tonight, Mel. And your clothes are stunning. You did a great job on the dress!”
Mel really enjoys the attention she gets from the other students on the night, from both the boys and girls. Much is said, by many girls, about how good the dress looks, and some aren’t happy at how much they spent on their dresses that don’t look anywhere near as nice as hers.
The following week Mel gets a lot of attention from boys interested in asking her out, something she’s not used to have happening but she likes it a lot. She does speak to David about the situation then she takes to heart his advice on being careful with the boys. However, she does spend a lot more time going out on evening and afternoon dates to have fun with her schoolmates, something she didn’t have much chance to do before. She also continues with the use of make-up and her new hair style as well as making more clothes for her wardrobe in different styles and colours. Between the different colours and patterns she soon has a big selection of clothes to mix and match to create many outfits to wear.
David and Long Arrow end up making some money by teaching other girls how to make their own clothes. Anna and Mel also earn some extra money as dressmakers by making clothes for others. This helps their home life a lot as Anna’s family disowned her when she married Mel’s father. A single mother with four kids has troubles making ends meet so the extra income is welcome, so are the savings from making their own better looking clothes instead of buying them. David also buys clothes patterns to make more clothes and cloth dolls. Later, Anna buys her own sewing machine for her family to use.
Overall School Life
The Homecoming Dance sets the tone for all David’s school dances while in high school. He starts organising to spend time on dates with girls for some Friday and Saturday nights, but he doesn’t end up as one of those going steady with any one girl. He also makes a point of avoiding the really popular girls because most of them seem too stuck up for him to be interested in them. The girls he does go out with accept he’s not going to end up in a long term arrangement with them, thus both sides are free to enjoy the time they have together without any major expectations from either party or have any issues when they stop going out together. He never takes the same girl to two dances in a row or out on a date more than five times in a row. Every girl he does go out with more than once ends up with an improvement in how she does her hair and make-up as well as better choices in her clothing selections.
Classes, lunch, sports meets, dates, and watching the school’s home games comprise David’s school social life. He does well in all his regular classes as well as all the extra classes he takes locally and on-line. In the three years he’s at the Window Rock High School he does enough advanced placement and extra credit work, both at the school and on-line, to cut out a year and a half of the college class work which are mostly the general knowledge classes put in the curriculum to provide a ‘well rounded education’ plus some of the common early subject classes. All of the extra classes he does are required regardless of where he attends college or university in the USA. It does mean a lot of work in class with a lot of studying after class, but he’s a good student who uses his study hall and free time to his best advantage. Also, unlike many others, he doesn’t have to work a job after school or weekends for spending money. So he uses the time for studies and helping others while he leaves the few available jobs to the students and other locals who need the extra money for themselves and their families.
David’s high school life is good, not noticeably different from the rest, and he enjoys the three years of high school in Window Rock High School. Exams are held, he passes well, and he graduates. But some important events happen outside of high school as well.
Arizona Life in General
Unlike most of his neighbours and classmates David’s life is on hold until he’s old enough and with a suitable education to return to Bowen’s Creek so he can live his life the way he’d planned it with Dave. But that’s a few years away and he still has to decide to do tertiary studies in the USA or in Australia. One advantage to attending a US college is his extra studies means he can reduce the time to get a degree. In his first year of high school at Window Rock his Advanced Placement and extra classes account for a full semester of the general knowledge college course work, and what he plans for the next few years cuts more out as well. With a good plan for his college courses along with a lot of hard work he can have a degree only two years after graduating high school. It’s a lot to think about and he has a lot of life to live before then. Just living in Window Rock results in interactions with others, so does his love of the local desert with his frequent camping trips.
David learns a lot about living in the desert and life itself from Jason and his neighbours in Window Rock. Some lessons are good and some lessons are bad, but all are educational in one way or another. A lot of aspects of life in the USA are like life in Australia while some are a little bit different and some are very different. However, all are interesting to him and he takes them in while noting the differences and why they’re different. In general, life in Window Rock is a placid event for David, but there are times when unusual events do happen to him or near him.
Home on the Range
Mixed in with all the things Jason teaches David are the traditional ways of fighting, the unarmed combat and knife fighting Jason learned in the Marines, as well as the care and use of a variety of handguns and rifles, including the sniper rifle Jason has. The fighting is taught on the land behind Jason’s house while the shooting is taught in a number of ranges in the region, including one near Gallup with a very long section for sniper shooting. David proves to be very good with the handguns and rifles for hunting, but even Jason is surprised at how soon David is accurate with long range firing of the .338 Lapua Magnum Barrett M 98B. On one visit to the range Jason talks a friend into letting David fire his .50 BMG Barrett M82A1A. David proves to be deadly accurate with both of the rifles at all of the distances to the range’s maximum of 2,000 yards.
David can’t understand why Jason and the others are surprised at how accurate he is with the rifles and guns, after all, Jason taught him how to use them and he just applies the knowledge. What he doesn’t know is how hard it is for many people to apply their training so well as quickly as he’s applying it. As one of the range directors says, “David is a natural with a gun and you only need to let him be himself with it.”
Once Jason is happy David is properly trained in the safe care and use of all the firearms he reduces the number of trips to the ranges to just one a month to maintain their accuracy. Competing with David forces Jason to work back up to his previous proficiency level. One aspect of firearms use Jason sees as odd is the total lack of interest David has in his range scores. All David worries about is hitting the bullseye as best as he can.
Jason also arranges for a couple of visits to ranges with a Combat Decision Course where the shooter has to fire three magazines at targets that pop up and out at them while deciding if the pop-up is a danger or not. This course is done with a handgun. Dangerous and non-dangerous targets are in the course. The points are scored for the number of targets hit plus the speed the course is done in while points are deducted for hitting the wrong target and targets missed. David does well, once he learns the rules and how to identify the dangerous targets.
Walks in the Country
David enjoys running in the school cross country meets but they’re nothing compared to the desert hikes Jason sends David on. He does four different weekend-long hikes which run through a lot of varied rough and challenging terrain. One route goes east out of Window Rock well into New Mexico, turns north for a long distance, then heads west a bit north of Fort Defiant to end at a meeting point on Indian Service Route 12. The other is from Nakaibito, New Mexico, to the same meeting point on Indian Service Route 12. The other two are both these routes in reverse to show the same area is different when travelled in another direction. One reason Jason gives for taking the same routes often is to learn how the area changes with the seasons, and this is only realised by seeing the changes in an area that’s known and very familiar to you.
The first time David goes on these hikes, in either direction, Jason is along to show him the way while teaching him more about the desert. A friend drops them both off and also picks them up. After that the hikes start late on Friday afternoon with Jason taking David to the starting point and watching him for a little while before going home. David walks until near sunset before he stops to set up camp for the night.
David is familiar with these hikes by the end of August and he knows the desert can change a lot with the weather as well as the season. Paths through some areas that are good when there’s been no rain for a week or more aren’t so good if rain has fallen in the area during the last week. He also learns how rain many miles away can have an effect on his travel path due to the water travelling along the watercourses. He needs to be especially aware of flash-floods which can rush down a dry watercourse some hours after there were heavy storms well up stream or up slope. On his desert hikes David takes along plenty of food, water, first aid kit, cooking gear, cell phone, multi-frequency emergency radio, a .22 hunting rifle, an emergency beacon, 10 x 50 monocular, compass, maps, Global Positioning System (GPS), flares, and a two round shotgun pistol for close defence against snakes and animals. Jason organises a special permit for David to carry the mini-shotgun on the Reservation Land. David is ready for just about anything he could meet out in the desert.
It’s a nice Friday afternoon in mid November when David starts out on another hike to Nakaibito. However, things look a lot different to all of his previous hikes on this route because this is the first trip with snow. Now David can really appreciate what he’s been told about the weather changing things. The night before was very cold and a light sprinkling of snow is on the ground. The experts predict a little more snow tonight.
David surveys the ground before moving out to the first rise to get a good look at the next section. As well as the light snow there was heavy rain two weeks ago so the water may have made changes to the area he’s travelling across. Thus he has to make sure each and every step is safe each time he travels through the area so he confirms his route plan at every rise. After planning the next couple of miles he turns and waves goodbye to Jason before walking down the rise and out of Jason’s sight.
Several miles later David stops at dusk to set up his camp for the night. Tonight is a simple meal of a few sandwiches he has with him which he made before leaving the house. During the night he finds the experts are wrong when it doesn’t snow again; although it does get cold enough for him to enjoy the warmth of his new ‘Arctic Grade’ sleeping bag. In the morning he breaks camp by packing up his tent and sleeping bag. With no fire to bury or fire-ring to disperse he’s soon on his way as he eats the last of his sandwiches while the dawn lights the sky. What a beautiful sight, is David’s thought while watching the spreading sunlight bring the desert to life before his eyes.
Many miles later it’s late morning when David tops a rise and he stops to plan the next section of his hike. As usual he scans the whole of the area in sight before having a close look at where he intends to go. He stops while looking to the south-east as there’s a bit of colour there that doesn’t belong! He takes out his Eagle Eye monocular, puts it to his eye, and he has a closer look. It looks like a part of a pink dress and it wasn’t there last time he came through here three weeks ago. He changes plans to work out a path to the pink cloth to find out what it is and why it’s there. After a few minutes to study the map and what he can see he’s on his way south-east, but not direct because the fastest way to where he now wants to go is to first go a bit further east before going south.
About half an hour later David is walking up to a large bush. He can see four heads huddled under the bush with coats over the peoples’ bodies with some snow on the coats to indicate they’ve not moved since Thursday. There’s a small section of a pink dress visible where the coats don’t cover it well, which is what caught his eye. He calls out, “Hello, how are you?” There’s no answer or response from them. He moves right up to them and then he puts two fingers of his right hand on the throat of each one in turn to check their pulses, he has to reach inside the collars of their clothes to do this. Each has a weak pulse and they’re all very cold. Hypothermia and exhaustion is his spot analysis, and they’re also in need of urgent medical help.
David moves to a flat spot nearby to set up his tent and ground blanket then he goes back to remove the coats to find three young girls and a woman with a crude splint on her broken leg. He’s very careful to pick up the woman to move her into the tent while there’s room to move in it before he moves each of the girls in, placing all of their heads to the entrance before he opens up his sleeping bag to put it over all of them. That’s the first treatment: make them warmer. Now for better help.
He takes out his phone to call for help, but he has no signal. He takes out his emergency radio and turns it on. After a breath he makes a radio call while he checks the GPS as he says, “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! Anyone hearing my voice please respond!” He waits in case there’s a response, then he repeats the message again, and again, and again.
After the fourth call he hears, “Person calling Mayday, this is Cessna two one seven, what is your situation and how can we help you? Over.”
Sighing with relief David says, “Cessna two one seven, this is Light Arrow Jones. I’m on the ground, I’ve found a woman with a broken leg and three girls. All are unconscious, suffering from hypothermia, and need to be immediately taken to hospital. I’ve no phone signal. My location is... , “ and he gives them his GPS location. The plane confirms the GPS location then passes the information to the air traffic controller.
A few minutes later David hears, “Light Arrow, Cessna two one seven, control is passing on your emergency call, and I’ll circle your location to maintain communications until help arrives. Over.”
“Thank you Cessna two one seven. Sorry about interrupting your flight. Any idea of when a helicopter will arrive? Over.”
“They estimate another ten minutes to reach your location. Over.”
Some minutes later David hears then spots a helicopter heading his way. He gets out a smoke flare and hesets it off beside a large flat spot near to the tent so the pilot can see the wind direction and where to land. The snow is soon kicked up by the helicopter’s blades when it lands, then four paramedics jump out of the side door. David opens the tent while he tells them what he found and what he’s done. One paramedic makes notes then checks David’s driver’s license to confirm his identity.
Two of the paramedics shoehorn their way into the tent to check the girls and woman out, and they’re soon issuing orders to the other two paramedics. Things are passed in, and within a minute or so David and two of the paramedics are carrying the children to the helicopter while the other two paramedics are preparing the woman to be moved into a Stokes stretcher. All four of the paramedics are involved in moving her to the stretcher then David is called upon to help with moving the stretcher and the woman out of the tent. Soon everyone except David are in the helicopter and it lifts off again.
David goes to the radio, “Cessna two one seven, Light Arrow. All four are on their way to hospital. Thank you for your assistance. Over.”
“Light Arrow, Cessna two one seven. You’re welcome, I hope your friends recover OK. Over.”
“Cessna two one seven, Light Arrow. I don’t know who they are. I just found them here while taking a hike. I put them in my tent to keep them warm. Now I’ll pack up and be on my way again. Out.”
“Light Arrow, Cessna two one seven. Travel safely, Sir. Out.” David turns the radio off and he packs everything up before getting ready to go to the next rise east of him so he can plan his next section of the hike.
In the Cessna 172 high above the desert the pilot turns to the woman in the seat beside him and says, “Angela, I want you to find out what you can about that group, especially Light Arrow Jones. He’s a long way from anywhere and I want to know why.”
His executive assistant responds, “Yes, Sir. I’ll start as soon as we land. He sounds like a good person, stopping to help strangers. But, as you say, it is an odd place for him to be. It’s a good thing he has a radio that uses the air emergency frequency.”
“Yes! I think he has one of those multi-frequency emergency radios that covers all of the emergency frequencies at once. It’s also a good thing we’re in this old bird since I doubt we’d have heard the call if we’d been much higher. I know several other aircraft flew through this area just ahead of us but at a much higher altitude. I don’t know if they failed to respond or didn’t hear the call as the radio call wasn’t all that powerful.”
Late in the afternoon Angela walks into her boss’ office in Salt Lake City and says, “The woman and girls are unidentified. They don’t have any identification documents on them and no match with police database images or fingerprints. David Light Arrow Jones is the lad’s full name. He’s a sixteen year old Australian born orphan living in Window Rock, Arizona, with his closest living relative, a seventh cousin. His mother was a Navajo and when the last of his father’s relatives died he came to the US looking for a relative on his mother’s side to be his guardian. Jason Long Arrow Lewis is the only one they could find. I spoke with Mister Lewis. David is undertaking a number of desert hikes as part of his training in desert living and traditional native ways. However, both insist on using every possible safety device they can get. This time it paid off well for the woman and girls. The boy is interesting in other ways as well. He has an independent income source and he does a lot of work helping others in the community. He also teaches local girls how to sew, to cook, and to do their make-up. I’d like to meet him because he sounds like a very interesting person.” Her boss nods his agreement with her.
David checks the area to make sure there’s no rubbish left there. Then he spots a section of recently dug up earth with a black strap sticking out of the earth so he goes over to the spot and he puts his pack down. After he gets out his collapsible trenching tool it only takes a minute or so for him to unearth a black side bag. He opens it up. Inside is a ladies purse and two plastic bags of things. He opens the purse and he sees a Florida driver’s license with a picture of the woman he helped. In one of the bags are bundles of one hundred dollar notes while the other has a computer hard-drive, several computer optical discs, USB drives, and papers.
He wonders why they tried to hide this bag, but he thinks it’s better in his care than just being left lying around. David takes his pack off, empties it, stores these items at the bottom of the pack, then he repacks everything else on top of them. He hasn’t enough room for the satchel like side bag and he doesn’t want to carry it so he folds it up to stick it in the bottom of the hole he found it in before reburying it. The leather is organic so it will degrade with time, thus it won’t be a permanent piece of rubbish. Due to this he’s happy to leave it there.
In a few more minutes he’s walking east on his way to complete this weekend’s hike.
Note: When he’s back at home after the hike is finished David counts the money and he’s surprised to find it has eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars in brand new one hundred dollar bills. A quick study of the papers, computer discs, and one of the USB drives has David worried about what’s on the rest of the records he found. It also has him determined to find a suitable person to hand them over to in a way he doesn’t get any further involved with it.