What Zeke did not know at the time was that Blue Wolf and three others had driven near the Erickson place and hidden in the woods. Blue Wolf had told his companions that the spirits had given him a vision of what would take place, and he kept them from rushing out when Reverend Jeremiah and his raiders emerged from the shadows.
What they witnessed would haunt them for the rest of their lives. For when Reverend Jeremiah fired, Zeke’s cowbell flew up and smacked him in the head. Both Zeke and his grandfather hit the ground at the same time, but Zeke was just knocked unconscious while his grandfather fell dead with a perfectly-round hold in the center of his forehead.
Blue Wolf rushed out to tend to Zeke while his companions sought to engage the raiders, but they had disappeared. Blue Wolf instructed one of his friends to go get his pickup, and Blue Wolf held Zeke in his arms as they drove back to his place.
Blue Wolf swore his companions to secrecy for the good of the tribe and made preparations to drive out west to take Zeke to a more powerful Navaho shaman living near the Painted Desert in eastern Arizona. This is where Zeke regained consciousness five days later with a new name, Byron James.
Blue Wolf Explained to Zeke that the new name was necessary because he had made arrangements back home to make it seem that he had been killed by his grandfather so the authorities would not be looking for him, which could lead the rest of his grandfather’s army to him. Zeke understood and had no trouble adjusting to his new name.
Over the next few months, many of Reverend Jeremiah’s army surrendered to the authorities out of guilt over the atrocities they had participated in. Others killed themselves. It took some dogged detective work to determine that the owner of the Rogers radio station was a supporter of Reverend Jeremiah’s cause and had been smuggling in the cassettes that were supposedly dropped off in the middle of the night.
Blue Wolf considered himself to be much more of a medicine man specializing in herbal remedies than a shaman, but he had enough experience with the spiritual realm to recognize that there were some powerful spirits involved with Zeke, which had him spooked. This is why he took him to Dancing Fire, the Navaho shaman. After Dancing Fire heard what had happened, he was a little spooked, too.
Oh yes, there is much more to the confrontation between Reverend Jeremiah and his grandson. For the pistol Reverend Jeremiah pulled was a Colt 1911 .45, and it had left a large hole through both sides of Zeke’s cowbell while not leaving a mark on the boy. Neither shaman dared to think that it was just a very powerful talisman.
Furthermore, Blue Wolf had seen what looked like a shadow come out of Reverend Jeremiah and enter into Zeke as they both lay on the ground. The companions with Blue Wolf that night had also seen some movement they could not explain around Reverend Jeremiah’s raiders, and Dancing Wolf suggested that this might explain how they were able to do all of the damage they did without being seen. For there were legends of powerful Hopi medicine men being able to summon spirits to hide warriors that allowed the Hopi to defeat superior Navaho forces in battle after battle.
Blue Wolf’s plan was to watch Zeke closely to see if he started acting more like his grandfather, and he was prepared to kill Zeke if this happened. That is, of course, if it was even possible. For if a .45 slug fired from point-blank range could not make a mark on the boy, Blue Wolf had no idea what could.
Thankfully, Zeke displayed no indications of being anything like his grandfather. If anything, he was happier than ever with a whole new world to explore. Furthermore, Zeke soaked up everything Dancing Fire was willing to teach him, and Dancing Fire loved having someone truly wanting to hear his stories for a change after he had told them a few too many times for most around to stomach hearing again.
Blue Wolf decided to wait until Zeke reached high school age before enrolling him in a public school. For this would give Zeke a few more years to mature in case someone tied him to his grandfather, and Zeke really enjoyed the education he was receiving from his two adopted grandfathers.
Attending a regular school again was quite a shock to Zeke’s system, but he adapted quickly. Participating in organized sports eased the transition considerably.
Zeke excelled academically, but it was on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond where he really shined. For Zeke was a natural at all three sports, and opposing coaches started complaining that he must be much older than his papers indicated.
The furor over Zeke’s alleged age made it all the way to the state board of education, and an official investigation was conducted. Nothing came of it, though.
Zeke was very good at football and basketball, but it was on the baseball diamond where he displayed the most talent. By the end of his first season, there were scouts from several major colleges and a few professional teams in the stands.
Much to the delight of Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire, Zeke did not like all of the attention he was receiving, and the end of the school year could not arrive fast enough for all three of them. Zeke could have continued playing organized baseball during the summer with a local American Legion team, but he was ready to hang up his glove for at least the time being.
Zeke had always had a fascination with history. So, Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire thought he might love spending a couple of weeks at a University of Colorado archaeological dig near the Anasazi cliff dwellings in southwestern Colorado.
Zeke most definitely did, and it proved to be a very interesting experience for them all. For an hour or so after they arrived at the site, Zeke wandered off to the base of a sheer cliff. Zeke yelled something at the rock wall that neither Blue Wolf or Dancing Fire understood and what looked like the mouth of a cave appeared.
Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire followed Zeke inside and discovered that it was not a cave. For they were actually standing in a fairly large room that had been cut out of solid rock, and Zeke told them that it had been made for Anasazi elders to gather in and talk to the Spirits.
When Dancing Fire asked Zeke how he knew this, Zeke said to stand still and he would show them. Zeke called out something that sounded like the same language he had yelled at the rock wall and the opening closed. Then the ceiling started to glow and a circle of chanting Anasazi appeared around Zeke, Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire.
Zeke explained to Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire that the spirits would not show themselves but had granted a look at the way it had been five thousand years before. Blue Wolf asked Zeke if he knew what had happened to the Anasazi, who had appeared to simply disappear many, many years ago. Zeke told him that they had been taken by the good spirits because of being especially pure of heart in order to protect them from the evil spirits threatening to corrupt them as they had so many other tribes, such as the Navaho.
Dancing Fire hung his head in shame when he heard Zeke say that. For he knew in his heart that it was true that the Navaho had been an enemy for no good reason to all of the other tribes in the region and had even terrorized the Apache before the Navaho eventually weakened from year after year of continuous warfare.
The apparition of the chanting Anasazi disappeared, and the ceiling stopped glowing as the opening to the outside reappeared. Zeke bent over to pick up a small clay pot painted with colorful markings that was now sitting on the floor in the center of the room.
Before leaving the room, Zeke told Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire that they were forbidden to speak of what they had seen once they left the room. Immediately after Zeke, Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire were back outside, the opening in the rock wall disappeared and no trace of it ever being there could be found.
Zeke handed the small pot to the head of the archaeological dig, and it looked like his eyes were about to jump out of their sockets. When he asked Zeke where he had found it, all Zeke would say was that it was while he was out wandering around. The archaeology professor suspected that the pot was a fake because it looked like it had been freshly painted, but later carbon-dating determined it to be over five thousand years old.
Zeke became a sensation in academic circles after that, but he refused all offers to speak at archaeological conferences. Zeke just wanted to be a kid for as long as he could, and his grandfathers enthusiastically concurred.
Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire honored what Zeke had told them and never talked about what they had seen in that Anasazi room, but they had plenty to say about what would be best for Zeke in the coming years. As if Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire did not already feel overwhelmed, matters became even more complicated during a visit by three Navaho elders to Dancing Fire’s home.
The elders wanted to capitalize on Zeke’s new fame for the good of the Navaho nation, but Dancing Fire and Blue Wolf were reluctant to even consider it. Zeke had been off playing a pickup game of baseball with some friends living nearby, and the elders finally convinced Dancing Fire and Blue Wolf to let them wait there to discuss it with Zeke when he came home.
When Zeke came back, he told the Navaho elders that he was not interested in their proposal, and they looked at him with great astonishment. Then Zeke politely thanked them for coming by, and in stunned silence, the elders meekly turned to walk to the car they had arrived in and drove off.
Blue Wolf did not think much of what had just happened until he looked at Dancing Fire, who was looking at Zeke with the same look of great astonishment that had been on the elder’s faces. When he asked Dancing Fire what was wrong, Dancing Fire said that he was not sure if something was wrong or right.
Then Dancing Fire explained that Zeke had talked to the elders in Navaho, which was a language he did not think Zeke had ever heard before—let alone able understand and speak so well. Blue Wolf said that all he heard was Zeke speaking like he normally did, which just added to Dancing Fire’s confusion.
Zeke had gone into the house and did not hear Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire’s conversation. They went inside and asked him if he understood Navaho, and Zeke told them that he did not. Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire did not say anything more about it, but they were both quite puzzled—to say the least.
Amazingly, nothing came of Zeke talking to the elders in Navaho, and the rest of the summer passed without any further spiritual incidents. Zeke participated with the rest of his high school football team in two-a-day practices before the beginning of the school year, and he was really looking forward to the start of the new season.
Zeke’s football team made it all the way to the state championship game in their division before losing to a perennial power out of Phoenix, and Zeke was named first team all-state as both a linebacker and a tight end. Now it was time to join the basketball team and endure more success.
Zeke’s basketball team did not make it past the second round of the state playoffs, but he was named first team all-state. Zeke averaging over forty points a game while only missing fifteen shots the entire season against usually vastly superior opponents was unheard of and garnered national attention.
Much to his dismay, Zeke seemed incapable of escaping fame, and it was on a baseball diamond in Prescott later in the spring that it threatened to literally explode. For a Prescott player was attempting to stretch a single into a double, and his spikes hung as he attempted to slide into second base.
When Zeke heard the Prescott player scream in pain, he rushed up to see his left shin bone sticking out of his stocking and arterial blood shooting streams over a foot away. Zeke instinctively attempted to stop the blood flow by putting pressure on where it was squirting out, and as soon as Zeke touched the player’s wound, the bone returned to where it should be, the tear in his skin disappeared and even his stocking looked it was brand-new. Zeke was as shocked as the players from both teams that had gathered around, and he walked back to his dugout without saying a word to anyone.
The rest of the game was suspended, and Zeke never returned to the baseball diamond as a player. In fact, he never returned to school. For what had happened really scared him, and Zeke needed some time away from everyone, including even his beloved grandfathers.
Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire honored Zeke’s wish to be left alone, but this had more to do with confusion than respect. For what was going on with Zeke was way beyond anything that they had ever experienced, with the fact of Zeke being able to slip back into the shadows of obscurity after such a public display of supernatural power serving as another clear example.
Granted, both Blue Wolf and Dancing Fire knew of the legends from days of yore, but there is a big difference between hearing about something supposedly happening long ago and actually seeing it being done. Dancing Fire knew of another who might have some experience with such, and he left Blue Wolf to stay with Zeke while he traveled to the Ruidoso, New Mexico area to consult with Ghost Owl.
Ghost Owl was a Mescalero Apache medicine man, and he greeted Dancing Fire with great anticipation. For in a dream the night before, Ghost Owl had been told that he would be visited by a kindred spirit with news of the awakening of great power.
Ghost Owl’s eyes became bigger and bigger as Dancing Fire told him about Zeke. He was a little disappointed at first that Zeke was a white man, but all of the apparent evidence was clearly pointing to the power of the Great Spirit being on Zeke.
Dancing Fire asked Ghost Owl to return with him to meet Zeke at his place, and Ghost Owl eagerly accepted the invitation. When Dancing Fire and Ghost Owl arrived, they were greeted by Blue Wolf, who told them that Zeke was out by himself at his favorite spot in the Painted Desert.
It was after dark by the time Blue Wolf, Dancing Fire and Ghost Owl made it up on top of a ridge near Zeke’s spot. Zeke had made a large bonfire, which made it easy for him to be found, and much to the shock of Blue Wolf, Dancing Fire and Ghost Owl, they saw that Zeke was very much not alone. For dancing around Zeke and the bonfire to the rhythm of an unseen drummer were a dozen chanting spirits.
Zeke motioned for Blue Wolf, Dancing Fire and Ghost Owl to sit next to him by the fire. The drumming, dancing and chanting stopped, and the spirits made an opening in their line to let Blue Wolf, Dancing Fire and Ghost Owl enter into the circle and sit next to Zeke. Then the drumming, dancing and chanting resumed.
Blue Wolf, Dancing Fire, Ghost Owl and Zeke sat quietly in the circle until the eastern sky started to become light. Then one of the spirits went over to Dancing Fire and led him into the bonfire. Dancing Fire and the spirit disappeared into the flames, the drumming stopped and the rest of spirits vanished.
Without being asked, Zeke explained that the spirits were Zuni and had come to take Dancing Fire home. For Dancing Fire was actually Zuni—not Navaho, and he belonged with his own people.
Ever since gathering up Zeke to take him away from the area after the confrontation between him and his grandfather, Blue Wolf had felt like he was astraddle a wild bronc running wild without any way to rein him in. Dancing Fire had made him feel like there might be a chance to survive the ride relatively unscathed, but that feeling had also disappeared in the flames.
Zeke felt Blue Wolf’s concern and told him that they were walking on the path that the spirits had laid out before them. This greatly troubled Blue Wolf. No, not necessarily by what was said as much as by the nonchalant way Zeke had said it. For it was if Zeke had made an idle comment on the weather.
Of course, it had happened several times before, but Blue Wolf felt a big difference between now and then. For Zeke no longer acted like an innocent child without a clue of any implications—not to mention complications.
Was Ghost Owl a complication? Blue Wolf was not sure, but there was something about him that was gnawing at his gut.
Blue Wolf felt like he needed to say something before it was too late, but he did not know what that should be. So, he said nothing and meekly followed Zeke and Ghost Owl back to Dancing Fire’s old home.
When they arrived at the house, Zeke asked Blue Wolf if they could go home now. Blue Wolf told him that he would like that and told Ghost Owl that they would drop him off at his place along the way.
The look that Zeke and Ghost Owl gave each other made the hairs on the back of Blue Wolf’s neck stand up, but he kept his face expressionless. Oh how he wished he knew where the path the spirits had laid out was going.