Tis The Season
The chief and several of the tribe watched as their wiseman lit the first candle in the metal holder with eight branches. This act was also accompanied by a chant in a very strange tongue. Their wiseman was a different sort of man from the rest of the tribe. He was shorter than most and covered with a lot of body hair. The hair on his head grew long and curly which gave the women of the tribe hours of pleasure as they would take pride in caring for it. The wiseman exhibited patience when the small children would touch and play with his long curls.
The Tribe had no idea why their wiseman performed this ritual yearly but knew it held great significance for their wiseman. They also knew the wiseman would repeat this ritual seven more nights until the lantern was all lit. It brought their wiseman comfort and the tribe felt privileged to be allowed to watch him perform this ritual for several cycles now.
Also observing their wiseman was Enqueri, a very important member of the tribe. He was their watchman. Enqueri held a special standing in their tribe and if needed, could command the tribe in times of danger or hardship. Enqueri was much older than when he first became known to the tribe but still physically agile with his senses still sharp. The tribe felt blessed to have such a great and powerful watchman living among them. Along with the wiseman who was guide to the watchman, the tribe had prospered and grown. Representatives from other tribes would come to their chief begging an audience with the watchman so that he could confirm if they had a fledgling watchman or guide, and if so would Enqueri and the wiseman train the fledgling.
The Chopec nation as a whole grew strong and their land became more fertile and fruitful since the great watchman had returned to the forest. Enqueri's love for the land and respect for nature saw to that.
Blair removed his yarmulke then placed it in a small pouch to keep it safe from the elements. He placed the pouch in a trunk that held the bits and pieces from their past. His small menorah stood on a special shelf that Jim had built into the wall of their hut. Huts didn’t normally have windows but for eight days out of the year, Jim and Blair’s hut had a window. Blair turned and smiled at Jim.
“All done?” Jim asked.
“Yup,” Blair replied with a contented smile. “We’ll be putting up your tree in a couple of weeks unless you want to do it now.” Blair looked down into the trunk. In it was a miniature tree complete with tiny baubles and a gold star on the top. “I don’t mind sharing the window.”
“No thanks, Chief. I like having the your menorah take center stage. My tree can wait,” Jim stated as he laid back on his sleeping mat to watch the candles twinkle in the dark.
“Do you miss it, Jim?”
“Cascade. The city. Civilization.”
“I’ve had enough of so-called civilization to last me a lifetime. Retiring and moving down here with you was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
“The best thing we’ve ever done. I agree. Leaving the crime fighting for the younger generation was a wise decision.”
“Hey, Junior, you are that younger generation,” Jim teased but they both knew differently.
Jim had done his twenty and was waiting around until Blair had put in enough time. Circumstances had radically changed for Blair. Some truths had come out about Blair’s supposed fraudulent thesis. Blair was exonerated and allowed to complete his doctorate. Just as he finally got to use those three letters behind his name a big case suddenly popped up. It was all hands on deck including the local FBI and Homeland. Even though Jim had retired, he was asked to consult. Many law enforcement personnel were hurt in the final raid, including Blair. His recovery was long and arduous but he did recover. It was then Jim proposed a change of venue. A permanent change of venue. So there they were, living simply among the Chopec people with only their most treasured possessions in the trunk.
“What do you think they’re doing back in Cascade? ” Blair asked as he laid down beside his sentinel. Jim tucked Blair in close.
“I’m sure the whole of the western world is at the local mall running themselves ragged looking for bargains while listening to piped in holiday music,” Jim said with an exaggerated shudder. Crowds like that grated on his senses. He was happy to be away from them.
“How shall we celebrate Christmas this year?” Blair asked making Jim chuckle. It never failed to amuse Jim that Blair had more enthusiasm in the giving of Christmas gifts than Jim did.
“The tribe has grown but if you help me I think we can manage to make special treats for a tribal dinner. There’s a patch of sweet berries a few miles from here, we can make jam. And a large group of paca nearby. We can feast and make jerky with some of the meat.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Blair said.
“Do you miss it, Chief?” Jim asked after a while.
“Sometimes. Sometimes I miss the hustle and bustle. Sometimes I even miss the snow. But I have my books and things like my menorah, and I have you. And that’s all I need, Jim.” Blair beamed a brilliant smile. Jim returned the smile.
“I can’t give you the hustle and bustle but if you’re a real good boy maybe Santa can arrange a trip up the mountain for a day and we can have a good old fashioned snowball fight!” Jim said.
“Deal!” Blair exclaimed as he gave Jim a hug.
As the tribe settled in for the night, Enqueri and the wiseman left their hut for a short walk to a low ridge not too far from the main camp. There the watchman stood, his senses sweeping the forest for miles around assessing for any potential danger to their tribe; his guide by his side. Their tribe slept soundly knowing that the Sentinel of the Great Forest and their wiseman protected them.
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