At night, in her small house outside Wambli, an Oglala village on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Jimmy Means loved her, made her love him. Hot, quick, intense, orgasmic. Terrific. She loved the slick of him on her naked body, her breasts against him, his mouth on hers. She thought he would always love her.
Now he’s like rotten meat.
Beautiful, not knowing it, Anna Black Elk hikes toward Ghost Canyon on the rez near Quiverhill. Snow is heavy on the branches of the ponderosa pines. She looks toward the Pine Ridge Escarpment and its badlands.
She’s done with Jimmy Means. Jimmy didn’t even face her, didn’t even call. He texted, defriended her online.
She studies the deep ravine around her, violent dreamscape where things are swallowed up. The forest and pale wall and arroyo are silent in the heavy snow. Even the wind, for once, is still.
She knows people have vanished here, come to die, come to hide, been dumped here by killers, never found, found too late. She knows the stories from her own relatives.
As she moves upcanyon, she sees a pile of bones, sheltered from the snowfall at the base of the claystone walls, where something worked out of the soft cliff. A skull. It is old. Rusty brown. Strange. Not human. Has sharp teeth, a long face. She thinks it is a creodont, an ancient predator, 35 million years old. She sells dead things to collectors.
Snowfall, soundless, surrounds her, the sky coming down in white pieces. Cold, she looks at the skull, a killer dead so long ago she cannot imagine the span of time. Beautiful, not knowing it, strong, she sighs, deletes the text.
Jimmy’s made a mistake.