Even if it's for a day. Or in my case, for a few hours.
My big shot at being Queen of the Everglades came when we were on the run from Uncle Sam. Our Chief Busimanolotome Osceola-- founder of the New Seminole and my soon-to-be-father-in-law-- had left his son Nokosee in charge until he got back from doing some secret shit he wouldn't tell anyone about. It was Nokosee's job to make sure no one spotted us while daddy was away. To do that, Nokosee had us moving from one hammock hideout to another during the night. We stayed under camo covering the hammocks during the day. One day Nokosee took us to a hammock deep in the Everglades that had more than a stash of provisions and weapons. It also had a chickee throne room (see picture).
I couldn't believe it. I knew Busi was certifiable because of his behavior (read my books) but this proved it.
Nokosee tried to explain the throne as an example of his dad's sense of humor (something I still hadn't seen at that time). Said the NS found it one night during a routine Alligator Alley hijacking. A tractor trailer was hauling scenery for some opera across the state when it had an “interrupted journey.” These IJs replenished the basic needs of the tribe, from food to “material” as Busi liked to say. He had it hauled out on an airboat to the middle of bumfuck nowhere and placed under a chickee. It's there he would “hold court” and listen to “his peoples'” complaints, suggestions, and wants. Oh, and if he was joking about some of this stuff, he was serious about one thing: no one could sit in his throne. Not even Nokosee. So, of course, when I heard this, I had to try it out.
First off, the Micco (Chief) should assign someone the job of keeping it clean and free of spider webs. It was filthy and covered with small Florida Brown Recluse spiders who can bite and cause a great deal of pain and suffering if not kill you outright.
Secondly, the seat of power needs some cushioning. After about an hour reading a book, my ass was numb.
When Nokosee found me he got all bent out of shape because he thought daddy would go ballistic and he didn't want that to happen since the “Great Chief of the New Seminole” and I were at war: it was his way or the highway, an Alpha Male butting heads with my own. BTW, that picture was taken by Nokosee on my smartphone. It caught me during my, as Busi liked to remind me, “Redbird” period. He had no problem letting me know he thought I looked like a “damn fool” and that “that much color in the Everglades will get you killed.” Started calling me “Target.”
“Hey, Target, for the sake of us all, please step behind that tree.”
“Oh, Redbird, would you mind flying someplace else?”
What a kidder.
Of course, I could dish it right back at him. My go-to-plan to make him even crazier was my reimagining of “counting coup,” that Plains Indians thing of sneaking up on your enemies and touching them before running away. No one gets killed but the enemy learns his enemy carries big balls beneath his loincloth (and might be loonier than you). My version was me sneaking up on Busi and standing behind him. That's it. No touching involved. Seeing him jump when he saw me in all my red glory and the laughter it brought to the NS and myself made it all worth while. Plus, it made me a great stalker. That came in handy in Book Two when I snuck up stark naked on an AK-47 carrying NS sentry after the tribe had thrown me into the wilderness (where I lost my clothes) with nothing but a compass to find my way back. They called it a “Walkabout” that would determine my worthiness but for all intents and purposes, it was mom and dad Osceola's evil plan to break me, to make me go running back to civilization where the A/C was always on.
Anyway, someone in the NS must have seen me and Nokosee getting it on on the throne-- hey, we were and still are horny in love-- and snitched on us to the Micco. Of course, he went ballistic as is his wont and, as is mine, I told him to “get real and stop pretending you're a fucking king.” That stunned Busi and the NS-- they didn't know where to look. As the Chief of the New Seminole's eyelids blinked uncontrollably while staring down at me, grasping for something to say and failing to come up with anything worthy of a kingly rejoinder, I grabbed Nokosee's hand and led him triumphantly away into the hammock jungle. Within a few seconds of ditching that ugly scene, we heard Busi scream: “You besmirched my throne! You are not worthy of my son!”
I stopped and looked up at Nokosee, giving him a look that expected an overwhelming declaration of his love for the woman holding his hand and the mother of his child-- something I still hadn't told him about (I couldn't find the right time what with all the chasing and running and shooting). He turned away and paused, thinking I'm sure, what could he possibly say to the King of the Everglades that wouldn't hurt his feelings? I squeezed his hand hard to help him come up with something. This is what he said:
“Wrong!” he shouted into the trees. “She's the best thing that ever happened to me! And I'm going to marry her!”
Well, I'd be lying if I told you that didn't catch me by surprise. It was my turn now for my eyelids to flutter uncontrollably-- and for tears to flood my eyes. That moment seemed like an eternity in a jungle that had been shut down of all sounds. Not even the insects were chirping. But it was only my imagination because an ungodly shriek was breaking through the seconds of silence. It was Nokosee's mom. Yeah, she didn't like me either (read the books).
Anyway, once I get sprung from the Miccosukee Embassy where I am doing Sanctuary, I hope to return with Nokosee-- and now our baby girl Haalie-- to that stage prop Busi once called a throne deep in the Everglades; to sit in it as a family and to tell Haalie some amazing and loving stories about the grandfather she'll never meet.