There was a time, back somewhere between the 1930’s and the 1850’s, when a cowboy named Red showed up in Perfume City. He was part Injun, through his mama’s side, and she never let him forget it. He figured that was why stuff that was stupid to everybody else, mattered to him. Stuff like honesty. Truth. Simple stuff that makes the world a better place.
He had dreams. Dreams about Injuns of the future. They would still ride horses, but they would live in broken fields where nothing grew, littered with rusty, broken carriages that didn’t even have places for hookin’ up horses. They would sleep in boxy shacks, because they wouldn’t take tainted money from the Federal government. Money that would seal a lie – that the Black Hills no longer belonged to them.
His mother’s ancestors’ spirits came to him in dreams, too. But the most important dream was the one which came to him when his mother passed away. As Red slept in the rocking chair at the foot of his mother’s bed, he saw a powerful vision of an old man and his mother. The old man was standing, and Red’s mother was curled up on the ground. Both were wearing only silver gowns, which looked like nothing he had ever seen. At some kind of direction from the old man, his mother coalesced into a shimmering, silvery ball of light, which sparked like lightning, directly into Red’s gut. There was no pain, but it felt like nothing he had ever experienced. He awoke with a start, and knew in that instant that his mother’s spirit was now with him.
For years, the dream troubled him. The spirit world would only do such a thing to his mother, who wanted to rest in peace, if there was some terrible need for her not to go to her rest. Red knew – without words – that the kind old man was very much pained by asking her to forgo her rest. He knew that his mother – who had suffered greatly both in life and in death – didn’t want to go, either.
He didn’t know why – until now. Trouble was coming to the world. Maybe not to Perfume City, but it was still coming. Forces larger than men were gathering. Spirits of the dead were coming back – not to haunt men, but to give them courage. Red’s mother would guide them to him, bringing their truths to the times and places of return to the Great Spirit.
Modern men don’t believe in spirits, but it is only because they don’t know how to see them. Seeing in the spirit world is like seeing in the world of numbers and bits. We must blind ourselves to the physical world to see into the spirit world.
The spirit world wants to teach the white man that not everybody has to be like him. That not everybody WANTS to be like him. That not everybody NEEDS to be like him. And that not everybody SHOULD be like him. There are flowers with only one petal, but man is not one of them.
To remain together, and to fly, we must let each other go. By breaking a hoop in the physical world, a greater and stronger one forms in the spirit world. We cannot break the hoop in this world by the command of one, or by starting in one place. We can only break it at the same time if we all believe together that it is the right thing to do, and that we can trust each other to fly in a flock once we let go.
Red knew that this was a good vision. But he also knew that men would not believe it. This was why he had been given his mother’s spirit to help him. He knew that together, they could carry the message of the vision to the right time and place. A time and place that looks like nothing special in the physical world, but a place where the beauty of the message flows downhill in all directions in the spirit world.
To reach this place, Red would have to leave Perfume City. It would be a long and dangerous ride. But Red was never one to quit – especially when he knew that nobody else could do the job. He wasn’t really sure who his friends were, and who his enemies were – which is just kinda the way the Wild West is. But he knew that if he trusted in his spirit friends – who all believed and trusted in the Great Spirit – that together they would find the way.
One cold, January evening, Red packed up his stuff and got on his horse. He whistled for his dog, who was really the Wolf Spirit, to come along and begin the journey. A ways down Main Street, they stopped by the Basenotes Saloon. Red smiled. That place never closed. People from all over the world came into that joint, and they played and talked at all hours. Red had spent many a night in there. He’s met most of his friends there. It was a good place. Red wished that the world was a lot more like that bar. Kinda funny that a bar could be so much better than everyplace else.
Red passed a small hole in the wall with a big name – Il Mondo di Odore. The bartender, Dave, otherwise known as Aromi, had been one of the first folks in town to greet Red. Red hadn’t talked to Aromi in a long time, but he never forgot him. Aromi was one of the guys who taught Red that it wasn’t the color of your hat that mattered, as much as whether you tipped it to the ladies.
Red kept moving down the street. He saw a mansion, which was the Ladies’ Art and Poetry of Perfume Society, Ca Fleure Bon, which meant somethin’ in French, and wasn’t just for ladies, after the editor of the local newspaper became an officer there. Red had spent some wonderful times there. It made him sad to think he’d probably never see it again, but he was almost joyous to know that most men never even got the chance, and he was just plain lucky to have been there.
He stopped in front of a fairly nondescript building, and stopped there for a long time. On the surface, it was just a plain old store called Facie’s Books. But Red knew something most of the townsfolk didn’t – that all the private perfume clubs met there. Red didn’t know all of the clubs, but he knew a few, and they had been important to him. He wished that he could somehow stay, but he knew it was impossible. It pained him terribly to leave his friends behind.
Red thought about the gals at the stores – the ladies with whom he talked for hours about fragrance. Would he ever see them again? He wasn’t sure. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t be back. Maybe not for years.
But he remembered all his friends. He remembered all the wonderful fragrances he’s smelled. He remembered all the things that had made his life beautiful and amazing up to that day. He realized that it was more than enough for a dozen men in a dozen lifetimes. He realized how lucky he had been, and that it was time to repay the Great Spirit for that gift.
He looked down at Dog, who was looking back at him with eager eyes and an earnest smile.