This Sight is Continuously Evolving

Children of the Coyote
The History of the Fug-a-we

Chapter 11
    Bigmouth's Quest


    By the time Bigmouth reaches the stream near where Lizardfoot had camped, the sun is just touching the Western mountains. Exhausted, he begins looking for a place to hide. He wants to be off the ground where he will be safe. Inspecting the trees in the area he finds one that has a triple branching more than two men's height above the ground. There are lower limbs just out of reach above his head. Leaning his spear against the tree he jumps up grabs one and with a supreme effort pulls himself up into the tree. Climbing slowly, carefully he reaches the place where the tree separates into three large branches. Here he can sit comfortably in the crotch and lean back against a branch. Completely spent by the days' adventures and lack of food, Bigmouth quickly drifts off to sleep.
    In the middle of the night Bigmouth wakes. Looking down from the tree he sees in the moonlight what appears to be an enormous cat circling the base of his hideout. The animal looks up at him. Bigmouth can see the yellow eyes and the long fangs glinting in the dim light. The cat lets out a screaming roar, reaches up places both front paws on the trunk of the tree and screams again.
    Bigmouth is frozen with fear all he can do is hold on to the tree and shiver. Moments later another sound reaches him in the tree, the deep low roar of one of the giant bears that inhabit this land.
    The cat drops to all fours and turns to meet the bear. The bruin rushes into the clearing below the tree. When it sees the cat it stops and stands on its hind legs spreads out its huge arms and wagging its head from side to side it roars again.      Bigmouth holds on to the tree with all his strength fearing that he will be dislodged from his perch by the mere sound of the two titan's roaring.
    The great bruin advances on the cat.
    The cat crouches waiting for the right time to attack. When the bear is in range the cat springs for the bruin's neck. The bear is too fast and while the cat is in mid leap a massive taloned paw strikes the it out of the air and slams it against Bigmouth's tree almost dislodging the frightened human. Quickly the cat attacks again. This time it gets through the bears' defenses and sinks it's long fangs deep into the bruins left shoulder. The bear turns its head and grabs the back of the cat's neck in its massive jaws. With a twist of its head the bear tears its attacker free, before the cat has a chance to disembowel him with its razor sharp rear claws. The cat screams as the monster bear shakes it like a dog shaking a rat. The cat manages to reach around and tear off one ear of the bruin before it is slammed to the ground. Painfully injured the cat uses this opportunity to escape into the night.
    Once the great cat has retreated the bear turns its attention to the soft prey in the tree. Circling below Bigmouth's position the giant looks up at him. Bigmouth whimpers and holds tighter to the limb. Twice the bear circles then it stands on it's hind legs and stretches its massive paws as high as it can reach, sinks its claws into the bark and begins shaking the tree. Bigmouth becomes so frightened that he looses control of his bowls and a stream of semi liquid feces descends from the tree onto the face of the bear. The bear drops to all fours and shakes its head growling loudly, then wipes its face on the ground but can't rid itself of the nasty stench of Bigmouth's excrement. Finally the bear after one more growl, wanders off toward the creek.
    When Bigmouth regains consciousness the sky is beginning to gray with the coming of morning. Bigmouth looks down from the tree searching for the giants that battled below him in the night. No sound or sign of the two titans comes to him. Cautiously he lowers himself to the ground. Looking all around, he picks up his spear from where it had fallen during the night. Slowly Bigmouth moves toward the water for a morning drink. When he reaches the stream he looks in all directions before he lays down his spear and kneels to take a drink. After drinking two double hands full of water he sits back on his haunches and stares around at the forest. His eyes are beginning to play tricks on him, The trees appear to melt before him but when he looks away and back again they are as they were. He looks across the creek at the trees on the other side. They all appear to be bent upstream and the opposite shore seams to be moving in that direction. Bigmouth turns away from the creek and closes his eyes to try and clear his senses. When he opens his eyes again he sees a very old man sitting on a downed log watching him. Bigmouth retrieves his spear and holds it defensively before him staring at the old man.
    The old man shakes his head and lets out a cackling laugh, then he addresses Bigmouth.
    "What is your name?" He asks in his squeaky old man’s voice.
    Bigmouth stares at the old one stupidly, his brain churning slowly.
    "Bigmouth" he answers presently.
    "What is your quest?" The old man asks with a slight chuckle.
    Bigmouth simply stares at him dully not quite comprehending the question.
    "What is your fave.....? Oh, never mind," the old man says. "I have been watching you and you have given me much entertainment" the old one continues.
    Slowly Bigmouth's brain begins to work. He looks closely at the old man. He notes the long white hair the emaciated wrinkled body. Bigmouth has never seen any one this age. The people never get this old, most die young of accident or disease or the winter fast. Only the strongest and luckiest survive to pass on their genes.
    "Who are you old one?" He asks.
    "You know me" the old man replies.
    "You are not Fug-a-we" Bigmouth declares.
    "No, I am not" the old man admits. "But if it were not for me there would be no Fug-a-we"
    "Are you of another tribe?" Bigmouth asks. "I know of no other human beings in this world."
    "You know very little of this world my young fool" the ancient one says with a twinkle in his eyes.
    "Fool? I am no fool. I am Bigmouth. I am Fug-a-we. I am the bravest, strongest, and smartest of my people," Bigmouth brags, leaning forward and pounding his chest with his free hand.
    The old one begins to laugh.
    Bigmouth stands before him with a scowl on his face.
    When the old man can speak again he looks seriously at the youth.
    "You are a fool and a coward," he says looking directly into Bigmouth's eyes.
    Bigmouth takes a step back as if he were slapped in the face by the old mans words.
    "I am Bigmouth" he repeats. "I am the greatest of the Fug-a-we."
    "Oh yes, you are the greatest of the Fug-a-we" the old man taunts. "You, who would try to kill one of your own tribesmen with a stampeding herd of bison. You who would plan to steal knowledge given to your tribe by Coyote and use it for your own political gain. Oh yes, you are the smartest of the Fug-a-we. So smart that you venture into the wilderness with out a moment's preparation or planing. No my young fool you are a stupid, petty, child who lacks any shred of humanity. I should see to it that you are rubbed out, or perhaps I should turn you into a newt.
    "Retract those words old man, or they will be the last words you speak." Bigmouth exclaims raising his spear and taking a step forward threateningly. "
    As Bigmouth stares balefully at the old man, the air around the ancient one begins to shimmer. Bigmouth blinks trying to maintain his focus. With a flash the old one disappears and in his place is the largest bear Bigmouth has ever seen.
    Bigmouth takes two shaky steps backwards. The bear stands on its hind legs and roars. The stench of the giant's breath strikes Bigmouth like a physical blow knocking him back two more steps. The monster's roar causes the ground to quake and the leaves on the trees to be blown away. Once more Bigmouth's bowls betray him. He is frozen to the spot, Feces and urine running down his legs, his knees knocking together in fear. Again the monstrous bruin sounds its battle cry. It's too much for Bigmouth. Whimpering he falls to the ground covers his head and awaits destruction.
    "He-he-he" the old man laughs, rocking back and forth on the log holding his stomach.
    "Oh yes. Bigmouth the brave, is it?" He taunts. "Or maybe it's Bigmouth the fierce." He chortles. "Of course it could be, Bigmouth the braggart, or Bigmouth the bully."
    Bigmouth looks up miserably from the ground. "Wh-who are you?" He manages to ask.
    "Ah, so you have not died of fright I see." The old man chuckles. "Aagghh, You smell of filth" he continues. "Go, wash your self, then meet me (he stops to check the breeze) down stream. We will talk there."
    A short time later Bigmouth is struggling through the brush along the creek, working his way down stream to keep his appointment with the old man.
    "Uncle, where are you?" He cries.
    "Oh, so now it's Uncle is it." The old man whispers to himself. "I'm over here in the clearing near the large Oak." He calls.
    Bigmouth turns toward the voice and begins clawing his way through the shrubbery until finally he breaks into the clearing. Exhausted by his lack of food and his many ordeals, he slowly sinks to the ground and sits cross-legged looking around the clearing. The clearing is empty but for himself.
    "Where are you ancient one? I don't see you." Bigmouth inquires.
    "Who, do you see child." Says the old one's voice, coming from all directions at once.
    "I see no one, only the brush and the great Oak and in the oak a blue jay."
    "Ah... so you see no one eh. Look again, is not the jay someone and what about the ancient oak is that not someone?"
    "I don't understand." Bigmouth whines. "The blue jay is only a bird and the tree is just wood with out the breath of life. These things are not human they are only dump creatures and plants, they are not any one."
    "Yes, it is true, you do not understand" The voice says with a sigh.
    The Jay flies down from the tree and lands on the ground in front of Bigmouth. It hops back and forth looking at him first with one eye then with the other. It stops and begins to speak.
    "I am Blue Jay," it says in the raucous voice of it's kind. "My people have lived on this world since long before the coming of the humans. We have raised many young and we have successfully evolved to fill a niche in the food chain. We prosper and increase our numbers. We will likely be here long after the Fug-a-we have gone under. I AM SOMEONE." With that the jay flies over Bigmouth's head and across the creek. It disappears into the foliage but Bigmouth can hear it laughing in the distance.
    The old oak's branches begin shaking, the leaves rattling and swishing. The ancient tree bends down toward Bigmouth.     Bigmouth, scoots back fearing that the tree will fall on him but it stops just above his head and he can here it whispering.     I am Oak the tree whispers my people have been on this world even longer than Blue Jay. My grandparents witnessed the death of the dragons. We have prospered and have successfully evolved to fill a niche, providing food and shelter for many different kinds of people. I AM SOMEONE the oak whispers, and then it straightens up and becomes ridged once more.
    Bigmouth sits quietly for a moment looking at the ground, reflecting on the words of the oak and the blue jay. When he looks up a rabbit is sitting before him.
    I am Rabbit it says in a squeaky voice. My people have been on this world almost as long as the oak. We have reproduced rapidly and have successfully filled a niche in the chain of life. We provide food for those who are swift enough or smart enough to catch us. I lay down my life so that others may live. I AM SOMEONE.
    Before Bigmouth's eyes an eagle swoops down and carries off the hair in its talon's the rabbit squeals piteously as it is carried aloft.
    "I AM Rabbit, it squeals and I am fulfilling my destiny." The rabbit's voice trails off as the great bird carries it away.
    Bigmouth shudders at the thought of being carried away to be eaten by a pitiless raptor.
    The air begins to shimmer and the old man appears sitting on the ground before Bigmouth.
    "Well, have you learned anything yet?" The ancient one asks.
    "I ... I think so." Bigmouth answers uncertainly. I have learned that all the creatures on this world are people and as such deserve respect and understanding. We all have our niche and our destiny.
    "Good" the old man says. "At least we are beginning to make some progress."
    "You still have not told me who you are, uncle" Bigmouth says respectfully.
    The old man looks at Bigmouth for a while and then answers. "I am whoever and whatever I choose to be. I am known by many names. Some call me Trickster; some call me Shape Shifter. Some call me 'Tim'. The Fug-a-we know me as Coyote, the one who led your people from the under ground into the world of light. Since it was I who brought the Fug-a-we here, you are my responsibility and it is up to me to see to it that you survive and your people learn to live in harmony with the others of this world. Your people are few but you have power and you may evolve into a major force. The others see this potential and fear it. I have been warned that I must teach the Fug-a-we to live harmoniously with them, or they will band together and destroy you. I have chosen you, Bigmouth as my messenger and I will teach you what you must know."
    "What about Lizardfoot?" Bigmouth asks. "Didn't you call him into the wilderness to, give him a great secret or knowledge that will make the Fug-a-we strong and prosperous?"
    "Ah, yes Lizardfoot" Coyote muses. "It is true, I have summoned him to undertake an important task for your people but his quest is more of a physical nature. Yours will be more of a search for spiritual enlightenment. When I sent him the dreams I knew he would respond the way he did. He is an intelligent young man and will some day be a great chief among the human beings. I have decided that your people need better weapons so I have sent him to a place where the stone is so hard that when broken correctly it forms an edge sharp enough to easily slice through the toughest Bison hide. With this stone and the techniques I will teach him he will be able to fashion tools and weapons that will not be exceeded for hundreds of generations.
    "I still don't understand uncle. If I am to be your messenger to the people so that they will learn to live along side the other creatures of this world in harmony why do we need more powerful weapons than what we already have?" Bigmouth asks.
    "For more than one reason." The old man replies. "For one, your people are just barely surviving. A few hard winters in a row and you will be wiped out. It is almost impossible for you to successfully hunt the larger grass eaters with the weapons you know possess. For you to survive and develop your people must be able to rise the top of the food chain and for that you need better tools. For another, if the Fug-a-we do not respect the for legged ones, They will attack your village and rub you out. You will need these weapons to have any chance of survival. For a third reason, far to the west of the mountains there is a sea......."
    "A what?" Bigmouth interrupts.
    "A sea, a large body of water" Coyote explains.
    Bigmouth looks at him vacantly.
    "It's not important," the old man says grumpily. Then he continues. "I have learned that an old adversary of mine, Raven, has found creatures in a giant clam shell that if the reports are correct are very similar to the Fug-a-we."
    At this news Bigmouth sits straight up and stares at the old man
    "Other Humans?" He asks eyes wide with surprise.
    "Well, these are only rumors you understand." The old one demurs. "Verification will take some time. I have spoken with the chief of the passenger pigeons and he has sent out his swiftest fliers to investigate and return with the truth. It will take many days for them to make the round trip. If it is true and if Raven is in charge, I suspect these people will be an aggressive and troublesome lot. That is another reason for the Fug-a-we to develop better weapons."
    "The Fug-a-we, using weapons on other humans?" Bigmouth says incredulously. Not likely, Human beings do not kill other human beings. It is just not done." He says righteously.
    "Oh?" questions Coyote. "Did you not attempt to take the life of Lizardfoot when you stampeded that herd of bison. Having escaped the stampede, were you not planing to force him to reveal his secret and then dispose of him." The old one continues. "Yes, I think that humans are very capable of taking the lives of others of their kind"
    "I... well... that's dif... a... I see. Bigmouth stammers looking at the ground."
    "Yes, maybe you are beginning to see after all." Coyote says thoughtfully. "That is not important right now. Even if it is true about these others it will be many seasons before your two peoples will have any chance of contact. First you must survive on this world." He continues.
    "The Fug-a-we have survived for many seasons and we prosper." Boasts Bigmouth.
    "Yes, You survive. Prosper? Well hardly. In winter when the north wind blows you huddle in your pit dwellings and consume what supplies of meat and berries you managed to put away. By spring the old ones and the very young are so frail and sick that many do not survive. The last two winters, which were very mild, saw less of your people alive in the spring than the previous fall. Your oldest member Speaks First In Council will not see this winter. With him gone who will lead your people?"
    "Bringer of Fire?" Bigmouth suggests.
    "Bringer, is a good man but he is not a leader of men. He is more interested in his personal position and not concerned enough about the safety and well being of the tribe as a whole. He may become leader for a time but his tenure will not advance the prospects of the people much." Coyote answers.
    "Who then, will lead the Fug-a-we?" Bigmouth asks.
    "Ah, yes who indeed." The ancient one muses. "That is something that is yet to be revealed."
    Bigmouth sits quietly for a time then he asks. "Oh Great Coyote why have you appeared to me in the form of an old man?"
    "As I said before, I am what and whom I wish to be. I have only recently perfected taking on the shape of human beings. Frankly, I find it very strange moving about on just two legs. It makes me a bit dizzy, and disoriented. I really don't know how you cope with all the frailties and the dullness of human senses. Be that as it may, I took on this shape in order to see if you would react in a particular way, and I was not disappointed. If I had appeared to you in my favorite shape, that of the little yellow wolf you would have been awed by the fact that you were in the presence of the 'Great Coyote' and your reactions would not have been true. I could not have broken your ego as easily. Fear is a strong teacher. You had to see yourself. You had to learn that you are only a small frail human in a world of beasts and dangers that you cannot even imagine. Your boasting and your egotism will do you no good here you must use your intelligence."
    "Enough of this talk. You have not eaten in several days. I will give you some food and we can talk later." The old man says reaching into a woven grass bag at his side. From the bag he produces a large slice of dried meat and a hand full of dried berries. He holds them out to Bigmouth.
    As Bigmouth reaches for the food the world lurches and spins out from under him. He hits the ground hard enough to knock out his wind. When he recovers he finds that he is alone lying at the base of the tree that he had spent the night in. He sits up and leans back against the tree his head spinning and his elbow hurting where he fell on it.
    "Coyote, where are you?" He calls.
    There is no answer.
    He calls again. "Ancient one where have you gone"
    There is still no answer. All he hears is the breeze blowing through the branches of the old oak above him and the harsh cry of a blue jay across the creek.
    Slowly, Bigmouth gets to his feet and moves to the stream for a drink. After refreshing him self with the water he sits back on his haunches and looks around.
    "Could it all have been a dream?" He asks him self. "It was so real. Maybe it was a vision."
    He mumbles.
    His attention is drawn across the creek by the constant squawking of the jay. While looking for the jay he notices that the shrubbery on that side of the stream is mostly service berries and heavy with fruit. His stomach growls and his mouth salivates at the thought of those sweet juicy little berries.
    Bigmouth splashes through the waste deep water to the opposite shore. Pulling himself out of the water he begins stuffing hands full of berries and not a few leaves into his mouth. He moans ecstatically as the sweet juices surround his tongue. He swallows the lot and stuffs more into his gob not bothering to chew, then more goes down the shoot. Finally his shrunken stomach rebels in a stream of purple splashing at his feet.
    Bigmouth stares at the spot stupidly then goes back to his browsing albeit a little slower. Still his insides are not happy but this time he manages to keep some of the fruit down.
    He returns to the creek for a drink and notices a large cattail choked backwater just down stream. He takes his spear and slipping into the water, wades to the cattails. Reaching below the surface he grabs the base of a plant and working it back and forth pulls it free of the soft bottom. Grasping the tuber in one hand and the fronds in the other, with a jerk he separates the two. He tosses the root to the shore to be consumed later. At the junction of fronds and tuber is a soft sweet meat not unlike the soft part of a grass stem only much larger. Bigmouth bites off several chunks of the soft material and chews happily. Discarding the tough frond he pulls up another. While he is chewing he hears the sounds of ducks in the dense growth at the center of the cattails.
    Quietly he slips into the reeds, meticulously searching for the nests. He is finally rewarded when a pair of Mallards leap into the air not more then a man's length away. In the nest are three eggs. Bigmouth picks up all three then after a moment's hesitation he replaces one, and continues his search. Twice more he is successful. Out of six eggs found he carries three to shore.
    As if he is setting a banquet Bigmouth lays out the eggs and cattail tubers. He picks up each egg and shakes it near his ear. He sets two aside, and opens one. Inside is an almost completely formed duckling. He pulls it from its shell, bites off and discards the head then he pops the rest into his mouth crunching the tiny soft bones, then he swallows. His stomach protests and he is forced to swallow twice more before he can keep the meal down. He picks up one of the tubers. With his fingernails and teeth he strips the outer skin from the root to get to the inner flesh which is tough when not cooked but edible and nutritious. Biting off a large chunk, he munches away happily, always keeping one eye out for danger.
    Bigmouth finishes the coarse tuber and returns to the eggs. Again he shakes each near his ear. He selects one, opens it and is rewarded with another only slightly less developed embryo. Bigmouth devours the small creature then he picks up the last of the duck eggs and with a small stick pokes a hole in both ends. Placing his lips against one end of the shell he sucks the lumpy contents into his mouth and lets it slide down his throat into his stomach. After eating a few more pieces of cattail root he washes down the banquet with a large drought of clear fresh water. When the meal is over he feels much better. The fuzziness in his brain is beginning to clear, the shakiness in his limbs is subsiding, and he is starting to feel almost normal again.
    The blue jay in the service berries begins squawking loudly. Bigmouth picks up his spear and crouches down to his chest in the chilly water. Cautiously he maneuvers around the bend that forms the backwater and looks up stream. He sees the jay hopping from the top of one bush to the top of another and scolding something unseen in the cover of the foliage. The bushes are shaking wildly as a large creature works its way through the dense growth towards Bigmouth's position.
    Wishing to avoid confrontation with any more large beasts Bigmouth moves into the creeks current and allows it to assist him to escape quietly down stream.
    As Bigmouth disappears around the first bend in the stream an old buffalo cow step's from the shrubbery and walks to the waters edge to drink near the spot where Bigmouth had eaten his meal.
    Bigmouth is drifting backwards looking up stream with his feet trailing on the stream bed, the fingers of his left hand probing the bottom holding up his torso and his right hand griping the spear. Around the third turn from where he had eaten his breakfast the creek widens and becomes quite shallow. With his buttocks bouncing along on the rocks he comes to a stop sitting in waist deep water.
    A short distance down stream from where he runs aground, a smaller creek joins this one on the North side. Bigmouth wades to the spot where the two waters merge. Exiting the main flow he follows the edge of the smaller stream to the North. The terrain becomes steeper and the creek becomes a series of falls and pools. In some places the channel is choked by logjams or rock slides. These he must climb over, as the banks have become almost vertical walls between which the stream tumbles on its way South. As he climbs along the borders of the flow he hears what sound to him to be voices. Several times he hears someone call his name. He stops in his tracks and listens carefully. He look at the walls of the canyon and up at the edge's high above him. All he can see are rocks and foliage.
    Looking around again he shrugs his shoulders and continues his climb. Again he hears the voice and he stops. He sits on a rock and listens intently. The voices come, not from the surrounding country but from the stream it self.
    "Bigmouth." It whispers to him.
    "So." he thinks. "Perhaps, I was not dreaming after all. Maybe all things in this world 'are' alive and as such 'do' deserve the respect of the people.
    Bigmouth stands and addresses the creek. "Oh tumbling waters." He begins. "I am Bigmouth. I am Fug-a-we. I am Coyote's messenger to the human beings and I respectfully ask you. Are you some one, that I should tell my people to respect and honor?"
    "Yessssss." Comes his answer, from the bubbles sizzling around the large rocks in midstream.
    "I will tell my people," He says as he rises and resumes climbing the creek.
    Presently he comes to a place where the water drops from a high wall of rock into a deep pool. The pool is formed by a large rock slide, which also allows egress from the canyon. Below the pool in a narrow channel of fast water he sees several large fish attempting to swim up the spillway. The site of the fish causes his mouth to water and his, again empty stomach to rumble.
    Cautiously he approaches the narrow run. He moves in quietly from down stream with his hands in the water. He waits patiently his muscles tensed ready to react. He feels the tickle of a fish as he watches it slides between his ready hands. In a flash he scoops the hapless trout out of the water and throw's it onto the rocks to his right. He rushes to where the creature is flopping in an attempt to return to its element. He falls on the fish and with one hand grasping it near gills, he puts an index finger in the mouth and his thumb at the rear of the large trout's head he pulls up on the top lip snapping the creature's neck. Before his prize stops its death throws he is stripping the skin off with his teeth and begins devouring the sweet flesh. When he has striped the meat to the bones he opens the stomach with a finger and removes two heavy slabs of eggs, which he consumes with great relish, moaning satisfactorily and sucking his fingers when finished.
    The meal finished, he stands to begin the climb up the rock slide to the canyons rim. He takes a few steps then stops and turns around to face the creek. He lifts his arms as if he were addressing a large gathering.
    In a loud voice he says, "Thank you oh tumbling waters for providing fish so that I might appease my hunger and clear fresh water that I may quench my thirst."
    He drops his arms then reaches down and picks up the discarded skeleton of the large trout. "Thank you for giving up your life so that I might eat." He says in a solemn tone.
    He sets the remains down reverently and proceeds to climb out of the gorge.
    The old coyote drinking at the pool atop the falls is the only witness to this event. He watches the human begin his climb then slinks off and disappears into the undergrowth along the stream.

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