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Chief
By Donna Flood
Chapter 32 - He’s a Happy Drunk


“If you have the kids ready in their Sunday go to meeting clothes in the morning I’ll take them to church with me.” Weldon knew Gwen would enjoy a morning of rest.

“Would you really?” She wanted them to go to church and really didn’t care where they went.

“In the morning around nine,” Weldon was off into the night and gone.

This ritual was just a beginning for their Sunday mornings. The children were scrubbed until they glowed and their clothes were second to none. Weldon took them to the grocery store with him after church and even though Gwen did not like them to have soda pop he always slipped them a drink along with candy, a habit he had practiced for his whole life, first with his cousins and then his sister’s children, and now his friend’s children.

“How did you get Chief to take your kids to church?” Gwen was having coffee at her kitchen table with a friend who was now questioning her.

“Chief is a very religious man. He's always reading that Bible literature and the Bible. He offered to take them, all on his own. No complaints here, I need the rest even if it is just for a couple hours.

“I’d be afraid of that big Indian if I were you!” The woman may have been honestly interested, curious, or a bit jealous of Gwen’s fortune in having someone take time with her kids.

“Everyone tells that they have never seen him angry, not ever. Even when he drinks, he’s a happy drunk.” The statement was in total agreement with the truth regarding Weldon’s personality. In fact, no one ever saw him when he was angry, not once. When he was a boy, he might “play opossum” as his Uncle Leon called it and go off to himself without speaking. Just as surely as he left, he returned in good spirits and seemed to have no recollection of any wrong done to him.

This personality was in agreement with his mother, Bertha’s. There was no one who knew her that would speak of her as being someone, who had a quick temper. Usually, it was her way to make a joke of a testy situation. Dean had at one time told the household and outside help to inform him when his check came. They all looked at Bertha to get her reaction and she quietly ignored him.

The next quarterly check was due and Bertha joked with Vee, “Has Dean’s check arrived?” Certainly their ways were more going to the position of their genetic inheritance in agreement with the benevolence for people around them.

When the children came home with Weldon Gwen had her camera ready and took their picture. What a happy occasion it was and like snapshots from long ago it was a standing record telling about the sweet, happiness of the little group. For the first time, probably, Weldon felt he would know the taste honey. This woman was source for him to believe in a song much more to be desired than that of the old meadowlark on a fence post. She was as lost in his tenderness to her children as she was drawn to this giant of a man.

“Gwen, oh Gwen!” Weldon muttered almost under his breath while he watched her changing her children from their church clothes to dress for play.

Quietly he spoke and mostly to himself but she heard him.

“Yesssss?” She looked at him, with a level stare, laughing in such a treasured way, the man was buried with the promise in her eyes and the room seemed to turn and reel with the intensity of what he was sure to be.

“You go to my head, like red wine, Miss Gwen!” Weldon met her stare and as sure as destiny they were tied together with the realization that here was a love so deep only death could tear them apart, and not even that.

Speaking of red wine? I haven’t seen you take a drink in a while now.”

Gwen worried about his drinking. Little did she know this was like the tip of an iceberg that rode atop a submerged mass of other problems. The effect of alcohol was told in stories of raging wars ignited by fire water consumed by the Native American. Like any act, if it doesn’t happen to the individual, personally, they have no interest or belief in the reality of the thing happening. But the greater fear was not alcohol. Drugs used easily by the non-Indian could slam down on the Native with such a horrendous impact the telling of it almost defies description. A calm, normal person can suddenly become totally uncontrollable and impossible to restrain. Even strong, powerful aides have told, with fear in their eyes, of the Native person on drugs. Gwen knew nothing of this. All she knew was that she was falling in love with this quiet, solitary man, who looked at her with longing in his eyes.


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