SEAL's Code

By: Sharon Hamilton

Chapter 1

The room was scented with a hint of sex and sleep as Danny Begay rolled from the tangle of warm sheets. He hadn’t even gotten her name this time, but she was Carson’s little friend, or had come with him before she became sick on the weed they’d smoked and retired to Carson’s bedroom, leaving the party in full swing.

He’d felt a little bad about the fact that Carson had hooked up with someone else and had disappeared with her. So it had fallen to Danny to make the little waif Carson had abandoned feel better about herself and her circumstances. And now Danny felt like shit.

He was always doing that, trying to be nice. It usually wound up getting him in trouble again. Carson would be upset, and without good cause, but it made for a sticky arrangement with his smoking buddy. And this was, after all, Carson’s cabin in the woods and his bedroom, though Carson was nowhere to be found.

Danny slipped on his boxers and silently padded barefoot and shirtless through the sliding glass door to the balcony overlooking the woods he and Carson used as their growing fields. Good of the government to make it federal lands, and with the budget crunch, it wasn’t often searched for their marijuana crop. He’d have to thank Uncle Sam some day. But today, he just wanted to sober up and get rid of the pounding in his head from the sounds of imaginary drums.

He heard the singing too, issuing a high and low cadence along with the steady beat. It wasn’t helpful, since he also had a hangover. A good run or bike ride would take the edge off, but he knew what he was going to do. He was going to have another beer, and then maybe go back to bed and let old Carson catch them screwing.

“You sonofabitch,” Danny said under his breath. He wasn’t angry with himself for his actions, taking advantage of a lonely abandoned girl. He was angry with Carson for putting him in this position.

Carson wasn’t plagued with the conscience which clung to Danny like a ball and chain. Danny knew the ever-present shit-eating grin on his friend’s face was either from weed or from the fact that he didn’t care about anyone but himself, which seemed to be enough to make him truly happy. Or blissfully ignorant. Although Danny wished he could be so carefree, he knew it was a white boy’s luxury. A young Navajo man always had to be careful, both on the res and in the white man’s world. Everything was a big deal to him. That’s the way his Native American DNA was. Sucked, but it was.

The forest was whispering again, like it had done so many times, especially lately. Although he heard the sound, he couldn’t make out the message. He knew he’d get it eventually, but he wasn’t about to go looking for it right now.

A large hawk soared overhead in the chilly early morning air, flying in and around clouds of fog, which still lingered in the area this time of year. Its mate would be nearby, and they would call to each other, inevitably scaring a furry little creature on the forest floor into making a quick movement, a mistake for the creature, but creating breakfast for the hawks and their babies.

Eureka was said to have some of the worst weather in California, and though his mother had told him several times why she’d packed him up and taken him to live outside the res as a teen, he never understood why she had to pick Eureka.

But that’s where her people, the Miwok tribe, had come from. Unlike his father’s clan, the Navajo or Dine, the Miwoks were not one of the rich tribes which owned a casino. They were poor, and they didn’t live in that glorious part of California with a sunny sandy beach, either. Their lands were redwood trees and dense forests too difficult to farm. His mother’s people had been unusually tall, unlike his father’s. They had gathered and hunted, and lived off the abundance of their land for generations. They were expert basket makers, storing their food for relatively short winters, while planning and sticking close to home. He called them the quiet people.

The red tailed hawk turned to take a closer look at Danny’s face, or so he imagined. Their eyes met briefly before the bird corrected, nearly hitting a tree trunk, and disappeared behind the foliage.

That’s when the high-pitched singing began again, which was usually the way he woke up. The chanting told him about the history of his father’s people and the land of the Four Corners, the sacredness of their plight, and the warning against evil that would befall them if they weren’t careful. The words cradled in a nest without full sentences, conjuring thoughts of magic and special powers inherent in his land of the four statues—the Dine lands lying mostly in Arizona and New Mexico.

A chill hit the back of his neck as something whispered his name, warning him not to get lost in the forest of these strange lands, the Northern California, his mother’s ancestral home.

He heard the girl’s movement in the bed behind him, so he turned and entered back through the door, closing the slider as quietly as he could. She lay on her back, the bedcovers not covering the ample breasts he had lost himself in last night. Her face was turned to the opposite wall, and the slender line of her neck was blemished by the red marks he’d made on her flesh. He knew her smell, and the tantalizing flavors of the body parts he’d so thoroughly explored.