THE ONLY LIGHT came from a waning moon and a burning wickiup that the soldiers had set on fire. Nina-te was lying flat on the ground, making the lowest possible silhouette. She was a stunningly beautiful Chiricahua woman, twenty-six years old, tall for an Apache at five-six. Her long hair, in a ponytail, was anthracite black and her haunting eyes were dark as midnight; almost Oriental. A magnificent shape and skin the color of the desert sand. The soldiers had broken through the outer perimeter of warriors and now it was up to every woman who could handle a rifle to protect the young mothers, children and older women.
Nina-te was firing a Model 73 Winchester. A cousin was lying next to her, firing a Henry rifle. Nina-te had killed two soldiers for positive, one a chest shot and the other a round to his stomach. She had hit a third soldier, but was uncertain as to his status since he had limped away into the dark. The goal of the soldiers, kill every possible Chiricahua: males, females, old, young and children. The goal of the Chiricahua, survive as a people.
In the heat of battle, a soldier had circled behind Nina-te. She felt a brutal pain in her lower back, as if someone had hit her with a rifle butt. Then a second vicious pain, further up. Now she knew for certain that she had been shot. She spun and put two quick rounds into the soldier that shot her. Her cousin finished him off with a bullet to his chest. The soldier that shot her was dead, but Nina-te was dying. Nina-te knew reality: no doctor, no nurse, no medicine, no hospital. Death was inevitable. The pain was fierce and the cousin did her best to comfort Nina-te until everything faded to black.
The black only lasted a few seconds and Nina-te found herself in a lush green meadow, surrounded by tall pines, firs and spruce. Waiting for her was the beautiful, wraith-like She-Manitou. The exquisite She-Manitou was surrounded by a mystical aura that radiated kindness and wholesomeness.
Four weeks later
NINA-TE’S HUSBAND, RUSSELL Banks, was older than she was. He was thirty-eight, ruggedly handsome, six foot, three inches tall, light brown hair, grey eyes, well built and a millionaire many times over. He was fiercely protective of her. He trusted a woman named Erin Murphy, who had a popular television interview program. She neither badgered her guests nor intimidated them. She wanted to interview Nina-te and discover how all this came about. The interview would drive Erin’s ratings up by ten points and expand her demographics. Russell agreed, as long as he accompanied Nina-te. Erin and her producers yielded to the unusual conditions, because they wanted the elevated ratings.
Erin began, “I can’t thank you enough for joining me. The women of America and the men too, are anxious to hear your story.” Erin was forty-five, slender, attractive and professional. Irish red hair, worn short. One woman wore television makeup, the other wore none.
Nina-te was wearing a knee-length fawn skin dress. The dress was crafted by a famous fashion house in Beverly Hills. Her moccasins were made by an equally acclaimed bookmaker in Los Angeles. Her attire was a modern version of the dress she was wearing when she was shot. As always, she was incredibly beautiful, her raven-black hair was tied in a long ponytail.
Nina-te nodded graciously, “Thank you for having me.”
“Before we get to all the dangerous events in your life, I know our viewers, and me too, want to know just how you got here.”
“Alright. Our camp was under attack by white soldiers. The soldiers had broken through our outer perimeter of warriors and were attempting to kill all the women and children. They set fire to a wickiup, hoping to catch an old woman or young mother inside. We used the light from the burning wickiup and the shallow moon to see the soldiers. I somehow let one slip behind me and he shot me twice. My cousin and I killed him, but I was dying. My cousin stayed with me until everything faded to black.”
Erin asked somberly, “You…you died?”
“Yes, but it was only black for a few short moments. I woke up in this incredibly beautiful meadow, surrounded by tall trees. Waiting for me was the She-Manitou…”
Erin interrupted, “A…a God?”
“More like Manitou’s helper, a beautiful Angel.”
“And she talked to you?”
“Yes, she told me that a white man was coming to take me with him. He also had been cheated out of a full life. I pointed out that all white men hated Chiricahua. She told me that this white man didn’t hate Indians and would love me and take care of me. She gave me his language and then told me that the union was made by Manitou himself.”
“And you believed her?”
Nina-te nodded, “I had to. She was the She-Manitou.”
“My husband appeared out of nowhere and was almost as bewildered as I was, not knowing how he got there or where he was. The She-Manitou told him that he was to marry me and take care of me. She took our hands and joined them for the Great Everlasting. Suddenly we were in his living room. I had never seen a room that large. I later learned that his house was bigger than our entire camp.”
“Were you afraid?”
“Sort of. But he was gentle and patient and we sat on his sofa, telling each other about our world. We talked until I fell asleep on his shoulder. The following morning, he located a chapel on his computer, and I had no idea what a computer was, but we went to the chapel and were married.”
“Now you were legal.”
Nina-te amplified, “Almost. I told my new husband that I wanted to be married by a Chiricahua Medicine Man. He said that would be somewhat more difficult.”
Erin changed course, “How did you go so long without being married?”
“I didn’t. My father sold me at fourteen to my first husband, for two war ponies and a rifle. My unwanted husband proceeded to beat me whenever he felt like it.”
Erin’s fingers jumped to her lips, “How awful!”
“Even worse when you’re a young girl. He was killed by white soldiers and I had no one to protect me, so a warrior claimed me for a wife and the Chief approved. This one was worse than my first husband and beat me because I couldn’t get pregnant.”
“Maybe it was his fault.”
Nina-te shook her head, “My new husband took me to his doctor for the shots and vaccinations that would make me safe in this time. The doctors discovered that I had an infection in the fal…” she looked to Russell, who was off camera, for help.
He prompted, “Fallopian.”
She continued “Fallopian tubes when I was younger and couldn’t have children.”
“Does this bother your husband?”
“No, he says that he didn’t marry me just to have babies. He told me that if I want a child, there are lots of orphan children who need a good home.”
“So you were off to see the Medicine Man.”
“This was another shock. My husband located a Medicine Man on a reservation in Arizona. I was thinking in terms of days, if not longer, to reach him. But my husband has a beautiful plane that flies through the sky. The plane has two pilots and a young man who would get us soft drinks or sandwiches. I was terrified when we took off for Arizona, but my husband held my hand and told me that we were perfectly safe.”
Erin asked, “You’d never seen a plane?”
“In my world, only birds and cannon balls flew through the air.”