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Monday, January 1, 2018

Let’s Dig Up the Skull of Geronimo

We was sittin’ in a booth at Denny’s on account of David George getting us kicked out of Lindsey’s Tavern. Lindsey didn’t think that David George was funny anymore; he’d covered the toilets (in both the men’s and the ladies’ restrooms) with clear plastic-wrap and waited for the splashing and the screaming.

“It was a joke!” David George pleaded.

“How old are you? 13?” Lindsey asked before he kicked us out. We used to go to Lindsey’s after our shift at Alvin’s Speedy Lube and Parts, but we didn’t work there anymore either.

“You know what we should do?” David George asked me.

“What?” I asked around a mouthful of hash-browns and scrambled eggs.

“Somethin’ big. Somethin’….” He trailed off, his eyes far away, looking at something a hundred miles away at the back of his imagination. I knew that look. He got that look whenever he had an idea. And he always had an idea.

“I dunno’, David George. Maybe we should go back to the Lube and Parts. Maybe we could get our jobs back.”

But David George had an idea. A big one. “We should find Geronimo’s head,” he declared abruptly. Loudly. I spit coffee across the table. Other folks in the restaurant turned to stare at us.

“No, David George. You remember what happened when we tried to dig up the body of President Lincoln…” That was an adventure I wished David George hadn’t gotten us into. “No. We can’t be doin’ these kind of things. Grave-robbing’s nasty work. Let’s go back to the Lube and Parts. Or to Lindsey’s. Maybe he’ll let us in if you…”

“No. This is different,” he said. “I recognize that our attempt to disinter the body of the 16th president of the United States was misguided, but this isn’t grave robbing. It’s… it’s… it’s historical preservation is what it is. It’s cultural restoration. It’s important. And besides, Geronimo’s skull has already been dug up and stolen. We’d just be finding it and returning it. And if it should bring us some cash in the process, well, that’s good too.”

David George told me how he heard the story when he was a boy at summer camp in Enid, Oklahoma, how the famed Indian warrior had died at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and was buried there in an unmarked grave. Then during World War I, as the rest of the world was being buried in blood and bullets and mud and muck, six members of the Yale secret society – the Skull and Bones were at Fort Sill as U.S. Army volunteers. These Bonesmen - including Prescott Bush, future father of President George H. W. Bush, and grandfather of President George W. Bush – dug up the corpse of the famous Apache and stole the skull, along with some of his other bones.

“The Skull and bones took it, right! The freakin’ Skull and Bones, dude. Prescott and his pals found the unmarked grave and dug it up in the middle of the night.”

“Then what?”

“Well, presumably Prescott Bush held the relics for the group and passed them, along with their totemic power, to his son and grandson.”

“You’re serious?” I asked as I stabbed what remained of my eggs. I’d lost my appetite.

“How else would you explain the election of W. in 2,000?”

I put down my fork and picked up the ceramic coffee mug that held the cold remains of my coffee; it’d had been a long time since our waitress had come by. “This sounds dangerous, David George. Won’t you wake up a poltergeist or some other trope?”

“No. no.” he laughed. “In fact this is the reverse of the movie. The Skull and Bones left the cemetery and took the headstone… Well… the head, anyway.

I put the coffee cup down; it was empty anyway. “I still say it’s a bad idea, David George.  I mean it’s not like you could fence the skull. What are we going to do with it afterwards?  We’d be stuck with it. It’d be like stealing the Mona Lisa.”

“That’s not a bad idea, Holt. But it’s already been done.”

I yawned. Like Geronimo, I yawned. The famed Apache hero could, it was said, anticipate future events. He went to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, sold picture postcards and rode the Ferris wheel and repented that he’d ever surrendered. He should have fought until he was the last man alive. I yawned, but I couldn’t feel my teeth. Whether the future would be better or worse, I don’t know. David George is not able tell me. And I wouldn’t trust him if he did.

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