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The Group W Bench

When Willy Ten Killer's father beats a white man to death with a shop hammer, the family is forced to flee their beloved Cherokee Nation and return to the one place they dread the most.

Deeply unhappy with the way his life has turned out, Willy decides to return to Cherokee Nation and resume his life as an artist.

His plans are sidetracked when he meets a beautiful woman whose secrets takes him on an adventure of a lifetime.

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Patricia Snodgrass

Patricia Snodgrass lives in rural North East Texas with her husband of twenty years, their son two dogs and three cats. She holds a Masterís Degree from Texas A&M University, Texarkana. Patricia has published three other works, ďMercerís Bayou,Ē ďMarilynĒ and ďDestinyís Mark.Ē She also contributed text and research to two comic art books. She has written numerous short stories, essays and book reviews. Glorious is her first Mundania book.

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September 1987

Three years after we returned to Foyil, Oklahoma, Dad took a shop hammer to a white guy who beat the shit out of Uncle Jeff and left him a broken wreck as he lay on the grassy outcropping just beyond the Top Hat Tavern parking lot. Uncle Jeff didnít die, but he was messed up pretty bad. Even after he recovered, his right eye was perpetually bloodshot and drifted toward his temple. His right hand, which he used to fend off the tire iron that his attacker used against him, looked like a twisted old tree limb. But Uncle J didnít care much as long as he could still swing an axe with the left, and toss a domino out onto the table in the late summer afternoons when the fish quit biting.

I said the whole thing started with the burning of Overton, Arkansas during the King riots, but Sudda Lee disagreed, stating quite firmly that the whole thing started before the Trail of Tears, when the yone first arrived, tried acting friendly and then finally showing their hand when gold was discovered in Georgia. I, being the smart-assed eighteen year old I was with emotional luggage to spare, said that if Uncle J wasnít in the bar in the first place, he wouldnít have gotten messed up. We went to our mother, the queen of settling all disputes, who told us that we were both right on all counts. Sudda stuck her tongue out and made a wise-assed comment in Cherokee. I waited until Etsiís back was turned before I gave my sister a well-placed palm against the back of her head.

And then, of course, the fight was on.


We are Aniyawia, Cherokee to white folks and Tsalagi to pretty much everyone else. My family, like almost every other Cherokee family in Oklahoma, can trace our ancestry through the Trail of Tears and back to the original homelands. And almost everyone here knew of how the Supreme Court agreed to let us stay where God originally planted us. But Jackson, the prominent asshole that he was, rounded us up anyway (and during suppertime no less) and marched us half a continent away to Fort Smith, Arkansas. As my mother tells it, the only folks left alive on her side of the family were an elderly woman and her grandson. I asked Edoda once about his side, but he grunted and said only that they survived, and that was the end of the conversation.


Later on, a blood feud between Stand Watie and the sitting Chief John Ross blossomed into full fury when the Cherokees lined up between the North and the South in what was famously known in the South as the Northern Incursion. My dadís grandfather fought with Watie, my motherís, with Ross. Somehow, somewhere along those tenuous family lines our clans settled the difference by stating that they got duped by the yone to fight in a war that was, in all actuality, none of our business. But someone said something about giving us Georgia back, and I suppose that was just as good as an excuse as any to start busting heads.

Either way, I never gave it much thought. For that matter, I never gave being Indian much thought, aside from the time spent in Overton when the yone kids called me names and the bigger boys tried to kick my guts out, at least during the times they could catch me, which was few and far between. I was a fast runner. As fast as Jim Thorpe, and there was a time that I really wanted to enter the Olympics. But there was no coach to train me, no money to send me to competitions, and that dream guttered like a spent candle and died out.

I still keep up my six mile run a day, although itís now on the beach instead of along the forests of Eastern Oklahoma, and Iím still an artist and have done okay for myself out here in California. And as I sit here on the edge of the world, looking out at the waves thrusting themselves out upon the shore with my toes in the sand and a beer clenched in my fist, waiting for the funeral home to come and pick up the last beautiful piece of my life, I canít help but think about the things that have been, the way they could have been but werenít. As an artist, Iíve tried painting a face to it, but itís been beyond my capacity to give. So all I have are words, and they are short and sad, but true. Iíve run all the way to the ocean, and now itís time to walk back. Slowly this time, and with great peace.

September 19,1987

San Diego, California