Nashwauk Minnesota is a small town in the northern part of the state. In the early 1900's's it was a rip roaring town that featured a saloon that on Saturday night was a dangerous place to be.
Iron ore miners and lumberjacks would gather for a schooner of beer or a shot of whiskey. Many times more then one of each and this lead to fights, some with fists and others with guns and knives.''Ladies of the Night'' were frequent partons as well.
The closest doctor was a couple of miles away. The owner of the saloon was a man named Luko Salvatarro and Italian immigrant and his Indian wife. They lived upstairs of the saloon. Luko was the bartender and bouncer his wife cooked meals for the partons and his young son had the strangest job of all..Whenever there was a fight and someone was knifed or shot they would be loaded into a ''buckboard'' and little Pietro would take them ''hell bent for leather'' to the doctor to be patched up.
Luko, was a squat man with thick arms and neck and was as dangerous as some of the patrons. He kept a shotgun under the bar and a pistol in his belt. Never a man to be caught without a weapon he had a knife hidden in a scabbard strapped just over his right shoulder. Luko could pull and throw the knife with deadly accuracy faster then most men could pull a gun and shoot.
On a Saturday night in June of 1911 the saloon was crowded, their was a poker game going on and a Luko's pride and joy, a Player Piano was being drowned out by the miners and lumberjacks.
Little Pietro was sitting on the steps that lead from their apartment upstairs to the saloon, knowing that he would get a call to take a wounded man to the doctor. This was always worth a a bit of money for Pietro and he looked forward to it.
Then he spotted a tall, rangy man walking into the saloon. Something was very different about him, Little Pietro couldn't quite figure out what it was, but he knew trouble when he saw it.
The man wore a plaid shirt and had a red headband on. From under the headband his hair was long and braided, but his eyes were the color of cold steel.
As he walked up to the bar Luko looked long and hard at him. Seeing the cold eyes reminded Luko of another man that looked much the same, a man that Luko didn't want to remember.
The man ordered water, not beer or whiskey but water. Luko looked at him, then got some water for him as the taunts started...Hey Indian order some firewater so we can watch you dance shouted out one miner. Soon others joined in for a little fun at the Indian's expense. So the taunts kept coming but the Indian didn't say anything or look at anyone. He drank his water and it seemed that he didn't hear the insults.
Luko wife watched and listened, embarrassed that one of her people was being treated this way. She wondered would her husband put a stop to it or would he let them go on, and what of her son, she had heard the town people call him a half breed, did Little Pietro even know what it meant. She could not let this go on and starting walking towards the huge mahogany bar. Luko shouted out to her to go back to the kitchen this was none of her business. Luko was more worried about money then stopping it. His wife stopped for a second as a big miner walked up to the Indian and threw whiskey in his face saying ''Hey Indian I was talking to you, do a dance for us''...
The Indian's hand shot out like a cougar striking, grabbing the hair of the miner and bending his head backwards. At the same time reaching for a bottle of whiskey sitting on the bar. Holding the man's head back he stuck the whiskey bottle in his mouth and forced him to drink it. The powerful stuff was burning the man's throat as he gagged but couldn't get loose from the Indian's grip.
Soon the man was unconscious and the Indian dropped him to the floor. Others in the bar started moving toward the Indian but his eyes stopped them.
Luko was worried that with this Indian in the saloon that others would stop coming by and spending their money, he didn't care about the Indian. Hell, he was married to one and that seemed good enough.
The Indian turned to Luko's wife and said something in a language that no one could understand. She went and got Little Pietro and walked him over to the Indian. Little Pietro was scared, he didn't know this man or why his mother did what he told her. Luko was angry now, what the hell was this Indian doing. No one told his wife what to do beside himself. Luko yelled at his wife and son, '' Dammit, get upstairs now I said''. Neither moved, the Indian held them there with his eyes.
Luko moved towards the Indian, angry and ready to teach him a lesson, but the Indian turned and looked right into Luko's eyes, then the memories came back to Luko. The eyes, they were like the story he first learned in the 1890's about a Indian that had those eyes and who sought vengeance against those that he said were on his land, the land of the Ojibwe. Was this the same person Luko wondered. No, it couldn't be that was just an old Indian tale. Luko's was trying to remember the name of the Indian in the story...Then he remembered it, Stone Hand, part human, part wolf, vengeance seeker.
This old tale couldn't be true thought Luko, yet there was a fear in Luko that he had never experienced before. Then a miner went for Stone Hand, a low growl came out of Stone Hands throat, flashing fangs and the miner was dead.
Little Pietro and his mother were frozen with fear as Stone Hand turned to them, signaling them to follow him. They did, Luko didn't matter anymore, they were drawn to this man.
Then Little Pietro woke from his dream, shaken he lay there. Was it real he asked himself, in the distance a long howl pierced the air. Little Pietro had had his vision.
Kavika all rights reserved 2012