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Three more hours. Three more hours and I’d be home. I was so looking forward to getting home to my bed and my teddy bear. Twelve days away from home, going to our region’s other three labs to teach my colleagues about their new spectrometer, one I’d worked with for a few years already. But now, I was done and going home.
It was late fall and there were a few leftover road work areas that had us alternating in a single lane and we’d just gotten out of such an area. I was the last person to get through before they let the other direction’s vehicles go through for a while. I couldn’t help but think that the work had better finish soon as there was snow in the forecast.
Traffic ahead of me slowed down to a crawl and we eventually came to a complete stop. After a while, I, along with most people on the road ahead of me, shut off my vehicle and got out to walk around. There was no traffic coming from the other way so whatever it was had to be big. I tried checking the road conditions website but there was no cell service. Not unusual for this area of the highway. We were in a First Nations reserve and its territory was vast. There was service in the little town in the middle of the reserve. Hopefully, if there had been an accident, someone had been able to call for help.
It was almost an hour later when I saw vehicles way ahead of us start up and get moving. So I got back into my vehicle and waited for my turn and followed the other cars. It was still odd that there was no traffic going the other way. Once we made it to the village, we were directed by a series of men with high visibility vests to park in a large field. There was a man in the field, indicating where to park so I followed his indications and parked at the end of the row.
As I got out of my vehicle, I took a look at him. He was obviously native but unlike most of the first nations people depicted in movies and TV, he didn’t have the serious scowl and actually seemed quite friendly. The people in the car next to me started asking him questions but he just said “Please just go in and all will be answered.”
They grumbled but started walking towards the building he had pointed to. I opened the back door of my vehicle and grabbed a fleece. He came towards me and said “The building is heated, you won’t be needing that, Miss.”
Miss? Now that we were closer, I could see that he was no spring chicken either. There were a few white hairs in his long braid and lines on his face. I estimated that he would be in his forties, just like me. Up close, not only did I find him good looking but found that he had kind eyes. Normally, I wasn’t a fan of men with hair longer than mine and my French braids went down all the way past my bra band but on him, it just looked so natural, so appropriate. I smiled at him and said “I have no doubt that the building will be comfortable but when we eventually come out, it might not be this warm. Might need it then.”
“Good point. Shall we join the others?”
I nodded and we started walking towards this big building. There was something about his voice that I found extremely pleasing. I wanted to hear it some more. I ventured “Must be some big accident to close the highway. Hope nobody got hurt.”
“To be honest with you, I have no clue what happened. I just got a call asking me to come help with traffic so I came. I’ll find out what’s going on at the same time as you will.”
“So you just dropped what you were doing and came running?”
“Something like that. I’ve been working from home and it’s not that far. I was able to walk, not run.”
I looked at him and he had this playful gleam in his eyes. “Good one. What do you do that you can do from home?”
“I’m a computer nerd. I can do a lot from home.”
“True but that takes discipline, something that I would lack if I tried to work from home so hats off to you.”
“Thanks. What do you do?”
“I’m a lab rat.”
“A lab rat. I work in a big laboratory, doing analyses, maintaining all the lab equipment and preparing reports for customers.”
“Oh! Sounds interesting.”
We’d reached the door to the building and he opened it for me. Once inside and past the entrance foyer, I saw that the place was a community hall with an elevated stage at the front. Locals were directing people to take seats at the various tables. The man I had walked in with headed towards the right hand side of the hall and I followed him. For some reason, I felt like remaining close to him and not just because he was attractive but also because there was an aura of calmness and peacefulness about him. Maybe we could chat some more later on. Any subject to hear his voice again!
A man was up on the stage requesting our attention. I took a seat at an empty table close to where the man had positioned himself and turned my attention to the man on the stage. He also had very long braided hair and he, like so many of the first nations people we could see on TV and in movies, seemed to casino şirketleri have a permanent scowl.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the highway has been closed in both directions and at both ends of the reservation. We have gathered you here so you can be comfortable and sheltered from the weather system that is coming in. We have plenty of food and supplies should we need them. Please make yourselves comfortable and we will give you more information later.”
As nice as the man making the announcement had made it sound, that left me and obviously everyone else with a lot more questions than answers. Many people protested and asked questions: Why is the highway closed? Why don’t we have cell service? Where are the authorities?
I looked around and saw a bunch of native men enter the large room and encircle us. Despite how intimidating and downright scary this was becoming, I felt an odd calmness. The man who had accompanied me inside was still close. He saw me looking at him and discreetly nodded. At the same time, this little voice inside my head was telling me that I would be okay and that I needed to remain calm, cool and collected.
Three men, all with braided white hair, took to the stage and went to the middle. One of them raised his hands, requesting the crowd to be quiet. It took a minute or two and finally, people listened.
“Dear guests, welcome to our community. We’ve recently had events on our reserve that have hurt and angered our community. We have tried several ways to resolve the issues with the federal and provincial governments but have not had success with those negotiations. One of the issues is that many of our young people have been removed from their families and authorities refuse to let them come back home. Unfortunately, you have become pawns in our negotiations with the authorities. Until our children and grand children are returned to us, we will not allow you to leave.”
He continued to talk but I couldn’t hear him over the uproar in the crowd. I turned to look at the man who had seemed so nice earlier. Had he known and lied to me? It didn’t take me long to realize that he was as shocked as I was. He glanced my way and mouthed “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” I turned around to face the crowd which was getting noisier.
Many of them were getting up and trying to leave. There was screaming and shouting by the adults and many children started crying. It was total chaos. That’s when many of the native men who had encircled us drew weapons and started screaming at people to sit down. The men on the stage were also telling people to sit down and calm down.
I was glad to be off to the side, away from the doors and away from the physical chaos. I just sat still and waited. Somehow, there was still a voice inside my head that told me that remaining calm was the right thing to do. Suddenly, there was a loud bang and I just about jumped off my chair. Everyone suddenly went quiet and bent down. The first man who had addressed us was on the stage and had a firearm in his hand. He had fired it into the ceiling as evidenced by a hole above him. He yelled “Be quiet and get back to your seats right now!”
He then pointed the gun at various people in the crowd and motioned for them to move and go sit down. “People! Please sit down! Please calm down! You are not in any danger as long as you cooperate.”
The older man who had addressed us took back the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, please. All we want is to send a message to the governments. We have absolutely no intention of hurting anyone. We just want our families back.”
A few men stood up and started yelling that this was kidnapping and that it was illegal.
“We understand that our actions are upsetting. However, they are no different from what the government did to our families. Our children and grand children were taken from us without warning and without good reason. Again, please remain calm and hopefully, we can have you on your way sooner rather than later.”
But the men continued to argue. The guards got impatient and aimed their rifles at them and told them to sit down and be quiet. Their wives pleaded with them to not risk getting shot and the men finally sat down but I wouldn’t say they calmed down. However, with them sitting down, the locals put down their rifles and relaxed a bit.
People sat and talked among themselves for a while and I just remained quiet, observing the various native men around. The man I had spoken to was talking to two others, one similar in age, one much older. My bladder was getting full. I really needed to go. I slowly got up and made my way towards the door where there were indications for washrooms. The other man saw me and immediately came over and grabbed me by the arm, asking “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I was hoping to go to the washroom.”
The man I had spoken to also came over and said something in another language. There was a brief discussion and then the one who I had spoken to earlier said “Come.” casino firmaları
He led me to a washroom through a maze of storage cabinets and boxes. When we got to the door, he opened it and actually stepped in with me. Once we were inside, he said “I got told to ensure you wouldn’t try anything. I’m sorry.”
I just nodded. I had to go so bad that I didn’t care what he saw. He averted his eyes as I lowered my jeans and undies and quickly sat on the toilet and did my business. When I was done, I quickly wiped, stood and pulled my pants back up. As I washed my hands at the sink, I asked “What’s your name? I’m Cassie.”
Somehow, the situation was just too awkward to have a full conversation though I would have liked to ask many questions. I dried my hands and he opened the door. Silently, we got out and walked back toward the large room. As we turned a corner, David hit something, let out a big grunt and a bunch of boxes went clamouring down on the floor, causing a big ruckus. By the look on his face, I guessed that he had either hit his shin or his knee cap. A quick look at the low cabinet he’d displaced and I figured it was the knee cap. His face had gone pale and he looked like he was going to pass out.
“David, sit down. I won’t touch your knee, I promise. Now breathe. Slowly. In through the nose out through the mouth. Breathe through it.”
The other man who had been talking with David earlier erupted in the hallway with a gun drawn. “What have you done to him?”
Though he had taken a seat on the cabinet, David was still wincing in pain and breathing rapidly so I crouched down next to him, ignoring the other man. “Breathe… Slower. In through the nose, out through the mouth. That’s it. Now start gently rubbing your knee.”
There was a moment of panic on his face and I quickly added “Don’t worry, I won’t touch your knee. I’ll let you do that. Remember to breathe, slowly.”
The other man then asked again “What have you done?”
I turned to him. He still had the gun pointed at me. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. His dark black eyes were shooting bolts of lightning and his whole body was extremely tense. Did he honestly think that I would have stuck around to help if I’d hurt the guy myself?
“I didn’t do anything. He accidentally walked into this cabinet and hit his knee cap.”
“I’m fine now.” David tried to stand up but his knee obviously wasn’t ready and he stumbled. I caught him and helped him sit back down. “Whoa. Slow down tiger. Knee caps are extremely sensitive. I suggest you take a few minutes here.”
He sat back down and rubbed his knee. I chose to simply ignore the other guy and watch David. He looked up. “I take it you’ve also hit your knee cap before?”
I laughed “Yeah, someone was replacing our photocopier at work and put the old one in the hallway. I walked right into it, with a lot of enthusiasm too! Coincidentally on my way back from the washroom. I saw stars that day. Not fun. I now firmly believe that the knee cap is the unfunny bone.”
David laughed. The other guy barked “Enough chit chat!”
David shook his head “We need to get back before others come in here like fools with their guns drawn for nothing.”
I stepped back and gave him room to stand on his own. When he put weight on his leg, he winced but pushed through. “You good or want help?”
“I’m good, thanks”
The other guy was blocking the way, as were numerous boxes. I picked the boxes up and put them back on that nasty cabinet. He was staring at me and then declared “You’re not native. You shouldn’t have your hair braided.”
“You heard me. Either you undo them right now or I cut them off.”
“You can’t be serious!” He pulled out a folding knife from his pocket and pulled the blade out.
David asked “Matt, is that really necessary?”
So his name was Matt… Good to know. Matt silently but deliberately reached for my hair. I swiped his hand away “Okay, okay!”
I pulled the elastics off both my braids, put them in my pocket and quickly undid the braids. Matt then grabbed me by the hair and pulled me forward and back into the main room. It wasn’t violent, just very firm. On the inside, that little voice kept telling me to remain calm so I did. Besides, I couldn’t help but think that if I was nice to them, they were less likely to hurt me.
Matt took me to the older man he and David had been talking to earlier. “Beware of this one, she’s fake.”
What? Part of me wanted to wrestle out of his grip, face him and tell him off but somehow, I managed to remain calm and face the elder man. “Only thing fake about me is my hair colour.”
Matt pointed to my breasts and said “These real? I think not!”
My twins are big. I got that from my dad’s side of the family. But they’re real. I looked the elder in the eyes “As I said, the only thing fake about me is my hair colour, nothing else.”
Matt let go of my hair and swiftly raised up my sweater and güvenilir casino grabbed my bra. He yanked it up and over my breasts and then grabbed them, roughly kneading them. I kept my focus on the elder’s eyes and he held my stare. As always happens when my breasts are touched, my nipples hardened into their half-inch, pencil eraser-like state. Matt wasn’t touching the nipples, he was only interested in figuring out if my breasts were real or fake. The elder said “Enough.”
Matt let go of my breasts, stepped back, turned around and left. I tried pulling my bra back down but that was impossible. David stepped behind me. “Allow me.”
He unhooked my bra. I pulled it back to where it should be and he refastened it. I then reached in the top and pulled each of the twins back to where they belonged. I then pulled my sweater down and looked up. The elder motioned to a chair close to his. “Sit”
I obeyed. He said a few words to David in their language and David left. I thought he would speak to me but he remained silent. I opted for the same. It just felt so good to have an empty bladder that the rest had been worth it. I looked around the room and saw several pairs of eyes looking my way. In some, I saw contempt. Whatever. But in others, I saw fear and knew they were wondering if they’d be subjected to the same treatment. Would their daughters?
About an hour went by and others began to need to use the restroom. I couldn’t believe that such a big hall would only have that one restroom. One man stood up. Immediately, the guards pointed their guns to him. He quickly raised his arms. “Don’t shoot! I just want to know if my wife and daughter could go use the washroom. Please.”
The elder beside me got up and spoke to the guards in their language. A few of the guards disappeared to the front foyer. Then, one guard said “One family at a time. This way.”
And for the next half hour, people went to the foyer and came back. Why hadn’t I noticed the washrooms out there when I’d first come in? Going there could have been more private. Whatever. It hadn’t been that bad.
I tried to get a count of how many people were being held in the hall. There were about 120 people plus about 60 native men. There was not one native woman to be seen. Where were they?
I started hearing some of the kids telling their parents that they were hungry. I wasn’t the only one to hear them as the natives were discussing in their language and it seemed to be about that topic. Matt was in a group of men discussing and he pointed to me. The others nodded. He came my way and said “Come.”
I stood up and took the few steps towards him. Once again, he grabbed me by the hair but gently this time. I had the feeling that if I cooperated, he wouldn’t hurt me so I followed him. Past the door where I had gone to the washroom was another door and then a large window-like opening blocked by those metallic curtains like we’d see at a concession in hockey rinks. Matt let go of my hair and pulled some keys out of his pocket. He unlocked the door and opened it. Then, he pulled me inside with him. It was a big kitchen. He pointed to the supplies and the fridge. “Take bread, take mustard and mayo, take ham, cheese and turkey breast packages and make sandwiches for our guests.”
Something to do. It would make time go by faster. I welcomed the diversion. I reached into my pocket and pulled out an elastic and tied back my hair in a messy bun. I then went to the sink and thoroughly washed my hands. I then cleaned the top of the counter where I’d be working. Matt positioned himself at the door and watched me work.
I found trays and gave them a quick wipe too. Then, I got supplies out of the big fridge and set up to make the sandwiches. I made ham and cheese, I made turkey and cheese, I made ham, I made turkey and then cheese only sandwiches and set them on different trays. I found some paper and a pen and wrote down what each tray held.
David came in with some fruit and vegetables. I grabbed the celery and carrots and prepared a bunch of little sticks and put them in bowls with tongs. I also washed the fruit and put them in large bowls. While I did that, he left and came back with a cart full of various drinks. Then, he opened up the metal curtain and then set up a cart with a stack of plates on it just outside the kitchen door. I placed the trays and bowls on the counter in the window. I also found napkins and set them out.
Matt then gave the okay for one family at a time to come up to the kitchen and grab food. Whenever I saw children, I asked “Would you rather not have the crusts?” Of course, most of them nodded so I had them pick their sandwiches and took the crusts off and set them aside on a plate. When the families had all come, the guards also came, followed by the elders. There wasn’t much left. I might need to make a few more sandwiches. The elder I had sat with looked at my plate of crusts and pointed to it. “I want those.”
“But I was going to eat those.”
“All of that?”
It was indeed a lot. “All right, I can share.”
I started dividing and David said “I want some of those too.”
I thus divided into three. And that left just enough sandwiches for Matt and two others to eat. The elder said “come.”
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