Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

Script for PEACE PARTY #4

Spit Happens
By Robert Schmidt

Previously:  Billy and Drew have begun exploring their mysterious powers. Billy's law firm has assigned him to represent the Sherman Mine in its bid to renew its permit. Meanwhile, an escaped llama flees across the reservation. And Petro, a petrified man-monster, stalks the land.


PANEL 1. Drew stands on the edge of a cliff, facing the rising sun as it breaks the low mesas on the horizon. The land before him is flat, occasionally dipping into dry stream beds (washes). It's carpeted with a fuzz of grass and small plants and dotted with larger sagebrush bushes (see pictures).

Drew is wearing his usual t-shirt and jeans. If the t-shirt is visible, it says:  HOUND DOG. He looks as if he's praying silently. His head is lifted toward the sky. His right hand lets go of a handful of corn meal, which falls gently like gold dust.

Some distance away, Billy stands next to a beat-up old pickup truck, watching Drew's ceremony. He's dressed formally, in a suit with his string tie and small feather earrings. Over the suit he wears an overcoat. He keeps his arms close to his side and his hands in his pockets because it's cold, although Drew seems oblivious to it.

1. CAP:  The Hopi reservation, near Second Mesa.

2. CAP:  As the sun's forehead peeks over the horizon...

3. CAP:  Drew Quyatt spreads corn meal in the four directions.

4. DREW:

<You who are the source of all power,
Whose rays illuminate the world,
Illuminate our hearts also,
So we may do your work.>*

5. CAP:  *Translated from the Hopi.

PANEL 2. Drew returns to the truck, wiping the corn meal off his hands. He looks satisfied with his performance.

6. BILLY:  Translation...?


7. DREW:  Bless us, o lord...let the sun shine in...the usual.

8. DREW:  Prayer works, m'man. You ought to try it.

9. BILLY:  I'm praying I don't botch my meetings today.

PANEL 4. They continue talking.

10. BILLY:  I'm woefully unprepared.


11. DREW:  Not to worry. You can study your files on the way.

12. BILLY:  Speaking of which—

PANEL 6. The next three panels are all small and equal-sized. They show Drew in various poses.

In the first, he hold up his right index finger to test the breeze, which ruffles his hair.

13. BILLY:  —which way is that? How do you plan to find this runaway llama?

14. DREW:  Ahh. Watch closely, little grasshopper.

PANEL 7. Now Drew crouches close to the ground and brushes aside some dirt, as if cleaning off some hidden tracks.

15. BILLY (from off-panel):  You've got to be—

16. DREW:  Ver-r-r-y interesting.

PANEL 8. Now Drew lies with his ear pressed to the ground, as if listening for sounds.

17. BILLY (from off-panel):  —kidding.

18. DREW:  Shhhh.


PANEL 1. Drew springs to his feet and cheerfully nods in a certain direction. Billy looks on suspiciously.

1. DREW:  Me use-um red man's tracking skills. Find-um missing llama. Him go thataway, Kemosabe.

2. BILLY:  Spare me the Tonto talk.

PANEL 2. Billy continues to stare at Drew, who shows no sign that he's joking about the direction.

3. BILLY:  You're not serious, are you? You found its trail?

4. BILLY:  Or is this another of your so-called "powers"?

PANEL 3. Drew smiles broadly and indicates a direction with nod over his shoulder.

5. DREW:  The power of telecommunications, boss.

6. DREW:  Got a call from the lovely Dr. Rubin. Someone saw No. 11 yesterday afternoon—yonder.

PANEL 4. Small overhead shot from the rear shows the truck driving off on a dirt track, leaving a trail of dust behind it.

7. DREW (from the driver's side):  Yee-haw!

8. DREW:  Let's find us a llama!

9. BILLY (from the passenger's side, in small letters):  Ride 'em, cowboy.

10. BILLY (from the passenger's side, in smaller letters):  Just don't swerve if you see a chipmunk, please.

PANEL 5. The rest of the panels on this page and the next all have rounded edges, indicating a flashback.

This panel shows the llama kneeling near the spring as on the last page of issue #3. The angle is from above and to the rear. It's as if we're standing in the rocks above the llama, looking down on it from Lionel Dean's vantage point.

11. CAP:  Unfortunately, yesterday's sighting occurred before the llama in question settled down for the evening.

PANEL 6. Closeup of Lionel Dean crouching behind some rocks. He's aiming his rifle and looking through the sight, preparing to shoot. The rifle points slightly downward, in the llama's direction.

12. CAP:  Unbeknownst to No. 11, Lionel Dean managed to track it to this spring.

PANEL 7. Shot of the llama in the crosshairs of the telescopic rifle sight, similar to PP #3, page 24, panel 7.

13. CAP:  "Nice and easy now..."

14. CAP:  "Squeeze the trigger and..."

15. SFX (large):  POW!


PANEL 1. A full-page shot (see drawing).

In the upper left, further away than before, Lionel looks down the barrel of his rifle toward the scene in the foreground.

In the middle, a wild dog has leapt toward the llama. It's in mid-spring, fully extended. Its mouth is gaping wide, ready to clamp down on the llama's shoulders and neck with its sharp teeth.

Everything about it looks deadly except its eyes, which are suddenly wide with fear. Because it's directly between the gun barrel and the llama, a bullet has hit its left flank. A burst of rays shows the impact.

In the lower right, the llama's body lurches to the side in panic. Its head and neck swivel around to look at the sudden attack. Its ears are flat against its skull and it looks startled and afraid.

1. LIONEL:  What the %$#&?!

2. CAP:  Unbeknownst to both Lionel and llama, a wild dog tracked No. 11 also.

3. TITLE (in upper right):  "Spit Happens"

4. CREDITS (in upper right):

Words:  Rob Schmidt
Art:  Amin Amat
Letters:  Kurt Hathaway

5. SFX (from the dog, in letters that arc across the page, increasing in size before suddenly cutting off):  RRRROWW-arp!

6. SFX (from the llama, in alarm):  ERerERerERerER


PANEL 1. Closeup of Lionel, looking angry. He aims his rifle again. Behind him, mostly obscured, is the head and perhaps a paw of another wild dog. It looks at Lionel as if he is next on the menu.

1. LIONEL:  Damn this critter's luck!

2. LIONEL:  But no way do I miss again—

3. SFX (in tiny letters):  grrr

PANEL 2. The llama splashes through the shallow water of the spring, amid clumps of grass. It looks back in fear. A bullet smashes into and splinters the rock wall above and behind the llama. If there's room, to the rear, the mortally wounded dog thrashes about in the water.

4. SFX (from off-panel):  ROWWF!

5. LIONEL:  Damn...startled me!

6. SFX (bullet hitting rock):  k-chewww


7. LIONEL:  What the h--?

8. SFX (dog, from off-panel):  rrr

PANEL 4. Shadows of a man with a gun and a large, wolfish dog appear to grapple on a stony wall.

9. CAP:  Unfortunately, Lionel forgot that members of the Canid family generally travel in packs.

10. LIONEL (from off-panel):  Hey! Get off!

11. SFX (rifle shot, from off-panel):  GRRR!

PANEL 5. Shot of the llama in profile, small and white against the dark rocks, as it flees into the gathering gloom.

12. SFX (Lionel, from off-panel):  oww!

13. SFX (from off-panel):  rowf!

14. SFX (rifle shot, from off-panel):  pow! pow!

15. CAP:  He'll remember this fact—and the accompanying rabies shots—for a long time to come.

16. CAP:  And so No. 11 flees into the gathering gloom, afraid and alone.

PANEL 6. Chack Namoki faces a group of his fellow protesters. He's wearing his traditional garb (see issue #1 and photocopy) but no headband. He holds a bowl of water in his outstretched hands. He's just finishing a ceremonial blessing.

For a similar scene, see a Big Mountain meeting.

17. CAP:  Tuba City.

18. CAP:  While Billy and Drew head north, other people are busy this morning.

19. CAP:  Chack Namoki addresses a group of Indians and Anglos.

PANEL 7. The group is in a utilitarian meeting room of some sort. The people are seated in folding chairs or standing behind the chairs. The group is composed half of Indians and half of Anglos. The Indian people are older and wear the typical work clothes of ranchers. The Anglo people are young and hippieish:  women with frizzy hair and pleated skirts, men with long hair or ponytails and facial hair, etc.

Some of the people standing are using protest signs for support, like canes. Other signs are leaning against chairs or stacked on the floor.

Chack continues speaking.

19. CHACK:  —restore the health of our Mother Earth for lasting peace and happiness.

20. CHACK:  Techqua ikachi.*

21. CAP:  *For land and life.

22. CHACK:  Thanks for coming today.

23. CHACK:  As you know, we're demonstrating at the Sherman Mine tomorrow morning.


PANEL 1. Chack continues speaking.

1. CHACK:  Our goal is to stop Sherman's destruction of the land before the Dept. of the Interior renews its five-year permit.

2. CHACK:  We'll go over the plans, but first the good news. We've persuaded Southwest People's Legal Services to take our case pro bono.

3. SFX:  clap clap

4. CHACK:  The SPLS's director has drawn up our lawsuit personally.

5. CHACK:  We hope to avoid filing, of course, because our chances in court are shaky. The government rarely denies permits even when it's supposed to preserve the land for us.

PANEL 2. Someone in the crowd—a pahana dressed in t-shirt and shorts, too casual for Chack's taste—calls out.

6. CHACK (from off-panel):  That's what the protest is all about—forcing Sherman to the negotiating table.

7. PROTESTER:  And the bad news?


8. TEXT:

      Chack looks disapprovingly, as if the pahana should learn to mind his manners. He sighs, then continues.
      "The bad news is, Sherman has retained a big law firm out of Phoenix. I'm meeting their rep this afternoon."
      The protester scowls as if it's Chack's fault for not banishing the world's lawyers. "Low-cost legal assistance against high-priced suits?" he says. "We'll be slaughtered."
      "Not so," says Chack. "SPLS hires only the best lawyers." Smiling, he adds, "Besides, we have something the mine can't match."
      That silences the protester. The others stare, wondering what Chack is referring to. Faith? Hope? Charity?
      Chack holds the beat for a second, then says, "Public opinion--the greatest gift since a summer rain."

PANEL 4. A narrow horizontal panel stretches across the bottom of the page. It's a longshot showing an entire row of stands shaded with awnings. The signs over the stands are emblazoned with sales pitches and waving flags. Behind the stands are the rolling hills of the Painted Desert, layered with pastel colors.

To the left of the stands is a fake teepee and a large wooden Indian in buckskins and feather headdress, standing stoically. At the far right, off the road, is the Sampson's station wagon. (See drawing, picture of roadside teepee.)

Carrying little Midgie, Madge Sampson stands before the teepee and Indian, looking up. Horace is next to her. Perhaps he's taking a picture. At the other end of the stands, Leeza walks along the counters, looking at the merchandise. Somewhere in the middle, Brad pretends to be an Indian. With his left hand, he makes a V behind his head, simulating feathers. With his right hand, he covers his mouth as he does a war whoop.

9. CAP:  Meanwhile, a few miles southwest...

10. CAP:  The Sampsons continue their tour of Indian Country.


12. ARROW:  Nice Indians this way

PANEL 5. Another narrow horizontal panel shows the stands from a different, lower angle. This shot focuses on Brad doing his war whoop in the foreground. Horace and Madge are visible on the left admiring the teepee and statue. Leeza is visible on the right inspecting the merchandise. Three or four stocky Indian figures are seated behind the counters, watching passively.

13. HORACE:  Finally, some real Indian culture.

14. INDIAN #1 (thx):  Gringos.

15. INDIAN #2 (thx):  Bilagaana.

16. INDIAN #3 (thx):  Tourists.

17. BRAD:  Woo-woo-woo!


PANEL 1. Horace and Madge approach Leeza. Leeza is examining several small black pieces of cardboard with silver jewelry—earrings, pendants, and bracelets—mounted on them. She holds up two of them in particular.

1. MADGE:  Did you find anything you want, dear?

2. LEEZA:  Yes, but I can't decide between these two.

3. LEEZA:  I love the Zuni inlay style...but I like the Hopi overlay style, too.

PANEL 2. Closeup of Leeza as she turns one of the squares over and looks on the back.

4. LEEZA:  Ulp. "Made in Taiwan"?!

5. LEEZA:  These crafts are FAKE!

PANEL 3. Closeup of Horace from Leeza's vantage point. He looks down at her, smug.

6. HORACE:  Shows what YOU know, Miss Smartypants.

7. HORACE:  For your information, the Indians came from Asia.

8. HORACE:  Over the Strait of Magellan, if I'm not mistaken.

PANEL 4. Madge and Leeza both roll their eyes as Horace folds his arms and looks triumphantly at his daughter. In the background, one of the women seated behind the counter giggles.

9. HORACE:  I guess your old man isn't as big an ignoramus as you thought.

10. LEEZA:  Dad, you couldn't possibly exceed my estimation of you.

11. HORACE:  Why, thank you, sweetheart.

12. INDIAN WOMAN (in background):  <giggle>

PANEL 5. A small panel, not much larger than a postage stamp, shows a frontal shot of a figure. It's the black silhouette of a man trudging alone along the road. His shape is slightly angular, indicating it's Petro the Petrified.

PANEL 6. A woman, Roxie, sits at a secretary's desk in a typical office. She has a computer to one side, an adding machine and in-out box in front of her, and a typewriter to the other side. behind her are filing cabinets.

She's fortyish but has hair done in some flamboyant style with multi-colored streaks in it. Her clothes are also flamboyant. She's wearing heavy makeup and lots of jewelry. Think of a wilder version of Erin Brockovich, something like a gypsy.

She's filing her nails and looks bored as her boss, Mr. Griffith speaks over the intercom on her desk.

13. CAP:  Meanwhile, 50-odd miles up the highway, at the Sherman Mining Company.

14. CAP:  Outside Mr. Griffith's office.

15. GRIFFITH (over intercom):  Roxie, please, I'm begging you.

PANEL 7. Closeup of Roxie answering the intercom.

16. ROXIE:  Calm down, sir. Your lawyer will be here soon.

17. ROXIE (thx):  And he's not the only one.


PANEL 1. Closeup of Manhandler (see issue #2) showing his face and powerful chest. It's his left side, so his electronic eye glints in the sun. He's bundled in his overcoat, so little or nothing of his uniform is visible. He has a bulky, rectangular backpack on his back.

He stands next to a chain-link fence, looking in. The fence is about 9' high. The links are widely space so we can see through it (that'll be important in #5).

The fence surrounds a huge square yard dotted with piles of coal. In a clear space in the foreground, a dump truck dumps another load of coal, creating yet another pile. A couple of workers in hard hats supervise the work.

A sign on the fence indicates the yard is the Public Coal Yard, the property of the Sherman Mining Company.

1. MANHANDLER (thx):  So this is the mine, hm? Not much to look at.

2. MANHANDLER (thx):  Security appears to be almost nil.

3. SIGN (partly obscured by Manhandler's body):

Sherman Mining Company
Serving our neighbors for over 30 years [small]

PANEL 2. Overhead shot of Manhandler walking along the edge of the mine. The only thing marking the edge are widely spaced wooden stakes, about a yard tall and topped with ribbons. (I.e., they're typical surveyor stakes.) In the background, some distance away, the work of digging and hauling ore continues.

4. MANHANDLER (thx):  Perimeter recon will take most of the day. I'll pick my spot come sundown.

5. MANHANDLER (thx):  Penetrate, set my traps, activate the 'lectronics...

6. MANHANDLER (thx):  I'd compare it to taking candy from a baby, but that would insult tykes everywhere.

PANEL 3. Closeup on Manhandler.

7. MANHANDLER (thx):  Then wait for morning and...rock 'n' roll!

8. MANHANDLER (thx):  As Momma always says, "God helps the man with a plan."

PANEL 4. Small overhead shot of Billy and Drew's pickup truck as it crosses an arid plain. In the distance are a few houses, widely scattered and insignificant compared to the vast Black Mesa landscape.

9. CAP:  Back on the rez...

10. BILLY:  This morning has been a bust.

PANEL 5. Shot of the front of a modest frame house. A truck is parked on one side, while a satellite dish is visible in the other. The front yard looks almost bare, as if the house is brand-new. Perhaps a few children's toys lie about the yard.

Drew stands on the front step, talking to a squat Hopi woman in the doorway. As usual, he's gesturing with his hands. A few feet away, Billy stands with his arms folded, looking away and tapping his foot impatiently.

11. BILLY (thx):  We've found stray chickens, cows, and husbands, but no llama.

12. BILLY (thx):  A llama for guarding sheep. What's wrong with using a sheep dog, anyway?

PANEL 6. Billy turns as Drew approaches. The woman closes the front door behind them.

13. BILLY:  What did she say?

14. BILLY and DREW (together):  She hasn't seen anything.

15. DREW:  Right. But I did pick up some news.

16. DREW:  They're holding a Sun Dance at Big Mountain today.

PANEL 7. Back in the truck, Drew continues driving. Beside him, Billy is fuming. His satchel-style briefcase sits open on the seat between them.

17. BILLY:  Man, those people FROST me.

18. BILLY:  The Navajo "resistors" are bad enough. Abusing the legal system so they can keep occupying Hopi land.

19. BILLY:  But these outsiders with their Sun Dance...a Lakota-specific ceremony transplanted a thousand miles away!*

20. CAP:  *Actually, the ceremony is common among Northern Plains tribes—the people we call Sioux (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota), Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Crow, some Utes—and Southern Plains tribes, to a lesser extent—Ed.


PANEL 1. A couple of small inset panels show them as they continue driving and talking.

1. BILLY:  So what's your take on the Hopi/Navajo conflict?

2. DREW:  "Conflict"? I don't believe in conflict.

3. DREW:  "Live and let live" is my philosophy.

PANEL 2. Closeup of Billy.

4. BILLY (in small letters):  Thank you, Pollyanna.

PANEL 3. Wide-angle shot from high overhead of a Sun Dance gathering at Big Mountain.

In the middle and background are a Navajo hogan or two, a couple of ramshackle wooden shacks, a loom for blanket weaving, pens for goat and sheep, stray dogs and other animals, a beat-up old truck or two, and a few ranching implements. Scattered juniper trees provide some shade and a faint dirt road runs between them. Behind this rustic setting is the beginnings of a slope or hill, hinting at the bulk of an unseen peak off-panel. (See pictures and video.)

Off to the right is part of the Sun Dance area. It consists of a circle of poles or logs, spaced at 15-ft. intervals, with shrubbery draped between them to form an enclosure. We can see only the exterior of this enclosure, not its interior.

In the immediate foreground are a scattering of vehicles (VW vans, minivans, pickup trucks); booths, tables, and blankets; and people milling about. It has a freewheeling, '60s sort of feel to it, like a combination of Woodstock, a county fair, and a swap meet.

In the middle distance, entering the scene from the left, is the small figure of the running llama.

For Big Mountains scenes, see the following:

Panoramic view
Another panoramic view
Roberta Blackgoat's home
Dilapidated home
Hogan with modern home in background
Sun Dance enclosure from inside

More Big Mountain reference photos

5. CAP:  Big Mountain.

6. CAP:  Hopi Partitioned Lands.

7. CAP:  This region, the ancestral home of the Hopi, has been in dispute at least since 1882, when Pres. Chester A. Arthur signed an Executive Order setting aside 2.5 million acres for the Hopi and "other Indians."

8. CAP:  Since the land was sparsely populated, the Navajo (or Diné, as they call themselves) settled here. No one much cared until recently.

9. SIGN:

10. SIGN:

11. SIGN:  Free Leonard!

12. SIGN:  Diabetes

13. SIGN:  Run for Life

PANEL 4. Wide-angle, ground-level shot shows the vehicles, booths, and tables. The people at the booths and tables are handing out literature for their causes or selling things:  food, drinks, t-shirts, dreamcatchers, and so forth. The booths and tables all have signs identifying their purpose.

People are inspecting the goods, talking, eating, shepherding their children, and so forth. They're a mix of Indian and Anglo. The Indians are mostly dressed in Western/cowboy clothes, while the Anglos are dressed in casual/hippie clothes.

In the background, mostly obscured by the activity in the foreground, is the Sun Dance enclosure.

14. CAP:  The Hopi realized they'd better use the land...or lose it. But the Navajo claimed it was theirs by right of occupancy. The Hopi filed suit in court and won.

15. CAP:  The two sides hammered out a settlement. They would split the land evenly between them. They'd pay anyone on the "wrong side" of the line to relocate.

PANEL 5. Closeup of two tables facing each other across an open space. The people sitting at each table are glaring at the people at the other table.

16. CAP:  But a handful of Navajo families refused to move...or to sign the leases the Hopi offered. Claiming persecution, they cranked up the PR machine, drawing worldwide attention to their cause.

17. CAP:  "Genocide!" they cried, and the liberal do-gooders came running. And so here we are.*



20. CAP:  *For more information on Big Mountain, go to http://www.bluecorncomics.com/bigmtn.htm.


PANEL 1. Panels 1-3 form a triptych of sorts:  a ground-level shot similar to last page's panel 4, split into three parts. Each panel has a different group of people in the foreground. In the background of each panel, the llama moves through the scene, glancing curiously at the people in the foreground.

Together these three panels take up 1/2 to 2/3 of the page.

In the first panel, a UN representative speaks to a small group of onlookers. He's a distinguished African diplomat in a suit—a Morgan Freeman-type with gray hair and beard. He wears a badge or tie with the UN laurel wreath symbol on it. A couple of onlookers have camcorders and are filming him as he talks.

1. UN REPRESENTATIVE:  "—human rights violations. Rest assured the United Nations will leave no stone unturned in its investigation of these charges.

2. UN REPRESENTATIVE:  "We will not allow the government to trample these citizens' right..."


3. UN REPRESENTATIVE:  "...to live and worship freely."

4. MONTOYA (from off-panel):  "The" government...what claptrap.

PANEL 5. Officers Floyd Montoya (left) and Dennis Nahee (right) surrounded by more onlookers. (See PEACE PARTY prototype for their appearances.) Two or three of the onlookers (with their backs to us?) face the officers. These people gesture and shout at the officers, as if the officers are harassing them.

Montoya is supposedly inspecting someone's driver's license, but he isn't paying attention. He glances at the UN representative in the previous panel, and his body language indicates he's listening to the UN rep and growing annoyed. Next to him, Nahee is writing a ticket on a pad. He's smiling calmly, unperturbed.

Again, the llama looks on from the background.

5. NAHEE:  Remember your blood pressure....

6. MONTOYA:  Doesn't he know we have our own government? Why doesn't he talk to us?

7. NAHEE:  "Ours is not to reason why...."

8. ONLOOKER #1:  This is harassment!

9. ONLOOKER #2:  Brutality!

10. NAHEE:  Sorry. You need a permit to stay on Hopi land.

PANEL 6. A few more onlookers watch the officers ticketing the campers. At the far right is a woman with a little boy. The mother is watching the central conflict intently. The boy is looking and pointing at the llama in the background, which looks back at him. The boy tugs on his mother's clothes, trying to get her attention.

11. NAHEE (from off-panel):  In case no one told you, we ARE a sovereign nation.

12. ONLOOKER:  Fascist!

13. ONLOOKER:  Pig!

14. BOY:  Mommy!

15. BOY:  Can I ride the llama?

PANEL 7. Small panel shows the mother bending over to lecture her son.

16. MOTHER:  Shush, Pat.

17. MOTHER:  This is a solemn spiritual gathering.

18. ONLOOKER (from off-panel, in small letters):  oink oink

PANEL 8. A small image of Billy and Drew's truck is in the upper lefthand corner of the remaining space on this page. A cloud of dust indicates it's driving along a dirt road.

19. CAP:  Trailing a plume of dust, the truck continues to bounce along the dirt road. Billy wonders if he feels every pebble in his tailbone literally or only figuratively.

20. CAP:  He tries to reread his files on the Sherman Mine, but finds he can't concentrate.


21. BILLY:  Where's this crazy llama going, anyway?

22. DREW (from off-panel):  Don't worry, we'll find it.

23. BILLY:  Stupid thing seems to be taking a grand tour of Indian Country.

PAGE 10.

PANEL 1. Longshot of the highway as the Sampsons' car approaches another long, low row of covered booths. Behind the booths is a flat expanse of rock. A sign mounted along the front of the booths indicates their raison d'etre.

1. On Hwy. 160.


3. GROUND SIGN:  Sale!

4. GROUND SIGN:  Last chance!

5. GROUND SIGN:  Major credit cards!

PANEL 2. A young Navajo boy carrying a broom leads the Sampson family between two booths toward the expanse in back. All that's visible is a wedge of light between the two dark-walled booths. Brad looks up at Horace eagerly, anticipating dinosaurs but not knowing quite what to expect.

6. BRAD:  This is gonna be great, right, Dad?

7. BRAD:  I wanna see a T. Rex!


8. DREW:  What's eating you, cuz? Wanna talk about it?

9. BILLY:  No, not really.

10. DREW:  Ah, I understand.

11. BILLY:  What do you understand?

12. DREW:  Women: Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

13. BILLY:  Who said anything about women?

PANEL 4. Large closeup of three or four big, bird-like dinosaur footprints embedded in the rock. They're each about a foot long and wide. We see the legs of the Sampsons and the Navajo boy, with his broom, as they cluster around the prints. Perhaps we see Brad's hand making a claw-like, clutching movement.

14. BRAD:  What IS this?!

15. LEEZA:  They look like tracks from the Iguanodont family. Probably early Cretaceous—

16. BRAD:  Iguana tracks? I was expecting a huge, animatronic dino with six-inch fangs!


SECTION 1. Small inset picture without borders shows one of the humble homes Billy and Drew are passing.

      "Not me. If you don't wanna talk about your so-called love life, I'm not gonna pry."
      Billy says nothing to this obvious bait. He observes a weatherbeaten frame house, a battered old car, a woman hanging laundry on a line. Despite her impoverished circumstances, she's smiling.
      "Hey, see that?" asks Drew. Billy hauls his attention to his cousin. Drew is looking out the windshield at something. From the tilt of his head, it must be the bird floating across the sky.

SECTION 2. Along the bottom margin of this section is Billy's and Drew's truck. It's coming toward us from the right and trailing a cloud of dust behind it.

      "For me," says Drew. "It's like...electricity."
      "Huh? What is?" asks Billy, though he thinks he knows what Drew is talking about.
      "I thought I was cool with nature before. But now it's like I'm...tingling with sensations from every creature. I imagined their spirits before, but now I can feel them."

PAGE 11.

PANEL 1. Small shot looking down the highway. It's empty except for a lone figure trudging along the road. It's Petro and he's larger than before, suggesting he's getting closer.



2. CAP:  Billy doesn't want to answer Drew's comment, doesn't want to think about it. He looks away to avoid more probes.

3. CAP:  But Drew doesn't continue. It's an old lawyer trick, or perhaps an old Indian trick:  letting the silence grow until a person feels obligated to fill it.

4. CAP:  But knowing the trick and resisting it are two different things.

5. BILLY:  I guess I feel the same way.

PANEL 3. Billy is speaking to Drew and gesturing.

6. BILLY:  But with me it's not animals, but elements. Water, to be specific. I feel the molecules vibrating. The way people feel humidity, but more intensely.

7. BILLY:  Water in the air, in the ground...even in the radiator.

8. BILLY:  Which is getting low, by the way.

9. DREW:  <chuckle>


10. BILLY:  So what happened to us? I still want to know.

11. DREW:  We were out of it when it happened, so your guess is as good as mine.

12. BILLY:  You keep attributing it to "the Creator." What makes you so sure?


13. DREW:  Billy, Billy, Billy...you gotta lay off that X-Files mentality.

14. DREW:  Besides, even if space aliens zapped us, wouldn't that be the Creator's doing?

15. BILLY:  If you deny the concept of personal responsibility, I suppose.

16. DREW:  Well, there you go.

PAGE 12 (formerly page 13a).

PANEL 1. Full-page shot of Billy.

      "So what's your theory? Magic?"
      "Right idea, wrong word. 'Magic' implies something super-natural. Not part of nature, in other words.
      "Don't you get it? We're more in tune with nature than anyone's ever been. We're 100% natural."
      Billy ponders this silently. Drew heeds the undulating road, letting a decent interval pass before continuing.
      "So...what did Leah say when you told her?"
      "Told her what?" asks Billy.
      "You know," prompts Drew.
      "I...didn't," says Billy after a long pause.
      Drew raises an eyebrow. "Didn't tell your alleged girlfriend? Whatsa matter...afraid of revealing your secret identity?"
      "I didn't get a chance. I caught her at a bad moment."

      "Surprise, surprise," says Drew, who doesn't seem surprised.
      "Establishing a relationship is harder than you think. You ought to try it sometime."
      "Who, me?"
      "My point exactly."
      Drew ignores this and plunges on.
      "Of course, it's your job keeping you apart as much as anything, ennit?"
      "Don't remind me."
      "You haven't exactly spent a lot of quality time together the last few weeks."
      "I said, don't—"
      "Yet you're not thrilled with your latest assignment, either."
      Billy stares out the window at the tan-gray-blue landscape, not willing to answer this charge.

PAGE 13 (formerly page 12).

PANEL 1. Small shot (silhouette) of a lone figure seated among some rocks. It's a man sitting cross-legged, with his hands in a sort of Lotus position.

1. CAP:  North of Big Mountain.

PANEL 2. Closer shot of the man. We can see he's young and blond with spiky hair. He appears to be naked. He looks as if he's lost in prayer.

2. CAP:  Andrew Weber is on a vision quest.

3. CAP:  He hasn't consumed anything (unless you count the drugs) for two days.

4. CAP:  He hopes he'll have his revelation soon...before the Sun Dance begins.

PANEL 3. Even closer shot of the man. We can see now that his eyes are closed. Perhaps he has some piercings or tattoos.

5. CAP:  No, he's not THAT Andrew Webber. He gets that from people all the time.

6. CAP:  But he IS a composer. In fact, he hopes to break into the biz with a musical comedy he's been working on:  a tribute to Hernán Cortés.

PANEL 4. Another line of mesas along the top.

7. DREW:  What's the problem? You've handled big cases before. You wave your legal wand, mutter some mumbo-jumbo, and...poof! You win again.

8. BILLY:  It's...oh, you wouldn't understand.

9. DREW:  I understand everything about you. You're like an open book to me.

10. BILLY:  I don't see how.

PANEL 5. Drew speaks and gestures expansively.

11. DREW:  Allow me to elucidate, professor. Three years of increasingly stuffed-shirt clients? Check. First major case involving Indian people? Check. Identity crisis rising to the fore? Check.

12. BILLY:  It's not that simple.

13. DREW:  Isn't it?

14. BILLY:  I've handled all sorts of cases for Smith, Jones. They're almost never black and white.

15. DREW:  No qualms about going against your people?

PANEL 6. Another shot of the truck at the bottom.

16. BILLY:  The opposing side has counsel to represent it. It's up to us to represent our side, whether they're Indian or not.

17. DREW:  I notice you're not wearing those gaudy earrings of yours.

18. BILLY:  Your point?

19. DREW:  Oh, nothing....

PANEL 6. Billy speaks.

20. BILLY:  Right. I suppose you're going to say I've been overcompensating?

21. DREW:  Would I use a multisyllabic word like that?

22. BILLY:  Showing everyone I'm more Indian-than-thou?

23. DREW:  Oh, I'd never say that.

24. BILLY:  Only now, I'm on one side and the Indians are on the other? Ergo, identity crisis?

PAGE 14 (formerly page 13c).

The three panels take up the top third of the page, leaving the rest of the page blank for text.

PANEL 1. Closeup of Andrew imagining a hawk.

1. CAP:  He wonders what his spirit guide will be.

2. CAP:  Maybe a fierce hawk...

PANEL 2. Closeup of Andrew imagining a coyote.

3. CAP:  Or a crafty coyote...

PANEL 3. Andrew turns his head, looking wide-eyed and shocked, as the llama runs by.

4. CAP:  Or...a llama?!

PANEL 4. Small picture in the upper right of the remaining space.

      "You tell me. You're the brains of the outfit."
      "Let's pretend you know what you're talking about. What do you suggest I do?"
      "Search me. But I expect you'll do the right thing. As Oliver would say, you're a regular Boy Scout."
      "Not exactly a flattering comparison these days."
      "Okay, a regular Clark Kent. A regular Dudley Do-Right. A regular Mike Doonesbury—"
      "If I'm Mike Doonesbury, does that make you Zonker Harris?"

PANEL 5. Small picture in lower left of remaining space.

      "A regular Charlie Brown. A regular Opus the Penguin—"
      "All right, I get the idea."
      "I'm serious. Look at you and Leah. Even if she barely gives you the time of day, you keep trying to reach her."
      Billy feels a sudden pang, but his cousin taps himself on the chest, as if therein lies the real problem.

PAGE 15 (formerly page 13b).

PANEL 1. Full-page shot of Drew.

      "Me, I love 'em and leave 'em," says Drew, beaming. "I'm incorrigible."
      "That's putting it mildly."
      "It's an art. Like my paintings. A dash of this, a pinch of that...."
      "No wonder you never get anything done."
      "Yes, but I have fun in the process."
      "Is that all that matters?"
      Drew purses his lips and looks thoughtful, apparently trying to think of something else that matters. He scratches his head, looks skyward, opens his mouth to say something, then closes it again.
      "Very funny," says Billy, who's familiar with these theatrics.
      "Yup, I'm a reg'lar Charlie Hill."
      "Don't give up your day job."
      "Day jo-ob?" A particularly brutal bump in the road punctuates this comment.
      Of course other things matter," continues Drew. "For instance, koyaaniqatsi. And how to avoid it." He smiles, thinking of something. "But that's where the fun begins."

      "Koyaani—what's that? Sounds vaguely familiar."
      "Don't know? Don't worry. You'll find out someday."
      "Oh, joy," says Billy with a sigh. "More NDN mysticism."
      "Yes. And my cosmic awareness—"
      "Did you say 'comic' awareness?"
      "—my cosmic awareness gives me faith. Faith that you'll work things out."
      "You mean with Leah, or with this assignment?"
      The truck rounds a low hill and they both look to see where they are.

PANEL 2. An overhead shot shows the truck rounding a bend. A small peak juts into the sky beyond the bend.

1. BILLY:  Speaking of faith...

2. DREW:  Lookee what we have here.

3. DREW:  A gen-u-wine Lakota Sun Dance.

PAGE 16 (formerly page 14).

PANEL 1. Closeup of Andrew pondering what his vision means.

1. ANDREW (thx):  Wow, what an hallucination. What could it mean?

PANEL 2. A small panel shows realization, of a sort, dawning on him.

2. ANDREW (thx):  I know! I'm not meant to do a show about Cortés, but one about—

PANEL 3. Another small panel shows the thought, such as it is, is complete. Andrew envisions a small head shot of a conquistador in his metal helmet.

3. ANDREW (thx):  —Pizarro!

PANEL 4. The rest of the page is divided into four vertical panels. The first panel is an overhead shot. At the bottom, Billy and Drew's truck rounds a bend or emerges from some rocks. In the distance, at the top of the panel, is the Big Mountain encampment with the Sun Dance enclosure.

4. CAP:  "Looks like your typical Big Mountain protest."

PANEL 5. At the bottom is a shot of Billy looking annoyed as he stares at the encampment. At the top, far above the truck and Billy's head, a tiny dark cloud is visible in the otherwise clear sky.

5. CAP:  "You've got your bleeding hearts, your Greenpeacers, your One Worlders..."

PANEL 6. Billy is now fuming with anger. Perhaps a tiny curl of black smoke rises from his head, as if he's literally giving birth to a dark cloud. This is mirrored by the sky above, which now contains a large, gray thundercloud.

6. CAP:  "Your flower children, your New Agers, your wannabes..."

PANEL 7. Medium shot of the scene again. Above, the sky is dark gray. The cloud has broken and a torrent of rain pours down. Perhaps a bolt of lightning cracks.

In the middle, all is chaos at the Sun Dance encampment. People run this way and that, trying to get out of the sudden downpour.

At the bottom, part of the truck is visible, showing that Billy and Drew are passing the scene.

7. DREW:  Eyyy, good one.

8. DREW:  You're a natural!

PAGE 15.

PANEL 1. The truck stops on a small rise overlooking the Sherman Mine. In the background we can see a wide-angle shot of the surface mine, with the earth sculpted into terraces and machines lifting and hauling ore. It looks to be about a quarter- or half-mile away.

Billy stands next to the truck and looks at the mine, his satchel-style briefcase in hand. Drew observes from the driver's seat.

1. CAP:  Soon...

2. DREW (from inside truck):  End of the road, pard.

3. BILLY:  I can walk the rest of the way.

PANEL 2. Closeup of the two as they talk through the passenger-side window. Billy looks worried.

4. BILLY:  I'm not looking forward to this.

5. DREW:  You'll do fine.

6. BILLY:  So what's the plan?

7. DREW:  I don't know about you, but I've got a llama to catch.

PANEL 3. They continue talking. Billy eyes the mine nervously.

8. DREW:  Let's meet here at dusk. I'll get some food and we can camp nearby.

9. BILLY:  Okay.

PANEL 4. They continue talking.

10. DREW:  Relax. What can go wrong?

11. BILLY:  Isn't that what the Indians said when they first met Columbus?

PANEL 5. The Sampson family walks on an asphalt path past a Navajo sweatlodge. (See picture.) Leeza is reading from her guide book.

12. CAP:  Navajo National Monument.

13. CAP:  On the way to Kayenta.

14. LEEZA:  "The Navajo sweatlodge is a mud-covered, dome-shaped hogan used to conduct purification ceremonies. Participants cleanse themselves as the spirits weave their bodies and souls with the elements."

PANEL 6. Closeup of the family, focusing on Brad.

15. BRAD:  What a pit. It doesn't even have a Jacuzzi.

16. LEEZA:  Mommm!

17. LEEZA:  Tell Brad to stop making Eurocentric comparisons that disparage the site-specific accomplishments of the indigenes!

PANEL 7. Closeup of the family focusing on Horace and Madge. Madge looks dubious as Horace scolds Brad sternly. Leeza sticks out her tongue at Brad, who looks peeved.

18. MADGE:  Uh, Horace...

19. HORACE:  What your sister said, young man.

PAGE 16.

For Betatakin reference photos see:

Betatakin #1
Betatakin #2
Betatakin #3

PANEL 1. 1/3-page shot shows Betatakin in all its glory. The Sampsons, small in comparison, stand at a railing, their backs to us, absorbing the scene. Leeza reads from her guide book.

1. CAP:  The Sampsons proceed down a winding path, past scrubby sage bushes and twisted juniper trees, until they reach...

2. LEEZA:  "Betatakin, 'Ledge House' in Navajo, is in a huge alcove. Containing 135 rooms, it apparently was built quickly in AD 1275 and abandoned by AD 1300, only 25 years later."

3. LEEZA:  "Perhaps because of drought and other problems—archaeologists suspect social tensions—the Anasazi disappeared from the entire region."

4. MADGE:  Spectacular.

5. HORACE:  A big hole in the wall.

6. BRAD:  Ah, phooey.

PANEL 2. Inset panel shows a closeup of Brad staring at his piece of petrified rock. (See end of PEACE PARTY #2.)

7. BRAD:  If those losers had a lucky charm like this—

8. BRAD:  They'd still be top dogs around here.

PANEL 3. Leeza gapes in shock and horror as she sees the rock Brad is holding. She shouts for her parents.


10. LEEZA:  Brad stole a rock from the Petrified Forest!!

PANEL 4. The family gathers around Leeza and Brad, who confront each other.

11. BRAD:  What's the big deal, man?

12. LEEZA:  It's illegal to remove stones from a national park. I TOLD you that, but you did it anyway.

13. BRAD:  Who died and made YOU queen?

PANEL 5. Madge reacts unhappily to the fighting. Angst spreads across her face.

14. MADGE:  Oh, my.

15. MADGE:  Horace, they said taking a rock is bad luck, too.

PANEL 6. Horace takes charge.

16. HORACE:  Superstition, Madge. Pure superstition.

17. HORACE:  What Brad did was wrong, but what's done is done.

18. HORACE:  As I always say, there's no use crying over split rock.

19. HORACE (in small letters):  Heh.

PANEL 7. Petro continues to trudge down the highway. Perhaps he passes the site of the dinosaur tracks.

20. CAP:  "Besides, if it's jinxed, we can always give it to Mother Glower."

PAGE 17.

PANEL 1. Petro continues trudging along the highway. He's larger compared to the previous panel, suggesting he's getting closer.

1. CAP:  "Horace! You leave my mother out of this!"

2. CAP:  "Hee hee hee."

PANEL 2. Billy stands before Roxie the secretary. She calls Mr. Griffith on her intercom.

3. BILLY:  Hello, I'm the law—

4. ROXIE:  He's here!

5. INTERCOM:  Send him in!

PANELS 3-5. Billy enters Mr. Griffith's office and approaches him. Griffith comes from around his desk and they shake hands.

6. BILLY:  I—

7. GRIFFITH:  Welcome! So glad to see you!

8. BILLY:  Mr. Griffith, I presume.

9. GRIFFITH:  Call me Mike. And you're...William?

10. BILLY:  I go by Bil—er, just Bill.

11. GRIFFITH:  I can't tell you how desperate we are for help. This "rally," or whatever it is they're calling it, is driving my superiors nuts.

12. BILLY:  We'll try to head them off at the pass, sir.

13. BILLY (in a small voice):  The protesters, that is, not your superiors.

14. GRIFFITH:  Great. Let me give you the two-bit tour.

PANEL 6. Wearing hard hats, Billy and Griffith exit the office.

15. GRIFFITH:  This is all in your briefing book, but it may help to see it in person.

16. GRIFFITH:  To give you the lay of the land, so to speak.

PANEL 7. They walk amid a crowd of Indian miners, all wearing hard hats and hard at work.

17. GRIFFITH:  At the press conference tomorrow, you'll want to emphasize the economic benefits.

18. GRIFFITH:  The royalties we pay make up something like 40% of the Navajo budget and 70% of the Hopi budget.

19. GRIFFITH:  We also employ several hundred of the locals, most of them Navajo and Hopi.

PAGE 18.

For some views of surface mining, follow the links at the Office of Surface Mining Photo Library.

PANEL 1. They pass more miners who are inspecting the land and making entries on a handheld computer.

1. GRIFFITH:  As responsible corporate citizens, we maintain a multimedia monitoring program to ensure compliance with every law.

2. GRIFFITH:  We're subject to frequent inspections by numerous regulatory agencies, including the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Office of Surface Mining.

PANEL 2. Small shot of the llama running.

PANEL 3. They pass earth-moving equipment at work.


4. BILLY:  What's that? Digging?

5. GRIFFITH:  Blasting, I presume. Don't worry...it's one of the safest things we do.

6. GRIFFITH:  I don't think we've ever had an injury due to dynamite.

PANEL 4. They pass a gentle rolling landscape covered with grass and scattered bushes but no trees (see video). Griffith gestures to it expansively.

7. GRIFFITH:  We're required by law to reclaim the mined land—to make it equal to or better than it was before. As you can see, we've done that.

8. GRIFFITH:  By replanting, we've made this land three times more productive for grazing than it was before we mined it.

PANEL 5. They pass a tractor spreading mulch on the ground (see video).

9. GRIFFITH:  In fact, Sherman has won half a dozen "Excellence in Surface Mining" awards. OSM has recognized us for reforesting and restoring wildlife habitats and wetlands across the country.

10. GRIFFITH:  As G. Howard Cotter put it, "Sherman's innovative programs have set the industry standard."

PANEL 6. They pass an area that's marked off with tape strung between metal rods, and "Danger" signs. The land beyond the barrier is raw earth that looks scarred and barren.

11. BILLY:  What's that?

12. GRIFFITH:  That's land we haven't reclaimed yet. Mine tailings, spoil piles, that sort of thing.

PANEL 7. Small shot of the llama running.

PANEL 8. A closeup shows a murky pool of liquid amid the crushed rock piles.

13. GRIFFITH:  Once we clean them up, they'll be harmless.

14. BILLY:  Can we take a look?

15. GRIFFITH:  Hmm, better not. I don't think the area is safe for inspection.

PAGE 19.

PANEL 1. They pass a water-pumping station.

1. GRIFFITH:  As for water, point out that we've used less than 1/10 of 1% of the N-aquifer's water supply. That ranks us well below Arizona's top 100 water users.

2. GRIFFITH:  Something like a dozen major public and private studies have confirmed that long-term use of the water poses no significant or permanent impact to the aquifer.

PANEL 2. They pass a ditch with water pouring into it from a pipe.

3. GRIFFITH:  The studies also show the aquifer will rebound once our pumping concludes.

4. GRIFFITH:  And of course we pay for the water—a $3.5 million annual royalty. That's significantly higher than most industrial water rates, even in the arid West.

PANEL 3. They approach the office building again.

4. GRIFFITH:  Not only are we returning reclaimed land to the locals, but we'll give them the deep wells when we're done—all at no cost. That should provide an economic boost.

5. GRIFFITH:  To sum it up, we've met or exceeded our pledges for 35 years.

6. BILLY:  Hmm. Impressive.

PANEL 4. Small shot of the llama running.

PANEL 5. Billy and Griffith stop in front of the building.

6. GRIFFITH:  Anyway, that's our tale. What do you think? Can you talk some sense into these protesters?

7. BILLY:  I'll try.

8. BILLY:  What's the setup for tomorrow?

PANEL 6. They continue talking.

9. GRIFFITH:  We'll hold the press conference first thing in the morning to, ah, avoid a crowd gathering.

10. GRIFFITH:  You'll be speaking to a select group of opinion leaders, members of the public, and of course the media.

PANEL 7. They continue talking.

11. SFX:  rummmble [smaller than before]

12. BILLY:  Sounds good.

13. BILLY:  Thanks again for the tour.

14. GRIFFITH:  Thank YOU for helping us out.

PANEL 8. Drew drives his truck across the flat, arid landscape. He's searching for the llama. From his head a semi-circle of snake-like beams of mental energy bursts forth.

15. DREW (thx):  I've caught impressions from the llama, but nothing solid.

16. DREW (thx):  He's keeping out of range.

PAGE 20.

PANEL 1. Drew continues driving.

1. DREW (thx):  What's with this fella? Why doesn't he stop and munch some grass like the other four-footers around here?

PANEL 2. Longshot of the llama as it wanders along the bottom of a small cliff face. The cliff overhangs the llama slightly.

2. CAP:  "Why does he keep running?"

PANEL 3. Closeup of the llama as it reacts fearfully to a sudden noise.

3. SFX (large):  KRACKA-BOOM!

4. LLAMA:  ERerERerERerER!

PANEL 4. The llama dashes away just as the cliff he was standing under collapses.

5. CAP:  "Maybe he's asleep."

6. CAP:  "Yeah, that would explain things."

PANEL 5. Rear shot of the llama as it flees. It appears to be heading toward a distant group of low-lying buildings—the outskirts of a town.

7. CAP:  "C'mon, buddy...get the lead out!"

PANEL 6. Billy stands by the highway. He holds his jacket over one shoulder. His briefcase is on the ground by his side. The sun is high overhead. In the distance, a man driving a jeep approaches (see issue #1). He's too far away for Billy to see him clearly.

8. BILLY (thx):  Sherman's case seems persuasive. I wonder what the protesters will say.

9. BILLY (thx):  I hope this is the person I'm supposed to meet.

PANEL 7. The jeep stops near Billy. Billy is surprised to see the driver is Chack Namoki. Chack is equally surprised to see Billy. As in PEACE PARTY #1, Chack is wearing his traditional outfit of headband, shirt, and necklace.

10. BILLY:  Chack!

11. CHACK:  Billy?

PAGE 21.

PANEL 1. Chack drives with Billy in the passenger seat. Chack's line of dialog bleeds into a section of text.

Again, the page has a line of mesas along the top and the jeep driving along the bottom.


      "So how's my favorite godson?" asks Chack.
      "Drew's fine," responds Billy. "He drove me up. I'm meeting him tonight."
      "Tell him not to forget his ceremonial duties. He's got some coming up this weekend."
      They drive together in companionable silence. Billy's never known quite how to talk to Chack. In his traditional outfit, Chack is an imposing presence, even if Billy is bigger.
      Moreover, since Drew is Billy's cousin and Chack is Drew's godfather, or whatever the clan term is, Billy figures they're related somehow. But he doesn't know how, or what protocol to use.
      "So," says Chack finally, "they assigned you to our case."
      "Sure," Billy answers. "This case involves Indian law. It's one of my specialties."
      "Oh, no question about that. I always knew you'd go far."
      "In fact, I didn't want this case at first. I thought they should send someone else."
      "I see."

SECTION 2. Small inset picture without borders shows Billy talking.

      "So what's your involvement with these...protesters?" asks Billy to change the subject.
      "Me? Oh, I'm just helping out. Ever try getting a bunch of people together on Indian time?"
      "Er, no."
      "Like organizing a parade of cats." They laugh.
      "True, I'm speaking on the water issues," continues Chack. "Someone's got to. But I don't pretend to know everything about Sherman's business."
      The wind whips their hair as they speed down the highway. Above, tattered clouds sail across the sky. Except for the wire fence along the road, the land could be deserted. Primeval.
      "So, they gave you the corporate spiel?" asks Chack.
      "They—I mean we—went over the facts. I'd say our position is pretty solid."
      "Is it? Well, I won't argue."
      "Good. I don't want to argue either."
      "Of course, the people we're meeting will have something to say. But a few more facts shouldn't do any harm."
      "Of course not. That's why I'm here. A fact-finding mission."

SECTION 3. Small inset picture without borders shows Chack talking.

      Chack pulls the jeep off the main road and onto a dirt track. They bump along for a while past dried-out grass and sagebrush. Billy notices Chack keeps glancing at him.
      "No fancy earrings," says Chack eventually.
      Billy flushes. "Why does everyone keep mentioning that?"
      Before Billy can say more, Chack holds up a hand and chuckles. "Hold it," he says. "I was just thinking of my outfit." He waves at his vest and necklace. "Look at me. I'm all duded up."
      Billy feels his embarrassment subsiding. "Er, yes, I wondered about that," he says.
      "Thought I'd show the pahana lawyer how 'traditional' I am. Heh. They tricked me good by sending you."
      "Well...Drew persuaded me the earrings were a bit much."
      "Ah. There's hope for you yet."

PANEL 2. Small inset picture without borders shows a traditional Navajo hogan.

1. CAP:  Chack pulls the jeep to a stop in front of a traditional hogan, and they sit a minute.

2. CAP:  Billy recalls that when you visit someone in Navajo country, you're supposed to wait for them to acknowledge you.

3. CAP:  At least, that's what he read in a Hillerman novel.

PAGE 22.


1. CAP:  Finally the door opens, and the two visitors get out.

2. CHACK:  Anyway, it doesn't matter how I look. I'm just the tour guide today.

3. CHACK:   I'll introduce you to the real troublemakers. They should be "NDN" enough for the both of us.

PANEL 2. Standing between them, Chack introduces Billy to the Navajo woman. She wears the traditional dress and has the traditional hairstyle of the Navajo.

4. CHACK:  Billy, Mrs. Ida Luna of the Big Water clan. Ida, Bill Honanie.

5. IDA:  Yá'át'ééh.

6. BILLY:  Nice to meet you, ma'am.

PANEL 3. Ida leads them past the sheep corral.

7. CHACK:  Ida has lived here all her life. Tell Billy what you told me, Ida.

8. IDA:  Sherman...they're no good. They poison everything.

PANEL 4. She gestures at a haze hanging over the endless Black Mesa landscape.

9. BILLY:  What do you mean?

10. IDA:  The air, for starters. Their digging stirs up the dust.

11. IDA:  It's the first thing the spacemen saw when they looked down.

12. IDA:  It chokes us. Look at our rates of lung disease. So very high.

PANEL 5. Billy whispers an aside to Chack.

13. BILLY (in small letters):  Spacemen?

14. CHACK:  The astronauts who orbited the earth.

PANEL 6. Ida gestures to a pool of water where some sheep drink.

15. CHACK:  The haze over the Four Corners area was the first manmade thing they identified.

16. IDA:  And the water. The sheep get sick and die. All because of heavy metal.

17. BILLY:  I've heard rock is responsible for everything, but—?

PANEL 7. Billy whispers an aside to Chack.

18. CHACK:  She means selenium, copper, and other "normal" byproducts of mining. They leech into the soil and water. Lord knows what they're doing to the aquifer.

PAGE 23.

PANEL 1. They continue walking.

1. CHACK:  Of course, the water levels are dropping here too. But Sherman blames that on drought conditions.

2. CHACK:  Or residential usage.

3. CHACK:  Or something.

PANEL 2. Ida gestures to a particular patch of soil with small flowering-type herbs growing out of it.

4. IDA:  Our clay, our medicine plants...we use them for our ceremonies. Sherman digs them up.

5. IDA:  These things are irreplaceable.

6. IDA:  Our bones, too. But I will say no more.

PANEL 3. They return to the hogan.

7. IDA:  That's our story, Mr. Honanie.

8. IDA:  Please help us.

9. BILLY:  Uh, I'll try.

PANEL 4. Chack and Billy are driving in the jeep again.

10. BILLY:  What was that about bones? Was she referring to NAGPRA?*

11. CHACK:  The Navajo don't like to speak of the dead. But these people have lived on Black Mesa for centuries. They've buried generations all over this land.

12. CAP:  *Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

13. CHACK:  NAGPRA. <tch>

14. CHACK:  Let me recite mining law:  Destruction of an archaeological site—including a grave site—

PANEL 5. Chack envisions a bulldozer digging up a huge scoop of earth with human bones sticking out of it.

15. CHACK:  —may occur without an "adverse effect" where full documentation and data recovery has been carried out on the site.

PANEL 6. Billy, a bit peeved, speaks to Chack.

16. BILLY:  I thought you knew only about water.

17. CHACK:  Eyy, I pick up things here and there.

PANEL 7. Small shot of the llama running.

18. SFX:  rat-tat-tat

PAGE 24.

PANEL 1. They park in front of a small house. The fences and equipment nearby suggest it's a ranching operation.

1. CHACK:  Next up is Mr. Foster James of the Towering House clan. He used to be a Sherman geologist.

2. CHACK:  He'll be our guide for the next portion of the tour.

PANEL 2. They approach a stocky Navajo man. He's dressed like a typical rancher or cowboy. He's doing something ranch-like:  feeding hay to cattle, grooming his horse, repairing a fence. He looks up as they near.

3. CHACK:  Foster, this is my lawyer friend Billy.

4. FOSTER:  Yá'át'ééh.

5. BILLY:  Uh, yah-ta-hey.

PANEL 3. The three of them walk together. Foster gestures toward the rangeland, which again consists of rolling hills covered with grass but not much else.

6. FOSTER:  I'll bet Sherman gave you the standard story about how they're required to reclaim the land.

7. BILLY:  If it's standard, yes.

8. FOSTER:  Did they mention they're required to fix up the land..."except for the normal wear, tear, and depletion incidental to mining"?

9. BILLY:  I know something about it.

10. FOSTER:  Good.

PANEL 4. Foster stoops to pick up a handful of dirt as Billy watches.

11. FOSTER:  Before they start mining, they strip the topsoil. That causes erosion.

12. FOSTER:  When they "restore" the land, they either mix the topsoil with rock or forget about it.

PANEL 5. Foster picks some leaves from a bush.

13. FOSTER:  Before mining, this land supported 100 kinds of plants. After mining, Sherman reseeded it with only 12 kinds—

14. FOSTER:  —six of which weren't native to the region.

PANEL 6. Foster gestures to a few tumbleweeds.

15. FOSTER:  They plant almost no trees—no piñon or juniper. Their first choice seems to be tumbleweed—excuse me, Russian thistle.

PANEL 7. Billy speaks to Foster.

16. FOSTER:  They also plant plenty of Indian rice grass and snakeweed, both accumulators.

17. BILLY:  You mean plants that draw selenium from the soil?

18. FOSTER:  Yes. You can imagine what those do to the animals eating the plants. Not to mention the people eating the animals.

PANEL 8. They return to the jeep.

19. FOSTER:  So that's the situation. Not a pretty picture, eh?

20. BILLY:  May I ask how you left Sherman?

21. FOSTER:  I quit five years ago because they weren't doing enough to protect the land.

PAGE 25.

PANEL 1. The three of them stand in a group.

1. BILLY:  With all due respect, Mr. James, I've read the reports. The Sherman Mining Co. has improved its record since your time. I believe it's now in full compliance with the law.

2. FOSTER:  With all due respect, Mr. Honanie, if Sherman is obeying the law, that's ALL they're obeying.

3. BILLY:  If the laws are insufficient, your argument is with the politicians, not with Sherman.

4. FOSTER:  The law can only make men do what's legal, not what's right.

PANEL 2. They continue talking.

5. BILLY:  A valid point, sir. I'll have to think about it.

6. FOSTER:  Please do.

7. CHACK:  Foster, give him the lines you gave me.

PANEL 3. Closeup on Foster. He seems to be reciting something from memory.


Men know how to tear apart flinty rocks,
And how to overturn the roots of mountains.
They drill tunnels in the rocks and lay bare precious stones.
They dam up streams of water and pan the gold.
But though men can do all these things,
They don't know where to find wisdom and understanding...
For wisdom cannot be bought for gold or silver.

PANEL 4. Chack and Billy get in the jeep. Chack is smiling.

9. BILLY:  What was that...an old Navajo saying?

10. CHACK:  Yep. It's from the Bible.*

11. CAP:  *Job 28: 9-15.

PANEL 5. Shot of the llama as it stand at the edge of a two-lane highway. The road (what we can see of it) appears empty. In the distance are low hills.

12. CAP:  Meanwhile, Drew continues his pursuit of No. 11.

13. CAP:  Which is about to cross an apparently empty highway.

PANEL 6. Small shot of Drew's truck with a trail of dust behind it.

PANEL 7. Crossing the road, the llama straddles the dividing line. Fearfully, it stops and looks at something approaching.

14. LLAMA:  ERerERer!

PAGE 26.

PANEL 1. Shot of a huge semi from the llama's point of view as it bears down on No. 11.


PANEL 2. Shot of Drew in his pickup with wavy, snake-like lines radiating from his head. Sudden comprehension dawns on his face.

2. DREW:  Whoa!

3. DREW:  Danger, Will Robinson!

PANEL 3. The llama dashes across the road just as the semi roars past. It barely misses the llama's tail.

4. SFX:  vrrmmmmmm

PANEL 4. Another shot of Drew.

5. DREW:  Why did the llama cross the road?

6. DREW:  To give me a heart attack...

PANEL 5. Small panel shows Petro trudging along the same stretch of highway, approaching.

7. CAP:  "...but at least I have a fix on it."

7. CAP:  Meanwhile, down the road....

PANEL 6. Chack and Billy are driving in the jeep again.

8. CHACK:  You must admit some of the sights bothered you. I could see it in your eyes.

9. BILLY:  I...admit I can't explain everything.

PANEL 7. They continue driving.

10. CHACK:  So you see why we can't accept the permit's renewal. Why we have to protest.

11. BILLY:  I see why we need to roll up our sleeves and work together. Resolve the problems as a team.

12. BILLY:  Mr. James could've stayed and tried to change Sherman's practices from within. Instead, he quit.

13. CHACK:  He worked there 15 years. That's long enough.

PAGE 27.

PANEL 1. They continue driving.

1. BILLY:  I've talked to Sherman's people. They aren't monsters. You should sit down with them and negotiate in good faith.

2. CHACK:  Been there, done that. That's what got us where we are.

PANEL 2. They continue driving.

3. BILLY:  You can't expect the local management to cave in to a public protest. They have an obligation to their superiors and their shareholders.

4. CHACK:  They have an obligation to their STAKEholders.

5. BILLY:  The Navajo and Hopi signed leases decades ago. These leases have been good to everyone, regardless of their flaws.

PANEL 3. Closeup on Chack.

6. CHACK:  <sigh>

7. CHACK:  How 'bout that weather? Looks like it'll be clear tomorrow.

PANEL 4. An establishing longshot shows three teen-age Navajo boys hanging around a convenience store parking lot. They're standing or leaning on the beat-up old cars and trucks. There's A.C., the tallest and toughest-looking one; Gordo, the fat one; and Tucker, the small one. A.C. wears a leather jacket, Gordo a football jersey, and Tucker a backward baseball cap. The rest of their ensemble is the usual lengthy shirts, baggy pants, and unlaced sneakers of today's generation. Maybe one or two of them is smoking. Maybe one or two of them has a tattoo or earring.

Tucker's line bleeds into another text section. At the bottom of the page are the scattered cars in the parking lot.

8. CAP:  "Since you work for a mine, keep digging for the truth. That's all I ask."

9. A.C.:  Life sucks.

10. GORDO:  Yeah, sucks.

11. TUCKER:  We ditched school, didn't we?

12. A.C.:  So what? That's nothing.

13. GORDO:  Yeah. Nothing.

14. A.C.:  We need to think big if we want to join the Bloods.

15. CAP:  The usual crowd gathers outside a store near Kayenta.

PANEL 6. An inset picture shows a closeup of A.C., Gordo, and Tucker.

16. GORDO:  I'm hungry. My grandma didn't give me anything to eat.

17. TUCKER:  Gordo's thinking big. He's thinking of his stomach.

18. GORDO:  Shut up.

19. TUCKER:  You shut up.

20. A.C.:  Shut up, both of you.

21. CAP:  They think a minute. Or more accurately, they pass a minute in silence.

22. A.C.:  Let's hit Mom 'n' Pop's.

23. TUCKER:  With what? You got any money?

24. GORDO:  I don't got any money. You got any money?

25. TUCKER:  Yeah, I just cashed my stock options from my dot-com company. Whaddya think?

26. TUCKER (in small letters):  Dumb-cluck.

PAGE 28.

PANEL 1. An inset picture shows A.C.'s hand as he reaches inside his jacket and pulls a gun from his waistband.

1. A.C.:  I don't mean "hit" them to buy something. I mean hit them. With this.

2. TUCKER:  Huh? You crazy or somethin'?

3. GORDO:  Wow. Nice one. Where'd you get it, your dad?

4. A.C.:  Nah, I ain't crazy. I'm mad."

PANEL 2. A shot from directly behind the boys as they head toward Mom 'n' Pop's convenience store. A.C. is in the lead and Tucker brings up the rear.

5. A.C.:  Pop Kiefer wouldn't hire me when he had an opening last year.

6. A.C.:  I figure he owes me.

7. TUCKER:  You crazy, all right.

PANEL 3. An inset panels shows A.C. angrily grabbing Tucker by the shirt. He practically lifts Tucker off the ground.

8. A.C.:  Listen, you wanna be a somebody, or a nobody?"

9. A.C.:  You wanna be a Blood or a stupid, worthless piece of trash?"

10. TUCKER:  I-I wanna be a Blood, A.C. Sure I do!

PANEL 4. Shot from the same position. The boys are much smaller because they're close to the store. In the foreground, the llama's head appears. He watches the boys approach the store.

11. A.C.:  Okay, then. We have to do this.

12. GORDO:  Yeah. Have to.

13. TUCKER:  All right.

14. TUCKER (in small letters):  Geez, you didn't have to wrinkle my shirt.

PANEL 5. The boys crouch against the wall near the door to Mom 'n' Pop's. A.C. has tied a handkerchief around his face, hiding his nose and mouth. He holds the gun inside his jacket.

Gordo and Tucker are still trying to adjust handkerchiefs over their faces. Gordo still has his cap on.

15. A.C.:  Closin' time. You two zeroes ready?

16. GORDO:  Ready!

17. TUCKER:  What if Pop recognizes us?

PANEL 6. Closeup on the three.

18. A.C.:  That's what the masks are for.

19. A.C.:  Besides, old Pop is almost blind. And he'll have the setting sun in his eyes.

20. A.C.:  Let's go!

PAGE 29.

PANEL 1. They burst into the store. A.C. waves the gun as if he's in command.

1. A.C. (in big letters):  Hands up!

1A. HELEN:  eeek!

PANEL 2. Helen, a young, dark-haired woman behind the counter (see pictures) is startled. She drops whatever she's doing.

Helen #1
Helen #2

2. HELEN:  A.C., Gordo, Tucker...what is this?

3. A.C.:  I'm NOT A.C. I'm...a Blood!

PANEL 3. A.C. stands close to Helen, threatening her with the gun.

4. HELEN:  A wha—?

5. A.C.:  Don't think, don't talk! Shut up and give us the money.

6. A.C.:  I know you have a big haul in the register.

PANEL 4. Tucker and Gordo, behind A.C., tug anxiously on his arm and shirt.

7. GORDO:  She recognized us!

8. TUCKER:  It's not Pop, it's Helen!

9. A.C.:  Shut up! She can't prove anything!

PANEL 5. Shot from outside the store again. The llama sticks its head in the store's doorway, which is propped open.

10. HELEN:  Really, boys, you've got to—

11. A.C.:  What do I got to do, girl? What?

PANEL 6. A.C. leans over the counter, thrusting the gun into Helen's face.

12. A.C.:  Blow your head off?

PANEL 7. Closeup of Drew as he drives his truck. Eyes closed, his head jerks back, as if he's been hit with a mental blast.

13. DREW:  Whoa, someone's really scared this time.

PAGE 30.

PANEL 1. Closeup of Drew looking grimly determined as he grips the steering wheel and steps on the gas.

1. DREW:  No. 11! And he's not the only one!

2. DREW:  He's close...very close.

PANEL 2. A.C. is raving out of control.

3. A.C.:  Pop shoulda hired me!

4. A.C.:  This was the only job for miles and he gave it to you!

5. A.C.:  Now you're gonna give me what Pop owes me!

PANEL 3. Tucker tries to talk to A.C.

6. TUCKER:  Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, A.C.

7. A.C.:  Shut up! I'm in charge here! Everyone does what I says, or...!

8. SFX (small):  ERerERerERerER

PANEL 4. Drew pulls up in front of the store. He can see the llama, the boys, and the storekeeper clearly through the doorway and window.

9. DREW (thx):  Panic. Fear. The boy's about to lose it.

10. DREW (thx):  Llama too. The boy'll shoot it as soon as he sees it.

11. DREW (thx):  Gotta use the llama's fear...for everyone's sake.

PANEL 5. Shot of the store's interior from the llama's perspective near the doorway. The llama focuses on A.C. and sees not a boy, but the image of a wild dog in his place.

12. DREW (from off-panel):  Mad dog, No. 11...sic 'im!

PANEL 6. Closeup of the llama as it rears above A.C. A.C. ducks, falls, shoots wildly at the roof.

13. SFX:  ERerERerERerER

14. SFX:  BLAM!

15. A.C.:  Wha—?!

16. TUCKER:  Help!

PANEL 7. Closeup of A.C. as he points the gun toward the llama. The llama spits and a splash of liquid hits A.C. in the eyes. He falls back, his left arm going up to cover his eyes.

17. A.C.:  I'll shoo—AUGGH!

18. SFX:  SPIT

PAGE 31.

PANELS 1-4. Gordo approaches the llama with a watermelon, intending to hit it over the head. The llama whirls and kicks Gordo in the chest. He flies backward and hits the store's front glass window, spreadeagle. It shatters beneath him.

1. GORDO:  I'll ge--!

2. SFX:  Urrk!


Tucker reaches for the gun A.C. has dropped. While he's bent over, the llama rears again and kicks Tucker in the behind. He goes flying into a pyramid of cans, which topple on top of him.

4. TUCKER:  I've go--!

5. SFX:  Ooof!

6. SFX:  ratta-clatta-bink-bonk

PANEL 5. Drew stands over Gordo, who lies sprawled over the window frame, cut up but basically unharmed. Drew reaches to help Gordo when the llama leaps out the gaping hole in the window.

PANEL 6. Shot from Helen's viewpoint. She has a baseball bat now and is standing over the two crumpled boys. She and Drew eye each other through the hole in the glass. To her he's a silhouette backlit by the setting sun, a dark angel.

PANEL 7. As Drew watches, the llama ducks around a corner. In the distance, down the road, he sees a flashing light and hears a siren. He realizes the police are on the way.

7. SFX (decreasing and increasing in size):  rrrrrrrrrrrrr

8. DREW (thx):  Help's on the way. Nothing more I can do.

9. DREW (thx):  If the police catch me here, I'll be tied up for hours. Gotta follow No. 11 while I can.

PAGE 32.

PANEL 1. Manhandler stands with his arms spread and his back against a small concrete blockhouse. Both he and the blockhouse are in deep shadows cast by the surrounding mounds or hills. He looks wary, as if he might encounter trouble at any moment.

1. CAP:  The Sherman Mine.

2. CAP:  As the sun ducks its head behind the earth's shoulders, the shadows grow long.

PANEL 2. Manhandler is framed in the blockhouse doorway as he kicks the door open.

3. MANHANDLER (thx):  This monitoring station is the mine's remotest outpost.

4. MANHANDLER (thx):  Guards won't be by for another hour.

5. MANHANDLER (thx):  Plenty of time for me to take it out.

6. MANHANDLER (thx):  I'll jimmy the systems here—

PANELS 3-5. Several small panels show Manhandler in action. He runs across open ground...then inserts a small, box-like device on a rod into the ground. He repeats this a couple of times. Perhaps he ducks behind machinery to avoid being seen by guards.

7. MANHANDLER (thx):  —then plant my own systems.

PANEL 6. Now he races up a hill to reach the high ground. Nearby is one of the huge earth-scooping cranes.

8. MANHANDLER (thx):  Sensors are in place. Now I'll take the high ground—

PANEL 7. He removes his bulky backpack, sets it on the ground, and begins fiddling with it. It's revealed to be a sophisticated electronic device, bristling with knobs, gauges, and antenna.

9. MANHANDLER (thx):  —set up my jamming equipment—

PANEL 8. He stands facing the world, arms outspread. The backpack, looking like a miniature radio transmitter, sits next to him.

10. MANHANDLER:  —and I'M in charge of security!

11. MANHANDLER:  Look, ma, top o' the world!

PAGE 33.

For shots of Kayenta and the surrounding area, go to the Kayenta photo gallery.

PANEL 1. As the gloom deepens, Drew drives over dirt roads through the outskirts of town. Scattered houses give way to farms and ranches. The truck's headlights pick out the occasional barn, corral, pickup truck, bales of hay, tractor, etc. Drew is worried he's about to lose the llama he's chased so long.

1. DREW:  Where did No. 11 go?

2. DREW:  I was right behind him. His fear was so strong I could smell it.

PANEL 2. Drew continues driving.

3. DREW:  Then it just petered out.

4. DREW:  This critter is slippier than the Roadru—wait!

PANEL 3. The truck's headlights pick out what look like the rump of the llama, as the animal walks along the road.

5. DREW:  There he is!

PANEL 4. As he pulls alongside the animal, he sees it's a shaggy sheep, not a llama. A young Navajo boy is leading it along the road. The boy and sheep glance at Drew.

6. DREW:  Dang, wrong again.

7. DREW (shouting—in big letters):  Which way to the llama?!

PANEL 5. Closeup of the boy, who looks mystified.

8. DREW (from off-panel):  Wait—I just picked up a burst of emotion.

9. DREW (from off-panel):  Not fear, but...pleasure!

PANEL 6. Shot of Drew's hand pointing past the boy and sheep. They follow his finger.

10. DREW:  It's coming from that direction!

11. BOY and SHEEP (together):  ?

PANEL 7. The truck drives toward a gated fence that surrounds a few low buildings. The headlights pick out a sign posted on the fence.

12. SIGN:


13. DREW:  Yes! It's definitely No. 11!

PAGE 34.

PANEL 1. Drew stops the truck and gets out near a fenced-off corral next to a barn. It's too dark to see anything inside the corral except vague animal shapes. Drew holds a flashlight, not yet turned on, in one hand.

1. DREW:  What's the story here?

2. DREW:  Somebody's happier than a pickup artist at a 49.

3. SFX:  orgle orgle

4. SFX:  orgle orgle

PANEL 2. He shines his light into the corral. The circle of light illuminates a sign posted on the fence between him and the llamas. The sign has printing on it, but only the top couple of lines are visible. Beyond it, parts of two llamas—shoulder, necks, but not the heads—are visible.

5. SIGN (partially obscured):

ama No. 12

6. DREW:  Well, stick me with a fork and call me done.

PANEL 3. Drew moves the light to reveal the intertwined heads and necks of No. 11 and another, smaller llama. The two llamas are cooing together like long-lost lovers.

7. SIGN:

Llama No. 12
On loan
from Peru

8. DREW:  All this time, No. 11 has been searching for...No. 12.

9. DREW:  His llong-llost llover.

10. DREW:  Who says romance is dead?

11. SFX:  orgle orgle

PANEL 4. A large panel shows Billy and Drew seated on rocks around a roaring campfire, roasting hotdogs on sticks. They're wearing jackets because the night is cool. Nearby are their sleeping rolls and a bag of groceries. Drew's truck is in the background. A starry sky and full moon are overhead.

Drew's line bleeds into a section of text.

12. DREW:  —called Dr. Rubin and let her know. She agreed the llamas could stay together.

13. BILLY:  I still don't understand. How could No. 11 have found his mate across 60-plus miles?

14. DREW:  Never underestimate the power of love.

15. BILLY:  If you break into song here, I'm gonna upchuck.

16. DREW:  So what about the coal mine?

17. BILLY:  The situation is a mess. Conflicting claims everywhere. Both sides may be shading the truth.

18. BILLY:  Take the protesters, for instance. The pollution seen from space was soot from a power plant, not surface mining. The locals' sickness could be due to a variety of factors, such as poor health care or nutrition. The hydrological studies—most of them, anyway—have concluded Sherman's mining isn't draining the water.

PAGE 35.

PANEL 1. Insert picture of Drew smiling and carrying on.

      Billy shakes his head. "But I tried not to argue with your godfather. It wouldn't have been right."
      "Ol' Chack has survived war, marriage, and The Brady Bunch. He'll survive this."
      Drew a toasted marshmallow into his mouth. While chewing, he says, "But he's got his work cut out for him. Sherman has you on their side. You da man...da long arm of de law!"
      Billy smiles ruefully. "As Oliver would say, the law can be an ass."
      "Well, as a certain four-legged friend of mine would say:  Just follow your heart."
      "Please. I need facts to resolve these claims, not sentiment."
      Drew sighs at this all-too-common refrain.
      "Griffith seems pretty straightforward," continues Billy. "But still, he was spinning his case."
      The fire crackles as he strokes his chin. "I wonder about those off-limits areas. Were they really too dangerous to inspect, or is something else going on?"
      Drew rubs his hands together and smiles conspiratorially. "So let's find out," he says. "Maybe take some samples. Like Erin Broccoli."

PANEL 2. Insert picture of Billy looking annoyed.

      "How? Griffith has left for the day. He's home by now."
      "Simple. We inspect those areas ourselves. Without supervision."
      Billy looks dumbfounded for a moment. "I hope you're not suggesting what I think you're suggesting," he says.
      "Sure. A little unauthorized recon. We did it all the time when we wuz young."
      "That was then. This is now."
      "So sad to see someone your age grow old."
      "Talk all you want, but that's one line I can't cross."
      "Don't think of it as trespassing."
      "What should I think of it as...breaking and entering?"
      "Remember, the tutsqua is ours. Sherman is only leasing it from us."
      "A fascinating legal theory, even if it's totally spurious."
      "I'm sure Judge Wapner would buy it."
      Billy stares thoughtfully into the fire, which flares with a breath of wind. Sparks fly upward to join the stars. "It would be nice to know," he says finally, "but no."
      "Or Judge Judy," says Drew, his voice trailing off.
      "Sorry. No can do."

PANEL 3. Billy and Drew sneak along a gully toward the mine. Drew, in the lead, looks back at Billy. Billy is clutching himself, feeling cold and apprehensive, while Drew looks like he's having a ball.

1. CAP:  Soon....

2. SFX:  chirp chirp chirp

3. DREW:  Ever notice how alive the night is?

4. BILLY:  "Alive"? I don't see or hear anything but those one-note crickets.

PAGE 36.

PANEL 1. Inset panel showing a closeup of Drew. He looks as if he's listening to some unheard sounds.

1. DREW:  Ah. If you only knew....

PANEL 2. Large panel of the desert shows creatures prowling along with a cutaway shot of their burrows. Billy and Drew are small in the center of this scene, dwarfed by the immensity of nature. See The World We Live In panorama and spreads from Paul Chadwick's CONCRETE.

Again, tiny snake-like lines radiate from Drew's head as he concentrates.

2. DREW:  Most of the desert creatures are nocturnal.

3. DREW:  Mice scavenging seeds, snakes winding sideways, badgers emerging from burrows, owls hunting, coyotes howling...they're all out there.

PANEL 3. Closeup of Billy and Drew.

4. BILLY:  Nice alliteration. Practicing to be a poet?

5. DREW:  Don't you know it.

6. BILLY:  Just tell me if I'm about to step in a hole, okay?

7. BILLY:  Are we at the mine yet?

PANEL 4. They reach the line of survey stakes, which are dimly visible in the moonlight. Not too far away, the concrete blockhouse is also dimly visible.

8. DREW:  The survey stake says...yes.

9. BILLY:  You'd think they'd have a fence around the property. With all the excavation going on, there must be a lot of safety hazards.

10. DREW:  They considered that, but...there's nobody around to hurt himself except us po' skins.

PAGE 37.

PANEL 1. They stand on the mine's grounds for a moment, surveying the terrain.

1. DREW:  Hmm, doesn't look too bad.

2. BILLY:  What do you expect of a coal mine in the dark?

PANEL 2. Billy motions for Drew to follow him in a certain direction.

3. DREW:  If only we had a black cat, the picture would be complete.

4. BILLY:  Less talk, more rock. A guard could come by at any moment.

PANELS 3-4. A couple of small panels show Billy and Drew sneaking across the carved-up landscape. Billy is in the lead. They crouch slightly as if prepared for trouble.

5. SFX:  Beep boop

PANEL 5. Shot of Manhandler standing on a small hilltop. He's scanning the surrounding area with a pair of high-tech binoculars. Nearby is one of those huge earth-scooping cranes. The crane sits on a lower level than Manhandler, so its cab is about even with him.

5. SFX (near Manhandler's ear):  Beep boop

6. MANHANDLER:  Whazzat?

7. MANHANDLER:  Sounds like the No. 3 perimeter alarm.

PANEL 6. Billy and Drew approach the taped-off restricted area.

8. BILLY:  I still don't think this is the right thing to do.

PANEL 7. Billy lifts the tape so Drew can duck under it.

9. DREW:  Don't you ever stop worrying?

10. BILLY:  Let's just get this over with. I have a funny feeling—

PAGE 38.

PANELS 1-2. They suddenly react as if energy is surging through them. They touch their chests and stare at their bodies in disbelief as a tingling sensation engulfs their bodies.

1. BILLY:  Huh? Do you feel that?

2. DREW:  Tingling? Yup.


3. DREW:  What does it—?

4. BILLY:  Must be electricity from some—

PANEL 1. Full-page shot shows Billy and Drew in costume as Rain Falling and Snake Standing. They both gape and stare at their hands and bodies as if they can't believe what's happened. (Note:  RF's mask hides his face, but his eyes can change shape to express emotions.) Behind them, the moon hangs high and full in the sky.

5. RAIN FALLING:  —thing?


7. RAIN FALLING:  What the—?

(Note: This page could include a couple of preliminary panels showing them changing or a couple of followup panels showing them reacting to the change.)

* More opinions *
  Join our Native/pop culture blog and comment
  Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter via e-mail
  See the latest Native American stereotypes in the media
  Political and social developments ripped from the headlines

. . .

Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.

Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.