Nuptials

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NUPTIALS

The Army was still scouring Hanford and the immediate area for Robyn, and it did not occur to them to watch the bus stations out of the nearest towns until later that afternoon. The river carried her much farther than anyone could walk in the same span of time, all at the relatively small expense of some wrinkled prune fingertips, a ruined dress and ruined hair.

By noon Robyn was on a bus and well on her way home. Her greatest desire was to rush home into the arms of her mother. But she knew the Army would go there first, if they didn't already have her house staked out. Then it would be right back to Hanford, or worse. So while she sat on the bus making her way west at the wartime top speed limit of 35 MPH, she spent the time turning her dwindling options over in her mind.

The more she thought about it, the worse her chances seemed. If her mother's house was staked out by the authorities, so would be the homes of everyone who had written to her. Robyn remembered that her mail had been opened and read before it was given to her, so she had no doubt they had logged the address of each sender. That ruled out going to see Hunky, Dory, and Jerry.

Robyn guessed the Army or the FBI probably had the bus station in Seattle staked out too, waiting for her. The only chance Robyn could see was to make a phone call to her spiritual leader, Prophet Two Feathers, and explain her predicament. In Ellensburg when the bus was delayed for about an hour, Robyn got out and made the call to the head of the End Dome Church from a pay phone with the last of her spare change.

Peter recommended that Robyn not go all the way to Seattle but remain there in Ellensburg instead. It was only about two or three hours away. He offered to drive out and meet her at a public park he knew was close to the bus station. At her urgent request, Peter also promised to bring along her three closest friends, taking great care to make sure he had shaken any tails.

Robyn thanked him with great sincerity, hung up, and made her way to the nearby park, where she could hide in the bushes and minimize the number of homeless girl sightings until she saw the Prophet and her friends. It would be just her luck to be busted by a cop for vagrancy or prostitution.

The Army did indeed have the bus station and Clara Lokken's house watched, but they didn't have enough resources in place that early in the game to tail any of Robyn's friends. Later when reported sightings of Robyn came in from the public (her bedraggled appearance after the river swim made her stand out), the Army would have people crawling all over Black Diamond, and the cities between there and Richland too.

In the short space of time available to him, Peter Two Feathers was able to round up the rest of the Boda and take them by car over the mountains. His wife Deborah went along for the ride.

In the United States in 1943 there was wartime rationing of gasoline. Most people were entitled to only four gallons of gas a week. But Peter Two Feathers was an important clergyman who had to tend to his flock. He was allowed a Supplemental Mileage Ration C sticker which gave him up to an additional twelve gallons a week, the same as doctors and mail carriers. That was a lucky thing, because his Chrysler Town and Country wagon only got about fifteen miles per gallon, even with its wooden doors, so he was going to burn eight gallons on this trip alone.

When they arrived in the downtown core of Ellensburg they split up and searched the park, calling Kim's name. She hustled out of the bush she was hiding in and faced Hunky.

I'm not Kim Lokken anymore, Hunky. Call me Robyn.

I don't care what you want me to call you. It's good to see you again girlie girl!

They embraced tightly. Hunky hadn't seen her for more than a year. The others saw them and rushed over to take their turns hugging Kim and telling her how much they had missed her, which she already knew well from their letters. Two Feathers started his car and drove a half-circle around the park to the point closest to Robyn, where he threw open the doors and told them all to get in.

I escaped from the Army, Robyn told them as Two Feathers steered his vehicle towards the outskirts of the city. So now I'm a fugitive.

What do you mean a fugitive? Dory said. So you left without checking with them, big deal.

They took rifle shots at me, Robyn said, to underscore her assessment of being a fugitive.

There was silence in the car until they passed the city limits.

You'll have to go underground, Peter Two Feathers finally told her. Literally. I'm prepared to help you do that, Kim, but this is the end of your life as you have known it.

I've already taken a step on my new life, sir, she said. I've discarded the name 'Kim' and now I answer only to Robyn.

Robyn what?

Just Robyn, sir. A single name, like Hunky.

I feel a little left out, Dory said. Okay, it's official, I'll drop Fuchs and just go by Dory now.

You girls knock yourselves dead, Jerry said. I'm staying Jerry Shy Bear. But he still secretly wished he had been born a Jeri Shy Bear.

Lee Hansen made his move, Peter said, referring to the second ranking clergyman in the End Dome Church, the Apostle he appointed way back in 1917, and now regretted doing so. He's helping the Army try to find you, Robyn. You won't be able to show your face anywhere near Franklin.

Why don't you just fire him, sir? Hunky said. You are the Prophet, after all. He's just the Apostle.

I did, but the schism is already in full bloom. He's leading the Whites to go their own way and he's already made himself the Prophet of the Reformed End Dome Church. There's a large faction of the Church that has never been able to stomach equality with the Red Wing.

I figure the mandatory cousin marriage thing has always been a bone tossed to them, sir, Jerry said.

That's correct, Peter agreed. No Red will ever be able to marry a White as long as that rule exists.

That rule is keeping me from marrying the one I love, sir. Jerry said. I have loved Kim -- well I guess I better call her Robyn now -- from the very first day I met her in school.

And you, Kim, do you love Jerry too?

She thought about it for what seemed to Jerry a very long time. Yes I do, sir. Very much.

Peter Two Feathers saw a pawn shop on the outskirts of town and pulled into the parking lot. He went inside and bought two cheap rings. Then when they were well out of town he went off the main highway and drove to the end of a dead end gravel road that looked out upon the jagged peaks of the Cascade Range far to the west.

So with Hunky and Dory and his own wife as witnesses, the Prophet Peter Two Feathers waived the law of the End Dome Church that required all marriages to occur between first or second cousins. He said, For this one occasion, Red will be united with White. And if your love is real, and bears fruit, then your offspring will belong to both Wings of the Church, and so will their children in turn. As the generations roll on, and your sons and daughters marry who they love, the breach between both Wings will be healed. This is both a joy and a burden I lay upon both of you, if you are willing to take it.

After that, with the Prophet presiding, Jerry Shy Bear wed Kim Robyn Lokken, and exchanged vows, rings and kisses. The sun was sinking in the west behind thunderclouds piled high and the whole scene was lit by an otherworldly pink and orange. Even Hunky allowed her boyish mask to drop for a short time and cried real tears of joy.

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