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A fifteen-year-old runaway named Dumas Daniels and his strange young friend, July Bobby, meet a Navajo soldier on his way home from Afghanistan. He takes them to his great-grandmother’s place deep into the Navajo reservation in Northern Arizona, to hide from a violent biker gang whose leader has been disrespected by the young soldier.
It is here that Dumas comes to understand the meaning of commitment, and it is here that Ms. July Bobby discovers her destiny. It is here that the past and the future come together in the land of the shadows.
It’s dark when we return. Inside we find everything in order, but July and Benny’s great-grandmother are no place to be found.
I walk out of the hogan into the high plateau night. The entire canyon is bathed in soft moon glow. To the east lies black silhouettes which are the large cottonwood trees looking like giant faceless monsters with shaggy skin. A quarter moon moves from the east. Great dark, red sandstone walls suck at the light reminding me of honey on the fry bread the old woman cooked in the grease pot two days before.
Benny Chee walks up beside me and stops. He says nothing, but I can hear his breathing and smell the smoke from his clothes.
The wind blows gentle curls along the canyon floor that has been home to Benny’s family for hundreds of years. Once in a while the swirls fly like powder disturbing the clearness of the moon, but, with a corrective eraser, the night god or whoever controls the wind isn’t satisfied. Like a brush stroke of paint from his huge easel, the titan changes the view into moonlit, crystal high desert air, replacing the smudge with an image so clear you can almost touch it with your fingertips.
“They’re gone, aren’t they?” I say to Benny; the unbefitting question invades the night.
“Don’t know,” he answers. “Maybe.”
“Will those two find what they’re looking for?”
“Yes, they’ll find them,” Benny speaks so softly I can hardly hear his words. “They’ve been planning. I’ve heard about it happening before. Naneesh have stories.”
“But you said them. Who will they find? Where will they go, and what will they do there? What’s it like.”
“I have no idea. That world is for those special people like my great-grandmother...” he waits, then, “...and July. Nobody but people like them could ever make that journey. I’ve heard stories of Naneesh who made the choice to go. I wasn’t sure the stories were true.”
“Will they ever come back?” I see the faint wisp of a cirrus cloud floating across the quarter face of the yellow-white moon.
“I can’t answer one way or the other. I just don’t know.”
The angle of moon dust flooding the red sand hills to the south catapults over the barchan dunes, the night not saying red but saying ripples and tufts of savage grass and the black un-patterned footprints of two people who have danced in strange movements up and over the dunes.
“They headed that way. See there in the moonlight. Those dark spots look like their footprints.” I walk toward the dunes.
“Wait,” calls Benny, “you can’t go with them. You can’t see what they’re doing.”
I hurry, my sprint fighting the loose sand of the dunes and destroying the shadowed sets of footprints.
At the top of the first sand dune I stop, catching a sea of faint white moonlight bathing the high desert floor. My eyes struggle to see across the distance. I wish there was a full moon, but my eyes can still follow the dark patterns of footprints that mark the sand.
Then I see them.
Way in the distance, two dark figures move in strange dancing gyrations up the bank of sand that climbs to the base of a monstrous cliff with a talus slope like you see in the Grand Canyon.
The night is cold. They move in slow and gentle motions as if reaching for seeds of summer dandelions floating in the hot wind. Their dance is of perfection, of connection, of union with the moon-cast shadows attached to them in the sand. And then the shadows become their own.
I feel Benny’s presence beside me.
“We shouldn’t be here,” he says.
I can say nothing.
“Flow has waited a long time for July Bobby,” he whispers.
Four black figures in the moonlight do the dance of the ancients. They mimic the call of nature like the spirit ritual of uncountable ancestral ways.
Jim has been an educator and coach in the Arizona schools for over forty years. He is an avid sportsman who loves to explore on foot and on horseback the deserts and the mountains of the Southwest.
The Shadow Walkers is Jim’s newest young adult novel from Wings ePress, Inc. Night Whisper… A Basketball Story has been honored with the prestigious Golden Wings Award. Children Of The Bones will be forthcoming in March.
"This adventure is more than a NIGHT WHISPER. It is a standing ovation for young people who overcome odds. The conversation sparkles; the mystical thread is superb!" -- Phil Mandel, English Chair, Phoenix schools
Night Whisper: "This book has a mystical voice with its lyrical style that weaves a strong mood." -- The Jokker's Lair Studios, literary component
Night Whisper: "Southwest flavor unleashes adventure. What a great sports story about teens... but it is much, much more." -- Jamie Cundiff, agent
The Ghost Dancer, Jim Green’s best yet, and I’ve read them all, takes you inside the mind and heart of a young boy and into the mind and heart of the Arizona high country. It’s an unforgettable tale of courage and just plain pluck. You’ll find open graves, a Chindii, a bone awl, ancient skulls, bad animals, bad people, bad spirits. It’s spooky, thrilling, and told by a compelling narrator, young Skeeter Irons, a boy I couldn’t help but love. Jim’s is a voice that makes Arizonans proud. -- Toby Heathcotte, Author and President, Arizona Authors Association
The Ghost Dancer: A five record selection: Another great narrative by an outstanding story teller. This book, written for young adults, will be enjoyed by all readers who love adventure, suspense, and unforgettable encounters. The words of fifteen-year-old Skeeter Irons, the main character, are at times pure poetry. -- The Jokerr’s Lair Studios
Skeeter and Old John in Jim Green’s newest novel, The Ghost Dancer, might remind one at times of two other famous adventurers. The Grand Canyon to Skeeter is much like the Mississippi River to Huck Finn, and Old John and Ms. Watson’s Jim both become mentors and father figures along the way. The setting is intriguing, the plot intricate, and the characters unforgettable. -- J. L. Cundiff, Literary Agent
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 154
Paper Weight (lb): 6.8