margaret coel
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        Winter's Child
        Man Who Fell from Sky
        Night of the White Buffalo
        Killing Custer
        Buffalo Bill's Dead Now
        The Perfect Suspect
        The Spider's Web
        Silent Spirit
        Blood Memory
        Girl w/ Braided Hair
        Drowning Man
        Eye of the Wolf
        Wife of Moon
        Killing Raven
        Shadow Dancer
        Thunder Keeper
        Spirit Woman
        Lost Bird
        Story Teller
        Dream Stalker
        Ghost Walker
        Eagle Catcher
readers guides

short stories

wind river




Winter's Child

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The Thunder Keeper The Thunder Keeper: Excerpt

The door on the other side of the confessional opened, and a slim dark shadow slid across the grate. There was a noisy intake of breath, then another.

Father John felt his senses switch to alert, the way they had when he was a kid back in Boston, coming home from baseball practice after dark, spotting a gang of tough older boys under the street lamp down the block.

He said, "Do you wish to make a confession?"

"Yeah, I wanna confess." A man's voice, the slightest midwestern accent. The man was not Arapaho.

"Please begin." Father John bent his head toward the grate. In the dim patchwork of light, he could make out the protruding nose, the hooded eyes. The rest of the face was lost in shadow.

"I gotta tell somebody what happened. The man spoke hurriedly. "But it's gotta be, what do'ya call it, confidential. Know what I mean? I remembered going to confession when I was a kid, so I come here. You aren't gonna go blabbing, are you?"

Father John said, "Whatever you say in the confessional stays in the confessional."

A long sigh, a mixture of relief and impatience, burst through the grate, leaving an aftermath of garlic and mint.

"I didn't mean for the Indian to get killed--"

"What Indian?" Father John interrupted.

"Up there on the ledge, watching. I didn't think the boss was gonna kill him."

"What are you talking about?" Father John leaned forward, all of his senses alert. He could feel his skin prickling. The air was heavy around him, the sound of the rain far away.

"I'm trying to tell you Father..."

© Margaret Coel