It appears that Native Americans are currently part of the national cultural conversation and I — well, wait. I should probably qualify that by saying that the concept and conception of Native Americans is being discussed. The folks whose job or passion is to take public and professional offense at things other people do rarely concern themselves with the messy doings of individuals. They like big picture stuff like how the Washington Redskins for instance defame and demean the Native American population by simply existing, by dint of their name. Me? If I were one of those guys who spent their days ferreting out injustice and became engaged in Native American affairs I might be just slightly more concerned with their rates of alcoholism, poverty, teen pregnancy, dropout, and incarceration. Because — and remember, this is just the opinion of an uneducated, ignorant, drug addicted convict who doesn't know any better — it seems to me that addressing those latter concerns may have more impact on the collective well-being of Indians in general than renaming a sports team the Washington Unpainted Two-By-Fours or something equally inoffensive.
What's in a name, anyhow? If you give anything a name that has an association with some other thing, the original association quickly fades as the thing and its name become one. If I name a kid Brick, I don't think of him as a discrete bit of building material, but I also wouldn't have a problem distinguishing between my son and an actual brick if I were a mason or something. It's called context and it's how we are able to assign multiple meanings to the same word. If I say, "The Redskins are the lowest part of a division filled with overrated, underperforming choke artists," and, "that damn Redskin next door keeps stealing my USA Today," I'm clearly talking about two different things. Incidentally, I've never heard anyone outside of an old black-and-white Western movie use that term disparagingly. In fact, the only time I've heard it used at all in connection with something other than the football team is Indians using it self referentially.
The problem, say the sensitivity arbiters, lies in the connotations of savagery and bloodthirstiness associated with the term Redskin. Really? Is that why we name sports teams what we do — because they imply characteristics of the name associated with the ability of the team to win football games? Exactly what attributes of the original 49ers translate to the stylized and regimented combat of the National Football League? We're talking about a bunch of opportunistic slackers who deserted their families in order to get rich with a minimum of effort. How about the Indianapolis Colts? I can't recall friskiness ever being the deciding factor in a football game. "Well, Chet, the ’Skins may have the advantage on offense, defense, and special teams, but just look at those Colts gambol and frolic!"
And the Saints. I'll have to check in Fox's (Book of Martyrs), but I doubt that in the entire canon anyone ever rushed for any significant yardage. My point is, the name doesn't matter. Actually, that's not even the original point I was trying to make which is: Who says Indians are not savage and bloodthirsty?
Okay, wait. Let me back up a step. Just because I happen to be personally acquainted with the most savage and bloodthirsty member of the entire Pomo nation and just because she makes all those terrifying Comanches dreamed up by Larry McMurtry look like Sunday school teachers, and just because she viciously brutalized not only me but my friend Conrad by marrying him and subjecting him to untold horrors, and just because her very name inspires fear from Covelo to Boonville and everywhere in between, doesn't mean I should extend that to include the Pomo people as a whole or indeed Native Americans in general. That would be unfair and shortsighted. Let's just say that she is a scourge of cataclysmic proportions who just happens to be Pomo and should not color anyone's opinion of Native Americans as the people who I think we can all agree have historically been given less than a fair shake and deserve reparations, not to mention honor and respect.
Her name is Crystal Knight and she is a preacher's daughter from Hopland; from such ordinary fields do sprout grotesqueries of unimaginable evil. I first met her at the Ford Street Project in 2007 where I went to address my unfortunate habit of converting other people's valuable property into methamphetamine and she, presumably, to torment and terrorize skinny, undernourished white men.
Shortly after making her acquaintance she made me an indecent proposal (decorum prohibits me from elaborating) which I politely declined on the grounds that it was against the rules. That night, she snuck up to the men's dorm and punched me in the stomach as I slept. (I'm pretty sure she was aiming lower, but it was dark.) “How'd you sleep?” she asked sweetly over her Alpha Bits the next morning, smiling up at me.
She followed this up with a smear campaign regarding my sexuality and sent filthy texts using my phone to other male members of the group. When I confronted her she punched me in the throat. "Tell everyone you're gay and I'll stop," she said.
I decided, probably unwisely, to antagonize her by mock fellating anything vaguely phallic I might have in my hands while only she was watching — bananas, hot dogs, etc. — and then feigning innocence and confusion when she called other people over to witness the proof that I was in fact kicking with the left foot. "Really, Crystal, this harassment has got to stop," I'd say. "I'm just trying to eat my lunch here."
The last time I tried this tactic with the end of a push broom as I swept the front porch, she said, "Alright, that's it," and chased me down, tackled me, snapped the broom handle off and attempted forcible rape upon my person. Luckily, the screams brought the group running before she could accomplish penetration, and when they arrived to see who was being murdered, Crystal said, "This queer just tried to rape me!"
She did not miss an opportunity, indeed went out of her way to create many, to torment, torture, harass and otherwise vex me. Being the refined, subtle, elegant and pacifistic gentleman that I am, my only recourse was to stick it out until graduation and then write and perform a wickedly satirical song about Crystal which I'm not sure didn't go directly over her head. She's only about 5-foot nothing, after all, although constructed along the lines of a street corner mailbox with fists like canned hams and the general mien of a junkyard dog. Probably the only reason I made it out of the program alive was due to the occasional intervention of my good friend Beaverhawk who, although white, had a shaman-like ability to soothe and calm her for brief periods during which I was able to escape and hide for awhile.
Crystal and I went our separate ways after graduation, me back into the gnashing maw of Methland and she into an ill advised marriage with my friend Conrad. Con is the most gentle and tractable soul imaginable and I'm pretty sure this was a case of abduction, like how the Comanche used to supplement their band with outsiders to keep the bloodlines strong. He was able to make his escape after a couple of years which resulted in much legal squabbling and a couple of severe beatings.
The next chapter in Crystal's life is well-documented in the official record and may be recalled by the readership of this paper. She was pulled over for a traffic infraction and chose to take a stand rather than submit to whatever plans the Ukiah Police Department had for her and the resulting dash-cam video is still being used for training purposes. As she took out the first officer, his partner was calling for backup. He thought his baton might suffice, poor soul, and met the same fate. The backup cars rolled up shortly after and Crystal took out three more cops, one at a time, with only her fists and feet. It took eight more officers to bring her down and every single one knew they'd been in a fight.
Her next address was in Chowchilla Women’s Prison where she cornered the dope trade, established a harem and left a legacy of violence and terror that led the overmatched CDC to holler ’nuff and release her early back to — you guessed it — the Ford Street Project where already resided — that's right — yours truly. I recall the day I heard, "Say, Flynn, there's someone coming in who was here with you the first time you were here," a counselor said to me. A chill went up my spine. It couldn't be. "Her name is Crystal, do you know her?"
"Seal the perimeter," I said. "I'll nail the windows shut and barricade myself in the basement."
Actually, Crystal, when she arrived, remembered our history differently and translated our association as friendship. We got along famously for a couple of weeks and were both working in the kitchen when things took a turn for the worse.
Crystal had been making fry bread and left the kitchen a horrible mess with flour, grease, and dirty pans everywhere. I sent someone out to retrieve her and when she arrived, I forgot myself and, in a scolding tone, instructed her to get her worthless ass back in the kitchen and clean this mess up. I was, after all, her elder and supervisor. I turned to get something out of the refrigerator and thus did not see the skillet full of hot grease coming at me. I pulled a gallon of milk out of the fridge and fired it at her. It hit the door jam and exploded, blinding her momentarily and giving me time to get past her and out of the kitchen. As I ran through the dining area she began throwing knives at my fleeing form, one of which hit me (handle first) in the back. I made it up to the counselor's office but — dammit — Crystal had gone up the back stairs and beaten me to the office where she cowered convincingly behind Counselor Katrina. "Don't let him get me," she whimpered.
I was kicked out for that little episode and it wasn't long before I was in line at the Bank of America with a note and a pounding heart. I do not know what became of Crystal; I presume that somehow, somewhere, she is making someone's life a living hell.
I realize that by making this information public my life is probably forfeit and she'll be waiting for me when I hit the bricks, but if just one person can be saved by making them aware of this fiend in human shape it will all be worth it. Love you, Crystal. See you in 2018. Go ’Skins!