Troug had just detailed their adventurous exploits from their latest hunt on the cave wall around a fire they built. The image of the battle with the boar was really a sight to see, the way he knew just what kind of stains to use on the red rock. They called what they did, “pain-Ting.” Their expression of their superior masculinity earned them much praise, from the women mostly, but even from a lot of us men too. I was going to go up, smack him on the back, and give a good `uhggg’ in honor, but of course, Troug can’t accept anything from me except a challenge. He didn’t even give me a chance to breathe before he was all over me with crazy accusations and contests for me. He called for me to be banished, exiled from the family cave, and all of the family just went along with it like a mob so easily swayed from peace to riot by some graceful groans and beating-his-chest rhetoric. They told me that for “challenging” the great Troug that I shouldn’t come back until I found something better than “pain-Ting.” Two of the other men tried to appease the masses, but now they’re out here with me, in front of these very funny looking things with strings and other things, deer hide wrapped over the top of a hollow logs.
Here we were, in the middle of nowhere and there were these mystery objects, shrouded in the sundown’s cold brother, silhouette. We didn’t know what any of this stuff was, so it was really hard to figure out what to do. We wanted to know, desperately, what these funny objects were for, because there was a little twinge of a hint of a hunch that maybe this stuff could get us back into the cave. The sunset’s glare made them seem like God instruments that could make a cave all themselves. All we had to do was play with them a little, but who would be the first one to try them out. We had to be careful with these things. When Kaas made that `wheel’ thing, all Sibho had to do was poke it and it rolled away. Kaas ran after it, and no one’s seen him since. We didn’t want anything like that to happen, but damn it, we had to do something. After sitting there for a while I got sick of tension, and I motioned to the other guys to help me. I was going to have them hold my feet, and with my arm extended outwards, I was going to poke the deer-skin log. If anything crazy happened, like fire or something spitting out of the string bowl with a hole in it, I wanted to pull me out of there. Now my finger was less than inches away from deer-skin log, and they were yelling at me wildly to stop, that something horrible might happen, that I might roll away, but my finger was already on its way.
“Drum,” was the voice of deer-skin log. The anticlimax came with my face in the dirt. The two other guys dropped me and headed towards the other instruments. I clawed the dirt and pulled myself towards `drum,” while the two other guys let their things talk. One said “rattle,” the other said “strum.” We all timidly let the things talk freely and at random, making a weird collection of noises that sounded like they hurt. Did they hurt? Were drum and strum and rattle really wails of pain? My answer came swiftly in a way of saying `no, I’d never heard before.’ Drum and strum and rattle had all come together, sounding at different times, but chaining together in a pattern that made me feel funny, but sort of gave me a little burst of energy. The burst pushed the pattern onward that burst us more, and eventually I realized I was beating drum very rapidly, but I didn’t care. His passion made such wonderful sounds. Strum changed his pattern a little bit, then rattle did the same, and I did the same, and we made a new pattern that came out of the old one. The old pattern gave way to a new pattern, and eventually, that gave way to a new one, and to a newer one, and all to another that reflected all of the growth of the bushes into the flower into the stamen and into the pollen.
We headed back to the cave with promise. Troug could have pictured the hunt, but we gave nature a voice with a little thing we called “Moo-sik.”