Buffalo Bob

    If art were to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life...
    -John Lennon

He skimmed Zits thinking Hector Garcia has taste in clothes. Looking up from her pie, she spied his hackneyed hat looking more Aussie than cowboy. Bob put the paper down. Taking her cup over to the counter, Helen asked for a refill and his life story.

His American Indian parents perished during a flu epidemic. Homeless, Tatank Ska eventually went to an orphanage and then adopted by a Dakota mother and a Southeast Asian father.

Introduced with a feast, Tatank Ska’s place sat empty. Phuoc Huu asked, "Where is my son?" A small hand appeared from under the table, snatched a drumstick, and vanished. The father exclaimed, "There he is. Lift him up!” saying, "Son, you no longer live in the streets; you are our child. Enjoy your new life!" Both parents impressed their cultures upon him from buffalo hunters to middle-class Catholics escaping from Vietnam.

Helen honed his uniquely American story into a bronze monument. Riding a barebacked pony; Bob’s tired hat upon his chest; head bowed. Mother and Grandmother on their knees with blankets flung in the air praying to the Great Spirit whose voice is heard in the winds.

The architect purchased it for the new bank across from the mall, “Nirvana for the passionate shopper.” A few protested the cowboy praying behind Indian women. It offended them. Helen countered, art is controversial. Newspapers pooh-poohed the conflict; they would lose advertisers. The mall owner threatened to take his money to another bank. Helen was losing future commissions.

The horse and rider disappeared. Months later a riderless pony was back. The story of Buffalo Bob, lost to intolerance.