The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
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From The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Too hot to sleep so I walked down to the Third Avenue 7-11 for a Creamsicle and the company of a graveyard-shift cashier. I know that game. I worked graveyard for a Seattle 7-11 and got robbed once too often. The last time the bastard locked me in the cooler. He even took my money and basketball shoes.
The graveyard-shift worker in the Third Avenue 7-11 looked like they all do. Acne scars and a bad haircut, work pants that showed off his white socks, and those cheap black shoes that have no support. My arches still ache from my year at the Seattle 7-11.
"Hello," he asked when I walked into his store. "How you doing?"
I gave him a half-wave as I headed back to the freezer. He looked me over so he could describe me to the police later. I knew the look. One of my old girlfriends said I started to look at her that way, too. She left me not long after that. No, I left her and don't blame her for anything. That's how it happened. When one person starts to look at another like a criminal, then the love is over. It's logical.
"I don't trust you," she said to me. "You get too angry."
She was white and I lived with her in Seattle. Some nights we fought so bad that I would just get in my car and drive all night, only stop to fill up on gas. In fact, I worked the graveyard shift to spend as much time away from her as possible. But I learned all about Seattle that way, driving its back ways and dirty alleys.
Sometimes, though, I would forget where I was and get lost. I'd drive for hours, searching for something familiar. Seems like I'd spent my whole life that way, looking for anything I recognized. Once, I ended up in a nice residential neighborhood and somebody must have been worried because the police showed up and pulled me over.
"What are you doing out here?" the police officer asked me as he looked over my license and registration.
"Well, where are you supposed to be?" he asked me, and I knew there were plenty of places I wanted to be, but none where I was supposed to be.
"I got in a fight with my girlfriend," I said. "I was just driving around, blowing off steam, you know?"
"Well, you should be more careful where you drive," the officer said. "You're making people nervous. You don't fit the profile of the neighborhood."
I wanted to tell him that I didn't really fit the profile of the country but I knew it would just get me into trouble.
"Can I help you?" the 7-11 clerk asked me loudly, searching for some response that would reassure him that I wasn't an armed robber. He knew this dark skin and long, black hair of mine was dangerous. I had potential.
"Just getting a Creamsicle," I said after a long interval. It was a sick twist to pull on the guy, but it was late and I was bored. I grabbed my Creamsicle and walked back to the counter slowly, scanned the aisles for effect. I wanted to whistle low and menacingly but I never learned to whistle.
"Pretty hot out tonight?" he asked, that old rhetorical weather bullshit question designed to put us both at ease.
"Hot enough to make you go crazy," I said and smiled.
August 30, 1993
Known primarily as a poet, Alexie ( Old Shirts and New Skins ), a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, here offers 22 extremely fine short stories, all set on or around the Spokane reservation in Washington state. Characters flow from one tale to the next; many involve Victor, who grows from a small child watching relatives fight during a New Year's Eve party (``Every Little Hurricane'') to a dissolute man sitting on his broken-down porch with a friend, watching life pass him by (``The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn't Flash Red Anymore''). The author depicts with fierce determination all the elements of modern Native American life, from basketball and alcoholism to powwows and the unexplained deaths of insignificant people. Humor and tragedy exist side by side, and stories often jump back and forth in time and space, recounting two narratives that ultimately prove to be skeins of the same tale. Alexie writes with simplicity and forthrightness, allowing the power in his stories to creep up slowly on the reader. He captures the reservation's strong sense of community and attitude of hope tinged with realism as its inhabitants determine to persevere despite the odds. In ``Imagining the Reservation'' (a title that evokes John Lennon's song ``Imagine'') he writes, ``Survival = Anger Imagination. Imagination is the only weapon on the reservation''--a weapon this author wields with potent authority. First serial to Esquire.
PublisherBarnes & Noble Digital
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