Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scene 16

Mad Anthony is trying to sound reasonable. “Come now, Mishiekonga. Must we persist in this? It’s inglorious.”

“Put your hat on and let’s sign,” answers Little Turtle.

“Why? I detest this treaty!” thunders Wayne, waving the document. “This treaty was abrogated, at great cost to you!” Mad Anthony lowers his voice. “You died in disgrace. They settled Indiana out from under you.”

The Chief is silent.

“They were supposed to leave you alone. The government was going to roust out settlers on your land, and you had the legal right to do it yourselves. Article Six; it was a fair provision.”

“Agreed. But it was not enforced.”

Wayne turns away. He gestures at the neighborhood. “The bastards kept coming! There were too many!”

The chief nods.

Across the street, the big black SBE truck pulls up in front of the laundromat. Claude and another guy get out and walk back to the rear of the truck.

“It grieves you,” acknowledges the Indian. “To have signed your name to worthless document.”

“Well, you did the same,” retorts Wayne.

Claude pulls an aluminum ladder out of the back of the truck and sets it up against the laundromat. He goes up the ladder and begins pounding nails along the front of the building. The other guy pulls out a second ladder, sets it up, and bangs in a few nails on his end. Then Claude gets down, goes back to the truck, and drags a roll of rubberized canvas out of the back of the truck. Working together, the two of them hang the roll of canvas over the nails.

“We both failed,” declares the General. “And so we’re stuck here.”

“Having our faces rubbed in it, day after day.”

Claude and his partner let the canvas go. It rolls down over the window, covering the old hand-painted lettering for the Olde Miami Laundromat. A new sign has been printed on the canvas. It reads: Suck ‘M Dry Laundry.

“Unfortunate,” replies the Indian.

Claude and his buddy go in the laundromat.

“Don’t give me that stoical crap. You can stay on through eternity if you want to, but I’ve got places to be. I’m ready to make a move, LT.” Wayne moves in on the Indian. “I have been pondering those two men who stopped here. They may need assistance.”

The door of the Suck ‘M Dry opens. Ronny is standing in the door, wailing frantically. Mama’s snapping like a turtle in the background.

“Maybe, Mishiekonga, we can reverse our fates.”

“How?” asks Little Turtle.

“We could strike a blow for the Red Guy.”

“I believe they say ‘little guy.’”

Claude wraps his arms around Ronny’s chest. Ronny’s flailing and howling and jerking his head and flinging drool.

“Whatever the expression is--”

“You’re thinking of ‘Red Man.’”

Claude carries Ronny down the steps of the stoop, sets him down on the sidewalk, turns around and goes back in.

“There is no color with guy,” explains LT. “Just size. He’s little.”

Ronny is honking and wailing. He tries to get back in the door, but can’t. He’s yelling for Mama. Then his eyes get big like he’s got an idea, and he chugs down off the stoop and runs around the back.

“For example, that person would be the little guy.”

The laundromat door opens again, and Mama gets shoved out onto the stoop. The door closes with a slam. Mama vibrates with rage. The whole scene is like an opera, except the music is replaced by swearing. Mama bangs and yells for Ronny and tears at herself. Now she runs around to the back.

“Listen to me!” demands Wayne. “I’ve had it! I’ve watched it all go by. Two centuries’ worth. The fort, the settlers, the farmers, the town going up. The rise of shopping malls. Buggies, cars, jet trails--it all keeps rolling by, the total triumph of the white man, which I had a hand in producing. And it’s all held against me.”

“But General,” says the Indian. “We have our duty. Let us sign the treaty again.”

“We’ve already signed the damn thing 73,000 times! It hasn’t done any good. But something else might.” He looks over at the laundromat. “That pathetic display we just observed. Does it not confirm what the obnoxious visitor predicted? There is distress in the land.“

“Yes,” agrees LT.

“We could make a gesture.”

The Indian frowns. “Not a gesture,” he replies. “Gestures are cheap.”

“Alright,” answers Wayne. “An action, then.”

“An action sounds better,” says Little Turtle.

“Fine, an action! We’re men of war. We specialize in action.”

Wayne strides across the lot. “We must find those two. They know the details. We must put a stop to this thievery.” He’s totally energized. He’s tugging on his uniform and looking at the billboard, the one with the pickup truck on it. “A little industry is required, that’s all. A little imagination!”

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