Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scene 9

Blinky is looking at the pink granite marker. Which is big enough to work as a gravestone for a bus. There’s a diagrammy picture engraved in it, showing outlined people with numbers, like a key to a photograph. The silhouetted people are characters in a commemorative painting, located elsewhere. The numbers correspond to a list of people chiseled into the stone.

Blinky learns he’s standing on the X. At the place, the very spot, of the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville, in 1795. “Wow,” says Blinky. Knowing zero about the event, he reads on. The treaty, he learns, was an 18th century deal struck between the United States and an Indian Confederacy. The confederacy included the Miami, the Shawnees, and the Delaware, and a number of other tribes. The agreement followed bitterness, bloodshed, nasty frontier business. Ongoing warfare. Finally, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794, the Army of the United States defeated the Confederacy.

The treaty opened up the Old Northwest, or the territory around the Great Lakes. “Opened up,” that is, to white settlers, and all their wagons and horses and crap. They chopped down trees at a fantastic rate, flattened fields, and otherwise got the place ready to farm.

The Indians got $20,000, some goods, plus land a little further west. AKA present-day Indiana. The marker does not provide Blinky with much more information, other than noting that the two major participants were one Mad Anthony Wayne, the American commander, and Little Turtle, the Miami Chief. Plus that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark, was there. Other colorful figures also attended, including the Shawnee chief Blue Jacket.

Myron emerges from the laundromat and trots--an effort at nonchalance, versus a dead run--over toward Blinky across the street. But something attracts his attention. Two figures, dressed in period costume, have begun to stroll around the miniature field. They’re maybe 20 yards beyond the spot where Blinky stands, near the giant marker. “Who,” Myron wonders passingly, “are those guys?”

Blinky is already transfixed. “Wow.”

“Blink,” says Myron, nudging him.

“That is so cool.”

The reenactors are starting the show. One of them, who’s graying and portly, is gesturing excitedly. “Why NOT Custer and Crazy Horse?” demands Wayne. “Why not Penn and whats-his-name?” Little Turtle’s arms are extravagantly outstretched. A gesture of presentation.

“Blink. You won’t believe.” Myron points across the street toward the laundromat.

“The Sucke Brothers are moving in. Here.”

“It was a minor treaty,” complains General Wayne.

“They’ve already got a contract on the laundromat,” announces Myron.

“Minor, for all the press you get. Yes,” he concedes, “it was broken.” Little Turtle continues to offer his gift, as the reenactment seems to require.

“Blinky!” whispers Myron.

Blinky holds a finger up to his mouth. “Shh.”

Wayne removes his hat and turns away. “I can’t stand it! We’re stuck out here, day after day, me with the full knowledge that your biographies are full of fawning crap. ‘The apex of native leadership,’ Makes me sick. For my part, I’m bombastic and harsh--”

“And intolerant. And craven for glory,” adds Little Turtle, mischeviously. He turns to look at Myron, and winks.

Myron is disgusted and uncomfortable. “Get out of here! Freaks in costumes.” He grabs Blinky, looking back at the laundromat. “Come on!”

Blinky resists. “Cut it out!”

“You’re the wise man, the statesman,” blusters Wayne. “Goddamn it, it galls me.”

“Accept the gift,” encourages Little Turtle, arms outstretched. “Take the wampum, let’s be done for the day.”

“Keep the goddamned wampum!”

“We must accept the burden, Wayne.”

Blinky’s engrossed. Myron’s exasperated.

“Actors!” huffs Myron, raising his voice.

Wayne sighs. “Mishiekonga.”

Myron can stand no more. “Look, enough! What do you guys actually know about American history.” He steps into the performance.

Blinky, mortified, stage-whispers, “Myron!”

“Not very much, I suppose. You would have attended drama college?” Wayne and Little Turtle exchange glances. “I will attempt to make a long story short. A long time ago,” narrates Myron, “there were people living here--Indians, natives.” He nods to Yellow Turtle. “You guys.”

“Then, large numbers of other people--English, mostly--”

Wayne interrupts. “I am not a Brit--”

“came along,” Myron continues.

“Nor am I an actor--”

“and tricked or bullied these guys out of everything they had.”

Little Turtle nudges Wayne.

“Everybody knows that much.”

Blinky is beside himself. “These guys are professionals, Myron!”

But Myron continues. “What you don’t know is that the same story is unfolding yet again. Today. Here.” Myron gestures toward the storefront. “There’s a woman in that laundromat, a woman with a grown up mentally handicapped son named Ronny. And that poor old woman is about to sell her business to a huge company. A company,” adds Myron, “with which I am familiar.” He yanks on his coat.

“An organization for which I worked.” He sighs.

“Ronny the Retard, mark my words, will end up on the street.”

He returns his gaze to Little Turtle and Wayne.

“And I can tell you, because I was privy to certain things, that the laundromat is only the beginning. Before you know it, this organization will own everything you can see. Everything.

“And the people who live here?” Myron points. “In that house, and that house, and that one, and that one? They will be out of luck. Their livelihoods will be gone. Their property will be gone. Their whole way of life. Gone!”

Myron exhales self-importantly.

“Here, and the next town, and the next town after that. On a massive scale. I have knowledge of this. It torments me.”

Blinky is ready to puke.

“And gentlemen, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Which is why I’m heading to the beach for awhile to plot my next move.” He nods to Blinky. “But one thing I definitely am NOT going to do is sit around indulging stupid hobbies like playing historical dress-up while serious, serious things are happening.”

He steps toward Blinky. “We gotta go, Blink. Gimme the keys.”

“No.”

“Gimme the goddam keys!”

“No!”

Myron glowers at him.

Disgusted, Blinky hands the keys to his friend.

Myron walks briskly to the Century.

“Come on!” he barks.

Blinky turns back to Wayne. “Look,” he offers, “I am really sorry.” Gesturing toward the vehicle, and Myron, Blinky says, “That was totally rude. Please,” he implores Little Turtle, “keep going.”

Myron opens the driver’s side door and gets in.

“You are extremely convincing. Please.”

The Buick roars to life.

General Wayne says, “I want to speak to that man.”

Myron blows the car horn.

“Look,” pleads Blinky, “he didn’t mean it, he’s had a bad week. Sorry to mess up your performance.”

“You!” Wayne shouts at Myron, inside the car.

“Really, you guys are excellent,” backpedals Blinky.

The general begins to advance.

Myron throws the car into reverse and backs it up. He glares at the road ahead.

“Don’t mind us, we’re going.” Blinky slips around the far side of the vehicle, rips the passenger door open, and gets in. “Myron!” he barks. “What is wrong with you!”

Myron peels out and drives off.

Wayne is shaking his hat in the rear view mirror.

1 comment:

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