Chapter 13 Summary

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“Opa!” begins with an update on how Cal and Julie’s relationship is progressing. Cal has traditionally taken things slowly with women. Cal knows that they interpret this as a sign that Cal is a gentleman. However, Cal has learned not to wait too long. Now, he asks Julie to travel together to Pomerania, stressing that they will stay in separate rooms. As they look out across an October beach, Cal feels content with Julie. However, Cal notes that they sleep in separate bedrooms on both the first and second night of the trip.

It was April when Milton told his daughter to stay way from Marius Grimes. By summer, it has gotten extremely hot in Detroit. Business at the Zebra Room is awful, and Milton is beginning to run out of options. To save money, he only allows the family to use one light bulb at a time, which he moves from room to room. He begins to close the Zebra Room on Mondays and Tuesdays to cut expenses, and during that time he does not shave. Instead, he just sits “on the patio as the beard, like a stain, like a fungus, spreads.” At night, he sleeps with a loaded revolver beneath his pillow.

It is the summer of 1967, and Cal explains that the all-white police are preparing for race riots. On July 23, the police raid Twelfth Street, which Cal explains is “open” all night, and by the next morning, Calliope picks up the phone and hears “the coloreds are rioting!” She tells her father, who leaps out of bed, naked and aroused from his dreams. He picks up his gun and rushes off to defend the Zebra Room. As he leaves, Desdemona shouts that she predicted this would happen and blames her son for not rebuilding the church in Bithynios to repay his debt to St. Christopher.

The family spends three days and two nights in the attic of their house, but they do not receive word from Milton. Finally, Calliope decides to take matters into her own hands. She steals a bicycle and follows a tank through town to her father. Milton is in the Zebra Room, armed with a revolver and a ham sandwich. He has not slept since the riots started. Just as he is about to fall asleep, he hears the front door open. It is Morrison, the black man from across the street, who is surprised to see Milton. He explains that he has come inside to buy a pack of cigarettes. When Milton asks him “what is the matter with you people,” Morrison explains that the “matter with us is you.” Cal explains that this will become Milton’s response to every liberal pundit that discusses blacks, homosexuals, or feminists.

The tank that Calliope is following arrives on Pingree Street in front of the Zebra Room. There are snipers shooting, but the soldiers kill them. When Morrison lights his cigarette, the soldiers mistake the light for a gunshot and shoot him too. As the tanks pass, Milton believes that he and his restaurant have survived the riots. However, just as Calliope arrives, she sees a man round the street. He yells “Opa, motherfucker!” as he throws a Molotov cocktail into the Zebra Room. Cal admits that

I saw him only from the back. It was not yet fully light. Smoke rose from the adjacent burning buildings. Still, in the firelight, I thought I recognized the black beret of my friend Marius Wyxzewixard Challouehliczilczese Grimes before the figure ran off.

Milton does not see the arsonist, but he tries to fight the...

(This entire section contains 747 words.)

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fire with an extinguisher. However, he suddenly remembers his insurance policies, worth $500,000, and he decides that the price of the restaurant will drop even further now that the riot has happened. He lets the restaurant burn.

Cal considers whether the riots were in fact actually a guerrilla uprising. He points out that caches of weapons were found, including machine guns. The deployment of the army reflected decisions that took military strategy into account. Cal concludes:

I was seven years old and followed a tank into battle and saw what I saw. It turned out that when it finally happened, the revolution wasn’t televised. On TV they called it only a riot.

By the following morning, the city’s flag can be seen. It shows a phoenix rising, and its Latin words, translated into English, read “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”


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