Shell Shaker Chapters 5–6 Summary
by LeAnne Howe

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Chapters 5–6 Summary

Chapter 5: Prayers for the Mother

Durant, September 24, 1991: Auda is lying in bed watching smoke rise toward a hole in the roof when she realizes she is not in her own room. She sees a man who looks unfamiliar, until suddenly she recognizes him: it is Red Shoes. He embraces her, and the pair make love. She asks him to tell her what he knows about the Inkilish okla and Filanchi okla (English and French people, respectively); he responds that these groups will one day force them out of their lands, take their food, and set up casinos.

Auda examines the tattoo on the man’s face, which he says signifies truth. The pair begin to cry, knowing that they cannot stop what is coming. Auda’s dream shifts, she realizes she is dreaming and alone, and she cries herself awake.

Adair comes in. Auda explains that she has dreamed of Red Shoes; Adair says that they have all been having strange dreams, and that Auda must get up and come to the jail, where Susan has been taken following her confession. Aunt Delores and Aunt Dovie are coming, too, and Gore has been making notes all night about the case.

Auda tries to remember what happened in the jail, but she can’t. She remembers her mother, in 1983, calling McAlester an Osano and telling Auda to “finish with” him. Susan was furious with him for refusing to help an old Choctaw man, Fred Tubby, by providing a water well. Susan felt McAlester was starving his own people. Over the years, she became increasingly critical of her daughter’s relationship with McAlester, until the pair had almost stopped speaking entirely.

Susan is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter: “Powerful medicine.” Auda, a firstborn with no offspring, feels inadequate in comparison. Instead, her words about the Choctaws’ history are her progeny.

In the kitchen, Gore is sweeping up broken glass. Auda thinks he looks familiar. Gore says that Auda was taken to the county jail instead of the Choctaw Nation’s jail to protect her from vigilante killers. He has just submitted papers requesting that Susan’s case be heard in the Choctaw Superior Court.

Auda explains to Gore and Tema that she thinks she killed McAlester, but also that, for a moment, it wasn’t her. She accepts Gore’s offer to represent her; he reminds her where they first met, at the conference. A neighbor arrives with some food as a gesture of solidarity.

Auda talks about how she first met McAlester and what they originally planned to do for the Choctaw nations. At first, they were a popular couple, but then the Casino of the Sun was built. It made twenty million dollars per year, but somehow, sixty million dollars was deposited: the tribe made more money than it reported. Auda thought the casino was set up to benefit the Mafia, not the Choctaw people, because of the involvement of Vico D’Amato and Carl Tonica in its finances. McAlester was laundering money for the Genovese family, who owned Shamrock Resorts and bankrolled the casino. Recently, McAlester had been siphoning money from Shamrock. Auda believes the D’Amato brothers will think she shot McAlester for the money; Gore says that Auda could be tried as McAlester’s accomplice as well as his murderer—but only if it could be proven that the money being laundered was from an unlawful source.

Gore feels that Auda isn’t telling him everything. He asks why she shot McAlester instead of calling the FBI—and why didn’t she shoot Carl Tonica? Auda cannot say, but Tema guesses that McAlester raped her.

Auda does not know where the missing ten million dollars is, but knows that McAlester had been financing the Irish Republican Army to underwrite bombings.

Gore says they will need to hire more lawyers and investigators. He could beg the court for mercy, plead insanity for the women, or plead guilty. They could also offer suggestions as to who else might have killed McAlester, given the financial tangle, but Auda says he must not do this. If he is going to represent her, he must tell the court that she...

(The entire section is 1,424 words.)