Part II, Bill Davis–Jacquie Red Feather
Bill Davis prides himself on the hard work he accomplishes in maintenance at the Oakland Athletics stadium. While working, he spots a drone making its way toward home plate. He meets it there and tries to swat it down but doesn’t succeed. He is frustrated with his girlfriend, Karen, whom he feels babies her son Edwin. In fact, he feels that the entire younger generation are coddled babies with their faces lit by phone screens and their “gender-fluid fashion choices.”
Karen calls to ask Bill to pick up Edwin from his new job; Bill very reluctantly agrees. She reminds him that Edwin is making progress, at least going to work every day now. After they hang up, Bill recalls the incident that Edwin had experienced on the bus, the reason he now tries to avoid it. Edwin got into some altercation with a veteran, and both of them were kicked off. The man chased Edwin in his wheelchair all the way down the street and to work, so he arrived for his first day a sweaty mess.
Bill was dishonorably discharged after going AWOL in Vietnam in 1971. He was taking many drugs at the time and is incredulous that he can even remember any of it. But he does remember the Oakland A baseball games, because they were all he had then. The As won three World Series in a row, from 1972 to 1974, and it felt good to be from Oakland and winning.
Bill stabbed a man outside a biker bar a few years later and served five years at San Quentin. It wasn’t even his knife, but he had been so drunk that he couldn’t keep his story straight. During those five years, Bill read anything he could get his hands on, from Hunter S. Thompson to Fitzgerald to Faulkner and Hemingway—“all the drunks.” He let the years dissolve like a dream.
Calvin Johnson is living with his sister Maggie and her daughter Sonny, trying to save money. Maggie has bipolar disorder, just like their mother did. As they share dinner, an unexpected visitor appears in Maggie’s living room: their brother Charles. He’s brought his friend Carlos, and the two make themselves comfortable with their feet up to drink their forties. Calvin owes Charles money, and the one stipulation Maggie had established for Calvin living with her was that he would stay away from Charles.
Charles gets down to business quickly. Calvin has a job and isn’t paying rent, yet he hasn’t paid the money he owes. Calvin accuses his brother of setting him up at the last powwow; someone jumped him and stole the pound he had on him. Charles stands, making fists, then tells Carlos they all need to go for a drive.
Charles fires up a blunt and passes it to Carlos, and then they pass it to Calvin. He only takes one hit and is later glad, as he determines it’s sprinkled with angel dust.
They take Calvin to meet up with Octavio, who points an all-white magnum at Calvin’s face while talking to Charles. Calvin owes money for the drugs he’s lost, and Octavio wants him to pay. Octavio himself owes some money, and he has to come up with it fast.
Charles reminds his brother of a conversation they’d had earlier, when Calvin told him about the upcoming powwow at the Oakland Coliseum; Calvin is on the committee, and there will be around fifty thousand dollars in cash prizes. Calvin says that there is no way he’s stealing from the people he works with, and his brother suggests cutting him in on the profits. They all get back in the car and ride home in silence, and Calvin feels that they are all headed toward something they will never make it back from.
Jacquie Red Feather
Jacquie Red Feather is ten days sober and is at a conference for her job to help with substance abuse and mental health within the Native community. The first speaker at the conference says that his younger brother shot himself between the eyes when he was fourteen and that fifteen of his other relatives have commited suicide during his lifetime. He says that the Native community needs to change its approach and to “be about what we’re...
(The entire section is 1,138 words.)