There There

by Tommy Orange

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Part IV, Thomas Frank–Tony Loneman

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Thomas Frank

Bobby Big Medicine checks on Thomas after their song. Thomas thanks him for asking him to be part of the powwow and knows that it’s no personal favor; Bobby Big Medicine likes the way he plays and sings. Taking a break, Thomas walks around to various vendors and is considering finding Blue to apologize when someone begins screaming.

Loother and Lony

After running out of things to talk about, Loother and Lony decide to go find Orvil. For the first time, Lony is interested in the powwow, especially after hearing how loud the drum is and how the singers sound in real life. As they walk, Lony drifts toward the drum, and Loother keeps trying to steer him toward lemonade. Suddenly, they hear people screaming.

Daniel Gonzales

Nightmares have plagued Daniel during the week leading up to the powwow. In his dreams, Indians lie dead on the ground, bullets lodged in their bodies. He wants to be able to time his drone flight just right so that he doesn’t miss anything. As the drone reaches the coliseum, his mother unexpectedly comes down the stairs and asks him to eat with her in a tragically sad way. Her emotions are so heavy that he wants to stop working with the drone and share a meal with her, but he tells her that he will join her in a bit.


Blue becomes conscious of some men who are creeping ever closer to the safe. She can’t imagine who would rob a powwow and checks to make sure the safe is well-covered.

Dene Oxendene

Inside his booth, Dene hears shots just before the entire structure collapses on top of him. As the shots continue, he crawls out and finds Calvin Johnson, from the powwow committee, shooting a white gun at a man on the ground. There are two other shooters as well.

Orvil Red Feather

Orvil hears shots and takes off running to find his brothers. Then he hears a boom that is so loud it takes him to the ground. Reaching for his stomach, he feels the blood and knows that either blood or spit is coming from his mouth. Orvil focuses on breathing.

Calvin Johnson

The group stands behind Edwin and Blue as Tony prepares for the actual robbery. Yet at the last minute, Tony faces the group and walks the other way. Octavio walks up to Edwin and has the gift cards in hand when Carlos turns his gun on Octavio, demanding the cards. Charles also turns his gun on Octavio, and when he throws the cards at Charles, Octavio also fires at him. Calvin watches a kid in regalia fall behind Charles. Carlos shoots Octavio in the back just before the drone crashes into Carlos’s head. Calvin then finds himself being shot as he watches Carlos being shot from Tony’s direction. He watches his brother firing bullets at Tony, and then Calvin doesn’t hear anything.

Thomas Frank

When he first hears the shots, Thomas ducks and then stands up so that he can see what’s happening. One bullet nearly misses him just before another enters his throat. He is tired and wants to sleep, but someone is trying to keep him in the present. And then Thomas arrives in The State, and it is all he could ever have asked for. He’s not worried about what comes next. He is dying, and that is okay.

Bill Davis

The shots send Bill running toward the field, Edwin on his mind. His phone rings, and it’s Karen. He tells her that there is a shooting and to call...

(This entire section contains 1087 words.)

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the police. A bullet just catches him in the right side of the head, and then another hits just above his right eye. He falls to the ground, the phone in front of him, still counting up the seconds of Karen’s call. The world blurs into green, and Bill is leaving it.

Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield

Opal tries to call Orvil first but can’t reach him. Outside the coliseum, she finds Loother and Lony. The boys have their phones; they can’t reach Orvil, either.

Jacquie Red Feather

Jacquie scans the bodies on the ground, trying to find Orvil’s regalia. She spots him and walks into gunfire to reach him. He still has a pulse, so Jacquie carries him through the crowd and to the exit. She finds Orvil’s brothers as Opal arrives with her Ford Bronco. They all get in and leave.


Realizing Edwin has been shot in the stomach, Blue manages to get him to her car and drives him to the hospital. When they arrive, Jacquie arrives behind them with a boy in regalia. Nurses come out and take him in first, and Blue and Harvey carry Edwin inside. Two orderlies come out, and Edwin disappears behind swinging doors. Blue is left waiting with Opal, Jacquie, Harvey, and “two younger boys.”

Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield

Opal wants to pray, but first she must believe that she can believe. She opens herself up and begins to pray aloud, begging Orvil to stay. As she prays, a doctor emerges. Opal steadies herself and then begins listening to the doctor’s words.

Tony Loneman

After shooting Carlos two or three times, Tony finds that his gun is too hot to hold. He drops it but realizes that Charles is still shooting at him. He is hit once in the leg but continues toward Charles after realizing that people behind him could be getting hit with the bullets Charles intends to hit Tony. Tony is hit again in the leg and then a couple of times in the stomach but finally reaches Charles, who tries to choke him. Tony spots Charles’s gun on the ground and picks it up, then fires a shot directly into the side of Charles’s head.

Tony is transported back in time to when he was four years old, blowing soap bubbles on Maxine as she tried to wash dishes. He kept asking her, “What are we?” but she never answered. He then remembers lying in bed with Maxine watching Transformers, and he specifically recalls one line from that movie: “So if you get a chance to die, to save someone else, you take it. Every time.”

Tony feels that there are forces trying to pull him down, anchors attached to each bullet hole. But he also feels birds singing for him, keeping him up and keeping him from going. He knows now that the birds will always be singing.


Part IV, Orvil Red Feather–Edwin Black