The tourists were all pasty faced and out of shape, sweating in the sun, fanning themselves with programs. Jim scowled. Not many this time.
His great-grandfather had opened in the early 1950s as people began to explore the West and wanted to have an “authentic” experience. The show, unchanged since then right down to the stupid teepee, was all about expectations from those first few tourists and had nothing to do with authenticity.
The actors entered dancing, whooping and drumming.
The tourists clapped, as always. How Jim resented them. He wanted to quit, but a buck was still a buck.
Grandpa always had the best tall tales about his youth. With his perfect sense of timing they were knee-slapping, side-splitting hilarious in a way that most professional comedians would envy. That one about how he got his limp, man, the joy ride from Hell! His eyes always lit up on that one.
After the funeral I took a hike in those woods that featured in so many of his stories. I could imagine them as if I was there.
The great forest is long gone, now a scattering of towns, fields and little tamed woods. The wild rivers have been enslaved, giving their energy to great engines of commerce. The thunder of hooves no longer rolls across the prairie. Crystal pure lakes now lap waves with an oily sheen onto dead shores.
We are gone, but we are not forgotten. People use and misuse our image. But it is in the land where we are missed.
The wind still calls our names. The ground still rises up in anticipation of our footfalls. The land remembers.
I know this is cultural appropriation of the worst kind, but it was the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture. And it was done with respect to the original peoples of this land.
She frowned. Bits of metal and paper mâché were scattered haphazardly around. There were piles of junk thrown hither and yon. The only technology, his laptop, was open to a romantic poetry blog.
“You are no Steve Jobs, let me tell you!” She shook her head. “I’m leaving.”
He shrugged and continued to putter.
Three years later she was shaking her head at his image again. This time it wasn’t in person, it was on the cover of a magazine. Gavin had just been awarded Time’s “Person of the Year” for his ground-breaking invention.