restricted access Identity, Mistaken
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278 identity, mistaken “She thinks you’re my handyman,” Chelsea giggled as they walked down the street. Tuuro, a bucket in one hand and a sack of groceries in the other, had a second of unease. He straightened his back, tried to walk like Nenonene—but perhaps that would remind people of a handyman more. But that was only one moment—a mere instant, easily erasable—among hours of comfort and happiness, of eating fried chicken and egg pie at Chelsea’s kitchen table; of lifting her chipped red teakettle, which didn’t whistle so much as moan, off the burner; of sitting in his chair in her living room watching the war on her small TV. Nights she asked him, Tuuro stayed. “Oh,” Chelsea might frown, “I hope they don’t hurt your Dayton!”—because it looked as if someone might, the Alliance-Gridians in trying to take it or the U.S. in defending it. There was even a rumor—which got a lot of play on the CAVE Network, which they watched only for minutes at a time because of Chelsea’s fear of its rude language—that the U.S. was considering evacuating Dayton’s citizens and destroying the city, including the Consort plant, so determined were they that the Alliance not seize anything useful. “It’s the Gridians that make the U.S. really crazy,” Chelsea said, reaching for one of Tuuro’s cookies. 279 identity, mistaken “They feel betrayed,” Tuuro said, thinking how, up here in Cleveland, sheltered under the wing of the Alliance, it was easy to refer to his fellow citizens as “they.” “Their own creation has turned against them.” “Exactly!” Chelsea beamed. Tuuro felt his face warm. It was so like sitting with Aunt Stella, before she rose up and rejected him, and the only thing missing was that fractured sense, the pull between Aunt Stella and his great-aunt and his grandmother. In this room there were only Tuuro and Chelsea . He had no one to please but her. Many nights she talked of her memories of Uganda, the people walking with bunches of vegetables or jugs of water on their head. “Their balance! The strength of their necks and backs! You don’t see that in the descendants here. What do you think happened, Theodore ? Do you think there’s something toxic in America to an African’s genes?” “You’re highly intelligent, Theodore,” she said once. “My mother used to say that: In terms of practical thought, no one, no one, no one can beat an African.” Was there something belittling in that repetition? Tuuro played her words back in his mind. No one, no one, no one. Yes. No. Maybe, but Tuuro didn’t care. “How were services?” Chad asked George. “Lovely,” Gentia gushed. “But only about fifty people. I don’t understand it. There have to be more Catholics left in Kettering.” Sharis and Chad and George and Gentia were seated on lawn chairs outside: Gentia had made an Easter egg hunt for Howard and Leon. Abba was in a chair beside the group, asleep. Leon, plastic eggs dropping from the sides of his basket, was tearing off to a distant tree. Howard was moving more slowly. He picked up, one by one, the eggs that Leon had dropped. Perhaps George and Gentia, Chad thought, with their distant children, wanted to pretend his family was their own. “How’s business?” Chad asked, addressing George. 280 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s “Could be better,” Gentia said. “We’re not getting what we expected from our darker clients.” Chad winced. “We billed for a lot of those units. We set up automatic monthly deductions. But people are emptying their bank accounts. I’d be happy with cash, but I’m not going west of I-75 anymore to get it. People are desperate.” Gentia made a face. “Not attractive.” I bet not, Chad thought. The luckiest citizens of Dayton were the south suburbanites like them. Even now the sheriff’s car made a trip down their lane once a day. Squatters were heading south from northern Dayton, the grocery store manager had warned Chad, but so far no squatters had arrived. In the back of George and Gentia’s yard Howard picked up speed; he swooped and lifted something with both hands. “Is that an egg?” Chad gasped, for a fleeting...


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Subject Headings

  • Food supply -- Government policy -- Fiction.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Fiction.
  • Dayton (Ohio) -- Fiction.
  • Suspense fiction. -- gsafd.
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