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Next Time They Will Wow Them With The Shiny Stuff

Luckily, the Indians see them coming. They see the sails. They are picnicking, the Indians. They have spread their blankets up on the rocks, where there is a sea breeze that goes well with their Pinot Blanc. From up there, they see the sails, and then the ships bouncing in the waves.

So: They put away the good stuff. They hide their iPods. They haul their TVs up trees, bind them to the highest branches. They bury their DVD collections deep in the dirt. They sink their SUVS in the lake (they have to roll up their sleeves, lean out of their canoes, and hold the vehicles down until they stay down). They eat all the junk food, gorge themselves on fruit snacks and chocolate chip cookies until they feel they will burst and their chins are stained (wild berry juice, they will tell the strangers). They burn all the receipts. They disguise their lawnmowers as deer. They send their most beautiful women west. Don’t ever turn back, they tell them. Take the Xboxes. Take the Xanax.

When the strangers land, when they come sick and tired off the ships, the Indians offer them their very best: gourds, pumpkins, spoiled corn. The strangers have no manners. They could use some sunscreen. They could use some floss. Their belt buckles remind the Indians of their fine silverware, packed safely away.

What are you about, the strangers ask. They point and wave their arms in giant circles so the Indians will understand. The Indians tell them (tell them with straight faces, no less – only a few children giggle: what a great joke this is!) that they worship the sun and the moon. Also the rain and the trees. The wolf. The earth, which glistens, as if packed with jewels.

Award-winning fiction writer. Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award winner. Recognized in Pushcart Prize, Best American anthologies. NEA Literature Fellow.