A Darker Justice

Free A Darker Justice by Sallie Bissell

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Authors: Sallie Bissell
Tags: Fiction
She felt as if she had blundered into the middle of a play with no idea of her lines.
    The woman studied Mary, then broke into a broad smile. “You’re Mary Crow, aren’t you?”
    Mary nodded, puzzled. “Do we know each other?”
    “No.” The woman shook her head. “I’m Ruth Moon, from Tahlequah, Oklahoma.” She stepped from behind the counter and stuck out her hand. “Jonathan has told me all about you, Mary.”
    “He has?” Mary grasped the woman’s hand. It was strong, like a tough little prairie bird. “Is he here?”
    “He drove over to Cherokee,” Ruth Moon explained. “He volunteered to deliver some computers for me, just in time for Christmas.”
    “Computers?” Mary felt like some idiotic parrot, repeating whatever came out of this Ruth Moon’s mouth.
    Ruth nodded. “Two,” she said proudly. “One for the library, another for the day care center at the Methodist Church.”
    Mary was speechless. When she last saw Jonathan, he’d just carved an inlaid bow of hickory and poplar for a turkey hunter in New Hampshire. Now he was delivering computers to the children of the Quallah Boundary?
    “I guess you two haven’t talked in a while, huh?” Ruth Moon called over her shoulder as she turned and walked back behind the counter.
    “No.” The last night she and Jonathan talked was the last night they’d made love, moving together fluidly as silk, fitting each other like fingers slipping into soft kid gloves.
    “We came back here four months ago, from Oklahoma. We met out there—I’m a Legend Teller and had been planning to come east to collect some more stories, so I asked him if I could tag along.”
    Mary tried to clear the sudden frog in her throat. “And Jonathan said yes?”
    Ruth nodded. “He’s helped me gather half a dozen more stories, I helped him reorganize his bookkeeping. We do the computers together.”
    Immediately Mary caught the
we:
apparently Jonathan and this Ruth Moon came as a set. Again, all she could do was parrot Ruth Moon’s last phrase. “The computers?”
    “We refurbish old ones. You’d be amazed at how many businesses just throw them in the garbage. I clean them up, put in bigger hard drives, faster modems. Jonathan picks them up and delivers them.”
    “To whom?”
    “Mostly to Cherokee families. Native Americans have been grossly underserved by the computer revolution.” Ruth hopped up on the stool behind the old cash register. For the first time Mary noticed that on the wall, taking the place of Jonathan’s
Farmer’s Almanac
calendar, hung an enormous poster of the U.S. Capitol made up of white, black, and brown dots. The caption beneath read
“When Will Congress See Red?”
    Ruth Moon smiled as Mary tried to decipher the poster. “You haven’t heard of REPIC, have you?”
    Before she could answer, Ruth handed her a brochure. Printed on bright yellow paper, it cited statistics about the demographic makeup of Congress, then asked the blunt question, “Why are WE not represented in Washington?”
    The brochure went on to describe REPIC, a grassroots movement started by several Spokane Indians living in Seattle. REPIC wanted to amend the Constitution, giving each of the identified tribes in the United States a seat in the House of Representatives. According to the pamphlet, the idea had spread like wildfire, consuming Cherokees in Oklahoma, Seminoles in Florida, Iroquois in upstate New York.
    Mary looked up at Ruth Moon, wanting to laugh and cry at the same time. Did these Indians not know how the government worked? Rich people sent other rich people to Congress to protect their interests, and everybody else—black, white, yellow or red—could go to hell. She handed the brochure back to Ruth.
    “Is Jonathan working for REPIC?” she asked, unable to imagine her tall ex-lover jousting at this kind of windmill. Acid rain, perhaps, or too much CO 2 in the air, but not Indians in Congress. It sounded like something from her mother’s generation, a

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