The Appropriation of Cultures
“What in the world do you need a truck for?” Sarah asked. She stepped over to the counter and poured herself another cup of coffee, then sat back down at the table with Daniel.
“I’m not buying the truck. Well, I am buying a truck, but only because I need the truck for the decal. I’m buying the decal.”
“Yes. This truck has a Confederate flag in the back window.”
“I’ve decided that the rebel flag is my flag. My blood is Southern blood, right? Well, it’s my flag.”
Sarah put down her cup and saucer and picked up a cookie from the plate in the middle of the table. “You’ve flipped. I knew this would happen to you if you didn’t work. A person needs to work.”
“I don’t need money.”
“That’s not the point. You don’t have to work for money.” She stood and walked to the edge of the porch and looked up and down the street.
“I’ve got my books and my music.”
“You need a job so you can be around people you don’t care about, doing stuff you don’t care about. You need a job to occupy that part of your brain. I suppose it’s too late now, though.”
“Nonetheless,” Daniel said. “You should have seen those redneck boys when I took ‘Dixie’ from them. They didn’t know what to do. So, the goddamn flag is flying over the State Capitol. Don’t take it down, just take it. That’s what I say.”
“That’s all you have to do? That’s all there is to it?”
“Yep.” Daniel leaned back in his rocker. “You watch ol’ Travis when he gets here.”
Travis arrived with the pickup a little before four, his wife pulling up behind him in a yellow TransAm. Barb got out of the car and walked up to the porch with Travis. She gave the house a careful look.
“Hey, Travis,” Daniel said. “This is my friend, Sarah.”
Travis nodded hello.
“You must be Barb,” Daniel said.
Barb smiled weakly.
Travis looked at Sarah, then back at the truck and then to Daniel. “You sure you don’t want me to peel that thing off the window?”
Daniel gave Sarah a glance, to be sure she was watching Travis’s face. “Here’s the balance,” he said, handing over the money. He took the truck keys from the skinny fingers.
Barb sighed and asked, as if the question were burning right through her, “Why do you want that flag on the truck?”
“Why shouldn’t I want it?” Daniel asked.
Barb didn’t know what to say. She studied her feet for a second, then regarded the house again. “I mean, you live in a nice house and drive that sports car. What do you need a truck like that for?”
“You don’t want the money?”
“Yes, we want the money,” Travis said, trying to silence Barb with a look.
“I need the truck for hauling stuff,” Daniel said. “You know like groceries and—” he looked to Sarah for help.
“Books,” Sarah said.
“Books. Things like that.” Daniel held Barb’s eyes until she looked away. He watched Travis sign his name to the the back of the title and hand it to him and as he took it, he said, “I was just lucky enough to find a truck with the black-power flag already on it.”
“What?” Travis screwed up his face, trying to understand.
“The black-power flag on the window. You mean, you didn’t know?”
Travis and Barb looked at each other.
“Well, anyway,” Daniel said, “I’m glad we could do business.” He turned to Sarah. “Let me take you for a ride in my new truck.” He and Sarah walked across the yard, got into the pickup, and waved to Travis and Barb who were still standing in Daniel’s yard as they drove away.
Sarah was on the verge of hysterics by the time they were out of sight. “That was beautiful,” she said.
“No,” Daniel said, softly. “That was true.”