Jackson walks back to Junior with only a dollar remaining. Junior is still passed out, so Jackson checks again to make sure he’s still alive. He is, so Jackson removes his shoes and finds $1.50, which he takes. He sits beside Junior and daydreams about his grandmother’s stories about being a military nurse in Australia during World War II. Once, she treated a Maori solider who had lost his legs in battle and had dark skin, black hair, and a face covered with bright tattoos. The man thought Agnes was Maori, too, but she explained that she was Spokane Indian. The man had heard of the Indian tribes in the United States but had never met one before Agnes.
One of the few memories Jackson has of his grandmother is about her story of war and loss, which represents how grief becomes a cultural inheritance in American Indian communities. The Maori man appears in the story to highlight how grief and loss impact indigenous people worldwide, not just in America.
Agnes told the Maori man that many American Indians were fighting in the war, including her brothers. One had died in Okinawa. The man found it ironic that “brown people are killing other brown people so that white people will remain free,” while at other times he believed in the war the way that white people wanted him to fight. He asked Agnes if she believed in Heaven, and she asked him which Heaven he was talking about. He joked that he was talking about the one where his legs are waiting for him, and she teased back that he’d have to strengthen his arms if he wanted to chase them down.
The Maori man’s revelation that brown men are dying in a white man’s war highlights that white people’s freedom is directly contingent upon indigenous suffering, oppression, and death. Each indigenous solider that dies, like Agnes’s brother, makes indigenous communities already ravaged by colonial genocide even smaller. Additionally, each person lost is another person who doesn’t get to pass down their cultural knowledge to the next generation.
Jackson is still sitting next to Junior and laughing to himself at the memory of this story. Once again, he checks to make sure that Junior is still alive, and finding that he is, he walks off to a Korean grocery. He brings his remaining dollar from the papers and the $1.50 he stole from Junior’s shoes along with him.
Jackson laughs at the memory of his grandmother’s story even though it’s one about loss and grief. His reaction reveals how desensitized to grief he has become after facing so much of it.