How To Trade With An Indian
by Deb Thompson

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"It's a classic."
"Yeah, well, so was he," Shayna said.
Dane walked across the garage floor and ran a hand across the trunk lid of the dusty black Chevy. The license plate still read IRON 1.
"Does it run?"
Shayna lifted her long dark hair off her neck in a futile attempt to fight the desert heat that had followed them into the garage.
"It hasn't been started in months. You'll have to tow it in and have it gone over from the headlights to the exhaust pipe. But if you'll trade me even for your Camaro, it's yours. I want something that runs now."
Dane looked at her and tried not to stare, but the dark, wide eyes and bold cheek bones gave away her lineage. Her lips were full and decidedly feminine, but the general look of her face was Iron Man, through and through. She returned his look with unspoken challenge and he broke contact first.
"Forgive me, but you look so much like him. It's amazing."
Shayna cleared her throat.
"Well, I don't play in a rock band the way he did, and I don't train horses for the movies."
She flung her cigarette butt out into the driveway.
"I don't run a casino the way he did, and I don't drink the way he did. Native Americans--Indians--whatever the politcally correct term is this week--shouldn't drink, you know. None of us can handle white man's firewater."
She looked at him with all the anger and hurt of a child who has lost its father.
"Well, I sure wish he wouldn't have been a drinker that night," Dane said softly. "We sure lost a great talent when we lost him."
Shayna crossed her arms and rubbed them briskly above the elbows, as though she was suddenly chilled in the August heat.
"So, is it a trade or what?"
Dane leaned over and peered inside the car one more time, and then straightened.
"I'll trade you even on one condition."
Shayna shook her head.
"Condition means it's not an even trade. Not even, not interested. Sorry." She searched her jeans pocket for another cigarette, but found none.
Dane held up his hand.
"Now, wait a minute. Hear me out, would you? I don't want any money. I want to use the car in a parade in Carson City two months from now. And I want you to ride in it. Or rather, on it, if we can get the convertible top to work by then."
She quit digging for cigarettes and looked him up and down with disgust.
"A parade? You want to use my father's car, and me, in a parade?" She circled her hands around her head. "I suppose you want me to dress up with a headband and feathers too."
She kicked off one of her sandals and bent her knee provocatively.
"Oh, and maybe a short little doeskin dress that comes up to here and down to here." She pointed her fingers and drew an imaginary low neckline, leaning close to him in mock seduction. "You're barking up the wrong tribe, Gringo."
He stood his ground, and tried to look gently beyond the hard shadows in her beautiful eyes.
"He had a temper too," he told her softly. "He hired and fired me three times the first day I worked for him in Reno." He smiled at her as she drew back and looked at him curiously.
"You knew him?"
He nodded.
"I was a stage hand at his club, for about six months."
Dane brushed the nearest edge of the Chevy's roof with one hand.
"He saved my life one night when some thugs tried to rob us after hours." Dane laughed softly. "He didn't mean to, though, at least not at first."
Shayna frowned and waited for him to explain.
"I was putting away some equipment about three in the morning when these guys came in and tried to rob me at knifepoint. Your father was sleeping in the office, and they all made so much noise, he woke up. He threw open the door of the office and hit one of the guys right in the face. Knocked the guy out cold."
Dane gazed out the garage door toward the estate's massive swimming pool.
"Your dad was so drunk he could hardly stand up, but he took the bottle he had in his hand and hit one of the other guys over the head with it. The last guy just ran off."
He looked at her again.
"You know, he showed me your picture several times. He said you were the real brains in the family, and that you'd be the one to do something worthwhile with all the money he was making. I kept telling him he was my hero. And he would say, ‘Well, this is my hero,' and he would pull out your picture."
Shayna clasped her arms tightly to her body and her eyes filled with tears.
"I didn't want the money. I just wanted him to be my father. Not Iron Man, the American Indian hero. Not Iron Man, the Rock Musician. Just my father."
Dane pulled his car keys out of his pocket and held them at her eye level.
"One last ride. No doeskin dress, no feathers. You can wear what you've got on right now if you want. You can dress up like a flipping prom queen for all I care. But take the ride. Tell them he didn't belong to them. He belonged to you. You get the last ride, and the last word."
He jangled the keys.
She tried to hold back more tears.
"Two months from now, huh? You planning to drive the car in that parade?"
He nodded.
She wiped her face and then turned and used her own keys to open the Chevy's trunk. She reached in and pulled out a leather jacket with a desert sunset scene on the back portion. She shook the dust off it and held it up in front of Dane so that he could see the jacket, but not her face.
"He was a big guy. It'll be loose on you." Her voice shook. "And it'll have to be cleaned. But it would look good if you wore it that day."
Dane peeked around the sleeve of the jacket.
Her eyes flashed at him defiantly.
"That's my condition, Gringo," she said firmly, and then suddenly grinned at him with that Iron Man grin he knew so well.

It was a strange sight that October, when the line of classic cars made its way through the streets of Carson City. There was one black Chevy in the queue, a convertible with a license plate that said IRON 2, driven by a man in a black leather jacket. If you looked closely, you could see that the man wore a black tuxedo beneath all the leather. The young woman seated on the back portion of the convertible was resplendent in a white gown and gloves. On the seat below her a veil sat in readiness for a ceremony at the end of the line. And if you looked closely at the woman, you could see that beneath the long dark hair covering her neck and shoulders, she wore a pendant made of a key to a Camaro--the other family car. When they rounded the last turn in the parade route Dane cranked American Woman on the car radio, set the emergency brake, and climbed over the seat to give Shayna a long kiss.
The crowd whistled and cheered, and applauded with so much enthusiasm that no one else heard what he said close to her ear.
"Now that's what I call a trade."

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Copyright© 2001 Deb Thompson
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