Chapter Eight

When the tourists were done admiring the stalagmites and stalactites, the crude pictographs and the controversial “autograph of blood,” Jefferson Jiminez herded them back into the elevator for the 1:32 ride back to the earth’s surface, where sunlight, fresh air, and, not inconsequentially, the gift shop, awaited. The proprietors of the Painted Cave at Slippery Rock, Mr. Doug and Mr. Lenny, didn’t allow photographs of the ancient art, flashes being harmful to the million year-old pigments, or some such shit. Whenever someone complained – usually some foreign idiot who didn’t know how to read the conspicuous sign beside the elevator (the “No Photos in the Cave” announcement) — Jefferson knew by now to politely lead the disappointed documentarian to the postcard rack, which contained dozens of memorable images, 4 for $5, or a special commemorative pack of 20 for $17.99.

The cute redhead pretended not to look at him, which didn’t perturb Jeff in the least, everything being in his estimation “all good.”

He repeated this mantra at least 40 times a day: “It’s all good. S’all good.” And even when it wasn’t – like when the elevator got “stuck” and the audio presentation ended and you could almost hear the sounds of the gift shop even though you were, like, 300 feet down in a sinkhole – it was all good. Yeah. Hell, yeah. All good.

Like he explained to his dumb-ass best bud Tommy, who spent more time cozied up to his bottle of Crown Royal than looking for a goddamn job, lazy-ass nigger: It’s all about getting paid, bitch!

And Jefferson was getting paid. There was no doubt about it. Big ol’ paycheck, every two weeks, even with all the motherfuckin’ taxes taken out. Plus, Mr. Lenny sometimes gave him a little extra something, just between the two of them, gentlemen’s understanding, so to speak.  Just taken care of the brothers, JJ explained to dumb-ass Tommy, who didn’t have bit of business sense in his fucked-up redskin head. “Tommy, you sorry-ass nigger, you think the world’s all, like, driving around in convertibles, singing about all your money and guns and shit, while bitches slide up and down your fat-ass leg. You watching way too much VH uno, son. Ain’t like that, bro.”

No, Jeff understood the world to be about working hard, doing your time, and getting the fuck out with some Benjamins – which could then be converted into replacement car parts. All these lazy-ass Indians like his friend Tommy, and his fuckin’ fat-ass sister Maria, sitting around the rez waiting for their government check to come on the 3rd of every month. It was pitiful. Especially because when the 4th came, most of these dumb-ass broke-ass fools had nothing left from their welfare money except a hangover and a half-eaten bag of Doritos. Then they sat in front of the TV and waited for the next month to come so they could do it again. Pitiful.

Shit. Tommy was going to be the first famous Injun rapper. Uh-huh. How’s that working out, Brother T? G-Unit call you yet?

And Maria, she was gonna marry some rich white motherfucker and that would be the last anyone would see of her. Uh-huh. Fucking broke-ass fools.

Didn’t matter, though, because it was all good. He had the job and the ride and the girl – and, plus, you never knew what kind of strange you might get working at a place like the Cave. All those people coming through with they’re funny accents. Shit. He didn’t even know where Germany was located exactly. He just knew it was far away, and they talked like the Colonel on Hogan’s Heroes.

He’d tell Tommy: Germans, Italians, French, English, Canadians, Spanish – shit, everything. And Tommy would be like, so?

And Jeff would tell him, That’s why you’re a broke-ass nigger living on the rez.

And Tommy would be like, whatever.

Jefferson would remind him that it was all good. Then they’d play Tomb Raider while Jeff dreamed about how fast his car would be in two months of salary, six months, a year. And loud! People would know when he drove up. Right?

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