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Bobby Toe's Legacy (standard:drama, 1309 words)
Author: chelbellAdded: Feb 28 2004Views/Reads: 1961/1209Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A boy remembers his seeing his uncle run in track, and what that ment to him, and to everyone on the Indian reservation he lives on.

My uncle was a high school track star. Around here that makes him a
reservation legend. I go to the same high school as my uncle did, as my 
mother did, and all my cousins do, but I'm no track star and I don't 
fool myself into thinking I'll ever be one. We still have a track team 
here, but it's nothing to brag about.  Basketball is our new tradition, 
not just for the school but for the whole town. We see those athletes 
on the court and we pray that maybe someday one of them will make it 
out of here, become famous and show the world that we are still here 
and we are still warriors. 

People still talk about my Uncle though. They say things like “Remember
Bobby Toe?” “Man he could run!” They talk about him like he was dead or 
maybe not quiet like he was dead but like the Bobby Toe that ran track, 
and the Bobby Toe up the hill selling deer jerky, and over-priced beer 
from his porch ain't the same person. Maybe it's easier that way, 
easier for everyone including my Uncle. Better to pretend that the boy 
that ran track is gone so when people look at my uncle he don't see the 
pain in their eyes, don't see the regret reminding everyone over and 
over of what was lost. 

Once when I was young playing outside with my cousins I looked over my
shoulder and I saw my mother staring out the window at me. She had such 
a look of hope in her eyes it felt like sunshine to me. I remembered 
her looking at my Uncle just like that all of her dreams pouring into 
him with that one look. I think he always walked a little taller when 
she would look at him that way. I remember when my mother stopped 
looking at uncle with hope and I remember the pain in his eyes when she 
did. So when my mother looked at me that day playing with my cousins, 
at first it felt like sunshine, but then it started to burn. I turned 
my back to her; I turned my back on that look. Better to never have it 
than to feel its loss when it is gone. 

I remember seeing my Uncle run twice. The first time the whole tribe was
there bleachers over-flowing. There were so many of us we formed a 
solid wall; all of us waiting to see my uncle run. I was sitting on the 
ground sandwiched between my twin cousins. It was hot but the grass 
felt cool tickling my legs. Then the race began and everyone had his or 
her eyes on my uncle or on the idea of my uncle, because he ran so fast 
he was just a blur. He ran so fast he had crossed the finish line even 
before the sound of the starting shot had stopped resonating in the 

All that year we prayed; little prayers sent up to the sky when everyday
tragedies occurred. When Nellie Crow went brain dead at the age of 17 
after huffing gasoline, we all prayed my uncle would make it to the 
Olympics. When Edgar Timmons got arrested in the next town over for 
robbing the mini mart even though all they found on him was a candy 
bar, we all prayed that my uncle would make it to the Olympics. When 
the salmon run that year and there was less than the year before with 
hungry stomachs we prayed that Bobby Toe would make it to the Olympics. 
And when the lumber company continued to log our land illegally and we 
where so angry we could hardly speak we sent up silent prayers that 
Bobby Toe would make it to the Olympics 

A few days after that race my, Uncle Bobby took me to the city, about an
hour's drive from our rez. When we got there, we went to the movies and 
got ice cream. He also bought me my first pair of running shoes: dark 
blue with a yellow stripe. I wore my new running shoes on the way home. 
I curled my feet inside them and felt my legs tingling. I couldn't wait 
to run in them, couldn't wait till we got home and I could take off 
down the dirt road. On the way home, I asked my uncle, as I kept 
curling and uncurling my toes in my new shoes, “Uncle how come you can 
run so fast?” Then I said, “Nobody can run as fast as you.” He was 
silent for a minute. I thought maybe he wasn't going to answer. Than he 
shrugged his shoulders and said, “Maybe if I run, run fast enough, run 
long enough maybe none of us will ever have to run again.” I didn't 
really say anything after that. I didn't really understand what he had 
told me at least not than, but now I do.	As we got about half way home 
we caught up to a car ahead of us swerving in and out of its lane. My 
Uncle just grunted the word “drunk”, while nudging his head at the car 
ahead. He pulled back a little keeping a safe distance between us and 
the car tell we could pass him, but as we rounded a curve the car ahead 
went off the side of the road. My Uncle pulled his truck over told me 
to wait; then got out and ran off towards the car. That was the second 
time I can remember seeing my Uncle run. That would be last time my 

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