I’ve retitled and extensively rewritten Reservation Trash, which is now called Reservation Trash & The White Rose.
The book is now thirteen thousand words longer than before, with five totally new chapters, and also a number of elaborations, as well as significant cuts. I sought to make it more integrated, though I seriously underestimated the amount of work it would require to have it ready in time for the 31-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which is tomorrow — June 4th, 1989 — another socialist atrocity that must never be forgotten. Nor should it ever be forgotten that socialism, in any and all forms, is by definition an ideology of force: in order to achieve even a fraction of its stated goals, socialism, via an elite bureau, must expropriate in order to redistribute. Such a government rejects voluntary human action and voluntary human cooperation and charity, and supplants it with state coercion, compulsion, and force. What follows below is an extensively rewritten Chapter 4 (wherein, in this new version, the White Rose is first introduced) and then a totally new Chapter 5.
Read the full rewritten version here.
At fourteen, Kristy ran away. He took a Greyhound bus to Salt Lake City. After that he hitchhiked to Reno and then Sacramento and then San Francisco.
Six months later, he was brought back in a police car.
He left again shortly after.
Cops found him a few weeks later, along the outskirts of Denver, beaten by gang members into a state of unconsciousness, and Kristy was once again brought back to the reservation.
But there was no keeping him, no holding him back. There was no containing him, and running more than any other thing made him feel free. Two months afterward, when he was still fourteen, he slipped away from school and the reservation, and this time it was for good.
First he walked and hitchhiked his way to Tucson, then Phoenix, then Las Vegas, Nevada, which he loved.
He loved the lights and all the spear-shaped, knife-shaped, splinter-shaped, science-fictional structures and the twenty-four-hour throb of the city. He liked walking among the diverse throngs of people, the famous and the rich, the savvy and the talented, the dispossessed and the determined. He liked walking among the wealthiest, inside the wealthiest casinos, and in his ragged clothing he felt no resentment of the successful, no rancor, no sense of inferiority, no anything except free — free to pursue his own life. It never occurred to him to feel another way.
He sought to know precisely what made the rich and the prosperous different from the poor and the profligate — not primarily among the gamblers as among people in general. It was a question that came to occupy his mind more and more. He’d spent all his life in and around dire poverty, and now he desired to know poverty’s ultimate source. What was the fundamental cause? Kristy stored the question in his mind and revisited it every day.
Somewhere in his youth, perhaps cumulatively over a span of years, he’d developed the conviction that he was capable of understanding anything known to anyone. It was an implicit conviction, an almost unconscious sense that lived deep inside him, and he never thought to question it.
He meanwhile slept in stairwells, or on building rooftops, or wherever he could. He worked any job he could find: dishwashing, housekeeping, prep-cook, construction laborer. His work ethic grew, and he cultivated it, as he cultivated his ability to make his own way.
Not quite a full year after being in Las Vegas, he one day saw near the UNLV campus a flyer announcing a free lecture, which was to be held in the Political Science Department. The lecture was titled “Wealth & Poverty.”
On the backside of the flyer was a small map with a red X marking the exact location of the Political Science Department.
The lecturer was a gentleman economics professor with fat fingers and moon-colored hair, who spoke in a hard-to-hear jargon that made little sense to Kristy — or, judging from the looks he saw all around him, to anyone else present. Before the lecture was half over, Kristy stood up and slipped unnoticed out the back of the classroom.
He walked out into the hallway, down a short flight of steps, and there, off to his left, he saw a young woman sitting alone in a large empty classroom — a classroom that had four separate entryways. Kristy paused. The young woman was reading from a gigantic tome. She caught sight of Kristy on the periphery of her vision and looked up from her book and met his gaze. Her eyes were stone-gray and her hair, shoulder-length, silken, light-brown, was clasped off her face, out of her eyes, with a barrette that appeared to have on the top of it a small white rose made of enamel.
“Hello,” Kristy said.
“Hello,” she said.
Kristy advanced forward one step and stood just inside the doorway.
“May I ask what you’re reading?” he said.
The young woman put her finger as bookmark between the pages and placed the book upright so that Kristy could see its title, and as she did so, her bookmark slipped out, though neither she nor Kristy noticed. She then told Kristy that the book was called Human Action. She said that it was written by an Austrian economist. She smiled. Her eyes were kind, and yet they also twinkled with a slight mischievousness. She started to say something more but was in that moment interrupted when two other young ladies, approximately her same age, appeared through a doorway on the opposite side of the classroom, and one of whom spoke to her:
“Better hurry, Sophie” she said, “or you’ll be late for the exam.”
The young women Kristy had been talking to abruptly stood up from her desk and gathered her belongings and slid into her backpack the big book called Human Action. Then she smiled again at Kristy.
“Sorry,” she said, “but I’ve got to go. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye,” he said.
She then joined her two friends, and the three of them hurried off together down the hallway.
She was already out of sight when Kristy, turning to exit the classroom himself, noticed her bookmark lying across the desk at which she’d been sitting. It contained a short sentence, ostensibly in the young woman’s own handwriting. Kristy walked over to the desk and picked up the bookmark and saw the words she’d written in pencil across the top of it:
Who now knows White Rose?
Underneath this was a simple but lovely little line-drawing of a solitary flower.
Alone in the classroom, Kristy read these words and then he reread them. He stood for a long moment in thought. He reread the words a third time, and then he carefully slipped the bookmark into his back pocket. Later that same evening, Kristy walked down to a used-and-unused bookstore, and here he found an old collector’s edition of the book the young woman had been reading and which she’d shown him: Human Action. Standing between aisles in the bookstore, Kristy immediately began reading it, and he read it for nearly two unbroken hours.
He returned to the bookstore the next day and purchased the book and then he put himself through a stupendous effort to finish reading the book, and he did finish it: he read it to the end.
He understood about a third of what he read.
Next he read Das Kapital and understood even less of that.
He looked up every reference he could find for White Rose.
So it was now that Kristy began taking ideas seriously, really for the first time in his life, and on a level he never before had. His reading thus exploded out in all directions at once. He’d read one thing that he only partially understood, and this in turn would lead him to another, which would in turn lead him to another, and so on, until soon he’d amassed a wild arsenal of knowledge. There was no streamlining and no specific method to the manner in which he read, and yet what remained in his mind was streamlined and methodical.
He wanted learning for its own sake — for the enrichment he felt it bestowing upon him, the growth of his mind. He found furthermore that this created a kind of reciprocity within him: the more he learned, the more he desired to learn, and this in turn impelled him to learn more, so that in this way his learning and his passion for learning grew in direct proportion.
During this time also, Kristy never ceased running. He ran in the desert. He ran everywhere. He ran for hours. He had no car, no bicycle, no skateboard. But he had his body, and he had his brain, and, even now, alone and barely scraping by, he never felt more free than when he was running. Yet he didn’t race — other than this private race he’d set before himself. He never even thought about it — not a single time — until one day when he happened to see a large picture of Jonas Hayat in the newspaper, with this headline:
IS THIS THE NEXT HIGH-SCHOOLER WHO WILL BREAK THE FOUR-MINUTE MILE?
Kristy stood staring at that headline for a long time, his brows creased in concentration.
One afternoon, some two years after he’d left the reservation, passing by a waste management company, Kristy noticed a Help Wanted sign in the window. He went inside and asked for work.
They told him that he was too young to drive a truck, but they said that they’d hire him to pick up trash around various properties, if he was interested, and after they told him the wage, Kristy agreed. It was a consensual arrangement voluntarily entered into, and it also turned out to be a job Kristy enjoyed. He enjoyed it chiefly for the fact that he was left alone, but he liked as well that there was always plenty of work to do, and so he kept occupied and active and busy.
He did his job willingly and well, and he worked long hours and never complained, so that soon his supervisors put him on the backs of the garbage-haulers, where he’d stand and ride and then leap down and throw rubbish into the great iron maw of the truck. Rapidly, Kristy excelled: he grew fast and efficient at his job — exceptionally fast, in fact, exceptionally efficient. He became known among his peers and co-workers as a kind of daredevil — holding himself out perpendicularly, in an act that required great strength and coordination, perfectly straight and flag-like, both his arms fully extended, while the truck was moving, the vertical bar on the side of the truck the flag-post, Kristy so quick and agile, a tireless worker, sometimes doing back flips off the rear bumper the instant the truck stopped, and Kristy landing lightly upon the residential lawns, directly beside the driveways where trashcans stood congested and waiting for him to haul and dump. He spoke little, but he was so energetic that his energy and happiness came off him like radioactivity: happiness at the mere fact of being alive, free.
He did not party and did not play, but his co-workers, even the middle-aged and older among them, grew to like and admire him and were even inspired by him, though none of them explicitly thought of it in this way. Yet for his uncomplaining manner and his work habits, for being happy in his work, Kristy became for them something of a symbol of optimism. His method of moving in anything he did was unorthodox, almost indescribably fluid, though unaffected and totally natural to him.
Work, the clean motions of his body in concert with his brain, this soon became for Kristy the closest thing he would ever have to a religion.
He did not notice that people stared at him in passing while he was picking up trash, often in pity, though once he witnessed a young and well-dressed woman — a graduate student or perhaps a young professor — break off from a group of her peers and come over to Kristy’s co-worker, who was emptying a large plastic trash bin into the back of the hauler, and this well-dressed woman spoke, not unkindly or in any way antagonistically, yet without any prompting, provocation, or context:
“You’re being exploited,” she said to Kristy’s co-worker.
The well-dressed woman stared frankly into his eyes for three or four seconds, but she said no more. She turned and rejoined her peers.
Another time, Kristy overheard a wealthy Native-American man say to his children in reference to Kristy and the work he was doing:
“Look at the reservation trash picking up trash, boys.” The man smiled at Kristy and then turned to his children and winked. The man’s remark had no wounding effect on Kristy but curiously just the opposite: Kristy immediately took to the title.
He adopted it and made it his own.
Reservation trash — now this had a ring to it, he thought.
A day or two later, this sparked an idea inside him — an idea the moment Kristy conceived which he just so happened to be looking in the direction of a rubbish pile. There, in the garbage heap before him, lay a single white rose, discarded, dusty, yet still vital and living, unkillable, not rare but beautiful, street-handsome, strong.
Kristy removed his work gloves and reached down and delicately extracted the white rose from where it lay half-buried in the rubbish. He held the flower up by its stem, scrutinizing it against the sunlight.
He stood staring at it for a long time, his mind racing with runner’s legs.
Very early one cool and windswept winter morning shortly after this, on a Friday, before it was yet full light, when Kristy was riding solo on the backend of the garbage-hauler, a terrible event took place — an event that nearly ended in tragedy, and would have for certain ended so were it not for Kristy’s quickness.
His co-worker that morning was a man named Frank, whom everybody called Pancho, and though Pancho was seven or eight years older than Kristy, the two of them were friends.
Pancho drove the truck and he worked the hydraulic trash-compactor and the lift, and early into their shift that morning, as Pancho was lowering a just-emptied dumpster back onto its concrete pad, Kristy, standing on the rear bumper of the truck, caught sight of something which struck him as unusual there gathered among the huge load of trash dropped from the dumpster-bin that had just been upended into the mouth of the hauler.
Kristy leaned his head inside and peered into the gloom.
By now Pancho was back to driving, accelerating rapidly to their next scheduled stop, and he’d also punched with his thumb the big red button which had activated the compactor, so that when Kristy saw for certain what he’d at first only suspected, the hydraulic press was already coming down, loudly, grindingly, and Pancho was doing forty-miles-per-hour along the city street.
It was a human body that Kristy saw in the trash, and now Kristy saw also this human body stir — a woman, who was still alive and sleeping in the dumpster.
“Stop!” cried Kristy.
But Pancho’s windows were rolled up against the winter wind, and he didn’t hear Kristy over the truck engine and the din of the hydraulic compactor.
“Stop!” Kristy cried out a second time.
Still Pancho heard nothing — and now there was not another moment to lose. The woman inside the iron compactor was seconds from being smashed to death.
Kristy, one of those uncommon souls not easily disconcerted — who in fact appear to seize as if from thin air the means of survival and lift it from the danger itself — now with the nimbleness that was peculiar to him and far more effective than brute force, flung off his lefthand glove with a quick hard snap of his wrist and grabbed hold of the only objects he had in his coat pocket: two ballpoint pens and a small thick book that contained his own writing. In the same motion, with his right hand holding onto the vertical bar that was mounted solidly along the back of the hauler, Kristy leaned out into rushing space so that Pancho would perhaps see movement on his periphery or in the large rearview mirror. The compactor continued its relentless press and grind. Simultaneously, Kristy yelled out again — “STOP-STOP-STOP!” — and at the same time hurled as hard as he could, sidearm at the rearview mirror, the pens and after that the book, and then Kristy hammered the side of the truck with the flat of his hand. The two pens and the book missed the mirror by inches, but Pancho indeed caught movement at the same time that he heard or felt the metal bong from Kristy’s flat-handed whack against the side of the vehicle.
The top of the compactor was now less than a foot from the woman’s face, though she didn’t appear to have any comprehension or even awareness of what was happening. In his rearview mirror, Pablo saw Kristy hanging precariously from the back bar and crying out. Pancho instantly shut down the compactor and pulled off the road and halted the truck. Yet even before the truck had fully come to a stop, Kristy had climbed into the sloped and now-narrow maw and was deep among the trash with the poor woman, reaching for her. Kristy found and then took hold of her arm and next her hand, and carefully Kristy began pulling her free. Pancho, meanwhile now, opened up the trash compactor completely and leveled it out, so that Kristy was more easily able to extricate both himself and also the woman, and in this way the woman’s life was saved.
Standing on the sidewalk between Kristy and Pancho, she appeared sedated and stunned, and it took some time before she grasped in full what had just happened. She wore moccasins and black jeans and a thin leather jacket, which was coated now in liquid waste that looked brown and viscous. She spoke not at all. Around her neck hung a beautiful necklace with a pendant made of turquoise and copper that dangled from a long and heavy silver chain. She told Pancho only when Pancho directly asked her that her name was Hopi, and she said also that she was Hopi — a Hopi Indian, she said — from a small place in Arizona called Jerome. Kristy took a fifty dollar bill from the back pocket of his pants and gave it to her, and she accepted his money and said thank you, and this would have been the end of the entire harrowing incident, were it not for the totally unexpected thing that happened next.
Pancho went back to the cab of the truck and slid behind the steering wheel, and Kristy hopped up onto the rear bumper, and the young woman turned away and started walking back down the sidewalk. But at that moment Kristy thought of his book — the one he’d flung, and in which he’d written down many of his new ideas — and also the bookmark it contained, and so he started to call out to Pancho: to tell him to wait a moment while he went back and looked for his book. But Kristy, his head turned toward the front of the hauler, was interrupted by a stifled-sounding cry from the woman named Hopi.
Kristy turned back around just in time to see the fifty dollar bill snatched out of Hopi’s hand by a young man whom she knew very well: her son, who was a teenager, and who took the fifty from her and bolted off, scooping up along the way, from off the pavement, Kristy’s book and stuffing that book, with its White Rose bookmark, into his back pocket.
Kristy didn’t hesitate.
He was thirty feet removed, and the truck was already moving, but Kristy leapt from the back bumper and hit the pavement running at his fast full stride — no falter or misstep — and immediately Kristy was pursuing the young swift energetic man down the sidewalk.
The young man was quick, more sprinter than endurance, and he had the drop on Kristy, a significant headstart. When he glanced back and saw Kristy behind him, the young man smirked to himself and then zigzagged and went left, down a narrow alleyway.
Kristy pursued him.
At the end of the alleyway, the young man cut sharply left again, glancing once more over his shoulder, and in that brief moment, the young man seemed somewhat surprised not only to see that Kristy was still chasing him, but also that Kristy had already closed the distance considerably.
The young man leapt from the sidewalk curb, over a narrow gutter, and then sprinted across a residential cul-de-sac. He moved swiftly over the early-morning lawns and into a park-like backyard, whereon there lay stretched in the pewter morning light a small pond, smoking like a pool of hot milk.
Kristy followed him. He was gaining steadily.
The young man went counterclockwise around the pond and then came up over the brow of a grassy slope and down the other side. From here, the young man leapt over a low white-picket fence, and so did Kristy. The young man was fast, but now he was beginning to tire.
Kristy closed the gap between them.
The young man looked back for the third time and saw that Kristy was reeling him in.
At great cost to himself, the young man picked up the pace. He had the lead, but could he hold it, and for how long? The young man knew the answer, and so he now made a decision. He zigzagged again and this time broke right — right and then went crashing through the backdoor of someone’s private residence. The glass shattered.
Kristy did not follow.
“Hey! What the hell!?” said the woman inside her home.
But the young man was already through.
He burst out the front door and immediately looked to his right and to his left, and then right and left again. He was alone. He did not stop running, but he slackened his pace. He was gasping for breath and sought to recover, and he did recover, slightly, a sense of relief all at once pouring through him. But his relief was short lived.
Kristy came around the block and was sprinting down the empty street. He appeared suddenly — so suddenly that he startled the young man, who bolted right and immediately went back into his highest speed. The young man then appeared to hesitate a fraction whether to go up a hill or down, to the east or to the west, and then chose west, which was downhill.
His way led him to a huge empty canal made of tons and tons of concrete, and this canal was so long devoid of water that the bed of it lay thick with desert dust. Police sirens sounded from somewhere in the distance. There were no steps down into the canal, and the drop-off was sharp and some twelve feet onto sloped and solid concrete. The young man didn’t appear to give it a second thought.
He leapt flying down into the dry canal.
He landed with a jarring impact, bone-and-joint reverberations felt deep and shockwaves of pain shooting up through the soles of his feet and into his entire torso and jaw, yet for all this, he was essentially uninjured. Neither did he fall down. He stumbled a little, staggered, kept running.
He looked back long enough to see Kristy jump down into the canal as well, and now watching Kristy leap, the young man’s heart sank.
Kristy didn’t stagger or hit nearly as hard as the young man had, but rather came down in a more fluid and even feather-like fashion. Neither did Kristy pause after he landed. He once more hit the ground in full stride, and he kept pursuing, doggedly. He was frighteningly fast, relentless, and he was gaining. The young man’s lungs burned, his breathing coming in a ragged and panting heave, his pace flagging. He felt Kristy closing the gap by the second. In a last ditch effort to outpace or outfox Kristy, the young man ducked down his head as if to make himself more aerodynamic and then started pumping his arms harder. He cut a long diagonal across the dry canal and made his way toward an iron ladder, some two-hundred meters down the canal, on the other side. In the gaining dawn light, thin gray shadows from the ladder lay duplicated in warped and isometric shapes upon the concrete wall.
Kristy closed in by the moment — now twenty feet, now fifteen, now ten.
The ladder started high upon the cement canal wall, so that the young man who’d stolen the money and the book had to leap with all his remaining energy for the bottom rung. He caught it barely with his right hand and then used his momentum to clutch the same rung with his other hand, and he simultaneously pulled himself upward and started to mount the ladder.
All at once, though, he felt himself stopped dead by the weight of a counterforce, like a tremendous undertow pulling him down: two hands clutching his right foot and ankle, unshakable and now yanking.
The young man heard cop sirens directly above him, unseen over the lip of the canal, and now he gave up. He had the crook of his arm draped around the thin iron ladder rung, and with his left hand he dug into the front pocket of his pants and took the fifty dollar bill from his pocket and dropped it. It see-sawed sedately past Kristy’s face and landed in the dust of the dead canal.
“Now let go of my goddamn leg,” the young man said.
“My book,” Kristy said. “I want my book and bookmark back.”
Kristy was still hanging with his full weight, two-handed, from the young man’s leg.
“What?” the young man said. He’d forgotten it and then he remembered. He removed the book from his back pocket and dropped it down as well.
The moment he released the book, Kristy released the young man’s leg, so that when Kristy dropped to the ground, it was at almost the exact same pace as the falling book
He left the fifty dollar bill on the ground as though it were rubbish. The young man on the ladder stared at the money, incredulous. Then he dropped from the ladder and scooped up the money and tore off in the opposite direction.
Kristy ran back the same way he’d come.
When he got back to Pancho and the hauler, Hopi was still there, and Kristy gave her another fifty dollar bill.
Later that same day, after his shift was finished, Kristy asked his employer for permission to stay late, off-the-clock. He asked also if he might have access to the endless piles of scrap paper that this waste management company amassed, and his employer said yes.
Kristy spent all night here, consulting his little book and then writing in permanent ink upon white scrap paper. His handwriting was meticulous, peculiar, yet entirely legible: unslanted lettering, sharp, thrusting. He wrote rapidly and fluidly — letters that turned into words that turned into sentences. At last, when he was finished writing, Kristy got a pair of scissors and he began cutting out, in a circular pattern, the passages he’d written down.
By the time he was finally finished, it was getting light outside, and Kristy had not slept. He walked out of the building with two large trashbags full of small round slips of paper — little white leaflets shaped almost like individual rose petals.
Read the rest of the rewritten version here.