"I'm just tired of listening to my friends and neighbors telling me it's okay if they piss on the past like it was their own. 'Cause it ain't. The Anasazi weren't your people, and you got no right to steal their history and then pretend like it was nothing more than a shiny penny you happened to stumble upon on the street."
"Well, when you frame it like that, I guess I don't," said Billy as he crushed his sandwich wrap into a tight ball. "But I ain't the one in the chopper. And I ain't killed no Indians, neither. But I'll tell you what. This chopper business leaves a real bad taste in my mouth. These people are looters, for Christ's sake. They fly in here in their fancy helicopters and steal the local culture. And then they fly back out to some big city shithole and sell the whole load to some Japanese sonofabitch. I saw a thing on the TV the other night about how these goddamn vandals have been raiding old Indian sites all over the San Juan River drainage for the past couple years, and they end up shipping everything out of the country; most of the stuff winds up in Japan or Europe."
Billy put his trash into his lunch box and slammed the lid shut. "And that ain't right. I mean, when a local takes something home, it stays in the area at least. But when these pots are sold to someone out of the country, you know damn well that they ain't never gonna be seen here again."
"It's unlikely," agreed Dwayne as he finished his soda and tossed the can into the truck bed.
"But now here's the thing, Dwayne. I've been seeing a lot of goddamn helicopters flying around here lately. Since we brought the cows up here in the spring, I've seen more of the damn things than I can shake a stick at. My boy Ethan remarked the other day that it sounded like a goddamn airport around here."
"What day was that?"
"Oh hell, it'd have to have been Sunday, I guess. But that don't do you no good, does it? I thought you had all the trouble yesterday morning?"
"That's when we first learned about it. But it happened on Sunday."
"Well, on Sunday we were stringing fence and we heard this one helicopter for a solid hour – must have been late in the afternoon, on towards sunset. Never saw it, but you could hear it real clear, off to the northwest – out by Jumpup. And I’ll tell you something else. I know who owns the two I've been seeing around here all summer, and that's ASN."
"The uranium miners?"
"Billy, are you sure about this?"
"A hunnerd percent. I seen their choppers at the Fall Carnival the past couple of years. That's how I know it's them."
"They have any markings on them, anything that says it's from ASN?"
"Not that I recall."
"Well, how the hell can you be certain then?"
Billy coughed as he gave Dwayne a dirty look. "Like I said, I seen the sonsabitches parked out behind the goddamn grade school at last year's fair, and I know they're the same ones that have been flying all over here and back. If you're so fucking smart, then where do you think they come from?"
"I don’t know. But you go accusing people, Billy, you better be sure. That's all I'm saying."
"I'm sure," said Billy with an icy stare.
"Then that's good enough for me," said Dwayne with a nod.
Billy stood up stiffly and faced the seated ranger. "Well, I guess I outghta be gettin' back to work now. I've jawed with you long enough."
Dwayne rose slowly and adjusted his cowboy hat. "Wouldn't want to slow you down on such a fine day as this." Dwayne closed the Ford's tailgate. "Now about this fence-cutting. Billy, promise me you won't do anything stupid."
"If somebody messes with the cattle, or I see that big redheaded sonofabitch in the chopper, they're gonna get a real big taste of frontier justice."
Dwayne shook his head with sad resignation. "Talking to you, Billy, is like talking to the goddamn wall."
"Ah yep, save your breath, lad."
"Well then, let me leave you with this little piece of advice, and I'll deny ever having said it, so don't even think about using it on me, if you get your ass in a sling. If you're gonna play the fool, then you better make sure you kill whoever you shoot. That way you can tell your side of the story and there ain't no one to contradict you. You know what I'm saying?"
Billy laughed. "Well now, I think I got it. You want me to aim low, shoot high, and take no prisoners, right?"
Dwayne looked up at the cloud-draped, high noon sun and shuddered with the realization that his home was fast becoming a bonafide war zone, and all he could seem to do was issue a bunch of half-assed warnings.