The newspaper advertisement says: LAND: $225 an acre. The advertisement is large and the picture is in color. The colors are red and pink and yellow. It is a picture of the desert. There is a smiling family in the picture. The desert looks friendly and warm, I think. I could buy ten acres. My wife is tall and thin and has blonde hair. She makes little sweaters. She sells the sweaters in a store.
I could buy a farm in New Mexico, I tell my wife.
Really, she asks. Do you like the blue yarn or the brown yarn.
I like the blue yarn, I say.
Oh, she says. I thought you would like the brown yarn.
We could move to New Mexico, I say.
Ok, she says. But don’t change your mind about the yarn.
We move to New Mexico. I buy ten acres of land in New Mexico. I own a farm. I am going to farm desert trees and sell them to the Native Americans. It is a good idea. The Native Americans live on land that is flat and empty, I tell my wife. The Native Americans told the white settlers that they could live anywhere. The white settlers did not believe them. Try living there, the white settlers said. Ok, the Native Americans said. They did not even have trees. Now, they still don’t have trees.
We have to give them trees, I say.
But arent they dangerous, my wife asks.
I think so, I say. But I bought a rifle and a book.
What book did you buy, she asks.
I bought a book by Andrew Jackson. It was written when there were more Native Americans in the United States (some people call them Indians in the book, but they are really Native Americans). The book tells me how to talk to the Native Americans. I need to know how to talk to the Native Americans.
Who are those people on our lawn, my wife suddenly interrupts.
What people, I ask.
I am busy reading the book and I do not want to look up. Andrew Jackson is discussing treaties and handshakes. I am trying to practice in front of the mirror. My wife should be knitting and figuring out when is the best time for us to make babies.
But there really are people on our lawn.
There really are people on our lawn.
I don’t think these people are Native Americans, I whisper to my wife.
The Native Americans have to live on reservations and there are moats with sharks around the reservations. They wouldn’t be able to get off the reservations. Not without a boat. But if they had boats they might have come to Europe. I laugh and hug my wife. I put the shotgun down.
Of course, they aren’t Native Americans, I tell her.
Will they go away, my wife asks.
I look through the window and see men on the lawn. They sit in circles. One of them has a guitar. They are singing and the desert is pink. The men look young and happy like they are at home. This is not their home, I think. They should not look happy. I am discouraged and I get in my car. I drive to town.
There are men on my lawn, I say.
Build a wall, the man at the shop says.
Where, I ask.
Around your house, he says. If you don’t they will keep coming.
Oh, ok. I say.
I drive home. I am disappointed. I really wanted to sell desert trees to the Native Americans. But now I have to build a wall to keep these men out. Maybe we shouldn’t have moved to New Mexico, I think. When I am home, I cannot find my wife. I call her. Wife, I say. She does not answer. Wife, I say again. She still does not answer.
Later, I find her in the closet. Are they gone, she asks. I sigh. I will build the wall now, I tell her. Let me go to the store and get some wood and nails. I came to New Mexico to sell trees to Native Americans and now I have to build walls, I think. After I build the wall, I can plant the trees.
You are building a wall, the man at the store asks.
Yes, I say. I have men on my lawn.
Are there women too, he asks.
I think so, I say.
You might have to shoot them, he says.
He is old and thin and I can see the bones in his face. He has blue eyes and smoke tinted skin. He does not blink. I have a rifle, I tell him.