The Iron Tiara:A Nine Minutes Spin-Off Novel(7)By: Beth Flynn
Anthony found himself standing a little taller and puffing out his chest. Tribal Chief. If he became the Tribal Chief, he could do more to help people like Rosemary and Nisha. He knew that his uncle tried hard to assist those in need, but Anthony would try even harder. He now had a goal. He now had a purpose. Perhaps one day he could even open a garage and have his own business. If he earned enough money, he could give it to the people on the reservation who needed it the most. His uncle was right. Anthony knew his way around a car engine. He loved to mend things. Bring something broken back to life. He shuddered when he remembered trying to wake his father up. That was one situation he couldn't repair or revive. And he felt no guilt in his twelve-year-old heart when he realized that that was one thing he was glad he couldn't fix.
"I'll get the seventeen dollars I have saved, Uncle Robert. I want to give it to you so you can keep track of what I need to pay back to the garage where I stole the part. I'll be right back!" he called as he headed for the door that led into the kitchen. He was inside and had almost closed the door when he had a thought. He'd wanted to use some of that seventeen dollars to help Nisha get a new coat. It would be cold soon, and he knew she'd outgrown the used hand-me-down someone had given her last year. He started to walk back out when he heard his cousin's voice raised in anger.
"How can you stand there and tell that half-breed orphan that he has what it takes to be Tribal Chief? I'm your son. Not him!” RJ raged at his father through gritted teeth.
Anthony peeked through the slit of the door. RJ must've been outside the garage listening to their conversation. The smell of whatever had been used to mop the kitchen floor was making Anthony's stomach churn. What did RJ mean by half-breed?
"That boy has tried harder in the two years he's been with us than you ever have, son. I'm sorry if this hurts your feelings, but I see his potential. He's already moved up the two grades he'd lost when he first came here. And being in a stable home, a normal family is bringing out the best in him. Even if he doesn't aspire to be Chief, he will aspire to something." RJ kicked the tire of the car he'd been working on. "I didn't even know what was wrong with Rosemary's car, but Anthony figured it out. He's twelve years old, and he knew what part this car needed before I did."
"He's not even full-blooded Cherokee. Wasn't his mother some Seminole whore your brother found in Florida?" RJ sneered.
"RJ!" Robert snapped. "We do not judge each other like the white man does. We accept brothers and sisters from other tribes. We intermarry happily and without prejudice. Your cousin is not a half-breed, and you will not disrespect Anthony's mother with your crass language."
"I know the story. I heard you and Mom talking when I was younger. Anthony's mother was a prostitute. Your brother was a drunk. He knocked up a whore and thought he'd bring her back here and dump them on Grandma's doorstep. Don't you think it's about time someone told your precious little good-for-nothing thief about his mother? She's probably still turning tricks who knows where." He paused, and before his father could reply added, "Or dead."
"Your pride will be your downfall, RJ. It is exactly this pride, this attitude, this vengeance in your heart that will keep you from being anything other than what you already are. A man with no love, no ambition, no care in the world for anybody but himself. I can and want to help you, son, because I bear the responsibility of not raising you right. We didn't think we could have children so when your mother became pregnant, we considered you our miracle. We spoiled you, didn't teach you about respect. About honor." Anthony’s uncle paused and took a deep breath. "But I can only help you if you are willing to help yourself. You can barely hold a job. You have no interest in learning a skill. You have no interest in even trying."
RJ glared at his father, his jaw tight with wrath. "Wonder how long before Anthony decides to take a taste of booze. You know he won't be able to resist it. It's in his blood. Grandma said his father was weak. He couldn't resist ‘the white man's fire water.’ No reason to think his son won't follow in his footsteps. Anthony is going to disappoint you. He's going to be a good-for-nothing drunk like his father. You know it's going to happen, and I can't wait to say, 'I told you so,'" he scoffed.
Without giving his father a chance to reply, RJ continued in a voice laced with venom. "He's not even wanted. He's a burden. We don't love him. We pity him. He's nothing but an extra mouth to feed," the teen sneered. "Mom is getting worse. The last thing she needs is to have another kid to look after when she can barely take care of herself and me and you. Doing his laundry, making sure he does his schoolwork, making sure he's fed. She's gonna die sooner than the doctor says and it's going to be Anthony's fault!"