Tony's Story

WHY IS A POLICEMAN TRAILING TWO MEN?

Leon shook me. “He’s behind us-the cop’s following us!” I looked back and saw the red light on top of the car whirling around, and I could make out the dark image of a man, but where the face should have been there were only the silvery lenses of the dark glasses he wore.

“Stop, Leon! He wants us to stop!”

Leon pulled over and stopped on the narrow gravel shoulder.

“What in the hell does he want?” Leon’s hands were shaking.

Suddenly the cop was standing beside the truck, gesturing for Leon to roll down the window. He pushed his head inside, grinding the gum in his mouth; the smell of Doublemint was all around us.

“Get out. Both of you.”

I stood beside Leon in the dry weeds and tall yellow grass that broke through the asphalt and rattled in the wind. The cop studied Leon’s driver ‘s license. I avoided his face - I knew that I couldn’t look at his eyes, so I stared at his black half-Wellingtons, with the black uniform cuffs pulled over them; but my eyes kept moving, upward past the black gun belt. My legs were quivering and I tried to keep my eyes away from his. But it was like the time when I was very little and my parents warned me not to look into the masked dancers’ eyes because they would grab me, and my eyes would not stop.

“What’s your name?” His voice was high pitched and it distracted me from the meaning of the words.

I remember Leon said, “He doesn’t understand English so good,” and finally I said that I was Antonio Sousea, while my eyes strained to look beyond the silver frosted glasses that he wore; but only my distorted face and squinting eyes reflected back.

And then the cop stared at us for a while, silent; finally he laughed and chewed his gum some more slowly. “Where were you going?”

“To Grants.” Leon spoke English very clearly. “Can we go now?”

Leon was twisting the key chain around his fingers, and I felt the sun everywhere. Heat swelled up from the asphalt and when cars went by, hot air and motor smell rushed past us.

“I don’t like smart guys, Indians…”

-Excerpted from Tony’s Story by Leslie Marmon Silko

  1. From whose point of view is the story told?
  • Leon’s
  • the cop’s
  • Antonio’s
  • the author’s
  • two Indians’
  1. What are the “half-Wellingtons”?
  • handcuffs
  • boots
  • trousers
  • dark glasses
  • guns
  1. What social problem is addressed?
  • literacy
  • racial prejudice
  • police brutality
  • drunken driving
  • illegal aliens
  1. How do Leon and Antonio react to the police officer?
  • warmly
  • confidently
  • impolitely
  • nervously
  • dishonestly
  1. Why does the narrator find the officer’s speech distracting?
  • The officer chomped on chewing gum.
  • The officer’s voice was high-pitched.
  • The officer spoke in English.
  • The officer’s sunglasses had mirrored lenses.
  • The officer laughed while he spoke.