In this segment of THE STORY OF DEV, Theo struggles to form his report on the Louisiana Purchase, but finds himself distracted by the sounds of heavy rain on the tin roof of the barn, Dev’s absence and the discovery of the person who could be Bobby Danforth’s great-grandfather, Dmitri Yazov.
Theo began to worry when Dev had not returned Saturday night, and his concern increased as the rain rattled the loose corner of the barn’s tin roof.
But maybe he misunderstood. She had taken some extra clothes, so possibly she was going to sleep overnight in one of those shacks, work Sunday and then come back.
He sat at the wobbly metal-legged kitchen table circled under the light of the single ceiling light until after midnight, trying to concentrate on his project, but focused instead on the two names he had written: Dmitri Yazov and Andrea Duarte.
Everybody’s hiding something, he thought. And whatever they are hiding makes everyone else suspicious, as if it’s wrong.
He flipped open the Rand-McNally world atlas and found the map that showed the Atlantic Ocean flanked by North America and Europe.
Where did Dimtri Yazov come from? The company website wasn’t specific.
And how he did he get to the U.S.? England, Theo guessed, probably to New York.
He traced the route on the map.
War, most likely.
Theo made a note. War? Which one?
Religion? Persecution? Famine? Some disaster?
Man, so much I don’t know. But whatever, a chance for a better life. Why else leave home?
He placed a finger on Eastern Canada and traced the St. Lawrence river west, then down the Mississippi.
That’s how his family got to Louisiana.
England and France at war all over the world, and England won. Threw the French out of Canada, burned the villages. Some French, like his ancestors fled west and the south out of the reach of the British. Oh, wait a minute. The Spanish were there for a while, then Napolean won it from them and then sold it to Jefferson…and the British were there in 1812… Man, I’ll have to get all that right.
He switched to a U.S. map and put his finger on New Orleans and followed a road west to a town called Church Point. That was where his family settled.
He smiled with pride and longing when he saw the name. Maybe that is home after all.
He moved his finger west till he found New Mexico. That was where Dev said she was born. Her father is Mexican and her mother was – oh, what’d she say, Navajo, but that didn’t sound right.
He fingered the map. She said she’d been in California, Florida and other places, until she got here.
He went out to the back porch and watched the rain drip from the roof.
Funny, ain’t it.
Me and Dev and even Dmitri Yazov, from all over and somehow ended here.
That’s how I’ll tell the story of the Louisiana Purchase, he thought, pleased. It’s not about politics and world war and power. It’s about people trying to settle. That’s what’s important.