In Sherman Alexie's “This is what it means to say Phoenix, Arizona” a man named Victor finds out that his father has passed away. Being next of kin, Victor is responsible for gathering his father's assets together, which requires him to make an out of town trip. In order to accomplish this Victor needs help. This help comes from the town outcast, Thomas Builds-the Fire. Victor and Thomas were childhood best friends but as they grew older, Victor turned his back on the one that always looked out for him. A trip to gather his father's remains turns into a journey of reviewing his life and choices.
Shortly after losing his job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Victor is informed of his father's death. Although they haven't had contact in years, Victor is left responsible to claim the cremated remains as well as his father’s truck and savings account. The remains are in Phoenix, Arizona and Victor lives on an Indian Reservation near Spokane, Washington. The trip is over 2000 km and Victor has no money to get there. He turns to the tribal counsel for financial assistance. Unfortunately all they will give him is $100.00. This isn't near enough to make it. Almost everyone on the reservation is financially struggling, so borrowing money is not an option. With no one to lend him the funds required, Victor knows he needs a miracle.
While at the reservation post office, to cash his $100.00 cheque, Victor spots Thomas-Builds-the-Fire standing by a rack of magazines. Thomas is the town outcast and he helps to fulfill that 'role' by constantly talking to himself. Thomas is always philosophizing and trying to share his 'visions' with anyone willing to listen. Unfortunately for Thomas, people stopped listening years ago. Yet even with no one listening, he keeps on speaking. Victor and Thomas were childhood friends and Victor can remember Thomas story telling from the start. When the boys were seven, Thomas predicted that Victor's father would one day...
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