Summary: Bill Davis

Bill Davis has worked at the Oakland Coliseum for many years. He views himself as old but reliable. He was hired after being released from San Quentin in 1989, where he served time for stabbing someone. He believes that the stabbing was in self-defense, but that his being a dishonorably discharged veteran made him look like“the crazy AWOL Vietnam Vet." While in prison, Bill spent his time reading books. He especially liked Hunter S. Thompson, but he also read books about a wide variety of topics, such as the prison system and California Native history. 

While cleaning the stadium, Bill receives a call from Karen, his girlfriend: her son Edwin will need a ride later. It bothers Bill that Karen treats Edwin like a baby, but he agrees, since Edwin’s full-time job is still progress toward him becoming a responsible adult. Bill also dislikes the hyper-politically correct, social media-driven young world that Edwin represents. After the phone call, Bill sees a drone fly into the stadium. He goes onto the field and hits it with his trash grabber. The drone wobbles, but it recovers and flies out of the stadium. 

Summary: Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson lives with his sister Maggie and his niece Sonny. He has been trying to save money to repay Octavio for a pound of drugs. The drugs were stolen from Calvin while he was in a parking lot, and he believes that it was actually Octavio’s men who did it. Charles, Calvin and Maggie’s brother, arrives at Maggie’s house with his friend Carlos. Charles and Carlos tell Calvin that he needs to come up with Octavio’s money. Calvin argues, then leaves with them at Charles’s request. 

Calvin, Charles, and Carlos drive to Deep East Oakland and smoke marijuana. Calvin wonders if it is laced with PCP. They end up sitting around a kitchen table in a house that Calvin guesses is somewhere Octavio will be. Octavio arrives and becomes angry over the fact that Charles and Carlos have brought Calvin. Octavio explains that he owes money to his drug supplier, and that they will all be in trouble soon if they do not come up with a plan. Octavio shows the others a 3-D printed gun and explains the plan about robbing the powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. Charles reminds Calvin that it was actually Calvin who mentioned that the powwow would have $50,000 in cash prizes. Calvin says that if he robs the people that he works with, he will not get away with it. Charles tells him that everyone’s debts will be paid if they do it. They all drink tequila.

On the way out of the house, Charles, Carlos, and Calvin see Tony Loneman on his bicycle. Carlos pretends to punch him, but Tony does not flinch. Calvin is reminded of Sloth from The Goonies. Calvin thinks that their plan with Octavio is doomed.


Bill Davis’s chapter is the first of the book’s second section, called Reclaim, and its main character sets the tenor for the section. His is the story of how he first reclaimed his life, which had been spiraling out of control, and then, in the present moment, defends, or reclaims, the Coliseum from a drone, which he associates with terrorists. In both these instances, Bill, a veteran, demonstrates courage. Calvin Johnson’s efforts to reclaim his life will prove more difficult. Rather than rushing forward to confront a danger he can best, his chapter ends with him speeding into a danger that signals likely doom. Where Bill finds dignity in his various efforts at reclamation, Calvin’s quest to dignity is complicated by the fact that he must repay a debt to a drug dealer first.

Generational difference is another key theme in Bill Davis’s chapter, presenting a different perspective on what it means to reclaim something or someone. Bill views Edwin, Karen’s son, as a “man-baby,” lacking in self-respect. He thinks that something is lost in the time that the young spend staring at their phones and playing on the internet. Like many older people, Bill is threatened by technological change, although that does not mean his judgments are entirely wrong. His view on technology is given literal form, too, when Bill chases the drone onto the field, almost destroying it with his trash-grabber.

The idea of domestic danger appears in both of these chapters, in the reference to terrorists (Bill) and the tense encounter with Octavio, a drug dealer (Calvin). This issue is a complex one, given that the Prologue and Interlude both establish that white Americans have historically associated Native Americans with an internal threat, not so different from terrorism. When the drone invades the Coliseum, it appears to be the kind of trash that Bill needs to clean up. In Calvin’s chapter, though, the Native characters who deal drugs seem to be the threat. In pairing chapters about terrorism and domestic danger, There There hints that there is a disconnect in how dangers are identified and fought.