Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fiction #50: Joshua Levy

At the American Border

I turned the car radio way down.  


United States of America Border Patrol Officer: "Hi."

Me: "Hello."


I showed initiative and handed him our Canadian passports.


Border Patrol: “Where do you live?”

Me: “Montreal.”

Border Patrol: "How long do you plan to be in the United States?"

Me: “Just the night.”

Border Patrol: “Where will you be staying?”

Me: “In a hotel. Burlington, Vermont.”

Border Patrol: “What’s the name of the hotel?”

Me: “It’s the Hilton.”

Border Patrol: “Do you know anyone in Burlington?”

Me: “No.”

Border Patrol: “So, you don’t know anyone in Burlington?”

Me: “Not that I’m aware of, no.”

Border Patrol: “And what, exactly, do you mean by that statement?”

Me: “I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Border Patrol: “Why did you say it?”

Me: “It’s possible that I know someone in Burlington.  An old classmate could have moved there years ago, or an ex-lover, you never know, right?”

Border Patrol: “I see.  Mr. Levy, what’s the purpose of your visit?”

Me: “To see a concert.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “Because it’s a nice thing to do.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “Because I like the band.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “Um, because they meld Beatlesque melodies with innovative instrumentation and clever lyrics that get to the heart of loss and grief.”

Border Patrol: “I see. Let's move on. Do you know the man that you're traveling with?"

Me: "As well as I can know another man, yes."

Border Patrol: "You mean that you're friends?"

Me: "Usually."

Border Patrol: "Not always?"

Me: "There were a few weeks in high school where we didn't talk to each other. I ate his brownie and he was mad. He had a right to be mad. But I don't regret eating his brownie."

Border Patrol: "Why did you eat his brownie?"

Me: "He came to school with it. His mom is a great cook. At least, she used to be. I haven’t tried her cooking in years. Maybe she’s not so hot anymore in the kitchen. Anyways, I suggested at lunch that we trade brownies. So, he gave me his brownie and then I tore out a sheet of paper and drew the letter ‘E’ on it with a brown marker."

Border Patrol: "You gave him a brown 'E’?"

Me: "Yes. That’s correct."

Border Patrol: "So you tricked him with word play?"

Me: "No, I delivered on my promise."

Border Patrol: "But you're still friends?"

Me: "Yes, unless he's secretly waiting for a moment to get back at me."


The border patrol officer leaned forward to make eye contact with Ryan in the passenger seat.


Border Patrol: “Are you planning on getting back at him while in the United States of America?”

Ryan: “No, sir.”

Border Patrol: “Even though it sounds like he kind of deserves it?”

Ryan: “Yes, sir.”

Border Patrol: “So you’re going to let him get away with it?”

Ryan: “I’ve made peace with that moment in my life, sir. It was 1997. I’m in a different place these days. I feel good. ”

Border Patrol: “I see. What about you, ma’am? Do you know these two gentlemen?”

Kimber: “Yes, I do.”

Border Patrol: “You’ve been awfully quiet back there.”

Kimber: “You haven’t asked me anything.”

Border Patrol: “I see. “

Kimber: “What do you see?”

Border Patrol: “I see.”


A sticky silence set in. The car engine was the only audible noise.  I took initiative and said:



Me: “Officer, can we go?”

Border Patrol: “No. How long have you known the girl?”

Kimber: “Excuse me, but I’m a woman.”

Border Patrol: “How long have you known each other?”

Me: “We’ve known each other for almost two weeks.”

Border Patrol: “How did you meet?”

Me: “At Ryan’s girlfriend’s art exhibit.”

Border Patrol: “Why is she going to the concert with you?”

Me: “I invited her to come.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “I thought it would be a good idea.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “So we could get to know each other better.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “Because I like her.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “She’s very likeable?”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me:  “Well, she’s pretty, as you can see.  And artsy, and spunky, and she makes me laugh. She’s different than my ex in all the right little ways.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “I just really wanted to invite her.”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “I don’t know why!”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “There’s so much I don’t know...”

Border Patrol: “Why?”

Me: “Because humanity is flawed! Because I am flawed, officer! Because we’re only on this Earth for a few blinks of history. Because I’m alone, and scared, and tonight I want to dance to good music with my friend, kiss this girl in the backseat on the lips, and mooooo at Vermont cows from my car window. Because the sun will rise tomorrow and then it will set and then it will rise and no day on Earth will ever find the same batch of people living in it. And not so long from now I will die, and you will die, and all of my traveling companions will die. The Universe will go on, officer! It will go on without us and without reason and without why!”  

Border Patrol: “I see. You can proceed.”

*



Joshua Levy is a Canadian male. He is often amused, sometimes bemused, occasionally used, but has never, to his knowledge, been anyone’s muse. He is a fan of chocolate, cheese, and human rights.  His fiction and poetry have been published, incredibly. Credits include: CBC Radio, Maisonneuve, Event, Carte Blanche, Feathertale, and The Globe and Mail. Joshua is a regular story contributor to The Moth(up) and to This Really Happened.

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