Where you been all morning, sweetie? She says coyly.
Up at the power station. I waited out the storm in the station talking to a guy named Klaus Hohenstaufen.
Dana looks at me with alarm and says, You know Klaus Hohenstaufen?
Well, kinda. This is only the second time I’ve been up there.
I guess you take walks up there a lot, she says carefully. They could get us in big trouble. It’s not just that they’re hiding weapons up there but that young one with the baseball cap…name’s Metternich…he’s nothing but a common thug.
Dana looks around the room fretfully and wrings her hands.
You’re not making much sense, Dana.
I know, she sobs. I shouldn’t be always hiding facts from you, trying to protect you.
Honey, what do you know?
Don’t ask. Havent you heard of the underground? The army left weapons in the woods up there in September. Metternich was in charge of them. And he wouldn’t tell the police. Said he was waiting for leftist troops.
This is all gibberish, I say.
Is not! Everybody knows this, Erik! Everybody but you. Don’t go back there! And please forget this whole conversation.
There is much to consider. I go for a walk and avoid the hill where the power station is. Things change fast, too fast. When I return there is a nondescript government sedan in the driveway. When I go inside to the living room Dana is sitting on the peach colored sofa with a man in a suit with a shaved head.
Erik, come here, Dana says. This is Herr Schlossen from immigration.
I haven’t done anything, I say as I sit beside Dana.
She gives me a frightened look and I say, What is it, Herr Schlossen?
Dana says, Honey, it seems there a problem about our visas. Do you know where ours are?
Dana’s eyes are those of a trapped animal but only I know her well enough to know that.
Dana, I say, You handle things like that. Besides, we have permanent resident alien visas. They are automatically renewed when they’re about to expire.
Erik, that is no longer our policy, Schlossen says primly. The new policies require weekly registration of all American and Iranian Nationals.
Did you say weekly? Since when?
Since yesterday. You will have to present yourself and your papers at an Immigration Control Office within two days if you wish to remain in this country.
I say, Have our American neighbors down the road heard of this?
Schlossen shrugs. What neighbors? He says.
Well, there were the Dawsons and…
Honey, they moved three years ago but I never knew about it, Dana says.
Then what about the Honeywells? The Tranes?
Mr. Trane is deceased, Schlossen replies with extreme unction. Mrs. Trane moved back to America. The Honeywells moved when they heard of the new policy.
To the US? I say.
Schlossen shrugs. I suppose, he says.
Schlossen’s shaved head glints like a wet wound.
So, I say. If we want to stay more than two days we have to go to an Immigration office. That’s no big deal.
Erik, we may have to sit all day from 8:00 to 4:15 to talk to a bureaucrat for five minutes, Dana says. You have been very sick and you may not be up to it. Perhaps…
You want us out, I say to Herr Schlossen. Are we still free to leave?
You’re free to leave any time you wish, he says.