Gone

"Chas. Chaplin". Actor Charlie Chapl...

“Chas. Chaplin”. Actor Charlie Chaplin seated at desk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Statue of Charlie Chaplin in Leicester Square,...

Statue of Charlie Chaplin in Leicester Square, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Herr Schlossen leaves Dana and I argue about what to do.  I’m fed up and want to go back to the states till we decide what to do.  She’s paranoid that somebody’ll be after her for an ancient malefaction the statute of limitations has run out on anyway.

They never had a case, Dana, I say.  It was just harassment and a fishing expedition.

I cant take that, Erik.  I came here to get away from that i’m not going back to it.

I sigh, it reminds me of Chaplin.

What about him?

He was Jewish, of course.  He fled Europe to get away from Hitler.  Then he somehow got on Joe McCarthy’s shit list.  He ran into another version of what he fled from.  He was so pissed he went to England and never came back.

IDK what to do, Dana says.

Dana, we cant stay here.

We could go to Austria or Holland or…

I talked to the Archprefect this morning.  She feels that this movement will spread all over Europe and we damn well better leave.  Why don’t we fly to Canada till we can figure out what to do.  Then we could go back to the US or anywhere else.

The phone rings right in the middle of this and Dana’s friend gives her hell about some imagined slight while her husband yells in the background.   I hear Dana’s friend call Dana a washed up old dyke and Dana hangs up in her face.

We sit together on the peach colored sofa with Dana’s head on my shoulder.  She’s so terrified she might as well have her thumb in her mouth but I guess she’s a little old for that.  She looks at me as if to say, Isnt it great that we’re not like them?

Erik, she says in a little girl’s voice, You think i’m an old dyke?

I kiss the top of her head and say, You surely are.

She burrows closer and says, I love you, little daddy.

I love you, cupcake.

But i’m just a washed up old dyke, she says.

What you are is a hot little bitch and being part lesbo just makes you impossibly and irresistibly hotter.

Awww, honey, she says.  You always know just what to say to make a girl wet.

Dana gets up and paces the floor.  We are both in a real life dangerous set of circumstances, yet the look on her face is that of a teen age girl complaining that her problems are the worst problems anyone has ever had in the history of the whole world!  And when Dana is like this she is utterly beguiling.  When I look at the innocent cast of her face my heart flutters and skips a few beats just like it did when I saw her when we were first dating.  I cant believe how much I am in love with my wife of ten plus years and that in the middle of these despicable circumstances I decide to feel this way.

Still I feel myself on the edge of panic.  I think she is even closer and I decide she needs something to occupy her mind.

I finally hand her the cell phone and say, Get on the phone and book us a flight to Toronto.  Then we’ll start packing.

Just like that?  She says.

It’s either that or sit in an office all day to beg for a visa extension.

Do we really want to leave?

Yes!  Get busy.

Fifteen minutes later she tosses the phone down angrily and says, Full up.  Everybody’s panicking to get out.

Did you try other cities in Canada?

Yes.  Nothing.

Do you know anybody with a private plane that would fly us out?

Once I would have, she says, But they’re all gone now.

We can drive to the border, I say.  They haven’t said anything about closing it.  Not yet.

That’s a twelve hour drive, she says.

Then we better get going.

Wait then, she says.  Maybe…

When she gets off the phone she’s arranged to stay at somebody’s private cabin an hour from the border if we have to stop there.  It’s not much help but it’s something.  Dana says she doesn’t want to deal with a crossing after a long drive like that.

Dana, if we stay that long we’ll be here with an expired visa and I don’t know what would happen.

Then let’s go, she says angrily.

This is the third straight day it’s rained.  This fall is unprecedented for rain and it has matched the mood of this crisis and made it worse.  The hill with the power station is invisible in ground fog and it occurs to me I never said goodbye to Klaus or Metternich.

We cant take both cars, Dana says.

We’ll take my Navigator.

And why is that?  She says, barely controlling the anger in her voice.

Because it has 4WD.

If we need 4WD then we’re probably in a situation that we cant handle anyway.

You’re probably right, honey, but it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  Besides. we’re gonna have to leave both vehicles over here anyway.  We cant take em on a plane.

You expecting impassable roads from all this rain?  She says.

IDK what to expect, I say grimly.

The dankness is even worse than I thought.  The Navigator barely starts and I know it’s wet wiring from the humid air.

We’re on the highway a few miles out of town when we see the roadblock.  Fifteen minutes and the line of cars isn’t moving.  When they start arresting people I decide to act.

I start to make a U-turn and naturally some jerk wad is behind me in such a way I cant.  Dana’s face is white as a ghost.

Here’s what we need 4WD for, I say.

What RU going to do?

Watch, I say.

There’s a cornfield on my right that has not been harvested, the stalks brown and sopping in the rain.  The asshole behind me has left just enough room that I can drive thru and over the ditch beside the road and into the field, taking the fence down and dragging it with me twenty feet.

You’ll be arrested!  Dana screams and puts her hands over her ears and her face into her shoulder.

We’re far enough away from the roadblock that I don’t think they’ll notice and they don’t.  Once I get free of the section of fence I have to work thru all kinds of gears and get stuck in the mud three times but the stump-pulling reverse low gear always rescues us.  I make it thru and out of the corn onto a gravel road and to a highway without much traffic.

We are so worn out that we decide that visa or no, we’re going to stop at the cabin and rest before the crossing.  When we get ready to leave the cabin and go to the border the Navigator will not start.  I call a mechanic and he says he’ll try to get out here since the rain has let up.  As soon as I hang up it starts raining.  It rains.  And it rains.  And it rains.  In three hours most of the local roads are impassable from mud slides.  We are stuck and will be going nowhere for at least another day.  And by that time our visas will expire and I don’t know what will happen then.

The cabin we’ve been using is in a sort of park in the woods, a kind of gated community.  From looking at the neighbors’ cars they appear to be very rich, but most of them have names like Chandresakar and Rangaswami and Al Habib.   Rich Arabs and East Indians I guess.  Our particular cabin is owned by an old money Beacon Hill couple named Wells that Dana somehow knows.  And we have a car that will not start for shit.

Noise from down the hill in the direction of the highway.  It’s a military vehicle of some kind rocking as it climbs into second gear.  It stops at the gate with a clatter.  A big soldier gets out, wearing camouflage and helmet and goggles, patches of mud drying on his pants.  When he gets frustrated trying to get the gate open he just has the driver smash thru.

Since our cabin is nearest he stops and knocks at our door, naturally.  And, naturally, he asks for our papers.  He smokes and scrutinizes every page and finally says, Your visas expired at midnight.

Our car wont start, I say.  We were on our way to the border when it started giving trouble and we had to stop here at our friends’ cabin.

Who owns this cabin?

Herbert and Druscilla Wells.

American?

Yes.

He hands me back the documents and says, Immigration is not my problem but I would get across the border as soon as I could if I were you.  There’s going to be trouble here.  Big trouble.  How many people live in this park?

There are two dozen cabins and they’re all couples so…forty eight maybe?  I’m sorry but I don’t know if…

I’ll decide when you should apologize!  the soldier says sharply.  You really don’t know?

I look at his uniform and see that he is Sturmbahnfuehrer Mundt.  Sturmbahnfuehrer!  This is like a bad dream.  Or like we got in a time machine and went back to 1939.  Mundt’s washed out eyes mustve seen hundreds of people strip naked at the edge of a ditch, trying to prepare their living bodies to fall dead in the mud.

Like I said, Sturmbahnfuerher Mundt, we’re just guests here.

Don’t give me that shit, Mundt says.   You sure you’re not lying?

No sir.

What a disgusting backwater this is, Mundt says.  Two days hunting down these swine in the woods.  Let me in, he says, pushing his way past me.  They look and look until they get tired of intimidating us.  Dana is sitting with her arms folded on the sofa, utterly petrified, trying to look invisible.  They ignore her as they march to the front door.

You two can sleep easy, Mundt says on his way out.  Nothing will happen to you.  But if we find a bandit here or a weapon or anything like that…he leaves the threat unspoken.

Mundt goes knocking at the doors of the other cabins while I find an extension cord and a light and a hair dryer and go out to the car and open the hood and dry the wiring around the starter, hoping desperately to get out of here.  Mundt is at the door of someone named Chandrasekar  arguing about nationality.  Finally Chandrasekar is led out in shackles to the vehicle.  A rifle butt hits his jaw and he screams as he is dragged off.  Everyone ignores me.

More dark skinned people are dragged off.  Screams and rifle shots and OMG this really is ethnic cleansing.  And I wonder if they’ll kill me since I am a witness to all this.  Fast moving clouds fill the sky around the bone colored moon.  The air seems dryer and I turn the hair dryer off and put the key in the ignition and the car starts right up.

I run to the cabin and tell Dana to get ready and in three minutes she drags our stuff out and leaves the front door of the cabin open and the lights on.  She gets in beside me and says, Hurry!

We drive off without being challenged and make it to the crossing, a bridge over a little river with a sleepy, indifferent guard who gives us a dirty look for waking him up but he doesn’t even mention the visas.  He waves us thru and we drive into a free country.

And I don’t breathe easy till we land in Toronto.

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