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The man in the Explosive Specialist shirt mentions he’s Secret Service not TSA summoned from some hidden terminal room to search my bags, talk me through the process. My carry-on flagged for protein bars that might be plastique, & I failed the swab test, some residue battery acid or fertilizer on my fingertips. I’m lucky my passport’s blue though it’s summer so I’m swarthier than usual. Like crows hovering fresh carrion, so many gawkers —heading for vacation, heading for home— have gathered. They point. They whisper. Who knew excitement might start before boarding. Will they look for me on their planes? It doesn’t help I’ve packed several copies of The Story of Ash among shirts & socks. It’s not a manifesto, I assure. Four other agents ransack the backpack my laptop’s in, not one cracks a joke. I’m lucky I’m white. I know. I’m lucky they’re looking out for me, I remind myself. I need to believe that despite news stories of ICE & the border patrol every uniform isn’t bad. Hell, in their badge photos they’re smiling, each of them. One explains how he’ll pat me down with the back of his hands, now; later in another room after another failure it’ll be fronts of hands that search my arms & legs, ankles & waistband. They won’t be frowning, just serious, wary. I worry too much. They find nothing for there’s nothing to find. It’s due diligence. I put my shoes back on. Re-pack my suitcase. I’m leaving the United States fora few weeks, but I’ll be back, I whisper, almost a warning.
Copyright 2021 Gerry LaFemina
Gerry LaFemina’s many books include Baby Steps in Doomsday Prepping (Madville Publishing, 2019). He teaches at Frostburg State University in Maryland.