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Part of The Adventures Of Gabriel Celtic
December 14, 2000
May held her breath as Snake idled the old van forward in line. They had been in line for twenty minutes, but now there was only one vehicle ahead of them at the border crossing.
Glancing to her right, she gazed down at Ya Su sitting next to her in a car seat. The baby seemed unconcerned with the rapidly approaching border crossing, concentrating instead on a pink, rubber, teething ring.
She seemed to be the only one.
Josh looked exceedingly nervous, his fingers drumming nervously on the back of May’s seat, his mouth twisted as he looked ahead through the windshield. Even Georgette had grown silent at the approaching confrontation, he blue eyes locked on the grey-uniformed guards inspecting the car ahead of them.
“Everybody remain calm,” Snake spoke low from the driver’s seat, “It’s not like during the cold war…Americans are not immediately suspect.”
Turning in his seat, he pasted on a smile of reassurance. “In fact, one of their biggest sources of income now is tourism…and Americans make up a large percentage of their visitors.”
Turning again in his seat, he realized that it was now their turn.
Nodding at the crossing guard who was waving them forward, Snake eased forward until his window was abreast of the man. Rolling down the handle on the window, he gave the crossing guard a smile.
The grey-uniformed man leaned down into the window, glancing around the interior of the van before speaking.
A smile suddenly spread across his face. “Americans…da?”
Snake nodded with a grin. “Yes we are!”
“Wonderful!” the guard exuded with apparent glee. “We always glad to see
USA cit-iz-ens here. But first to
see your papers if you please.”
Snake had collected the passports earlier and handed the small pile to the grinning guard.
“Spasibo,” the man replied in thanks before turning and walking back to the gatehouse.
“That went better than expected,” Raven breathed, relief showing on her face.
Snake kept his eyes on the activity within the guard shack as he spoke. “Don’t count your chickens yet Raven; I’ve seen these things fall apart more times than you would believe.”
As he watched their friendly crossing guard recording their information inside the building, someone brought him a piece of paper. Stopping what he was doing, he read the paper for a few moments before looking up at the van.
“Oh shit,” Snake uttered, “Something’s wrong.”
“What is it?” May asked worriedly from the back seat.
“Not sure yet,” Snake responded as he watched their border guard leave the shack and approach the van again…this time with one of his buddies tagging along. Giving a quick thought to ramming the van through the gate, Snake suddenly felt Raven’s hand on his arm.
“I know what you’re thinking Snake…don’t.”
Relaxing a bit with her words, Snakes’s eyes nevertheless remained on the approaching guards as he placed his own hand on hers, squeezing it reassuringly.
His heart quickly sank however when the second border guard raised his rifle at him from three feet away.
“Apologies my American friends,” the first man uttered, “But I must ask you all to raise your hands where I can see them.”
“What’s this about?” Snake questioned, trying to act indignant. “We’re just here to sightsee.”
“I am afraid that has now been brought into question my friend. It seems that I have been ordered to detain you…you may consider yourselves under arrest.”
December 14, 2000
“I can’t get a hold of anybody!” I sighed defeatedly, hanging up the phone in frustration.
“Maybe they’re all out attending our funeral,” Preacher mumbled with a grin.
I looked back over my shoulder. “You’re certainly in high spirits this morning.”
Preacher shrugged, “We’re alive, the sun is raising in the south, praise the Lord…this day is already better than yesterday!”
I couldn’t argue the point, although I’d have felt better if we could get in contact with someone.
Emel had dropped us off in the village an hour ago, kindly refusing to take us any farther.
It was more from fear of the unknown than not wanting to help us that had guided his decision however, since Sputnik was already the farthest he had ever traveled from home!
Preacher and I had thanked him profusely before he had left, waving at us with a wide grin as his truck sputtered back toward Rybachy.
“What’s the plan Gabe?” Preacher asked then, getting back on track.
“Well, that depends,” I muttered, reaching my hand into my pocket. “How much money you got?”
Preacher also reached into his pocket, pulling out a small wad of bills and some change. “Seven dollars and…thirty seven cents…you?”
I counted out my own measly funds. “Twenty two dollars and twelve.”
“So,” Preacher started, eyes closed in calculation, “Twenty nine dollars and change…I’ve been in worse situations.”
I smiled at my overconfident friend, “In the outback of
without a clue of where to head or how to get there?”
“Yeah well…there is that,” he shrugged. “We were heading toward
when all of this happened,” Preacher pointed out. “It feels like they didn’t
want us there, so it seems only fitting that we head back to there and find out
what we missed.”
I nodded at his reasoning. I also felt like it might be a good bet that Abby may still be there.
“One problem solved,” I muttered, glancing around the village while I talked, “Any idea how to get there?”
Preacher rubbed at his shoulder again, deep in thought. “Might have a bus station around here…you any good at Russian?”
“I ain’t even that great at English, Preacher.”
This brought a grin to Preacher’s face, “No time like the present then. Let’s head down this here boulevard and see what we can find. I’m pretty good at hand signals.”
And so we set off, nearly broke and unable to communicate.
As we walked, my mind went back to that day three weeks ago when I sat on my porch, bored stiff and looking for something to fill my time.
If I had it to do over again…
December 14, 2000
The relief in the van was palpable as Snake pulled the shifter into drive.
The border guard had apologized a few minutes ago as he gave them all back their passports, saying that they had been given a bulletin on a van that was similar to theirs.
“The van we are looking for is smuggling drugs,” the guard had explained with a huge grin, “I can only apologize for the delay my American friends.”
“That was interesting,” Raven exhaled with relief when they were on their way. “But at least we made it through.”
Snake nodded quietly, keeping an intent eye on the rearview mirrors. “Yes…interesting.”
“What’s the matter?” Raven asked suspiciously, “You don’t believe their story?”
Snake shrugged at he glanced at Raven. “I always doubt everything having to do with being detained at a border,” he replied seriously. “In my past life, it was indicative of trouble.”
“You don’t think that had anything to do with you do you?” May asked from the back seat.
Snake shrugged again, glancing in the mirror before replying. “I can’t see how it could have had anything to do with our current mission, although I guess that’s possible. I am wanted all over the world though May. Something may have triggered an alert when I gave them my passport, although I thought that my current identity was clean.”
“Keep an eye out behind us Josh,” Snake called back over his shoulder. “Let me know if you think anyone is following us.”
“Have you ever…worked in
Raven asked gingerly.
“No,” Snake answered quickly, “But there is a Red Notice out on me through INTERPOL, of which
Russia is a member.”
Snake shook his head in aggravation. “I’m sorry; I should have thought of it sooner, I was only thinking of Gabe, Abby, and Preacher. Now I may have screwed up the whole mission!”
Raven placed a hand on his leg, squeezing it gently as she smiled at him.
“You can’t put this blame on yourself Snake. After all…they did let us go.”
“Not exactly,” Josh called from the back.
“We’ve picked up a tail.”
Copyright 2015 J.T. Lewis
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