Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Even the air tasted like salt.

Gordon hawked and spat and rubbed the stubble collecting under his chin as he ambled down the desolate street, watching the wind kick up dirt up and down the length of the gutters. He shoved his hands in his back pockets and called Casey's name once again. No answer, of course.

They had been making their way back to the group when Gordon's attention became fixated on a stray dog. Gordon had given the dog chase down an alley, Casey shouting after him to return, but Gordon's affection for the mutt was overpowering. When at last he'd cornered the retriever, the dog barked twice before striding up to meet his outstretched hand. In all his fervor, he'd lost Casey - again.

That was the better part of an hour ago, and still no sign of Casey. He'd trekked back to where he'd last left his companions but found no one. With a pang of snide hurt, he wondered if they'd simply packed up and left him to rot in the deserts of Utah. To the credit of his company, however, the dog had followed, wandering a few paces away and keeping in stride with him.

"Where the bugger all did those twats go, pooch?" Gordon asked. The dog simply wagged its tail and panted like it was incurring a late onset of autism. He scratched behind its ears and the dog pawed at his pant leg reassuringly.

"I'm naming you 'Benjamin', I am," Gordon said with a nod. The dog continued to wag its tail and Gordon assumed it was satisfied with its new moniker. It was a handsome dog, no worse for the wear for all its time spent roaming the streets of Wherever-The-Fuck-We-Are Utah, though it strode with a mild limp in one of its back legs. It seemed to like Gordon, though, and refused to leave his side, even when other stray dogs called to it from the alleyways.

"Well, tell you what, Benny," Gordon said with a sigh. "If they did leave us high and dry, then you n' me - we'll be our own troupe. I'll play the fiddle while you dance for the lonelies, how do you like that?" One bark, a few tail wags, and they continued down the street.

"Let me tell you a story," Gordon began.

Once upon a time, in a land of berry-filled meadows and honey-colored rain --

"Gordon Mischance?" a voice interrupted.

Gordon turned and discovered a man in a cleanly-pressed suit climbing out of the passenger seat of a black Buick. Another man - dressed the same as the first, near as Gordon could tell through the shaded windshield - waited at the wheel, staring at Gordon through his sunglasses. 

It's dusk, you sod, Gordon thought.

"Could be," Gordon responded to the first, who was walking toward him with uncomfortable haste. The dog barked twice at the man and Gordon shushed it with his hand. "Who wants to know?"

"Are you Gordon Mischance?" the man repeated.

Gordon shrugged. "No, mate, the name's Habadash--"

The man in the suit grabbed his left arm and twisted it sharply, firmly holding Gordon's wrist behind his back. Gordon felt cold metal snap around his wrist before his other arm was snatched up and locked in as well. The man in the suit shoved Gordon onto the hood of the Buick.

"What the bloody hell?!"

The man in the suit produced a badge from his jacket's breast pocket.

"United States Immigration," the man said with a little too much excitement. "Our records indicate you have been living in the United States on an expired student visa."

"I liked it here, what the fuck is the problem?" Gordon shouted. Benjamin jumped around excitedly, barking warnings at the man in the suit. His partner finally climbed out of the driver's side door and produced a firearm from the holster under his arm.

"Get that mutt away," the man said, indicating his weapon before steadying it on Benny.

"Benny, go!" Gordon demanded into the cool surface of the Buick's hood. "Go on, get! I'm fine! Get out of here, damn you."

The dog barked once before snatching Gordon's handkerchief from his back pocket and taking off in leaps and bounds down the street. Gordon sighed and banged his forehead against the hood once before allowing the man in the suit to move him into the back seat. The door slammed shut behind him, nearly catching the toe of his right shoe.

"Well, this is an unfortunate development," Gordon muttered to himself as the immigration officers climbed into the front seats and fastened their seat belts. They exchanged a grin and a fist bump before speeding off into the night.


"Hey look, a doggie!" Kat squealed, bending over to greet the retriever as it ambled toward her.

"Careful, it might have rabies," Joe said. Casey rolled her eyes and Parker continued to sulk twenty paces behind the rest of the group. Mali, alternatively, strode twenty paces ahead, furiously thumbing her PDA.

"No, he's a big sweetie," Kat said. "What'chya got there, boy?"

The dog dropped a drool-stained rag at her feet and wagged his tail with excitement and expectation. Kat stooped to pick the rag up and examine it.

"Weird," she said.

"What?" Joe absently inquired, his attention again returned to Casey, who had still refused to speak to him since returning without Gordon two hours prior.

"It's a handkerchief."

"Throw it away, it might be diseased," Casey said, staring at her feet as she walked.

"Yeah, but it's kind of neat. It's covered in American flags."

Joe and Casey immediately stopped walking and turned.

"Oh my God," Casey said. She approached Kat and studied the handkerchief. "It's Gordon's."

Parker, puzzlement evident in his face, scratched his temple. "Yeah, okay. But where's Gordon?"

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