We’re snuggled under the covers—it’s still Canada in the middle of the winter, heated room or not. My hands are moving over her inner thighs, keeping away from the magic zone for just another moment, letting the anticipation build. She’s making those little cries women make, mingling joy and some ancient sorrow. I reach for her panties.
There’s light all over the room and shouting and I’m lifted off the bed and shoved very rudely against the wall. Whack! In my condition, that really hurts.
I look around real quick. Nora is sitting at the head of the bed, sheets pulled around her. The door is in pieces and the room is full of people in black flack suits. One of them has his hand against the back of my throat and is holding me against the wall, his other hand holding my arm behind my back, threatening to break it if I move. I’m not moving.
The person in the center of the room makes one of those ominous-sounding statements about the perimeter being secured into his walkie-talkie and then an agent takes off her helmet and offers to escort Nora to the bathroom to get dressed.
The guy with the walkie-talkie looks at the cop with his hand on my throat and says, “Okay, get him ready, James. I don’t think you’ll have to frisk him.”
Twenty minutes later, we’re in the basement of the local police station in separate interrogation rooms. A few officers enter Nora’s room first, but I don’t hear any screams so I assume this is Canada and there’s due process and we’ll probably be offered tea and some kind of little English cakes or something to make our brief stay with the constabulary more pleasant. At least, that’s how I used to feel about Canadian justice before the experience of a Canadian cop’s fingers pressing my throat into a wall.
Eventually, two men come into the room and take seats. Well put together, neat, trim, wholesome-looking. The antithesis of the New York doughnut cop stereotype. Blonde crewcut next to me, balding sandy hair across the table. Good cop bad cop—one to confront and the other to sympathize. And, I suppose, to make sure I don’t leap the table and throttle my accuser for pulling me away from a moment I’ve dreamed of my whole life.
“What is your business in Canada?” Bald Cop asks.
“Can I ask what I’m being accused of?” I respond. I try to sound polite, but I’m not stupid enough to answer questions until I know what I’m trying to weasel out of.
“You haven’t been accused of anything,” he says. “This is a simple interrogation and maybe we can get it done quickly if you’ll cooperate with us.”
“I’ll cooperate as long as you get the US Ambassador or someone from the consulate on the phone. I’m an American citizen.”
Baldie says something like ‘get him’ and the other cop steps to the door and calls down the hall. He returns to his seat and they both turn back to me.
“Did you cross the border without a passport?”
“Yes.” Not much point in denying it—they won’t find a passport on me.
“How did you accomplish that?”
I don’t even think about this. From the moment we met Billy Hassin, I knew I’d have to lie to someone about the border crossing. Now that it’s actually come up, I find that same storytelling impulse Nikos has been riding the past couple days kicks in for me as well.
“I told the man at the station I’d been crossing back and forth between the US and Canada for thirty years without a passport and I’d bring it next time but I don’t have a passport now and I showed him a 25-year-old photograph of this absolutely gorgeous Canadian girl I knew when I was a kid who was now just waiting for me to jump into bed with her and I was just about there when you broke down the door of my fucking hotel room which I paid for fair and square and you could have at least waited till morning and arrested me while I was happy!!!!”
I have never regarded yelling at police officers as a desirable thing to do. They have their very disagreeable jobs and they’re necessary and sometimes really comforting guys to have around—although never when you’re alone in an interrogation room with them. Nonetheless, at this moment, several things are bubbling out of me, ebbing away so to speak, some of which I can’t discuss in polite company. So I go off.
“Can I please understand what is going on here?” I demand. “We were certainly well over the age of consent!”
“What was your plan for this evening?” Blondie asks politely. At least I haven’t offended him with my tirade. Maybe I can with the next one.
“What do you think my plan was?” I shriek. “You found me naked and her in panties, which were almost gone.” It’s a wonder I don’t dissolve in sobs on the spot.
“Now, now,” the sandy-haired cop next to me says, patting me on the shoulder. “There’ll be other days.”
“Pretty girl,” says Blondie.
“Thanks,” I say, dabbing my eyes with a handkerchief I pull from his jacket pocket. “She doesn’t think she is—you wouldn’t believe how insecure she is.”
“Really?” says the cop. “Wouldn’t have believed it, looking at her.”
Then the door opens and a tall distinguished-looking man in very expensive skipants and parka walks into the room—there are several other similarly-attired personages with him.
“Alright gentlemen,” he says, “why don’t you let us do our consult?” No Canadian accent. “And no surveille, please?” he says as they get up to go.
He sits down opposite me and waves the rest of his party out of the room. He’s not exactly angry, but his expression isn’t real friendly either.
“So—I understand you wanted to speak with me?” he says.
“I did? Who are you?”
“I’m the United States Ambassador to Canada.”
I look him over twice, blinking repeatedly. Finally he pulls a little billfold-type thing from his pocket and flashes it in my face. They even give them little ID cards and State Department laminated badges and such—not much better-looking than what I could get in Times Square, though.
“Okay,” I say, feeling a bit goofy. “I’ll admit it—this is service. I’ll never complain about my taxes again.”
I see a wisp of a smile around the edge of his mouth, but he doesn’t seem to have a lot of difficulty repressing it.
“I was at dinner with the Prime Minister, so naturally I’m here,” he says. “We had to make a statement.”
I’m now in way over my head. I’m getting some information here, which is more than I got from the cops, but I can’t make head or tail of it.
“What happened?” I ask with total ingenuousness. I feel like a child, yet I also fear that, once he tells me what happened, any childhood I have left in me will be gone.
“You don’t know?” he gasps.
“No—they just keep asking me what my plan was tonight. I wanted to make the girl—that was my plan, en toto.”
That little smile dances around his lips again and lingers a little longer this time.
“Okay, I think we can get this over with fairly quickly. I doubt any charges will be filed. I doubt they will even prohibit you from entering Canada again.”
”I would hate that—it would really cut into my love life,” I say. “Although the way things are going, that might be over too.”
“Okay,” he stands up. “I’ll see what I can arrange.”
“Wait a minute,” I insist, standing across from him. “Before anyone else comes in here, at least tell me what I did.”
He sits. I sit. He seems to be searching his mind, to try to figure out how to tell me. Is it that horrible or that confusing?
“Did you rent a Super8 projector tonight?”
Ohhh yeah—I forgot all about the projector. “Yes,” I admit guiltily. “But it wasn’t due back till tomorrow morning.”
“I’m sure that’s fine,” he says. “Do you know where it is?”
“Oh shit,” I moan. “We left it under the table at the restaurant.” I feel like the kid in the principal’s office. Then I shake my head.
“Okay,” I tell him, “so I get that we left the Super-8 projector in the restaurant and it was the personal property of the camera store and we really should have returned it. But why are you and the Prime Minister of Canada making statements to the police? Is there really that little crime in this country?”
“The Prime Minister and I are on a skiing trip up here,” he explains. “We must have come in just after you left and sat at a table near the one you’d just vacated. Somewhere during the appetizer, someone noticed the metal box under your table. They notified the maitre’d, who did the appropriate thing—he evacuated the restaurant and called the bomb squad, who helicoptered in from Ottawa. The man in the big lead blast suit went into the restaurant with the robot bomb disposer and placed your Super8 projector in a blast container and very gingerly took it out to their truck outside. In the truck, they X-rayed the box. However, because there is a motor inside a Super8 projector, they couldn’t X-ray all the way through. Therefore,” he concludes, “they took it out behind the County Court House and detonated it with a small charge.”
I hear this twice in my head, on replay, before it really registers, and then I replay it several more times before I can speak.
“You detonated it?”
“The Canadian authorities did,” he says. “They had to—couldn’t take the chance it was a bomb.”
“It wasn’t a bomb.”
“We know that now.”
“You don’t want it.”
“Can I have the pieces?”
“But—but—I rented it from the camera store,” I say pathetically. “It was the guy’s prized possession.”
“I know—he took down your hotel on the slip as security—that’s how we found you. I’m sorry,” the United States Ambassador tells me. “You’ll have to explain it to him.”
“I’m really going to get in trouble with that guy,” I continue to whine, all the air coming out of me at once. “Isn’t there a State Department spokesman or someone who can come with me to make this right?”
He stands over me, making the most of his height and that very expensive ski suit for persuasion. “The United States Government has already agreed to compensate the Canadian Government for the use of a military helicopter, a bomb truck, robot bomb disposer, explosives, personnel and equipment, compensating the restaurant for an evacuation in the busiest time of day and your motel for a busted door, because you, an American citizen, were responsible for this damage. Don’t you think you can handle the camera rental?” he asks, and the brusque expression is very clear on his face.
“Sure—give millions to friendly governments and begrudge five or six hundred bucks to help out one of your own unemployed citizens,” I growse.
“Well, maybe we should look into how you’re traveling to Canada on unemployment,” he says, standing up again. “I’ll get you out of here in one piece. Find your way back across the border as soon as you can, alright?” And then he’s gone.
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