Then it was him up next. He donned his “Aren’t-I-just-the-luckiest-bastard-on-vacation-you-ever-saw-chum?” smile for The Nice Immigration Man.
But The Nice Immigration Man wasn’t, nice, that is. Oh no, he wanted to know all about Beckett, wanted to know entirely too much, had gone over every scrap of paper in Beckett’s wallet as if he expected to find a document with “This person is not who or what he says he is” written on it and signed by God. As if perhaps Beckett had accidentally forgotten to leave his Communist Party membership card at home on the mantelpiece before setting off to try and infiltrate the USA.
The Nice Immigration Man wanted to know what kind of antiques it was that Beckett restored and when he replied marble fireplaces the official refused to believe Beckett’s hands were the hands of a stone mason.
“I wear gloves, don’t I.” Beckett said, deadpan.
“And what about this guitar sir?” The man’s real talent lay in a tone of voice that effectively changed a respectful term of address such as “sir” into one that might easily have been directed at a rotting corpse lying on a dung heap.
“It’s my hobby, y’know, for relaxation.” Beckett said.
“Planning on using it to earn a little spending money while you’re here.” There was no clue as to whether this was a question or a statement.
“Oh no, sir (you corpse on a dung hill yourself), I understand that my tourist visa doesn’t allow me to work while I’m here. I’m on vacation. Y’know, the opposite of work.”
The Nice Immigration Man tapped at a keypad and then peered at a hidden screen. “So you are no longer a professional musician then, ... sir?”
“Er, oh no, officer. Not for many years now.” Beckett said trying for all he was worth to come over as the mature adult who had long since outgrown a childish phase.
“So you won’t be jamming in any nightclubs during your visit?” “That would be working wouldn’t it?” riposted Beckett, wide-eyed and legless as a Sunday school teacher on acid.
After about the longest twenty minutes he ever cared to suffer, at least until the next time the Gestapo picked him up, Beckett found himself wished a pleasant stay and shooed away in favor of the next contestant.
As he funhouse-walked on rubber legs toward the exit, he kept glancing down at the tourist visa stamped in his passport, as if he feared The Nice Immigration Man had used trick ink and the visa might evaporate from the page. Six. Months. Even he had no clear idea ... of just how lost he could get ... in a place the size of America ... in six ... months.
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders