Saturday, January 12, 2008

"The Curious Earrings"

Start: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Page 13, Copyright 2003), by Mark Haddon
End: Snakes and Earrings (Page 13, Copyright 2005), by Hitomi Kanehara

They asked me if I had any family. I said I did. they asked me who my family was. I said it was Father, but Mother was dead. And I said it was also Uncle Terry, but he was in Sunderland and he was Father's brother, and it was my grandparents, too, but three of them were dead and Grandma Burton was in a home because she had a senile dementia and thought that I was someone on television.

Then they asked me again, and I think again. I said it all over again, but I wasn't sure if they got the message.

One of the policeman, the curry-smelling bloke, flipped through his book again, scratching here and there with a stubby pencil. This was my first run-in with the law of another country and I didn't know how they were going to handle this. For all I knew they would take me to a sandy back alley and cut my hands off.

That's what they did to thieves here, wasn't it?

He stopped flipping the book, rolled his eyes with that I'm so annoyed and I want to annoy you with my annoyance expression, and tried his best broken English, "I'm again saying to you what is it you think."

I asked him if that was a question and he reached for his handcuffs, which in his country were still cast in metal. No AIDS-proof disposable plastic draw strings here.

"You've got to be kidding, choko," I spat not really intending to let the slur dribble out, but I don't think he could've translated it anyway.

I turned and placed my hands behind my back, trying to be as cooperative as possible. How bad could it be, it was only banana-shaped earrings? And was suddenly pushed with the force of a drunken Rugby linesman caught in a scrum with a bunch of chaps he'd caught in bed with the wife.

Tumbling forward, I slammed against the old Ford that passed for a police car here, and tried my best, "Now see here!" when another desert-colored vehicle pulled up.

More police. Just what I needed.

As I leaned awkwardly against the vehicle, I watched as a taller officer dressed in the same dust-colored jungle wear as my personal batsman here emerge from his car and approach. His eyes, like my friend's, were obscured behind a pair of 80's Ray-Bans. They exchanged jibberish and this new bloke turned his attention to me.

"English, huh?" he asked.

I straightened up, but only slightly. I knew this was going to be another round of Excuse me, Mister, do-you-hear-what-I'm-saying?

I was surprised, however, when this particular bobby opened his mouth with something like an American southern drawl.

He jabbed a thumb toward his counterpart. "I'd just love to stab his neck with a needle," he said, looking as if he would burst out laughing any second.

"Sounds like you're more savage than a sadist," I said.

"You're right there."

I didn't expect him to know the English word, so I was a little taken by surprise.

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