Sunshine stood shin-high in muddy water outside the gates of the Canadian Consulate of Dhakka. Without passport, wallet, keys, money, shoes, shirt, only his shorts and hope hid his shame. The muggers had been waiting and watching. They knew his name and door. They knew his routine and shoe size. They knew Sunshine would see the knives, tire irons, claw hammers, and hand over what was his. The broken nose and punt to the groin were just to say don’t follow us.
Beneath the ভিসাআবেদনকারীদেরএখানে sign, Sunshine scanned the men, women, children, standing, scratching, spitting, shifting, gazing patient as livestock, before the herd curved out of sight into the soaked horizon. Perhaps this rising sun will burn us all away, he thought as a mosquito landed on his eyelash. Mud warmed the skin between his toes. He circumnavigated the compound’s red brick walls, and found, on the exact opposite side, an open gate, with words he could understand: CANADIANS ONLY.
Flanking the entrance, stood two soldiers in camouflaged, one wore a green beret, the other a green helmet, both about Sunshine’s age and complexion. Their hungry eyes narrowed when Sunshine flashed his smile which could quite reach his eyes. The beret’s baby finger unlatched the safety on his US M4 Carbine. The helmet stepped forward.
“Morning, Officers,” Sunshine said, bottling every worry in the world.
“Āpani ki cāna?” the helmet said.
“Sorry eh, do you speak English by chance?”
“An’ya lā’inē yāna.” With a single gun barrel wave, the beret made go away clear enough for any animal to understand. Sunshine put his hands in the air, palms open beside his ears. The helmet eyed him up and down, uttered a lewd crack, the beret laughed. They’d been on duty all night, their replacements were late. The helmet unleashed an impatient string of syllables at Sunshine.
“Sorry officer, would it be possible to speak to someone who speaks English? I’m a Canadian citizen,” he said nodding at the sign above their heads.
The men understood the last two words and laughed again. The helmet stepped forward, grabbed Sunshine’s jaw bone with his thumb and forefinger, looked deep into his eyes, almost admiringly, and oozed venom, “Tu-mi… ēk-aṭā… mith-yā-bā-dī.”
With a lunge, he shoved Sunshine’s jaw into his spine while professionally sweeping his legs. Sunshine toppled into the mud. By the time he found his feet, the beret was pelting him joyfully with stones as a schoolboy would a local mutt. Sunshine retreated around the corner, sat on the hood of a rusted Hindustan Contessa, as the call to prayer flooded Dhakka again.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a novel and MFA progresses. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites.