The Red Column, Episode 46, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich walked to within a few feet of the man.

He slowly looked up and sorrowfully smiled. He said something in Russian.

“I’m not Russian,” Rich said.

“What!” he said turning his ear toward Rich.

“I’m not Russian,” Rich said. “Are you Yuri Petrushkin?”

“You have an American accent, are you American?”

“Yes,” Rich said. “Are you Yuri Petrushkin?”

“Yes,” Yuri said.

“I’ve come to take you to American Samoa,” Rich said. “And from there back to the United States.”

“I wish to declare political asylum,” Yuri said while standing and brushing his pants.

“I’m a private civilian,” Rich said. “I can’t grant you asylum. I can only take you to a U. S. Naval base in Samoa. I can’t forcibly make you go, detain, or arrest you.”

“You mean I could stay here?” Yuri said.

“Sure,” Rich said, “but we both know the next white man will be able to answer in Russian or worse yet, Bulgarian.”

“You know about the Bulgarians?” Yuri said.

“Not really,” Rich said, “Just making a joke and perhaps a persuasive argument.”

“I thought I’d at least be able to attract an envoy,” Yuri said.

“Sorry to disappoint,” Rich said. “If you want to go, I suggest you gather your things immediately and come with me. I have a sailboat at the dock.”

“How long will it take to get me back to U. S. territory?” Yuri said.

“Seven or eight days,” Rich said. “I’ll probably run into some opposing winds.”

“Will you give me time to pack?” Yuri said.

“Take all the time you need,” Rich said.

“I don’t have much,” Yuri said. “I just want to say goodbye to some good people.”

“If you want, I can take a few things to my boat while you say goodbye,” Rich offered. “It might be good not to tell them where you are heading.”

They walked inside the one room hut. There was only a cot made of scrap lumber. Yuri tossed some clothing scattered on the bed into a suitcase, snapped it shut, and handed it to Rich. He grabbed another suitcase from underneath the cot. “Do you mind?” He said handing it to Rich.

Rich grabbed it. “Is there a store on the island?”

“Yes,” Yuri said.

“I’d like to pick up some fresh food,” Rich said. “I’m getting tired of canned.”

“You don’t need a store for that,” Yuri said. “I’ll bring some with me. It’s free. They have little or no need for money on this island.”

“They sound like communists,” Rich said. “That’s one more in the red column.”

“How should I take that?” Yuri said.

Rich smiled broadly. “It’s a joke.”

“I think we are going to have an interesting time together,” Yuri smiled. “I’m curious, why did they send somebody so young?”

“You play soccer when you were a boy?” Rich said.

“Yes, football,” Yuri said.

“You choose up sides and play, right?” Rich said.

“Yes,” Yuri said.

“If only one boy brings a ball, no matter how bad he is, he has to be chosen,” Rich said. “If not he takes his ball and goes home.”

“Yes,” Yuri said.

“I’m the only one available with a ball or in this case a boat,” Rich said.

“You could have taken your ball and gone elsewhere,” Yuri stated.

“It is a long story,” Rich said, “and I have seven or eight days to tell it.”


Leave a Reply