Lenin just knew he was going to love America. It was all smiles and
flowers, wonderful smells and happy people. He couldn’t get over the
welcome. There were lots of pretty schoolgirls, too. This was
somewhere he had wanted to be all his life. Waving to the small but
enthusiastic crowd, he moved forward to shake the hand of the first
person to welcome him to the Promised Land.
mayor—it must surely be someone of great importance, he reasoned, by
the fine suit and shoes he wore—reached out. Grasping Nicoli by the
cheeks with both hands, he said, "Who the hell are you and what
are you doing in my office?"
somewhat confused by this turn of events, attempted to give him a nice
Russian Bear hug complete with pecks on both cheeks. At the same time
he was saying, "Thanks to you, too."
then Nicoli saw the light or, rather felt it as a WHACK! on the side
of his head. He opened his eyes and realized the mayor was actually a
policeman—Sergeant Theodore "Teddy" Baker, commander of
the Seattle Drug Interdiction Squad, operating out of Seattle’s Sea
get in here and explain to me who and what the hell this mess
is," Baker ordered.
I just put him in here for a minute while I went to the loo and
..." explained Detective Patti Anderson.
... I don’t care why, the question is, who and what? Jesus, he
drools and tried to kiss me. The loo? What the hell is a loo?"
Sarge, I don’t think the District Attorney wants you getting that
friendly with the perps, and the loo is actually British for the
can," detective Larry Smith added. "PBS must have been on
the boob tube last night."
shut up before I stuff you in a can and ... oh for crying out loud,
Patti, is your whole team nuts or what?"
that’s a good question ... and the answer is, two are nuts and
we’ve got one what."
okay. This guy," she said, pointing to Nicoli, who had gone back
to sleep and, while dreaming of sweeter things, had slid off the couch
onto the floor, one arm wrapped around Baker’s leg. "This guy
was wandering around the terminal looking lost and a little loopy. So
we do a run on him, you know, to see if he’s carrying or anything,
and it turns out he’s on vacation and going to Las Vegas to meet a
relative or something. That part’s a little vague, because like I
said, he’s a little loopy."
it, hold it, hold it," Baker ordered, trying to get a handle on
the conversation while at the same time attempting to untangle himself
from Nicoli, who was making soft mewing noises and tightening his grip
on Baker’s leg. Directing his question to the senior member of the
field team, Detective Patti Anderson, he asked her, "What in the
blue blazes is this condition you refer to as ‘loopy,’ huh? Is he
strung out on drugs, carrying drugs, drunk, or what?"
she could answer, Detective Little Al Whistler strolled in. He was the
junior member of the team, the one sent for drinks, lunch, or anything
else someone didn’t want to do.
guys. Who ordered what? Peanuts?" he asked, displaying a small
bag of cashews.
Larry Smith, known to one and all as "Peanuts," not looking
up from the papers he was working on, answered, "Yeah,
Little Al insisted, "I said peanuts."
proving he could read and talk at the same time, and sounding more
than a little exasperated, blindly answered, "Yeah, what?"
Al tried once more. Vigorously shaking the bag of nuts, "Whose
peanuts?" he all but shouted.
am, dammit! What the hell’s the matter with you, boy? I’ve been in
the same room with you for six months now, and suddenly you forget my
name? Now, for the last time, I’m Peanuts ... so, what do you
guys," Patti interrupted. "What’s the question?"
question is," Little Al sputtered, "whose goddamn peanuts,
not to be ignored—and with the Russian improving his grip on his
uniformed leg, his drool puddling on the toe of a very expensive
Italian shoe—shouted, "He’s Peanuts ..." pointing to
Detective Smith, "My Peanuts ..." pointing to the bag of
cashews in Little Al’s hand, "and that’s Patti’s
loopy," pointing down to the happily snorkeling Russian.
to believe he was the cause of all the confusion and in imminent
danger of demotion, Little Al cried out, "Loopy? I didn’t bring
any loopy," then quickly added, "They were all out."
was dreamily remembering how friendly everyone had been on the plane.
When he began to become airsick, the passenger in the seat beside him
had shared his medication with him. Then there was the puzzling part
of the dream where strangers had shouted at him, removed his clothes,
redressed him, and gave him lots of hot coffee. This was followed by
something to eat, and here it was a little fuzzy, it might have been
something called "loopy."
seems that Nicoli had a slight reaction to his seatmates’
"you’re-not-going-to-barf-on-me" straight off the street
corner prescription. Finally, after apologies that included,
"Please don’t call the Embassy," and warnings about the
kindness of strangers, he was sent by cab to the nearest cheap hotel.
could not remember when he first thought to look for the computer
disc, but thank God—you could do that in Russia, now—it was still
in his jacket with its title folder identifying it as Russian tea
music. He’d had a bad moment even while under the influence of the
drugs in his system, when Patti had started to play it in the office,
but thankfully, whoever had made it had the good sense to use some
awful music for the introduction. So, after a few moments, the reviews
were in. They were all bad, and the CD was returned to his
drool-stained jacket. Now it, and the rest of his personal effects,
including the Russian passport that had given Patti such a jolt, were
resting on the table of Room 5 of The Acorn Lodge awaiting his full
let’s not have a screwup with another Russian, for pete’s
sake," Sergeant Baker said when he discovered the Russian’s
passport. "I like being a sergeant and I assume you like being a
detective. Give him a quick look-see to make sure he’s not carrying
a bomb or anything, then let him go, and pray the Consular General
isn’t expecting another nephew."