the short story project


Tommy Friend

All Around The World

   January 2006 Lima Peru South America. I and my wife are in a Taxi. We are on our way to the US Embassy. Were driving down the street and I see this long line. With hundreds of people standing in line to get in the Embassy. She points at this large building she says there it is, that’s where we are going. I said oh my God look at the line, we are to be a line all day. It looks like the line at Six Flags Great America for the new Batman ride on opening day. She says no you have an appointment. We will go right to the front. We go to the front door walking pass hundreds of people. We tell the people at the front door. See this piece of paper I have an appointment. They let is in and we go upstairs and we wait in a waiting room with 50 or 60 other people.

   There’s a lady right next to me with a little daughter. Her daughters playing and dancing and smiling. We start talking to this lady and we start to get to know her. She tells us her story of how she is married and been married for 2 1/2 years. Her daughter only a year and a half old. Has never seen her father. Her father is American and they keep on holding them us up from getting the visa. I said where your husband at?. She says he’s in Afghanistan and when he comes home next month if I’m not in America in Ohio. He will go back to Afghanistan and then who knows if he gets to see his daughter. I said wow I been in this country couple of times, I been to Mexico, I been to Canada and I’ve seen 48 out of 50 states in America. I drove millions of miles and met thousands of people’s and I never heard of anybody saying they want to be in Afghanistan instead of America. I don’t remember what her husband did for a living. Oh, Yeah! I remember Ha Ha Ha.

   I was living in Hinsdale Illinois and my older sister came up to me, she found her father and he turned out to be a loser. She told me, Tom, one day. I’m gonna find your father too and I replied to my father just a loser too. She said come on Tom don’t say things like that. You don’t know. I said any man that abandons his son after two months is nothing but a loser.

   So we are talking to this lady in one of the doors in front of us opens up. And this American says Mr. friend it’s your turn, your next come in my office. We go to the office door he says I only want to talk to Mr. friend I look at my wife and I smile and I walk inside. Have a seat. It’s nice to meet you I said I’m glad to meet you too. I love meeting Americans out here. They always understand what I’m saying. How is your stay in Lima Peru? I reply it’s great I’m loving it and have a great time out here. I told him when I was a little kid, I always dream of going to another country. Living by the ocean surfing and surrounded by Palm trees.

   We get to talking he says I’m glad that you’re enjoying your stay. I’m looking at your application for the visa. And I have to tell you. YOU WILL NOT be getting a visa for your fiancé. Do know that feeling when you been trying to make a dream come true for two years and you get your hopes all high only to be let down. Well, that’s what I was feeling that day. I said, WHY? I have a good job and make good money. I’ve got a lot of money in savings I been saving money for years and years. We are happy together and one day we live out here next to the ocean. He has me what do I do for a living. I said I am an over road truck driver. He says why do you want to marry her so bad. I said because am in love, and we want the same things I life.

   When I was a little boy I always dreamed of living in another country. Getting married in a big Catholic Church and having a family. I said I work about 100 hours a week, I drive a truck for three weeks at a time. And I only get three days off or four a month. It’s hard to find somebody. The phone rings he says excuse me I have to take this call. Now I’m sitting there thinking. Dreams are what make us what we are, if we fall down we just dust yourself stuff off. And we are right back at it. Nothing will stop some of us from making our dreams come true. And if one of these planes the engines go out, I’ll be waiting at the Jacksonville airport for 17 hours to get on the next flight. Nothing will stop me. And I’m thinking what am I going to do now?

   I am already married. I had to meet with a priest and hang out him for a week and get baptized Catholic to get married in the world famous church in Lima Peru. It was my wife’s dream to get married in that church one day. It’s funny how I can make other people’s dreams come true when one my dreams come true somebody has to step in and take it away from me. Well, I’ll be moving to South America sooner than I thought. He gets off the phone. He says thanks for waiting. He’s looking at the paperwork in front of him on the desk. He tells me she has applied for five tourist visas and now she wants a fiancé visa? That sounds like to me that she is determined one way or another, to come to America. I don’t think this is a good idea, Tom. You, I believe but her I don’t.

   But I will give you the visa Mr. friend but I’m telling you not to do this. I smile has said thank you. He told me your fiancé will be getting the visa in the mail in a couple of weeks. And here’s this card carry with you at all times in case of emergency call this number. Do not carry your US passport with you keep in a safe place you won’t be able to get out of the country without it I said I know. We stand up and we start walking towards the door. He reaches his hand out towards me and I shake his hand and I tell him, thank you again. I think I said a joke or something funny.

   We were both laughing. As I was opening the door and he said Mr. friend if we need to get a hold of you where will you be staying? I said this week I’ll be at the Marriott on the 22nd floor. Next week I will be at the EL Pueblo a five-star resort on the outskirts of town. He says enjoy your stay in South America. I said oh I will and I walk out of the office my wife is standing there. She said we could hear you laughing from outside the door and we heard you say, Marriott. What were you guys talking about in there? And with a big smile, I said nothing but I got you the visa. So we leave there and it’s back to have a great time. It’s kinda hard to believe that a little boy from the Windy City who was born in the ghetto and grew up on welfare in a broken home and would be homeless as a teenager sleeping in cars, in gangways, staying at friends houses here and there and on a bench sleeping at Sayre Park.

   Now would be living his dream. Dreams are a funny thing though, sometimes we could be blinded by the bright lights of the big city and the stars in the sky and the illusion that wow life is going be so wonderful now. The day before my flight home. It’s February 1 and the wife goes get the mail. It’s a package from the US Embassy she opens it up and it’s her visa. She said wow I got my visa on my birthday and I look at her and smile and I said happy birthday honey. WOW! I don’t think you could make up a better story but this one’s 100% true.


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