My passport had been stamped in NY, NJ & OH in the last couple of days. Sitting in a truck stop parking lot, watching the big interstate haulers pulling up the pumps, flipping through the little blue book. CT blue, state flag blue, same color as the cop uniforms and the lawn around the governer's mansion. That deep, dark, oh-so-very-fucking-serious blue. Blue that humorless Puritans would wear on wedding days and at Christmas dinner, the blue of the ocean along the Platinum Coast in winter, the blue of summer nights after the red of the setting sun has left the sky.

Blue for CT, black and gold for NY, green and silver for NJ, crimson with purple for OH. Clean entry stamps with a bar code embossed along the lines for Citizen Travelling. The CT passports have an even thousand lines for travelers, ten pages with a hundred lines each. We nutmeggers tend to cross over the borders a lot, down to the City, up to Boston. Business and pleasure, deep troves to mine when our own little rectangle of ground gets played out.

There's been talk, lately, of recombining the old Tri-State alliance and adding in MA and RI to the mix. A superstate with a lock on Long Island Sound and a massive chunk of the northwest shore. Won't happen, though, I think. NY and MA have been eyeballing each other nervously since the first Continental Congress, that big long border out in the middle of nowhere a blurry line of distinction at best. The no-man's-land they set up isn't more than a decade old, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars worth of scanners and cameras and shotgun toting 'bots keeping each state's riffraff safely contained. Even if the governments could come to terms, the public hue and cry would squash it down. The Herald and The Times would eviserate the politicians in their editorial pages, would call for The Safety of the Citizenry, the Maintenance of The Peace. There would be mobs in Quincy Market, in Times Square. The militias would lob hand grenades at courthouses and revenue offices. It would be mad fucking chaos.

CT wouldn't care one way or another. We'll be rich as long as the Feds keep buying our helicoptors and our submarines and our jet engines, and, really, who's got the juice to tool up new high-tech production lines nowadays? Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky and Electric Boat have all the drawings, all the techs, all the tools to keep the war machine churning over. Everyone else is back to coal furnaces and biomass. We've got the Big Reactor under East Haddam and can turn on enough power to melt every hunk of iron ore that comes out of the PA mines. We've got defectors from MIT and CalPoly sneaking across the border on a daily basis. We've got the best minds on the continent working towards keeping us wealthy and safe and contest. The state troopers carry better guns than the secret service. We're a year or two from maglev highways that'll get you from Danbury to New London in twenty minutes. A decade from full-body replacement cloning. A generation, at most, from rocketless spaceflight.

Of course, that just makes the rest of them hate us. They'll talk nice to us, buy our stuff, kiss our asses, but they're just waiting for it all to collapse. Hating the Overdog. Too candyass to fight us, but never willing to believe that they've rolled over. Even when we're alone, out on the road, there's something almost mythical about us. People back away when they see a CT passport, a citizen tattoo. Hear them whispering about how we all go out armored under our skin, how we've got implants that make us telepathic and telekinetic, that we can breathe flame and run at a hundred miles an hour. We smile with our perfect teeth and speak our eloquent dialect and shake hands with dry, smooth palms and the people we meet grin and shiver and give us as much space as they can. Inside, we're giggling like little children, watching them bow and scrape. Amazed that such a small amount of managed disinformation can work so well.

But the passport's worrying me. It's been tagged at each border by a reader/stamper, a quick and dirty search for outstanding warrants, a fast body sniff for drugs, a pulse sent back to the Fed mainframe, telling them exactly where I was, exactly when I was there. If anybody with some juice is looking for me, shit, I'm like neon out here. And the Voice, seems like he could get himself inside of the machine, if he wanted.

You hear stories about weak spots in borders. Out in the middle of a forest, or across a river. Places where the infrared contrast cameras conk out and don't get replaced for months, where the satellite flybys can't penetrate the ground cover. Places where you can slip in without letting the DHS and the FBI and the CIB know all about it. Adventure story stuff that you shoot around the dorm room. 'My cousin did it once, getting down to Mardi Gras.' 'My brother does it to shoot deer in New Hampshire.' Probably bullshit, but there's a consensus that the dealers know how to do it. Have to. There's not a border gate in the country that wouldn't pick up dealer weight of anything coming across a state line. The machines were built to be good at just a few things, and drug sniffing tops the list. The only thing the Feds pay more for than dealers are terrorists. States need as much income as they can get. But the dealers get through. Therefore, Occam's razor, the dealers know how to get through.

Which, of course, is why I'm sitting in a truck stop parking lot, looking at the parked rigs, watching a skinny blond mullet teen go from open window to open window, the drivers popping open the door, an exchange of handshakes, can practically smell the money and the meth going back and forth, and then on to the next.

The blonde mullet, he's on the frontline. He won't know shit. But his boss, or his boss's boss, they'll know. They'll be willing cut a deal. At least, they'll cut a deal with a CT hardass.

I step out of the BMW, roll up my sleeves to show my glittering New Canaan Resident tat, and stride across the baking blacktop, smiling with my perfect teeth, flexing my smooth, dry hands.


Post a Comment

<< Home