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dispatches1

Carl:

Hello.

Indian Convenience Store Clerk:

Hello.

Carl:

Thanks for letting me in. You’re the only store open right now.

 I.C.S.C.:

Well, technically we’re not supposed to be open because it’s prayer time, which in this country is the law. I let you in because it looked like you needed something and because you don’t look like someone who’s going to give me a lot of shit about being open at this time.

Carl:

By which you mean, I take it, that I don’t look Muslim.

I.C.S.C.:

Yes.

Carl:

I could be a Muslim.

I.C.S.C.:

But you aren’t, are you?

Carl:

No.

I.C.S.C.:

So, I played the odds and won.
 
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                      Carl:

           Well, anyway, thanks.

                      I.C.S.C. :

              You’re welcome.





Carl: 

Won’t the time of sale show up on the register?


I.C.S.C.:

I suppose.

Carl:

Won’t that get you into trouble with the Islamic police?

I.C.S.C.:

Most of the time nobody pays that close attention. As long as the door is locked, nobody cares.

Carl:

Glad to hear that. Can I also have a couple of packs of those “AAA” batteries, please?

I.C.S.C.:

Sure. So where are you from?

Carl:

America. You?

I.C.S.C. :

India.

Carl:

Do you like it here?

I.C.S.C. :

I get paid 16 times the salary that I would make doing this in India. And that’s about it for the good points.

Carl:

Not a great place, eh?

I.C.S.C. :

It’s great if you’re a wealthy Muslim who believes in the particular brand of fundamentalism practiced here and enforced by the state. Much in the same way life in the American south in Gone With The Wind days was great, so long as you were white and owned a lot of arable land.

Carl:

Harsh stuff. Been here a while?

I.C.S.C. :

A year and a half. You?

Carl:

About two months.

 I.C.S.C. :

And what’s your impression of Ramul so far?

Carl:

It sucks the shit right out of a camel’s ass, but the food is great.

I.C.S.C.:

There you go.
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Carl:

Are you a Muslim?

I.C.S.C. :

Hindu. And you? Christian?


Carl:

No.

I.C.S.C. :

What, then?

Carl:

Not much of anything, really. I’m not a fan of religion.

I.C.S.C. :

Well, neither am I, to tell you the truth. But where I’m from religion is part of your identity, just like your language, nationality and family. Even if you’re apathetic about it or just plain don’t believe, you’re still grouped in your family’s faith most of the time.

Carl:

Where in India are you from?

I.C.S.C.:

Kashmir.

Carl:

Ah. Lovely place.

I.C.S.C. :

Actually, it is.

Carl:

I love your sweaters.

I.C.S.C. :

I love your TV shows. Breaking Bad rules.

Carl:

Yes it does.
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                      I.C.S.C. :

So, what does your family think about your lack of faith?

                    

Carl:

I don’t know. We don’t talk about it much.

I.C.S.C. :

And what about the fact that you’re gay? What do they think of that?

Carl:

I’m not gay.

I.C.S.C. :

Sure you’re not gay.

Carl:

No, really, not even a little bit.


I.C.S.C.:

Are you sure? There are levels of gayness, you know. It’s not pass/fail.

Carl:

I’m on one of the lower levels. I like girls. And not just to go shopping with.

I.C.S.C. :

Hmm. I’m sorry, it appears as though I have let you in here under false pretenses.

Carl:

That’s okay. Oh, and you can put your shirt back on now.

I.C.S.C. :

It’s hot, we’re in the desert.

Carl:

True, but it’s air-conditioned in here.

I.C.S.C. :

Good point. Do you mind keeping the gay thing on the D.L.? The Ramulian Islamic police aren’t cool with
men who like men.

Carl:

So I hear. That’s pretty strange when you think about it, considering how they go so far to keep us away from the women.

I.C.S.C.:

Ironies abound in the land of the burning sands. So are we cool? I like having a head that’s still attached to my body.

Carl:

Oh, no problem. Your secret is safe.

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I.C.S.C.:

Thanks. That’ll be twenty-one Ramulian Dinar, please.

Carl:

Here you go.


I.C.S.C.:

Well, good luck with your godlessness and heterosexuality.

Carl:

And good luck with your Hindu gayness.

I.C.S.C.:

Hold on a second and let me get my key; I have to unlock and let you out.

Carl:

Okay. Hey, there’s a bunch of Ramulian guys out there looking in at us. It may be trouble.

I.C.S.C.:

Oh, don’t worry. They’re my regular customers. They like to hang out in here during prayer time.

Carl:

They’re not Muslims?

I.C.S.C.:

Sure they are, they just like to do their praying someplace where they can grab a soda and some chips immediately afterward. And maybe a handjob. 

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Carl:

I see. Well, take care.

I.C.S.C.:

Next prayer is in two hours; feel free to come!
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