Chapter 3 – Extract 6 from The Paradise Induction!
Was he not going to look at the papers? Chris thought, but remained quiet. The warnings he’d been granted by multiple seasoned travellers, reemerged in his mind. Do not mess with Pharisee Island Immigration! They are literally the worst in the world and will send you back to where you came from if they have a mind to.
Chris felt like the game had ended, before it begun. He wanted to tell the immigration officers the trouble he’d gone through to reach this point, the tiny redundancy package he’d received the year before, the humiliation of being unemployed for eleven months, the Job Seekers Allowance fortnightly registrations and benefit payments, the endless job searching, his fast financial decline, the weekends boozing off the remnants of his credit card to numb the reality, the shame of all of it…but, he stayed silent.
“So you need to go and get the original medical documents sent here, and then we can give your passport back,” he said. “Go through.”
Chris was the last passenger in the airport welcome queue. He saw his two suitcases relieved from the carousel and positioned upright against each other, lonely, and waiting for him.
With his rucksack on his back, he grabbed both suitcases and pulled them through the siding doors into the main area of the small airport, where food kiosks and bureaus for changing money were visible along the sides of the main area. Check-In queues to small regional airlines had a few people lined up.
Straight ahead of him through another set of open doors, he could see a smooth-looking, black four-by-four with his uncle Vernon Sterno seated inside. He waved Chris over.
Chris pulled his bags outside and the midday sun poured over him. Vernon stepped out of his car. He was a tall man of sixty years, but his age hadn’t weighed on his physique. He was about six foot three, well-built with thick forearms, light enough skin to appear mixed race, and a receding hair line. His arched lips made him seem permanently serious. He was wearing a short-sleeved, grey buttoned shirt tucked into his black trousers, a buckle belt, and black shoes polished to a shine.
“You good?” he said as he whipped around to the back of his car and opened the boot.
“I’m alright Vernon,” said Chris as the bright sun beat down on his black suit jacket. “Had some problems with immigration, but I’m hoping to sort it out with the medical unit as soon as I can.”
“What problems?” he said as Chris passed him his suitcases for the boot.
“They said I need the original copy of my medical tests. I told them that the doctors had said copies are fine, but they insisted on the originals.”
We jumped in his car.
“They’ve confiscated my passport,” continued Chris.
“They what?” he replied calmly as he started the ignition. “They shouldn’t be doing that.”
“I’d been told it could happen, so I’m just going to do what the immigration guy said and try to work it out with the medical people in town. See if they can approve my doctor’s word without me having to get the original documents sent across from the UK.”
“Sending them could take months. Mail is very slow here you know and things get lost a lot.”
“Yeah, I remember,” Chris replied, and let his head fall. “But just got to see what the doctors here say.”