It’s after midnight when I arrive home. I go to the bedroom where, from the back of a bottom dresser drawer, I pull out a wooden box, take out a passport, notebook, and envelope of documents. In the notebook I find Ditti’s number and, using my new flip phone, dial. The line rings twice and clicks. I enter my personal numeric code, then hang up.
While I wait I go to the kitchen, pour myself a hefty dose of Bulleit Rye over ice, down it, then pour another. A part of me feels as if this moment was always coming, as if our every movement up until now was leading to this inevitability. But the rest of me knows that’s crap. We’ve just been living.
I open my computer then hesitate; I’d almost forgotten how tiresome it is to worry about the possibility that my every little action is being watched, and remember why I don’t miss the life of subterfuge. I close the computer. If I’m going to do this, I need to go all in. Which means every precaution.
I finish my whiskey, pour another, start packing.
Only the basics: underwear, T-shirts. I know how to do this, I’ve done it many times before: pack light. And when I get to wherever I’m going, buy the clothes of that place. And if and when I move again, repeat, discarding as I go. Mostly I take the necessities: chargers, cables, couple of paperbacks, and drawing supplies—which take up more room than anything. This definitely won’t be a vacation, but that doesn’t mean I can’t read and draw. I’m gathering my toiletries when the flip phone rings.
“Account number, please,” a woman says, and I read another series of numbers from the notebook.
“It’s a rush job,” I say. “How soon can he—”
“Can you meet?”
“Can you travel?”
I think it over. Here in Thailand would be better, but I’m going to Europe anyway, so I say, “As long as it’s not France.”
“Barcelona. Two days.”
I hang up. From the safe I take out stacks of euros and US dollars, and along with the passport, documents, and notebook, slip them into the pouches I’ve sewn between the lining of my rollaboard. From another drawer I retrieve my legitimate passport—Emit Hopper’s passport—and set my packed luggage by the door.
Now it’s time for the computer. Online I book a morning flight to Bangkok, then the earliest connection to Barcelona. I use my own credit card, my own passport, my own name. I’m fine to continue being Emit Hopper, at least for the moment.
From Come to Light by Paul Madonna. Used with the permission of the publisher, West Margin. Copyright © 2020 by Paul Madonna.