Flash Fiction Competition 2022 – Third Place: Passport Profile

by Jeremy Bernard

Our voices got lost in the mess but the text is all here so might as well read it. 

Dyed blonde hair coated the outer layer, golden splotches over silver rings nestled softly between fidgeting fingers, necklaces that glittered and clothes that shimmered, push up this, flatten that, fix yourself right here, right now, the inner layers are organs darling, keep them safe for now. She is safe for now. She has her eyes and ears for the night, a translator who truly wants to help. An interpreter really, by my side, willing to tell me how it went, what it was like. The man was older, not by much, about twice her age but was into the whole casual software-developer style, simple clothing to conceal his wealth and a classless demeanor that unintentionally did a much better job at hiding it anyway. He saw her profile and read our text, was intrigued by the passport profile and the interests matched well enough. He wanted it to go well, paid for everything, brought her in first class, flying high above the fleeing refugees.

She spoke Ukrainian and enough Russian to get by, he spoke enough English to seal the deal. I tried to translate but more often than not just gave the good stuff, there wasn’t much but we all know misery makes strange bedfellows. He had a chauffeur bring us to the restaurant, I gave her a quick debrief. The basics really, but her wide eyes made me feel like I was delivering the Ten Commandments:

1/ Don’t bite back.

2/ Treat him better, be the best he’s ever had.

3/ You’re still exotic, act like it.

4/ No sob stories.

5/ Lips puckered, tiny frame, no big bites.

6/ If the drink tastes weird, and you think there’s something in the water, we leave. Immediately.

7/ Always say yes.

8/ When I tell you it’s a joke, laugh.

9/ If he insists on finding out more about your culture, always make American culture sound better.

10/ You aren’t a warrior, a princess, a politician or a person, you’re a desperate desperate little girl and we just found your father.

All in front of the restaurant, he introduces himself, hands over blue and yellow flowers that spike her hand and leave a trace of red before a handkerchief wraps around her finger. She handles it like a pro, making her look petite and fragile, already getting cared for by him.

“This is an American restaurant.” He says, I repeat.

“How lovely!” We respond.

Seated at the table, jump to a one sided conversation that I make work without eliciting any tears or terrible realizations.

“I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to find the one! Scrolling endlessly on cold pages with dead stares printed on passports. I’m so glad the most popular websites are finally getting an increase of women who look like you! You have such beautiful European features! I was nervous you’d never live up to my expectations since ALL you had was the passport profile but I admire that too. You have no idea how indecent some women are on these sites.”

I told her the basics, made it longer than normal so he wouldn’t figure out how much I was cutting out.

“What do you do for a living?” We asked.

“I work for the people that are currently saving your ass!”

“What does that mean?” We replied.

“I sell weapons to the biggest NATO heroes. Right before they roll out the red carpet for Reaganomics and his buddies at the Chicago Institute. Business is booming of course, ha ha, little industry joke.  I don’t like to talk about other girls on nights as nice as these, but, do you know what drones are? It’s my specialty, anyways, we were looking over footage of a broken drone and who do I see? The same face as a girl I had seen on the site you and I met on! I swear, I’ve never reported someone so fast. Ahhhh, I don’t like talking shop but just so you know, you’re in very good hands.” He left his hands out, she went for them and I filled in the gaps. 

The night was a success. I’m too tired to recount all the things he said, but you get the idea. We have a file on them still, if you want more go visit them, see how they’re holding up, I gotta run and make it in time for my own date. It’s true dear! Love is in the air!!!

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