In Serbia, on our way to the Tesla museum, Rick and I stopped into the Tourist Information office for a better map. The girl behind the counter, wearing a paper-thin smile, turned pleading eyes towards us. She was trying to get rid of a giant, well-dressed man in his 70s, with scarlet cheeks and googly eyes. A Vietnamese peasant hat dangled from his cane. His name was Roger.
TI GIRL: (to him) I’ve already told you, I don’t know what to do…
ROGER: (hearing us speak English, in a heavy southern accent): Where y’all from?
ROGER: I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
ME: (relaxing a little) I lived in New Orleans for a while.
ROGER: I don’t live there now. I have land in Switzerland! (to Rick)Where you from?
RICK: New York.
ROGER: (without malice) Ha ha! They got a whole bunch of you on September 11. Wish it had been more! They ought to go back and finish the job!
Rick and I stare at him in shock, while he grins boyishly, sincerely expecting us to laugh.
After he left, the TI girl apologized profusely. Roger had been pestering her two or three times a day, and bringing her “his writing.” Apparently he wanted her to help him renounce his American citizenship. Roger had been traveling around Eastern Europe, looking for a country to grant him refugee status. Most lately, he had been beaten up in Bulgaria. The TI girl gladly unloaded his pile of tattered photocopies on us.
It is Very Dangerous In America Because Most People Have Guns
It is very dangerous for a tourist to come to America because most people in America have guns.
When tourists are riding on the bus in America, someone will get on the bus with a gun and take everyone’s money and other valuables.
When tourists in America go into the WC, someone with a gun will take their money and other valuables into the WC.
It is very dangerous in America for a tourist to stop their car by a petrol station or a shop because someone from America will shoot them with a gun and kill the tourist in the car.
Children in America will come up to a tourist on the street in a city in America with a gun. The American children will shoot and kill the tourist with a gun and take the tourist’s money and other valuables off the dead tourist.
People in America with a gun will walk up to a tourist in an automobile and shoot and kill the tourist and take the automobile and the other valuables form the dead tourist. When tourists are inside of a hotel or motel room in America, American people with guns will come to the door of the hotel or motel room. When the tourist opens the room door, the American person or persons with the guns will come into the hotel or motel room and shoot and kill the tourist in their hotel or motel room and take the money and other valuables from the dead tourist.
In America, it is very dangerous for a tourist to stop their automobile at a highway park because someone from America with a gun will come up to the tourist’s automobile and shoot and kill the tourist and take the money and the automobile and other valuables from the dead tourist. It is not safe for tourists to travel in America on their holiday.
I sit down and write a letter to someone in a safe and civilized and free country.
Because I do not drink alchohol. I never did drink alchohol. I do not smoke cigarettes. I never smoked cigarettes.
I do not use drugs. I never did use drugs.
I do not take part in American sports.
I never did take part in sports.
The only thing I watch on television is the news.
I do not have a car. I never did have a car. I never did drive.
I never did date a girl or anyone else. I always stayed to myself.
I do not have a family, just myself.
I do not speak to people from America any more than I have to.
Because most people in America are predjudiced.
And they insult me.
I do not speak to men or boys in America. Because the only thing they talk about is the stupid American football or something else that is stupid.
I cannot see very good. And I cannot spell very good. I hope you can read my letter. I like to write my letters with no help.
In America, everyone does not have the opportunity to go to school.
I know I have some friends in safe and civilized and free countries.
Most of my friends are married couples.
I love all my friends in every safe and civilized and free country.
And I know that they love me.
I hope I will not be a citizen of America much longer.
There were about 12 sheets in all. They reveal that American doctors inject cancer into their patients, describe the new automobiles belonging to a Baptist preacher in Talahassee, praise Kim Jong Il—you get the picture. On one hopeful sheet, Roger had written:
I hope that I can renounce my American citizenship by 2004 (crossed out and handwritten: 2005) or sooner.
11 months ago