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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 12 | volume III | January, 2000



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 12January, 2000

The Tour Guide

p. 1
Richard Gaughran

    Never again. I’m a journalist, damn it, not a nursemaid. But I try to be a good guy, and I can’t say no. And I liked the Lavers when I first met them, so when they called I said I’d arrange the car and show them around. I’ve been in this country for about two years, supposedly reporting on recent events. I fax a story fairly often, giving them what they want, even though, honestly, there is not much happening.
    Mostly, I’ve managed to tour the countryside, rationalizing that I’m doing my job. I spend a lot of time in out-of-the-way spots, away from the foreigners— the diplomatic crowd, the military, the corporate scouts, the few tourists that make it here. If I say so myself, I go for honest experiences. So I sniff out down-to-earth places off the main roads.
    At first I thought it was an invitation, not a request.
    — We’d like to see those old churches you talked about, and that lake in the west. We’d really like you to join us.
    That’s the way she put it. But they didn’t know how to rent a car here. They really didn’t have a clue about anything. So, okay, I signed on as a tour guide. I could deal with that.
    — What size car should I get? The smaller the cheaper, you know.
    — Cheap sounds good to me, she said.
    That sounded hopeful. I mean I knew there were actually four Lavers. Dan was here on some kind of teaching grant, and he and Marie have two high-strung kids. One about seven, the other two. So, good. A small car means she’s found a babysitter.
    No such luck. There they were, the four of them, waiting in front of their building, with backpacks, tote-bags filled with juice cartons, bread, cookies, baby bottles, toys, plastic diapers. All kinds of crap. Some kind of liquid was dripping from one of the bags before we even got started. All right. I should have known. Relax, go with the flow. So we won’t hike Mt. Gali, won’t talk for long hours over wine. Okay. What the hell.
    So we crammed it all into the hatch, then squeezed ourselves in and headed out of the city. I drove, Dan in the passenger’s seat. Mom and the brats in back.
    — What’s bigger, a kilometer or a mile? Matt. He’s one of those kids who can’t talk his age. He was

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