Spellcheck

Shay Sheridan


The young man stared intently at the papers in his hand, frowned, and took two steps back towards the window. "Excuse me, sir," he said, inclining his head politely, "There seems to have been a mistake."

The man behind the window ignored him and continued poring over the next documents in his pile.

"Excuse me, please?" he said a little louder, impatience coloring his tone. He tapped on the desk.

The immigration officer barely glanced up. "I finished wit ya. Now move it. Yer holding up da line."

Peculiar, incomprehensible accent these people had! "No, you see—"

"No, you see, bud. Move it."

"Yes, please to be moving," scolded a balding, mustachioed man with an Armenian accent. "It is being my turn, yes?"

"Yes, but you see," the young Russian persisted, thrusting his papers over the counter, "You've spelt my name wrong, here and here--" He pointed a long finger at the strange conglomeration of letters stamped on the document. "See? You've added letters where there shouldn't be any, and removed some where—"

"Seedasupavisa," the man grunted. "Next!"

The Russian blinked, trying to decipher that. "I beg your pardon?"

"He said 'next,'" enunciated a very tall black woman swathed in African robes. "Don't you speak no English, honey?"

"Certainly I do," the young man bristled, "Perfectly, but I don't understand--"

The man behind the counter sighed profoundly. "Unnerstand dis. See. Da. Supavisa."

"Yes, yes, but this paperwork, my passport, it's--"

"Hey! Takeitupwiddasupavisa! Can't helpya." The man leaned forward with a threatening glare. "Don't make me call da cops."

Ilya Nikolaievich Kuriyakin peered bleakly at his newly-translated immigration paperwork and briefly considered pulling the bulky man through the tiny window to continue the discussion in a more physical manner. A satisfying idea. . . but probably not a good one. Protesting further in this manner would no doubt prove futile, and for all he knew might earn him a beating. Or the notorious "rubber hose" treatment he'd read about in those forbidden detective novels he'd acquired in London. Bureaucracy was bureaucracy the world over, after all. Perhaps this Mr. Alexander Waverly he was about to meet would be able to intervene with the local authorities about the appalling mess they'd made of his name.

"There you are, cousin," said a mellifluous voice behind him. He turned to find a man of about his years, wearing a very expensive suit, regarding him with an impassive expression. "I believe you're here to see our mutual uncle?"

"Ah, da. Yes, I mean. Our Uncle Waverly."

"Well, I've been sent to collect you."

"You are. . . a chauffeur?" What luxuries this Waverly had!

The man chuckled slightly, but his gaze got a bit chillier. "Ah, no. Not a chauffeur. I'm Napoleon Solo." He paused for effect. "Napoleon. Solo. . ." When he got no response in return, he narrowed his eyes. "I'm with Section 2. I'm an enforcement agent. Number One enforcement agent."

"I see." Pretentious fellow, with a pretentious name, to boot. Napoleon, indeed!

"And you," Solo said, leaning forward, a pugnacious look on his face, "Just to be sure you really are who I think you are, what's your name?"

"My name—" He swallowed, and tried not to roll his eyes, "Apparently is Illya Nikovetch Kuryakin." He held out his passport.

"Interesting," Napoleon Solo said, smirking as he read the page. "'Illya.' Huh. I've never seen it spelled that way before."

Ilya – er – Illya gritted his teeth and thought of the many ways there were to kill a man.

"So," Solo said cheerfully, "Welcome to New York."


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