Categories
Nonfiction

Tourist.

“I wanted to see Boeing and Microsoft,” he said. He wiggled his bruised fingers that poked out from the white cast on his arm. The red uniform was too big for him.

“And now he’s in jail,” the interpreter murmured.


Three weeks prior, he bought a plane ticket online. He wanted to visit Seattle.

When he boarded the plane three days ago, he felt uneasy. Something wasn’t right. Something was going to happen.

He prepared himself for the long flight. Seated next to him was someone who looked like him, one of his people. They greeted each other in their native language. The dull roar of the plane engines lulled him to sleep…

… and when he woke hours later, he muffled his gasp. The person sitting next to him now had different hair and eye colors, and only spoke English. And yet it was the same person he had greeted only hours before. How could this be?

It would only get worse. He said nothing on the tour bus and retired to his hotel room, though was called back out again for dinner.

Something still wasn’t right. He ate quickly.

After dinner he sat in the lobby of the hotel. He chewed on his finger.

Someone else is in my hotel room. It’s not safe.

A man wearing dark clothing walked through the lobby and looked at him. A few minutes later the same man walked through the lobby and looked at him again. And then it happened a third time.

Fed up with this surveillance, he tried to ask the hotel staff to call the police. They didn’t understand or speak his language, so they didn’t understand why he wouldn’t return to his room. He couldn’t understand or speak English well, so he didn’t understand that they were calling the police because they were worried about him. There was no man in dark clothing.

When the police arrived, they asked him to go to his room. He refused.

He then grabbed one of the police officers and bit him.

There was a scuffle and he started yelling. One of the bones in his arm broke. The police took him to the hospital.


The physicians at the hospital all agreed that he was quiet and polite. He said nothing to them about the uneasiness he still felt, the transformation of the person on the airplane, the man in dark clothing who was watching him, or the person who invaded his hotel room.

“If we don’t operate on your arm now, the bone won’t heal right. Your arm will be crooked for the rest of your life.”

“I understand, but I don’t want to pay for the surgery. I don’t have enough money. I can get the surgery done when I go home.”

“You can pay for the surgery once you get home. You really need to get it done now. Your arm might even hurt for the rest of your life if we don’t fix the bone now.”

“I understand that. It might be crooked, it might hurt, but I don’t want to pay for it here. I will get it fixed at home.”

He didn’t tell the phone interpreter that God would heal his arm in the next few days. Why ask man to fix his arm when God would heal it with perfection?


His bail was set at $50,000.

“Where is he going to get $50,000? Does the consulate know about him? Does he know anybody in America? Does his attorney speak his language?”

He stood up whenever the jail officers approached his cell. He learned to say “thank you” and repeated those two words whenever the jail nurses tended to his arm and gave him medicine. He folded his blanket and the leftover wrappers of his meals into neat squares.

“Everyone has been nice to me here,” he said. A smile bloomed across his face.

He finally agreed to take a shower. It had been nearly a week. After he rubbed the thin towel across his skin and put a clean uniform on, he left the dripping cast outside of his cell.

Psalm 34:20: He protects all of his bones, not one of them will be broken.


While he was at the hospital to have the cast reapplied to his arm, someone posted his bail. The jail officers who had accompanied him there came back alone.

Where did he go?

Who paid his bail? Did someone pick him up from the hospital? Did he return to the jail to pick up his wallet and clothes? How did he get to the airport? Did he go to the airport? Did someone already purchase a plane ticket for him?

How did he tolerate the plane ride home? Did he go home?

Did the government of his home country post his bail? Did it also buy his plane ticket? Did he undergo surgery for his arm at home? Did they know that he believed that God would heal his arm? That someone was following him?

What did he tell his friends and family? He wanted to see Boeing and Microsoft. He was a tourist and ended up in jail.

Would they believe that?