Buber’s Basque Story: Part 34

Kepa and Maite found themselves shuffling along in a long line that snaked across the room, guided by a series of metal rails, toward several booths at the end of the room. Kepa turned and saw what seemed like thousands of people waiting in line behind them. He leaned over and whispered in Maite’s ear. “Whatever happened, at least we didn’t appear at the end of the line.”

Maite turned and also saw the throngs of people behind her. Many looked like they hadn’t slept for days and were barely upright on their feet. Unwashed faces betrayed the days they had been confined to the deepest levels of steerage. She wondered what hardships back at home had forced so many to brave the trip across the ocean and the unknown of a new country.

Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

They continued to shuffle forward as the man in front of them presented his papers to the inspector who sat behind the large desk. The man was dressed as many others, with a dark suit and a felt hat with a crease down the center. He had a large mustache that he had clearly taken some time to groom before getting off the ship. He carried a small suitcase. He took off his hat as he faced the clerk.

“Name,” asked the inspector indifferently.

“Blas Telleria,” replied the man.

“Where are you from?”

“Zer? Que?” 

The clerk sighed as he waived over another man. “I need you to translate,” the inspector demanded. He then asked again, which the other man translated into Spanish, “Where are you from?”

“Mutiloa, Spain.”




“Yordan Bally.”

“Where?” asked the translator.

Blas handed the translator another piece of paper. “Oh,” said the translator as he turned to the inspector. “Jordan Valley, Oregon.”

The inspector, seemingly satisfied with Blas’s answers, stamped his landing card and let him pass. As Kepa and Maite took their place in front of the inspector, Blas made his way through the doorway off to the side. As he disappeared, Kepa and Maite noticed that his suitcase was glowing.

“We have to follow him!” said Kepa but before he could do anything, the inspector started interrogating them.

“Names,” he asked indifferently.

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