Dave's no superhero, even if he does have a very unusual talent. But when a major New Zealand crime lord comes looking for two million dollars that Dave's wife embezzled, he needs to learn to act like one.
The thing about prison, Dave thought to himself as he joined the line for the metal detector, is how absolutely tedious the whole experience is. This shouldn’t have been news to him after watching The Shawshank Redemption, but for some reason, he expected something more exciting. Of course, that was the US prison system. Maybe he’d expected that the New Zealand prison would be something foreign and exotic, but actually, it was just one line after another. Line up at the gates. Line up for the metal detector. Line up to sign in and out.
Line up to go into the visitors’ room. Between one thing and another, a half hour visit usually ended up taking closer to an hour and a half, and that didn’t count the time it took to bus out to the prison and then back into work.
He finally made it to the front of the shuffling queue, put his wallet, keys and phone into the little basket, and stepped through the metal detector. It went off, and his heart jumped into his mouth.
“Step through again, please,” the guard said, sounding utterly disinterested. She was a tiny woman with an outrageous beehive and an enormous gun. Dave tried to focus on the hair, but the gun kept drawing his attention. He went back through the metal detector, and it went off again. The guard sighed, and Dave swallowed nervously. Don’t look shifty, he told himself. It’s probably nothing. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone would smuggle a gun into your pocket in the hopes that you might be able to get it through the metal detector.
“Over here, please,” the guard said, pointing Dave to a spot off to the side of the metal detector. “Feet on the marks, and spread your arms, please.” Dave did as he was asked, trying to look as calm and innocent as possible. This always happened to him. International travel was even worse. He tried so hard not to look guilty that he always ended up doing something ridiculous and suspicious, and getting hauled aside for additional screening. Every time, without fail. It drove Belinda crazy. She usually went on ahead, and tried to pretend they weren’t travelling together. And then yelled at him afterwards, of course.
The guard waved a handheld metal detector over Dave’s body. Nothing on his front, but his back pocket went off. The guard gave the detector another experimental wave, and it squawked again. Oh shit, Dave thought. Someone really has stashed a knife in my back pocket. He licked his lips and tried to take a normal breath.
“Empty your back pocket, please, sir.”
As Dave reached for his pocket, heart thumping with the thought of what he might find, he noticed a commotion on the other side of the room. A gigantic, muscular woman in ripped jeans and an Iron Maiden T-shirt was being checked out. No way was she a visitor, Dave thought. If there was one person in the world who looked like she belonged here, it was this woman. She either belonged in some sort of futuristic cyberpunk movie, or playing the Mr T role in an all-girl A-Team reboot, Dave decided, eyeing her short blue mohawk and the angry set of her shoulders.
The guard at the check-out desk had just given her a tray, which presumably had her personal effects in it. She was sifting through the things on the tray, looking for something that clearly wasn’t there, and arguing loudly with the guard. “What do you mean, you threw them away?
What the hell gives you the right to do that?”