Rus Like Everyone Else

Rus Like Everyone Else by Bette Adriaanse

Book: Rus Like Everyone Else by Bette Adriaanse Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bette Adriaanse
was not entitled to and had to be stopped now, obviously.
    Even though Rus listened very carefully, it did not make sense to him and only made his headache worse. He pressed his hands against his forehead.
    â€œHow are you feeling?” Wanda asked him, looking sideways from the steering wheel.
    Rus did not know what to say. He had just found out he had an awful name, he had vertigo, and he was in a car with a womanwhose breasts bounced up every time they went over a bump in the road. He did not understand why they sent him out of the hospital when he was obviously so miserable.
    â€œOnly physical problems,” they said when he told the doctors about the letter.
    Rus looked sideways at Wanda. Her face was brown and she had painted her cheeks pink. She was wearing a blouse and glasses. She drove through the busy city center with brisk turns, throwing angry glances at other drivers if they tried to get in front of her. If she got such a letter, she would certainly know what to do, Rus thought. They probably would not even dare send her such a letter.
    Rus did not want her to leave anymore. He had a vision of Wanda taking care of him, of Wanda filling out his forms and driving him around in the car.
    â€œYou look like an angel,” Rus said, “with your glasses.”
    Wanda did not respond. She looked at the road. When they were at a red traffic light she took a wrinkled envelope out of her bag. “Here’s the letter back,” she said. “You cannot return your letter to the tax office; you really need to pay your bill.”
    â€œOh,” Rus said.
    â€œAnd your key was in your suit,” Wanda said. “I put it in your coat.”
    Rus searched the pocket of his fur coat. The key was there. Now he could go home, to where the collectors were probably already lining up in the street. “Thank you,” he said, almost without a voice. They were silent again for a while.
    Rus tried to cry without sound, but he was not very good at it.
    â€œFirst,” Wanda said after a while, “you have to make a résumé listing your professional experiences. You said you were a sailor, so you make a list of the ships you have worked on and for how long. Then you appeal the decision of the taxes. There are some costs regarding your registration process, because you have to go through foreigner screening. You will need a lawyer for this, but you can apply for compensation. In order to get compensation you do need to report at the Foreign Bureau, which will have to define your current status.”
    â€œAll right,” Rus said, almost inaudibly. “A résumé of the screening. The ships where I worked. Applying for the forms. I will do allthat. Thank you.” He was sitting with his head bent and pressing his hands against his eyeballs. Wanda’s words sung around in his head without getting any meaning—“appeal” and “registration” and “screening”—and he really missed his mother, he wanted her to come back and give him another debit card and tell him not to worry. But they weren’t coming back, they had left him, they had left him for the money, left him to rot. He had never realized before how awful his life was.
    â€œAlso,” Wanda said, “the ambulance bill is two hundred fifty. Because you did not have insurance. You need to get insurance too.”
    Rus pressed his fingers harder on his eyeballs, but the colors dancing around behind his eyelids did not relax him anymore like they used to. He was all alone and would never be someone like Wanda, who could shout about “make way” and “coming through” and wore glasses and had a car and knew all about everything. His bed was going to be sold and his kitchen, and he was going to end up on a bench in a park with a blanket, just like the unemployed.
    â€œI don’t want to be unemployed,” he whispered.
    Wanda looked at him sideways. He did not want to

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