Melbourne to Los Angeles

THE ZEN GUNzengun

Barrington J. Bayley (DAW Books, 1983, ISBN 9780879978518)

When I flew into Los Angeles in 2002, the airport strip-searched me. I look about as menacing as a pug dog, but as I walked through the x-ray machine, a woman pointed to me and they pulled me off to the side.

Behind a translucent curtain marked, ‘privacy screen’, they had me strip down to my underpants. A man in latex gloves felt me up. Meanwhile, another man pulled the innersoles out of my shoes and probed around inside them with a plastic wand.

Nineteen hours earlier, when I left from Melbourne, I’d gone through the Australian version of the same procedure:

At the baggage check-in, two men took me aside. They laid my suitcase down on a table and unzipped it. On top, I had a rolled up dressing robe, a blanket with love hearts on it and a copy of Barrington Bayley’s The Zen Gun. The bigger man looked down at them and looked bored. He scratched his cheek.

“Have you got any prohibited items or contraband in there, mate?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said.

“Good enough for me,” he said and zipped the case back up.

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