A Citizen Of The Country
by Ishafel

Luka has spent a third of his life as a stranger in a strange country and so he recognizes the look in Carter's eyes as soon as he sees it: it is the look of a man in the desert with no map and no water. It is the look of a shipwreck survivor marooned on a nameless tropical island inhabited by cannibals. It is the look of a man with no hope left, a man without a country; it is so strange to see it on Carter, the golden boy of County General, that Luka is almost but not quite sorry for him.

They say that one need not be a citizen of the country to speak the language but-- for Luka at least--that has never been true. He has spent a third of his life speaking through interpreters, the unfamiliar words harsh and ugly to his ears. He has no home, no family; he has a cause and nothing more. Once he was alone, but now he has John Carter for company. He has all of Africa for a home. He is needed and he has begun to hope that he is loved.

When JohnóCarter, call him by his last name, because everyone calls him that, because no-one really knows himówhen Carter comes back to Chicago with his pregnant mistress Luka is almost done packing. He has sold his television and his fishtank, and he doesn't own the furniture. Everything he owns fits in three cardboard boxes and two suitcases. This is not, after all, his home; it is only somewhere that he lived once.

Carter's eyes are full of Kem, and she is beautiful, and swollen with his baby. But Luka can't bear to look at her. How is that she has everything that should be his merely because she and Carter were careless? He is not sorry when she miscarries, when she leaves him, because he knows it is destiny. How else to explain her and all the girls who have gone before her? He has no compass, but if he did, its needle would point him straight to Carter because for the first time he has a home. For the first time he has a country.

 

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