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But Max did not turn.

"God damn it, Max!" Freya yelled.

Trager had a glimpse of a sad, lined face as it vanished in a wave of slush thrown up by the tires. A moment later, he was amazed to find the jeep still moving and on the road, with Max laughing at the wheel.

Freya leaned over and shouted in Max's ear, "I told you not to do that any more!"

Lakpa leaned out his door and looked back. "Hippie okay," he reported. "All wet."

Max snorted. "Should I go back and try again?"

"Jesus, Max," Trager said. "What did that guy do to you?"

Freya murmured, "Oh, God, here we go."

"Listen, Trager," Max said, "those freaks are dangerous. Twenty years ago, they were swarming over this country like flies on a turd. Lots of bullshit about experiencing India, but they were in outer space the whole time. Did you see what that guy was wearing back there? A jacket from Nepal, pajama pants from Delhi, and boots from I don't know where. Treats India like a costume party. The kind of punk from Paris or New York you find begging in villages. They'll show up in the middle of a food shortage and expect to live off the fat of the land. Gives us all a bad name. The locals can't always tell the difference between our clients and the bums."

"And sometimes there isn't any," Freya said.

Springtime in Kashmir ©Talbot Bielefeldt 2020.

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