When they got back to the border crossing, both he and Rachel loaded with sacks and packages, Jake was hopeful no one he knew would be on duty at Customs. The hope was dashed, as he glanced down the line. Although there was no way he could look particularly macho with his arms full of packages, he gave it a vain attempt.
"Well, well," the customs agent said with a hard smile, "what have we here?"
"Stuff," Jake said, putting down his load, digging in his pocket and showing the officer his ID as well as a stack of receipts.
"Sure there's nothing smuggled in these?" he asked, glaring at Jake and not bothering to look at the receipts. He projected the belief he had just netted the head of a major smuggling ring. Any minute Jake expected him to call for reinforcements.
"You can check anything necessary," Rachel said as he looked over her own identification, obviously concerned at the man's tone. "We'd be glad to unwrap the packages."
A heavy-set female tourist behind them got a decidedly worried expression on her round face as the guard glared menacingly at Jake. "I think this might require a strip search, big guy." He fingered his gun.
"That's about enough," Jake growled.
"Was that a threat?" The guard's thick eyebrows beetled up with indignation.
"Whatever it takes to get us through."
"I heard that."
"Jake," Rachel said, taking his arm, "please. We don't want trouble."
"Yeah," the agent said, "listen to the wisdom of the little woman here. Who do you think you are anyway? Some kind of special border patrolman who can just waltz through these hallowed gates like you own the place!"
Jake gave him a look of disdain. "Do I look dumb enough to try to guard a border that can't be guarded or like a man who doesn't have anything better to do than harass innocent tourists... at traps?"
"You putting down the work of the fine men of Immigration and Naturalization," the guard snarled, "men who put their lives on the line every day. Sometimes twice!"
"That right there shows a clear lack of intelligence," Jake countered, while Rachel pulled on his arm, trying to get him to stop talking.
"I can agree with that," the agent said, now struggling to keep back a grin.
"I'll bet you can."
"Well, I'll let you through this time without stripping you raw, but it's just because you got this lovely lady with you. She looks like the honest sort, unlike some people. You're just lucky I'm busy today." He handed back their identification.
"Not busy enough obviously."
"Take care of him, miss," the man said, slamming his big hand against Jake’s shoulder hard enough to cause him to take a step backward. He turned to Rachel. "Looks like a clear stress problem. Must need some real tender loving care at home." He laughed at Jake's disgusted look and Rachel's shock.
Now Rachel realized that these two men knew each other and were friends. It was at least if you could call what two men sometimes did to each other in bantering--friendship. When they were out on the street, the sun again shining down on their heads, she muttered, "I don't appreciate your humor."
"My humor," he retorted, "I was not the one having fun back there, and the worst part of this will be Monday morning." He swore at the vision he'd conjured up. "He's going to make this little incident grow. He thinks he was funny, and he's going to try and convince everybody I know that he was funny, and that this was funny!" He would have slapped a hand to his forehead as a symbolic gesture, except holding all the purchases left him no arms with which to demonstrate.
"Actually," Rachel said with a beginning chuckle, "it was kind of funny."