They usually stuck to cases in warmer climes, rarely venturing north of Virginia once October rolls around. Satrio thought this was a waste. "You know about the Salem witches, right?" he'd say. "Or, like, the ten billion haunted houses in New England?"
And Dad would say, "Witches ada dimana-mana, nak."
"Haunted house juga."
And as such, the matter was settled and the subject dropped.
One of the few times they ventured north in the winter was that time they received a tip from Bobby about spontaneous combustion up in Highland. They drove from New Mexico to Illinois in record time, guns and knives newly consecrated, crazed shine in their father's eyes. Somewhere in Missouri, Dad started to say, "When we go back," and that was when Dimas saw Satrio tune out of the conversation. Satrio didn't play the "when we go back" game. For one thing, the conversation tended to crossfade from the usual mash-up of Englishnesian to almost exclusively Sundanese, of which Satrio's knowledge was patchwork at best. He grew up on America's highways and in its shit motels, never knowing the country to which his father assured him he belonged. Returning to Indonesia would not be a going back for Satrio; it would be just another going.
"Bapak 'rek dahar gado-gado segede alaihim gambreng," Dad crowed, fast and jovial in Sundanese, the most instinctive of his tongues.
"Dimas mah hayang sop buntut," Dimas said, haltingly, and his father laughed.
"Your voice is already America," he said.
"Nggak, kok!" Dimas protested, but he is grinning. "Orang Sunda sejati nih!"
In the rear-view, Dimas saw Satrio roll his eyes.
Back home, Indonesian may have been lingua franca, but Sundanese was the language of Dimas's home, his house. It was the language of the gossip that floated over Dimas's head as he played with his toy cars, the nighttime murmurs between his parents as he drifted to sleep on his mother's lap, and the sound that wafted over warung chit-chat and the sweet clove smoke. It was the language of Dimas's favorite lullabye, a plea for the rain to go away, sung in a minor key. His Sundanese was rusting here, and Satrio used to think Sundanese and Indonesian were one and the same.
They got to Highland, and it was just some random ifrit.
Dimas remembered standing in the black and white of a winter forest afterward, the coldest he'd ever been.
"Pak," Dimas said, and no response. "Pak," and for a second he wondered if his father was that vulnerable to the cold that he had actually frozen in place.
Dad said, "Tahu, nggak. Di Indonesia, there is only one place – hanya satu – yang bersalju in the whole country." Teeth chattering, hands shaking, but when Dimas said Pak again, the man just continued to stand there staring at the ifrit corpse as if waiting for another answer.
"Satrio kedinginan," Dimas said, though it was probably a lie. Satrio seemed completely at ease with the cold, kicking up snow a little distance away.
"It's in Irian Jaya," Dad continued as if Dimas hadn't spoken. "Called Puncak Jaya. When we go back, we'll go."
Dimas quirked a smile. "Yeah? I thought Bapak nggak suka salju."
"I don't like winter," he clarified. "There's a difference, lho."
"Hey," Satrio called out, kicking up another clump of snow. "What's Indonesian for snow? Do we even have a word for snow?"
"And Bali, Bapak belum pernah ke Bali," Dad added, tucking the gun back in his pants. "We'll go there, too."