Monday December 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the smuggler.

Tried to have a quieter day today and was mostly successful in that venture. Major accomplishment was getting into town this afternoon to get groceries with Max.

Don't have anything particularly ambitious planned for tomorrow. Might try to find time to start reading one of the books I got for Christmas.

You know, if I feel like going totally crazy.


He keeps the speed of the car steady - not speeding, but not too slow either. He passes a few cars, gets passed by a handful more. His goal is to get lost in the crowd, the anonymity of traffic.

He is not entirely certain that it is working.

It is possible that the blue sedan that keeps appearing in his rearview mirror could be harmless. Nothing to be concerned with. Perhaps the driver just happens to be the Average Joe that he is attempting to mimic (in which case, he's doing very well indeed). Or maybe it's just another smuggler, with similarly illicit cargo secreted about his vehicle.

He almost smiles at that thought.

Maybe he would have if he could forget, even for a moment, the five million dollars worth of cocaine he had personally stashed in every conceivable nook and cranny of his car. Or the man who is waiting for the delivery, still five hundred miles away.

Or that his daughter's life depends on his getting every last ounce to that man before midnight.


Greg said...

A lack of ambition at this time of year is not a bad thing :) And reading is a good way to reinvigorate the imagination and relax a little -- both good after the hectic chaos of family Christmas.
I like how you build the tension here, though the last line really piles it on quite heavily! When it starts it seems almost like it's quite casual, even given the title of the prompt, but it gets darker quickly. And I did smile at the idea there might be two cars both smuggling cocaine -- and for the same reasons!

The smuggler
When Phillip looked back on his conversation with the two mutes it felt slightly surreal. Like the silent movies he remembered from his childhood (even now the talkies gave him a frisson when he sat down in the cinema and the characters actually spoke to him) they either pantomimed their actions with Alice interpreting, or Bogdan wrote with swift, elegant letters on his slate and held them up. In the back of his mind organ music played as he thought over what he'd asked and what they'd said, and for a moment he had to hope that he didn't come across as a Keystone Kop.
Alice would surely have reprimanded if he had done though. He smiled at the thought.
"Tell me about the man you met in the lounge bar," he'd said. He had his suspicions already but didn't want to prejudice their evidence: he needed to hear their own words on the matter. Or see their own words in this case.
"A gentleman," came back the answer through the various media of sign language, interpretation and the written word. "A gentleman clearly drunk despite it being well before noon, wearing a linen suit with frayed cuffs and a button missing half-way up the jacket. He had a brown shirt on and his shoes matched. There was something approving about the way they noted that, Phillip thought. He looked down, curious for a moment, and noted that his blue shirt didn't match his scuffed black boots at all. Did that really matter?
"He had whiskers: sideburns that descended down his face and turned into a partial beard at the sides, and that was orangey-blonde; his hair was brown with hints of grey at the temples."
"What did he want you to do?" asked Phillip. It was quiet and warm in the sitting room and reminded him -- again -- of summer days as a child spent with Alice. He could remember bluebottles buzzing angrily as they butted against the windows, seeking a way out but too stupid to fly up a little to where the window was open for the draught.
The mutes had exchanged glances then, and there was a pause that went beyond even trying to communicate differently. Angelo had taken the lead; Bodgan's head slumped on his chest and Phillip had the impression that a silent argument had taken place and a winner been delcared.
"We think he wanted us to smuggle rum," said Alice, translating from sign. She looked a little shocked. "There was a truck he wanted driven to a town in the next state, with a cargo he... chose... not to disclose. But the boys had walked past it to get into the hotel, and they'd smelled it."
Phillip had nodded and written it down, but even now it still seemed wrong. Rum for transport couldn't be smelled like that; and the fire at the hotel afterwards -- he thought the "boys" had just smelled the preparations for arson. So what was the undisclosed cargo in that truck?

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I think I need to find time to read more. Pretty sure it'll help with prompts and inspire better writing in myself.

Hah, yeah, I can just imagine the two cars pulling up to the same location, the two drivers just staring at each other, trying to figure out if the other is a cop...

Ah, I had forgotten about this story. So pleased to be reminded of it!

Really enjoyed the details about the silent films, and how the mutes were able to communicate. And the ending is a worthy cliffhanger, as I would expect from you :D