the smuggler’s bible


The sky clears before dawn. Tinsel Town glitters across the valley like a Christmas tree rolled out wide and flat. Barraclough and Pontchartrain ignore the view and duck into a nearby dive. They drink whiskeys in silence.

“Just some ex-boyfriend strung out on black-market season’s greetings,” Barraclough says, finally. “Prints on the mug were a match. A patrolman picked him out of the gutter four blocks away.”

“But why’d he rip her to pieces?”

“Who the hell knows?” Barraclough pushes his stool back from the bar and puts on his gingerbread hat. “Why does anybody do anything? Happy holidays, kid.”