the smuggler’s bible

Thornquist

The man hits the wall, then the floor. He lifts a hand to his mouth and red seeps between his fingers to wet his knuckles. Thornquist asks him again, why has the Burgrave poisoned the grain?

“I don’t know him,” he says.

“You are a liar. You were in his company just last night. Think carefully, now. If the next thing you say is not sense, I will call for the mallet.”

He gasps and moves his hands helplessly, like a man bailing waiter. But the ship continues to leak, and land is still far, far away over the horizon.