the smuggler’s bible


The head clerk is called Cratchit. He takes them up a flight of bare metal stairs to a room in the rear of the warehouse. They wait, breath misting, while he shuffles through his keys. His fingers tremble.

“Cold isn’t it?”

“Mister Scrooge won’t pay for heating,” Cratchit says, “because documents don’t shiver.”

The bolt clicks. Inside is a cramped desk and several shelves. A bitter wind rattles through a cracked window pane.

“Does anyone use this office now?” Pontchartrain asks.

“Not since Mister Marley died. After all, it’s, uhm.”

“Go on.”

“This is where we found him,” Cratchit says.