the smuggler’s bible


It’s the man they find first. Just dumb luck.

He’s wearing patched trousers tucked into boots and a cheerful red scarf, slightly tattered, under a charcoal greatcoat. He’s wandering the street aimlessly in the snow, pausing to stare up at the bright houses and the people inside, when someone spots him. Someone, that is, who reads the newspaper.

Barraclough and Pontchartrain pry him out of the lockup, but not before word gets around. One of his eyes is swollen shut and his coat’s lapel is stained red.

“It’s worth it,” he sighs, smiling, “any price, to make a merry Christmas.”