the smuggler’s bible

Murali

The cold weather dies panting in the dirt after a straight week of sun. With its demise, the old cycle begins again.

Murali pulls the envelope out of his mailbox, immediately suspicious. Cardstock, he thinks, thumbing the seal, but my birthday isn’t for—oh, no.

You are cordially invited to attend the wedding of

He drops it fast, but too late. He’s already seen the names. Color and gentle motion catch his eye. Another invitation, the corner tucked into the door frame. They’re everywhere, he realizes, carpeting his porch, clinging and chirping, eating his summer weekends alive while he watches.

Wilton

The instrument—known variously as the Sun Razor, God’s Anguish, God’s Misery, God’s Sorrow and, of course, simply as the God-Killer Sword—appears in times of crisis to those most suited to wield its incalculable might.

Wilton stirs a packet of sweetener into his coffee and taps a finger on the rumpled newspaper folded over the counter. “You see some fella down Adamsville way found hisself the high blade of undoing?”

“Sure. News won’t shut up.”

“Heard he’s stickin’ some good ol’ boys. Cut a whole bank in half.”

“Uh huh.”

Wilton pauses. “You figure that might, uh, indicate something?”

Kimo

Kimo is caught off guard for several beats. The steps are incredibly complicated and the dancers take great pains to disguise their actions. But, he realizes, wheeling backwards after a spinning kick lands, vision blurred from the elbow that preceded it, there is a rhythm.

He opens wide and feels the tempo. The metronome ticks, ticks again and the needle drops into the groove. Kimo reaches out and catches a fist in the palm of his hand.

His dance partners begin to stumble. Kimo sways and walks the grapevine, striking like a whip, feeling the spotlight hot on his face.

Settimo

Viddy has the big guy by the neck, legs braced against the desk, wrenching hard from side to side. Settimo turns to the smaller man, seated and staring dumbly at the proceedings.

“Now, please, let us conclude our business like gentlemen. The boss wonders—no, put the phone down and stop looking at Viddy, it just encourages him. The boss wonders if there’s been a miscommunication about what was due and when.”

There’s a crash as Viddy and the big guy hit the carpet. “Ah, yes,” the seated man says weakly. “I understand now that perhaps I have been mistaken.”