the smuggler’s bible

Mister Mothman

Mister Mothman hears the scream (back side, toward Broad Street, sixth floor) and is aloft in a moment. It is seldom remarked upon, but alleyways provide surprisingly fine updrafts. When conditions are right, of course.

He tucks into a tumble going through the window and lands gently on his feet. Glass is still hitting the floor. Two goons stand near a body, only just beginning to realize what kind of trouble they’re in.

Who? one goon begins to say, interrupted as the other blurts out what?

Then Mister Mothman sweeps the lamp off the table, and the light goes out.

Mister Mothman

Everything seems silver in the moonlight. A door opens across the street and a man steps out onto the stoop. He looks around carefully, peering at the cars parked along the street. He shrugs and descends the stairs, turning north toward the city center.

He never looks up. It is very rare that any do.

The man adjusts his coat. Tens of thousands of photoreceptors drink in the motion, sharpen and magnify it, revealing an envelope in his breast pocket.

Plenty of night to spare, Mister Mothman thinks, diving into a glide. As long as he doesn’t take a train.

Mister Mothman

Mister Mothman calls the client from a payphone in a hotel lobby. He squeezes into the booth and cradles the receiver against his shoulder. While he waits, he wets one thumb and rubs at a spot on his shirt that looks suspiciously arterial.

The line connects.

“First attempt was a bust,” he says. “Nothing good to report, but nothing bad either. Don’t worry, I have a few more ideas. It’s always the last one you try.”

“Sure, I could skip to the end of the list, but that’s—”

“Have it your way. I’ll call when I know something.”

Mister Mothman

The hand holding the key is shaking. He hears metal scrape against the knob, then a frustrated curse. A soft click. A creaking hinge. Worn crepe soles brush against carpet. The man turns on a lamp and sees him spread out against the wall. He stares past the wings to the huge shadow they cast. His hand opens involuntarily and a bottle thuds onto the floor, spilling wine.

“Oh god. Jesus. I’ll—I’ll tell you anything. Whatever you want.”

“Slow down,” Mister Mothman says, rolling up his sleeves. “Don’t give it all away before we get to the fun part.”