the smuggler’s bible

The observer is changed by the act of observing

Yes, that’s him. Note the button on his lapel. Note the roses. White and red, three of each. His grip is much too tight. The stems will break.

In his other hand—he holds it gentle as an egg—is the envelope, thick with coded memoranda, unmarked bills, documents that will see you across the border.

From the bench he sees the crowd. From the crowd you see him set the crumpled flowers down and check his watch.

Pass the time. Just wait and see. If nobody has broken faith, if his nerve holds, the rest becomes so, so simple.

Even a buzzard will shine if it catches the light

The others are not so far behind. You can see them on the hilltop distant, sillhouettes with the sun behind them. They look like pencil drawings.

Ah, well, what’s done is done. No, don’t bother. It’s only going to tire you out, and they’ll still find him in the end.

Stop making those noises. Check his belt for ammunition. Check his wallet for cash. Take his watch if he has one, and don’t stain your boots. They’ll notice when you pass through town. The situation is dicey enough already. After all, it is your face on all of those posters.

Story six hundred

So what did it all mean? There’s so much already and the work continues to expand. You have pressed yourself tightly against the wall, desperate for synthesis among your competing desires. You must become flat, offer a gift of your volume. And yet—and yet—you must take that final expanding lungful before you are submerged.

Make it last. When you resurface, it may not be beneath skies so blue.

But there’s a current, isn’t there? Swift and strong. Something you started. It must have been you, there isn’t anybody else. And so, in the end, you’ll wash yourself away.

If you can’t stand the sight, better to leave while it’s dark

The heights make you dizzy. Something to do with your inner ear. Or maybe when you stand at the edge and look down, every muscle seizes tightly to lock you in place. It’s easy to do the wrong thing and get yourself hurt. So do nothing. Stop and consider. Just hope that the wind isn’t too strong.

Consider the breeze after the saw chews through your roots and the small creatures flee your shadow as you plummet to earth. What a sound it will make.

Consider a hand reaching out to steady your shoulder. Consider turning to continue the climb.