the smuggler’s bible


The weather has warmed, but only just. Dancer trudges down a sidewalk in a gritty rut between knee-high ridges of snow. The wind jackknifes wildly through the alleys, catching him broadsides, threatening to tip him into the slush.

More than a year since the snowman disappeared and the game is locked tight, no movement whatsoever.The big man considers stalemate a species of defeat, so Dancer’s job is to wedge himself in and pry it loose. Something. Anything.

That spooky old castle is top priority, but how do you get into a place like that? Well, you’ve got to be invited.


Dancer sits in a booth by the window, drinking coffee alone and watching the traffic crawl by in the rain for two hours.

Keep an eye out for anything suspicious, he mutters, stubbing another cigarette in the ashtray. We don’t want to be embarrassed again.

The waitress comes and Dancer settles up. He steps out into the weather, belting his coat tight, then turns up the street toward the pumpkin patch.

Sure, whatever. Easy assignment. But at no point—never—did anyone even attempt to explain how to distinguish suspicious from the general day-to-day nefarious tomfoolery popular among the October crowd.