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Sweating profusely, his heart pounding, Smith walked up to the open door of the red channel and placed his hold-all on the counter. It was a moment before one of the two duty officers, who had been engaged in a conversation in their own language, came over to talk to him.

Smith's voice came out as a croak. "I need your help. One of the passengers has planted something in my luggage... She's in the ladies' toilet. You need to send somebody to stop her as she comes out..."

"Will you open it please," the young uniformed man requested in a polite, neutral tone.

"This.... this box, is not mine.." Smith said in a voice that was little more than a whisper, lifting it out and placing it on the counter, "Look, you really don't have much time. You've got to stop that girl."

The customs officer looked down at the box. He did not touch it, but produced a device like a tiny vacuum-cleaner from beneath the desk and held it over the box. He pressed a button and noted the reading on an indicator. Wordlessly, he indicated to his friend to join him.

"Do you know what that is Mr....?"

"Smith. Leonard Smith. No, not for certain," he rasped, "but I have a pretty good idea."

The officer nodded. "You say somebody else put this in your luggage, Mr. Smith?" he said in the same rather flat, polite tone.

"Yes. We've got to move quickly. I'll point her out to you."

The officer lifted a little movable section of the top counter and waved to somebody else to follow him. "Code yellow," he said in a tone that still sounded rather casual to Smith. As they moved towards the Ladies' Toilet, a number of uniformed guards bearing side-arms began to appear and move through the crowd in the same general direction. Smith mentally breathed a sigh of relief. He had done the right thing. He would be safe from arrest or punishment. Soon, it would all be over.


"I'm sorry if I sound impatient," Smith snapped out the words, "but you have held me for more than four hours now. I have told you everything I know. In fact I have told it to you three or four times. What are we waiting for? I can't help you any more. You've got the girl haven't you?"

The senior of the two officers nodded. It was a moment before he spoke. "Yes, we have interviewed the young lady," he confirmed in that same flat monotone that Smith was beginning to find so irritating.

"You've interviewed her? You mean you haven't arrested her?" The uniformed man took so long to answer that Smith had begun to talk again and was cut short.

"Mr. Smith, the young lady is a citizen of this country. She comes from a very respectable family and is a frequent traveler. She has no police record of any kind. When we searched her we found nothing, and the chemical detector gave no indication that she had handled narcotics of any kind. On what grounds should we arrest her?"

"What! You let her go? That's crazy! Of course your sniffer machine didn't pick-up anything - she'd just been to the toilet. She'd just washed her hands, obviously."

"Mr. Smith, not very long ago, this was one of the countries that people came to in order to buy the very narcotic substances that you were attempting to import. We have hit hard against the drug trade - so hard that now it has become necessary to import the very filth that was once produced here. Of that we are very proud, Mr. Smith."

"What do you mean, that I was trying to import? I wasn't trying to import anything! I walked up to your desk and handed it to you - of my own free will. Would a drug-smuggler do that?"

"A clever one might - if he thought he was about to be caught. I put it to you that when you reached this airport you received a tip-off of some kind that there was a special anti-drug operation in progress. I put it to you that you knew you would not get past our detection equipment, and so you took what seemed like the safest way out. A man in your line of business has to know when to cut his losses. Am I correct, Mr. Smith?"

"No, damn it! You are not correct!" Smith buried his head in his hands and thought for a few moments.

"Look, I tried to do the right thing. I didn't want to get that girl into trouble, but I thought I had no option. Now you're trying to say that it was me! That's ridiculous. It's insane. Have you even put a tail on the girl? Have you had her followed?"

"Mr. Smith, I do not think that you are in much of a position to start telling us how to do our job."

"You haven't have you? You've just let her get clean away!" He was closer to tears than he would have readily admitted.

The sound of a door opening made him look up. A tall, straight, older man had come into the room. He carried a small brown briefcase, and by the look of his uniform Smith judged that he was a great deal senior to the other two. Their stiff reaction confirmed this impression.

"Mr. Smith," he began pleasantly, "I hope you have been properly treated by the interviewing officers?"

This sounded a bit more positive. "Yes, thank you. But... well, they don't seem to believe me..."

The senior officer sat down so that his presence became a bit less imposing, and he spoke in a quiet, rather intimate tone.

"Mr. Smith," he began, "these officers have kept me informed about your interrogation and I have taken note of everything that you have said. If it makes you feel any better, I will tell you that personally I do believe you, I do not think that you are a person accustomed to smuggling narcotics. Although of course this could be your first time. But in fact what I think is of no consequence. What matters is whether or not the Prosecution Department of this country thinks that it's worth taking you to court on the evidence that we have so-far obtained. In my opinion, it would not be. But that decision is not for me to take. And of course it is perfectly possible that more evidence may emerge...." he hesitated. "In the meantime, I don't think there is anything to be gained by holding you here. So.." he produced a typewritten document from the little case he was carrying, "your passport will be held at this airport and there will be some restrictions on where you may go. You will be required to report daily to a police station in this city. You will be given a written account of everything that has taken place here," he handed Smith the sheaf of papers, "clearly setting-out your freedoms and duties while your case is under investigation." Smith took the papers and looked the senior officer in the eye, hoping to detect some indication of the other's true attitude. The man's face was unreadable. "You are free to take this written account to the British Counsel or to a lawyer, or to anyone else that you think appropriate. In fact I recommend that you do. This is a democratic country, Mr. Smith. Tourism is our biggest single industry. We have excellent relations both with Great Britain and with the United States of America. Please accept my personal assurance that if you are innocent of this crime you have nothing whatever to worry about."


The first place Smith went was to Orion Air suite at the airport. The young female desk clerk, a petite blonde with an American accent, listened to his story with an expression of the deepest dismay. "I don't think there's anyone very senior on duty right now," she said when he had finished, "but I'll see who I can find..."

She reached for one of the desk telephones, but Smith put his hand over hers. "Wait," he said conspiratorially, "if I'm going to clear my name, I need to know the name and address of that girl who sat behind me on the plane. Have you got the passenger list?"

She looked up at him. "You know that list is confidential, Mr. Smith," she said quietly.

"What I know," he said under his breath, "is that my ass is on the line. I really need that information."

She looked up again and hesitated. "I'm leaving my desk for a moment, Mr. Smith," she said in an official-sounding tone, "you're a Company employee. Could you look after it for a moment please?"

He breathed a sigh of relief. "Happy to oblige," he said pleasantly, as she disappeared through an inner door.

Smith knew he would have very little time. He had a good idea how the terminal functioned, but no detailed training. It took him a few nervous seconds to discover the route to the information that he needed.

Smith knew what the girl expected him to do, but now that it had come to the point, he also knew it was wrong. It could get both of them dismissed, and could turn the Company against him also if he were found-out. Up to now, he had behaved impeccably. He turned away from the terminal and touched none of the keys.

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