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Feeling as though he were in a dream he stationed himself outside the Ladies' Toilet and waited for her to come out. It took her such a long time he began to wonder if there was another exit somewhere and she was gone. Then, at last, she reappeared. He didn't say anything but looked her straight in the eye. For a moment she met his stare, then she seemed to flinch and turned away.

"I think we need to talk, Miss," he said firmly.

She hesitated for a moment, not looking in his direction, then she turned and nervously faced him. With a theatrical gesture he picked up the hold-all and started to unzip the top.

"All right," she said with rising panic, "let's go somewhere and talk."

Smith motioned with his arm in a circular gesture. The room was thronged with people, there was nowhere private. The only place that seemed relatively deserted was the passageway from which they had just entered. The stream of passengers from the aircraft had finished and there was nobody more to be seen. "Over there," she indicated. He followed her through the swing-door back into the deserted corridor. The plastic flap sprung shut behind them and they were alone. For a moment they simply looked at one another.

"Why did you do it?" he asked at last.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"No, not really."

"I just have to... I can't explain."

"Okay. In that case, you'd better take it through Customs yourself."

"I.... I don't know what you mean."

"Don't you? Okay. I'll just go and flush something down the toilet. See you when we get through Customs." He turned to walk away.

"No... No, please... Mr....?"

"Smith. Leonard Smith." He stopped and waited.

"You see, if I come back without it, Mr. Smith, someone very close to me will suffer. I will suffer too. I must get it through Customs. I don't have any choice."

"No? Funny, I thought I was the one who wasn't being given very much choice in the matter."

"Mr. Smith... can we start again, please?"

"Certainly. That means the box goes in your hand-luggage, not mine."

The girl lifted her hand to her forehead and seemed to be about to cry. "Please, Mr. Smith. Don't play games with me. Don't mock me. There are people's lives at stake here."

Yeah, mine for starters, he thought, but did not say it. "Okay. Are you going to tell me what it's all about or not?"

She seemed to consider the question. "Isn't it obvious?" she repeated at last.

"No. I don't think so. I don't think you've ever done anything like this before. Am I right?"

"Does it matter?"

"Yes. It matters. Why did you do it?"

She stood quite still for a few moments, her shoulders heaving slightly. She seemed to be having trouble getting proper control of her breathing. "Don't worry," Smith said in an attempt to calm her down, "I'm not any kind of a policeman or anything like that. I just want to know what it's all about. Talk to me. Trust me. Who knows, I may even be able to do something to help."

"No," she said firmly, "you can't help. Nobody can help."

"Try me."

"I.... have a sister," she began falteringly, "two years younger than me. We come from a very good family. Our father was once the Prime Minister of this country. Now he is the leader of one of the two main opposition parties. We... live quite well..."

"I understand. So, how did all this start?"

"My sister has a boyfriend... an American man. His name is Miller. When she first met him, he seemed very.. charming. He treated her very well. He took her to parties. He took her abroad. But then... she began to discover things about him. She discovered why he wanted her for his girlfriend. It was because of our family.."

Smith was in no hurry. He lowered himself onto a sitting position on his little leather suitcase and offered the girl his hold-all. She declined with a shake of her head.

"This man, Miller," she went on, standing over him now, "he is involved in terrible things. Things that I cannot even bring myself to say."

"Drugs? Prostitution?"

She nodded. "Those... and worse. Have you heard the term 'snuff movies'?"

It was Smith's turn to grow pale. "You mean films of murders. Real murders. Torture. That sort of thing?"

She glanced around before she answered. "That is his biggest source of income. He manipulates people, Mr. Smith. Including my sister. Everyone who works for him is an addict. Heroin is very hard to get in this country now. Very expensive. Partly because of what my father did when his party was in power. But that is only a detail. What matters is, his people's wages are paid in heroin. If they leave him, they cannot survive."

"Are you one of his people? Are your wages paid in that way?"

"No. He would not trust me to do this today if I was addicted. My sister is ... in his power. And she is also his insurance policy. My family can not fight him while that link exists. He can destroy us more easily than we can destroy him. So, you see, Mr. Smith, it is all a nightmare. There is no way out for my family."

Smith nodded thoughtfully. "Does your father know all this?"

"Oh no! And please, he must never find out. It would be so... shameful. Will you promise me please that you will not let him find out? My sister would kill herself if that happened."

"It sounds to me as if your sister is killing herself anyway." He shuffled around to get into a more comfortable position. "You don't think it will end here do you? You know he'll want more from you. More deliveries, more jobs, more risks. You'll get caught sooner or later. You may even get caught today."

"There is nowhere that I can go, Mr. Smith. There is nobody who can help me."

Smith considered the problem for a few minutes. "Is your sister with him all the time?"

"At the moment, yes. Papa thinks she's abroad studying."

"Is she a prisoner, or does she want to be with him?"

"I don't think she's in love with him any more. She tells herself she is because without him the heroin dries up."

"Well, that's something positive. And from what you tell me, he isn't going to trust any of his own people to pick up this consignment. It's going to have to be handed over to him in person. Right?"

"Yes. I am to meet him at midnight tonight."

"On his own?"

"No. Far from it. All his people will be around him. But even if we could get him on his own, even if we told the police, we couldn't be sure they would arrest him. A lot of them are probably on his payroll. It's hopeless. There's no way to get him."

Smith considered the problem. "I can't see any easy solution right now," he admitted, "but at least we've got a few hours before midnight. If we put our heads together we might come up with something."

"You want to help me then? But why should you want to help me, Mr. Smith?"

He smiled sheepishly. The real reason was certainly more to do with biology than common sense, but he decided this was not the best time to talk about it. "Well, for one thing, I've got a box of hard drugs in my hold-all and I'm the wrong side of the Customs Barrier. I've even opened the thing, there are probably traces of it on my hands now, and in the bag. I don't think I can just shrug it off quite as easily as you seem to think."

The girl slumped down at last to squat on Smith's bag, and they sat side-by-side leaning against the corridor wall. "There is no safe way to get it through the barrier, is there?" she said at last, "one of us has to carry it through. One of us has to take a chance."

"The only other thing is to do what I suggested. Flush it down the toilet. Wash our hands thoroughly. Even if they have one of those machines that detects the dust, they won't find anything when they search. They'll have to let us go."

She started as though she had heard a loud noise. "Oh no! That would be the worst decision of all! Miller would kill me and my sister - for sure! Please - I - I beg you! Don't even think about it!"

"Okay. So one of us has to carry it through. That's the deal. Then all I can suggest is: let's allow a higher power to decide for us."

"A higher power?" she looked puzzled, "What higher power?"

"This one." He took a coin from his pocket. "Chance." He turned it over a few time in his fingers. "You call. What's your name, by the way?"

"Suavarose. My American friends call me Rose."

"Okay, Rose. Heads or tails?"

She stared nervously at the coin. "Heads?" she said quizzically at last.

"Okay. If it's heads it goes in your bag. If it's tails it goes in mine."

Smith spun the coin skillfully on the floor in front of him. After what seemed an age it wobbled and toppled over.


Your coin falls HEADS.

Your coin falls TAILS.

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