Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3WW

I can already see how addicting this is.

It's another Three Word Wednesday! Today's chosen ones:

bait, jump, victim


*

Mule

Carol was a victim of chance. Nothing more. It was useless to assign significance to her having been chosen; in fact, she was little more than the faceless mule for the more experienced among us. A faceless, virgin mule.

Here’s how it played out: she stood in line at the tiny Cozumel airport, staring out at the ragged palms and rocky slopes she’d soon be leaving behind. Seven days gone, and she had little more to show for it than zero tan lines and a lingering hangover. She’d been a hit at the bars, with her strawberry-blonde hair and bleach-bright smile. Conch salsa and a parade of the fruitiest drinks the tiny island had to offer, afternoons in a hammock watching iguanas climb around, and the murder mystery she’d brought along still sitting at the bottom of her luggage.

Ah, her luggage. Arms loosely crossed, gaze unfocused on the view outside the windows – but she had one foot against her suitcase in typical tourist fashion. Claiming it. Guarding it, her sandal the first line of defense. Not that any was needed. Everyone had been so friendly. You could really relax down here, not worry about a thing.

He recalled her from Thursday night. On the rooftop bar, shouting down to passers-by at midnight, pulling down her tube top. As if this was Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Perfect.

“Hey, don’t I remember you? Didn’t you buy me a drink one night?”

She turned, startled. “I… I don’t think…”

“Nah.” He flashed a charming smile. “You don’t buy drinks for men. They buy drinks for you.” The smile ramped up a notch. “Bailey Leveque.”

She took his hand hesitantly, said nothing.

“Wait. Are you going to Boston too? You’re kidding?” He slapped his thigh. “I live in Boston. I work at Donovan and Radecki’s. The law firm?” He said a prayer that she wasn’t a lawyer or someone familiar with the law firms in Boston.

She wasn’t.

“Actually, I live outside of Boston. I don’t know that law firm. Or any, really.” She shrugged, smiling. “Never been sued. Oh, I’m Carol, by the way. Sorry.”

“Well, Carol, that’s a good thing. Because I know a thing or two about suing people, and it’s not pretty. Say, I wonder if they have drinks on the plane…”

This is how easy it is to bait someone. A thing or two in common, a resume that matches the expensive sunglasses and designer shorts and shirt, and maybe an accent. Women love men with accents. Australian, in this case. Carol wouldn’t know the difference, and by the time they’d moved up in line a few spots, he could probably even talk her into a quickie in the airplane bathroom.

Except that he wasn’t getting on the plane.

In his pocket, his cell rang. “Excuse me.” He made a pretense of checking it. “Oh, god. Look, I’ve got to take this. I’m going to step outside. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to hold my place. Listen, I’ll be back in a few minutes, and I’m sure I’ll see you on the plane.” He squeezed her arm. “Carol.” A wink.

He smelled like sun tan lotion and brisk cologne as he went by. She watched him go, bag over his shoulder, straight through the automatic doors.

And she stared right over my head.

As she moved to the counter, I checked my own cell, shook my head in agitation, and stepped out of line.

No one noticed me. No one ever really notices me. They notice Duane – sorry, Bailey. But never me.

She looked over her shoulder one more time before she went through security. Sorry, honey. He’s long gone.

I peered back one last time, just to see if she’d made it through. The light flashed green, and on she went.

And then I called our friend in Dallas, where this flight makes a layover. Unfortunately, Carol’s luggage was about to become very, very lost. If she knew what the alternative was – five to ten in a Mexican prison – she’d be satisfied with just a missing bag.

Me? I’m satisfied with another day’s work here in Paradise. It sure beats checking groceries in a three-lane supermarket in Nowheresville, Alabama.

And Duane, he’s happy that he’s finally getting paid to be charming. Shame he’s been skimming a bit off the top, though. This afternoon, he’s going for a dive on the north side of the island. I hear he’s got a few friends going with him. Duane’s been a bit jumpy lately – well, I’d be looking over my shoulder all the time too, if I was up to what he was. But he can trust his buddies.

Probably.

*

A/N: I haven't been to Cozumel in about fifteen years. There used to be one tiny little airport, and you walked through "security" and a light randomly blinked red or green. Red meant you were being pulled aside to have your luggage checked.

I smuggled. A toaster once, and a twin-size bed set. I know, hard core, right? My other half was a dive instructor, and his wealthier students could opt to have their final certification in Cozumel or the Bahamas, so we'd fly down for a dive vacation every few months. Our guide was always Miguel, and he had a wife and children. Mexico's poor, Cozumel's a tiny island -- yeah, they didn't have much. So we'd put things in our luggage as a gift for him and his family.

But Mexico has (or had) some laws about the contents and value of what you could bring down. So we'd parcel everything out in different pieces of luggage. I was always terrified that I'd be stopped, and I'd have to explain why I had a microwave in my suitcase.

Three Words Wednesday -- it rules. Write your own, then go over to 3WW and link. And then -- tell somebody else.

Oh, and like Carol, I never had tan lines either...

5 comments:

  1. This was beautifully written.
    I was engaged and a little nervous too. In such a short piece I was able to get a feel for each character, and even develop a like and dislike. Who cares about Duane? I'm just glad Carol made it home safely, even if without her luggage.
    http://honor-and-truth.blogspot.com

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  2. This works on a lot of levels. And yes, they still have the stop lights. Your prose drew me in, and the dialogue kept me interested. I am so glad you've decided to come back for another go. Always happy to have more in the community.

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  3. Thanks so much, K and Thom. Plentiful words and long laptop batteries to you both.

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  4. Great tiny tale! Your prose is fresh and your characterization sharp.

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  5. Thank you so much, Thomma Lyn!

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