His appearance was formally looking from the waist up, below sporting shorts and sandals, revealing his southerly destination and plans for coupling work with pleasure. His agitated looks and wild gesticulation were a sight to behold. Even his hair was empathically totally out of control. In one hand he was carrying an attaché case, and in the other clasping… thin air. Where his sexy, ultraportable new laptop (onto which half his brain was downloaded) should have been.
Just a couple of minutes ago it had been resting peacefully, causing and wishing ill will to no one, on the table in the airport café. Now it was gone, evaporated into the previously mentioned anorectic air. And, he told us and the stewardess before sprinting to his own gate, he was positive he had seen a man with his computer heading for the gate where we were now waiting …
The scene was set, the games could begin. Upon boarding the plane I made my way down the aisle, scrutinizing every passenger. All of them were women. Except the passenger in seat 16F! He was inconspicuous looking enough, with a loose fitting jacket and freshly stonewashed jeans, but suspiciously well behaved hair. All over his face, in capital letters, I could read the word “Guilt”. In the compartment just above his head was a rucksack. My fellow secret agent, who had now come to see what I was up to, checked the sack while I diverted our suspect’s attention. Nothing there, at least nothing that couldn’t be squeezed, folded or crushed… So, we reasoned, he must have hidden “the merchandise” on his body.
Even though we were dying to, we couldn’t very well attack or apprehend him without anything to go on, so somewhat despondently we returned to our seats. Mine was next to a man with anabolicly and steroidicly bulging, tattooed upper arms and a conversation repertoire comprising of disturbing utterances like: “Yeah, I’m going to this seminar on sex harassment in the workplace. Looking forward to it, there is way too little of that out there!” and “Yeah, did you hear about this lady? She disappeared in the airport. Reappeared a week later, with all her luggage, but one kidney missing!”
I was uneasily pondering on what the world was coming to, when the head stewardess beckoned me to the back of the plane where a muted dialog ensued. She had done her own research, checked all the compartments, and come up with two suspects, one of them the man in seat 16F! Upon arrival we were to tail the two men to Customs who would perform a “random” routine check on them both.
Before the other passengers had even considered taking their seatbelts off, we had grabbed our bags, donned our coats and were ready for action. For several reasons we quickly “checked” one of the guys out of the case and concentrated on “Seat 16F”. He seemed to be in a hurry, but was no match for three undercover agents who closely followed his every step. Perhaps, it turned out, a little too closely. Even though we had deftly (or so we thought) hid behind pillars and walls, and done what we had intended to look like some serious window shopping, it soon became obvious that he was on to us. He kept looking over his shoulder, at one point even turning around 180 degrees, going back to where we came from, in what seemed to be an effort to rid himself of us. Futile of course, as we, like prehistoric hunters were chasing our moose towards the pitfalls at the end of the narrow gorge.
With a haunted look on his face, he seemed to resign to his fate and headed directly for Customs. I mentally wrapped my invisibility coat around me and sprinted ahead to make contact with two Customs agents who were actually awaiting me, the by now probably not so secret agent. When our prime suspect approached, I quickly sidestepped like a shy crab into a hidden corner and eagerly watched the proceedings. Ready to take possession of the looted goods once it materialized.
Which it never did. Our alleged criminal reappeared, threw a quick, inscrutable glance in my direction, and made for the exit. We’ll never know if he actually was a professional thief who at an early stage in the course of events had passed the loot onto an accomplice partner in crime. Or maybe, in which case may the gods help and forgive me, he was just an ordinary guy. Now lying behind locked doors, shivering and hyperventilating under his covers, thanking the gods that he against all odds had made it home…, with both kidneys intact.