A satire of dysfunctional politics and economic disparity.
Chapter VII: Day/Page 75 CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY. . . . Mr. Cocosaco inspects the coin with a magnifying glass he takes from his waistcoat. “The quality looks too good to be contraband.” He looks up. “You know what the penalty for contraband gold is, don’t you?”
Sofia says nothing. Smiles.
“Mm…” says Cocosaco, placing the coin on a digital scale. He punches numbers into a calculator and holds it up. The screen shows +1,503.20.
Sofia nods agreement. (Sure… whatever. How should I know?)
Cocosaco examines the coin again with his magnifying glass, narrows one eye to study Sofia, then grudgingly nods approval to the teller. “Ok, but take her finger stamp,” he says, carrying the coin back to his office.
“Please put your fingers on the screen,” the teller says, pointing to a small patch of black glass on Sofia’s side of the counter.
Next to the glass is a diagram indicating the proper way to place one’s thumb and forefinger on the glass. She follows the example. After the black glass turns green, the teller rustles around in the till, slips under the window two paper bills, one marked 1,000 and the other 500, three large silver coins with an elaborate cross stamped on one side, and two small copper coins marked 10.
(A one-thousand note bill—are you kidding? Come on, use your head.)
Sofia slides the 1,000 note back. “Smaller, please.”
The teller gives her a stack of 100 notes instead.
As Sofia leaves she spies Cocosaco in his office on the phone, his hand covering the mouthpiece, watching her intently.
(I think it’s time to get out of here.)
After two more stops along the promenade, one at a fruit stand and another at a bakery selling pastries and sandwiches, she quickens her pace, crosses the boulevard to the beach side and hurries toward what appears to be a port off in the distance. Before long she is standing on one of the port’s two main piers. (This definitely will not work. Look at those things. Those aren’t boats—those are ships!)
It is not a large port. Perhaps a dozen vessels are lashed to the piers protruding into the harbor, and perhaps the same number again are anchored here and there off shore, protected by a semi-circle of boulders curving out into the ocean to form a small bay. But what few boats—rather yachts—that there are, are enormous. Massive white galleons festooned with glittering crystal chandeliers, polished chrome, and richly oiled wooden decks—some with woods so rare that they are now extinct on the Blue Planet, which only whets more the appetite of those who can afford them.
These are not the kinds of boats Sofia is looking for.
She’d seen fresh fish, mollusks, and crustaceans beautifully displayed on ice and garnished with seaweed at a shop back on the promenade, so the seafood had to come from somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t from here. This was a dock for pleasure ships and playboys, not industry or work. The working port must be further south, she reasoned, since she had not passed it coming down.
She continues south along the beach. In time the buildings thin, become sparse, and look more and more dilapidated. Some have broken windows, others are completely boarded shut. Not many people are present now, and still no sign of a fishing port.
(This doesn’t look right.) . . .
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Gregory James
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