Writing Exercise: She Looked Just Like the Other Thousand Weary Tourists

September 2, 2009

The Nigerian towered over Kate, harsh black eyes scrutinizing her with the pragmatic coolness of any manager appraising a new employee.

The pale, strawberry blonde girl looked far younger than her 26 years. And as she drew her slender wrist across her forehead to clear away several beads of sweat, she looked just like the other thousand weary tourists that packed the sweltering corridors of Ndumbe Airport like so many bulls crammed in a butcher’s pen. No matter, the Nigerian reasoned as he cocked one jet-ebony brow her way. Appearances meant much less than actions.

The Nigerian had selected Kate’s mark for her the instant she’d walked through the arrival gate. The Victim had exited from the plane ahead of Kate a few minutes earlier and now parked himself at baggage claim, his eyes darting back and forth. A jowly and over-tanned white man, he looked well-heeled and cultured. He wore an expensive gray designer suit, and a crescent of neatly-cropped white hair encircled his bald skull.   

 “I’ll believe in your skills when I see what they bring from that man,” The Nigerian said to Kate in a thickly-accented bass voice. Then he pointed at the Victim. “He is–how would you put it– your pop quiz.”

Kate smiled, reached into her knitted handbag, and produced a sleek black eelskin wallet. “Do I pass?” she asked with a chuckle.

The Nigerian took the wallet and examined its contents–several receipts, a claim ticket for a locker, four credit cards, travellers’ checks, and 800 Euro. He looked at Kate, then back at the Victim. The man was rifling with increasing desperation through several of the pockets on his gray designer suit.

Kate’s new boss smiled back at her. “Not bad,” he said. “We’ll see how you do at the Museum against three guards and an alarm system next Tuesday.”

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