Part 3 of Life on the Left Side of the Fast Lane


Life on the Left Side of the Fast Lane, Part 3
by Reynold Conger, Copyright 2010

(Not only is Amna worried about her missing brother, but she tells Ron that the most terrible thing is about to happen to her.)

In the dark shadow of the garden wall, Ron tightened his arms just enough to make it look like he was hugging the girl, but she leaned forward against Ron pressing herself against him.

“I think you are enjoying this too much,” Ron whispered into Amna ear.

“Of course I am, but the hugging and kissing will help keep anyone from listening to us. Besides, this may be the only chance I ever get to hug and kiss a man I love.”

“Very well then, what terrible thing is about to happen?”

“Papa has found a husband for me.”

“Congratulations.”

“But he’s ugly and rude, and he’s a Suni. I don’t like him. He’s so fat, I’m afraid I won’t be able to breath when he lies on top of me.” Amna broke into tears.

Ron held her close to comfort her. “American style romance doesn’t always work either. Just because we pick our own mates doesn’t mean we do a better job than your parents will do picking a husband for you.”

“I don’t want to marry him. I’d rather marry you.”

“Of course. Of course. You have a crush on me, but you can’t marry me.”

“Well, I would like at least to marry a man who is like you, someone intelligent and athletic. A man who is kind to his wife.”

“Why would your father pick such a terrible man?”

“He is the son of my father’s best customer. It must have something to do with business. Will you talk to Papa? Please.”

“I will have to be tactful, but I will try to remind your father that he has a duty to find a handsome and gentle husband for his beautiful daughter. Now, what about your brother?”

I think he’s into smuggling.”

“Smuggling?” said Ron, “Yes, of course that may be a factor. On my earlier visits, the engineers told me about all the smuggling that goes on.”

Amna shook her head. “Yes, the amount of smuggling is disgraceful, but then the tariffs are so high that I suppose it is the only way some people feel they can afford to buy goods.”

Ron suppressed a comment about the temptation of making a quick profit. “Would Usman be the only member of your family involved in smuggling? What about your father or your uncles?”

Amna took a step back from Ron, her eyes wide with shock, “My father and my uncles are respectable Moslem gentlemen.”

“Yes, indeed,” said Ron thinking about the way Kubla Kahn had asked for certain bills of lading to be written and the ways he had structured terms of payment of his obligations. Ron’s ethical view obviously differed from Kubla’s.

“You may not believe me Mr. Cooper, but my father is an honest man. He may be clever enough to find ways to minimize taxes and tariffs, but everything he does is legal. We have had this discussion before. You and I have debated the spirit of the law, but what counts is that he keeps the letter of the law.”

“Of course, Amna, but in looking for your brother, it will be helpful to know for sure if other family members are involved in smuggling.”

“And I tell you, Mr. Cooper, absolutely not.”

“Then what makes you think that Usman is involved in smuggling?”

“Little things. He makes too many trips to the West.”

“West. You mean he goes to Afghanistan frequently?”

“Sometimes he goes all the way into Afghanistan. Sometimes he only visits places along the border. Both kinds of trips are suspicious.”

“Perhaps he only goes to the mountains to cool off.”

“But there have been other little things. The week before he disappeared, he was wearing an Afghan turban.”

“Is there a difference?”

“Of course there is a difference. Usman was wearing it in the Pakistani style, but the cloth was certainly an Afghan turban. Then there’s the matter of the cigarettes.”

“But he doesn’t smoke.”

“Precisely. Usman does not smoke, and yet I saw cigarettes in his room, a brand that one can only buy in Afghanistan.”

“Or here, from smugglers?”

“Yes, one can buy them here on what you call the black market. That is the word is it not?”

Ron nodded. “Did you tell this to the detective agency your father hired?”

“Yes, but they do nothing with the information. Either they do not believe me, or are afraid exposing a local smuggler will be dangerous.”

“In the background material they sent me, they alluded to the fact that certain things are too sensitive for them to investigate directly.”

“That means they do not want to anger someone.”

“So what kinds of things do you think Usman is smuggling, besides the cigarettes?”

“Pantyhose and chocolate. I supervised the maid one day as she cleaned his room. There was a pile of the stuff under the bed, all still in the original packages.”

Ron shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose if there is a demand, he can make a profit.”

“The maid and I searched Usman’s room because I was already suspicious about the chocolate. He keeps giving me gifts of chocolates. Usman is a very loving big brother, but he does a poor job of lying. He tells me he has found a great deal on candy bars, but when I ask Zuftikhar to take me shopping, we can never find the same brands on sale.”

“The best place to start will be to look for his source of goods.”

“That is also what I thought. Saturday we will go to Afghanistan. It will be dangerous, but I will have Zuftikhar make the arrangements.”

Suddenly, the back door of the house opened.

(to be continued)

(Part 4 will be posted in mid February.)

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About Reynold Conger

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher. Now writing fiction. His books are CHASED ACROSS AUSTRALIA, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS (AT THE COST OF HEALTH). He has also started a series of novelas called THE RICHARD TRACY SERIES. Residence: New Mexico, USA Hobbies: gardening, animals and running. website www.ReynoldConger.com
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One Response to Part 3 of Life on the Left Side of the Fast Lane

  1. Amanda says:

    Just wanted you to know that I have been reading your writing and I am enjoying it. Looking forward to the next chapter.

    Amanda

    Like

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