My flight had been delayed by an awkward incident during a brief stopover in Z—. One of the passengers — an older man in a crumpled suit — had been pulled from the boarding queue. Two persons, who did not look as if they belonged to airport security, searched the man’s carry-on luggage.
From my place in the queue I observed him as they pulled out first a newspaper and then what could have been a paperback novel. The man in the suit did not flinch.
The book had a green matte cover with gold lettering in a language I did not recognise. As the official flicked through its pages I could see that it was unread, brand new.
A sales receipt fell onto the floor of the terminal building. The man in the crumpled suit noticed this but the official did not (and his colleague was busy calling the incident in on her mobile telephone, in any case). Presently, they led the man away.
As our ageing Bombardier turboprop banked and turned over the marble mountaintops, I marvelled at my own audacity: I had slipped the receipt between the pages of my debut poetry collection, somehow certain that both it and the unreadable message scrawled on its reverse side would be safe from harm once I arrived in the Republic.