I’m going to relate to you a tale of intrigue and danger. A tale so Bourne Supremacy that you will urinate in your pantaloons, right where you sit!
During our recent cruise, after our tours and such on the island of Dominica, SharkBoy and I decided to wander the markets close to the dock and look for loud Caribbean shirts for the dress up dinner.
Know my state of mind at this moment of shopping: I just drove through some pretty depressed areas around the island. I witnessed people in less-than shack like accommodations by the side of a dusty mountain road. I saw armed security guards shove back riotous cab drivers a few hours before, shouting their displeasure at the shore administrators who would not let them near the ship’s disembarkation area. I felt guilty.
As we’re looking at shirts, a woman comes up to me and she casually asks “Can you go buy me two bottles of “RED” over in the duty free? Since I’m a local, I’m unable to buy it.”
Poor dear, I thought. And agreed. She handed me the US dollars (exactly $32?) and I wandered over to the shop. SharkBoy reluctantly in tow.
We find the bottles and I take them to the cash. The clerk asks for my ship pass.
Alarm one. I’m tagged!
The clerk takes my pass and enters it into the computer. My name comes up. She types something. My bowels turn to ice. I realize too late that I am recorded into the ship’s system that is somehow linked to this shop on shore and they know I am bringing liquor on board. Which I won’t be. Too late to cancel the transaction, I take the two Johnny Walker Red bottles over to the stall. As I approach, the woman yells over the heads of her customers, without making eye contact at me, “Pretend you’re shopping and leave the bottles behind.”
Alarm two. SharkBoy takes off like a lightning bolt.
I begin to think this wasn’t a great idea. A paranoia flows over me like a wave on a nice white sandy beach. I wonder if we’re being watched by any number of armed guards that patrol the streets. The thought that she herself might be a plant for the police slams into my head like a tour bus full of fat New Jersians.
Calmly, I bend down to look at a trinket near the front of her stall. I place the bag of liquor on the ground and pick up a carved mask. “How much for the mask?” I ask.
I’m fully expecting an extremely low price since my life and safety has been compromised by her seemingly innocent request. “Mask?” she says.
“Mask!” I repeat. I point.
“Maa– OH! Face!” she says a bit too loudly like she’s not sure where this game of intrigue is going to go. “If you wanted the face, you should say face! $25!”
I’ve seen better acting at a 9th grade winter pageant.
“Oh ok, thanks” and I walk away, sans bag. I’m pissed she didn’t give me the maskface at a good price. I’m too frightened to barter, regardless.
As I head for the mouth of the alley I’m waiting for the restraining hand on my shoulder, the shout to stop, the bullet in my back. It doesn’t come. When I finally meet up with SharkBoy again he’s got the lie all worked out: “You went to an internet cafe and it was stolen from you as you checked your email.”
Oddly enough, when I boarded the ship, nothing was said by the guard on the check in computer. Later we had 45 minute wait before we sailed form Dominica and every time the ship announcement bells went off we jumped, expecting a call to guest services to explain myself.
Nothing came of it. And it will never happen again, I assure you.