The Carrick Gazette sponsored the Creative Writing Competition that was part of this year’s Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival.
In last week’s edition we printed the story by Abby Gray, winner in the 12-18 year old category.
This week it’s the turn of Pat Young who was “Highly Commended” in the adult category and her story “Black and Red”.
Black and Red
Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was breaking the law, but Mac depended on me. And a lot of people depended on him. Anyway, it’s a silly wee law. If something’s freely available in one country, what’s the harm in taking it to another?
I’d never had any problems in the past, but that year was different. I remember it as the Foot and Mouth Year. Towering pyres of carcasses filled TV screens and the smell of burning flesh defiled rural nostrils. Farmers warned of bankruptcy while folk like me couldn’t get a decent walk with the dog. Signs and notices everywhere, barring the way, spoiling our fun.
Equally ridiculous posters all over the airport, warning of the dire consequences of smuggling. It was one of those that caused all the trouble.
‘Look, Mum!’ announced my fretting fourteen year old, as we checked in for our flight to Spain. I know she was only thinking aloud, but how many times have I told her to engage her brain before she puts that mouth of hers into gear?
‘What about Uncle Mac’s present?’ she said.
The check-in assistant, a slip of a girl herself, raised over-plucked eyebrows at me. And waited.
‘What’ll we do?’ whispered Michelle. Bit late for the lowered voice, I remember thinking.
Fingers in mouth, I burbled something about another fine mess and tried to look endearing. Evidently, our friend had missed Laurel and Hardy when she was growing up. Missed a sense of humour too, judging by the curdled look on her face.
‘Ah,’ I said, as if I’d only just remembered the contraband concealed in my luggage. Penitent-like, I dropped to my knees, unzipped my little roll-along and removed the offending package. With shrugged shoulders and an intake of breath through my teeth, I handed over Mac’s parcel and took back our passports.
‘What now?’ I asked the charming Miss Check-in.
‘Not my problem.’
‘Dammit, Michelle,’ I muttered as we made our way across the concourse. ‘Uncle
Mac’s counting on us. We need to deliver. One way or another.’
So we came up with Plan B, which should have worked out fine.
‘Me! In the Spanish papers!’ raged Mac on the phone. ‘St Andrew’s Night explosion in The MacGaluf!’
Strutting like a laird at a Highland Games, he’d popped into the kitchen, expectation as sharp as the sgian dhubh in his sock, when the shockwave hit. Loud as a Basque bomb, the boiling can exploded and pebble-dashed his face with spatterings of the scalding haggis.
‘Twenty years I’ve smuggled your haggis, and the minute it goes wrong, I’m the bad guy?’
‘Oh, come off it, Mac. You can’t blame me for your stupidity. Everyone knows you can’t boil a tinned haggis without piercing the can.’
He said nothing. Wish I’d done the same.
I giggled. ‘Can you be black-affronted with a face that red?’
‘I’ll never forgive you for this,’ he said.
And he never did.