Contraband

by Joseph S. Pete

 

“Let me show you,” Amos said, plopping down on the grass and whipping out his smartphone.

“Here,” he said, handing Jim the phone. “Scope this schematic.”

It was a map of last year’s Bumblebuzz Music Festival, which was two weeks away from returning.

“Sometimes they change around the stage locations, but it’s generally laid out the same way year after year.”

“You’ve done this before?” Jim asked.

“Of course, I’m not going to pay $12 for a piss-weak Pale Ale after waiting in line for 40 minutes. You’ll miss every band that way.”

“So how does this work?” Jim asked, scanning around the park.

“You don’t want to use too expensive booze, in case you can’t find it later or someone else does. You don’t want to dig too deep, so you don’t look too conspicuous digging it back up. But you don’t want to dig too shallow so a raccoon or dog or some forager finds it before the festival even starts. You want to bury it at just the right depth, and cover it up good by restoring the grass.”

“And it’s got to be near a recognizable landmark, right?” Jim asked. “Would the bench work?”

“Nah, people might sit there, camp out there even,” Amos said. “And avoid water fountains because they’re too high-traffic. Try a tree.”

“How do you know it won’t be under a stage or a food truck or something?”

“That’s what the map is for,” Amos said. “Try for somewhere discreet, like behind the row of port-o-potties where you won’t be seen.”

They strolled around the park while studying the map and eventually found a verdant, flowering old-growth tree that stood out. Amos unslung his bicycle messenger bag and pulled out a bottle of vodka, and then a folding hand shovel he bought from an Army-Navy surplus store.

“I’m going to show you how it’s done,” he said. “You can bury enough to get messed up, or even to sell it on the black market. There’s a demand.”

“Can’t you just sneak booze past security, in a Camelbak or something?”

“This way, you don’t even have to worry about security?”

“This is pretty slick.”

“Yeah, the fine art of contraband stashing. All these music festivals are built on an aesthetic of sticking it to the man, but they’re actually all the man at this juncture in history. They’re institutions. They’re a big business. We got to stick−”

“Hey,” a voice barked off in the distance. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

Simultaneously they turned. A cop on horseback was glowering at them a few hundred feet away. He sat rigidly atop his saddle, shouting muffledly.

“What do we do now?”

Amos started scooping up everything and shoving it back into his bag. He pushed dirt back into the hole with his smudged palms.

“Run.”

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