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For All Nails #192: God's Smugglers

by Vegard Valberg

Passenger Airmobile
En Route to Nairobi
12 January 1973

Karl Meyer-Gustavsen was feeling quite comfortable where he sat in his first class SAL FN1 airmobile seat; the man next to him was a member of the Scandinavian embassy staff, and fortunately in on the secret, something which made things so much easier. He leaned back into the comfortable seat and let his fingers grab the arms of the seat firmly, and feel the leather upholstery, he carefully breathed in then out, and tried to sleep. It was not easy, a glass of schnapps and some coffee was a poor choice if he wanted to sleep. As he began to slip in and out of sleep he wondered if maybe he should order some wheat beer.

Karl Meyer-Gustavsen was in fact a priest, and sent to Victoria to tend to the slum mission, a fact that was always good when you wanted to get past government officials mindful of even worse public relations. Of course he was a priest of the Lutheran Church of Scandinavia, an organisation with a somewhat dubious reputation for fanaticism, be it Old Lutheran, FN2 Haugian, FN3 or Equality Theology, FN4 with its near, if you dared call it that, Jeffersonist ideas of justice and theology FN5. In some areas Equality Theology had become so prevalent that a Mexican once quipped "Luther's Padre, Jefferson's Cadre".

Still, in their foreign missions they had been very apolitical in the field, to avoid having their good works troubled by government interference; in fact the sermons he would give in the field were the kind you would hear from the most world weary Anglican priest as he tried to exhort his flock to please stop being a pack of unruly pagans, if it is not too much trouble that is.

Just before it was too late Karl got out of his seat and went to the bathroom. There he carefully made sure that the bundles of CNA pound notes in the special body belt were securely attached to his body in a manner that wouldn't show. The gold coins were equally concealed in his rather fancy wide belt with a rather large buckle, which they told him would defeat a cursory examination of said belt. If it got more than a cursory examination the bills he had elsewhere would have been spotted anyway.

As he sat down in his seat again he looked at the man next to him, the functionary gave him a quick look and a little nod, nothing more, but it told Karl that everything looked good. Of course he knew that already, this was hardly the first time he had done this, and even before he began running these missions he had trained several times in Scandinavia, though then he'd used bundles of newsprint.

As the airmobile landed at the aerodrome, or airport, or whatever they called these things these days, the Captain of the aircraft sent a message: "We are now landing at Nairobi International Airport, welcome to Victoria the air-conditioned country, FN6, and thank you for flying with Scandinavian Air Lines. We hope you had a fine journey, and that you will fly with us again."

After the landing as they were ushered out Karl noticed to his surprise that it was actually a bit chilly outside, something which surprised him, even in January it was usually warmer than this, in fact he put on his coat which up till then he had been carrying under his arm. Then again it was night, and it was January, and that was probably the reason; even so it was a chilly night, he just hoped it was not some bad omen, but even if it was he had long since passed the point of no return and so he walked on.

The airport lobby was like any he had seen during his travels, it hadn't changed since the last time either. He walked through the area with the text "Nothing to Declare" over it and he was waved through there like pretty much everyone else, and then he reached the counter for foreign visitors. His friend was lucky -- he simply held up his diplomatic passport and walked to the fore saying "Diplomat, diplomat" and was promptly waved through after a quick look.

After waiting about fifteen minutes it was Karl's turn, and he walked up to the counter and presented his visa and his Kingdom of Scandinavia passport. The man at the counter asked a few perfunctory questions like "Purpose of visit?" to which Karl replied "Charitable and missionary work", and "Have you forgotten to declare anything at customs", with the obvious reply "No." After that he was waved through again, no one even bothered to look into his carry on duffel bag, not that there was anything incriminating in it, just some bibles and religious tracts, all perfectly legal in Victoria.

After waiting what seemed to be an eternity at the baggage claim area, where he got a suitcase that he thought had been opened, maybe he was just paranoid though, he made it into the reception area. It was busy and bristling with kiosks of all descriptions, from 24-Sietes to Buckeys, and Peppe's Pizza. In other words, he could just as easily have been in any large airport in any modern part of the world.

There he was relieved to see an African in a chauffeur's uniform holding up a sign with "Pastor Meyer-Gustavsen"; as Karl identified himself the Chauffeur, who wore a name tag with the legend Martin Wamwere, took his suitcase and said "Please follow me, Sir." Karl didn't like having someone else carry his luggage, but he had been in Victoria before and knew that it would draw attention if he did it himself when he had a black chauffeur.

Once they got outside Karl stopped to take a deep breath of the cool crisp night air, even if it was a breath that brought with it quite a bit of exhaust fumes as well as air. The loke was a surprisingly big thing for Victoria, it looked like an old Mexican model, painted green, with enough room for a football team, and enough rear lights to blind the whole of Jefferson. Obviously this was a DeSoto, strange to see a loke named for an obscure Spanish explorer, but what could you do?

As he sat down in the rear seat he saw Martin turn the key, and there was a great BAROOMB sound as if ... well as if someone started up a rather large piece of machinery. Martin, knowing something of Karl's nature, commented, "Now Sir, they are smiling right up to the boardrooms in London!" Obviously commenting on this thing's ridiculous consumption of fuel, but once more what could you do, the Church was poor (actually it wasn't but it pretended to be) and fuel as always was cheap.

As they drove off Karl wondered if he was through with the difficult part, or if it would be more troublesome, or gut wrenching to deliver the money to the agent that was supposed to have it, or if this time he would, as he had sometimes been forced to do, handle the delivery himself.

Never mind, there would be time to think about this on the ride into Nairobi, plenty of time to think, and hopefully a chance to do some good. This damned regime was a tool of Satan, he had no doubts about that, and in the epic struggle between good and evil he had at long last spent the last few years firmly on the side of good, at least in this matter.

(Forward to FAN #193: Apocalypse Soon.)

(Forward to 14 January 1973: A Question of Attribution.)

(Return to For All Nails.)