[Jewellery Customs Tax, 875 words, Genre: Mind Fudge]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Edward had bought a watch at the Ho Chi Minh City airport. It was a swatch brand of exquisite craft. It was a stopover flight back to Melbourne, Australia. He bought it tax free. What he didn’t know was that Australia and other western countries placed a heavy surcharge on all items of jewellery. The watch cost him three hundred US dollars. What he didn’t understand was that when he got back to Australia, his home country. He would have to pay an extra ten thousand US dollars through customs if he wanted to collect the watch. What he had unwittingly stumbled upon was the underground market and smuggling game for jewellery across international borders.
After purchasing the watch he placed it on his left wrist and went to have a cigarette. That is when someone came up to him and questioned him, “So you’re smuggling a watch, better have a good knock off for that one.” The stranger told him.
“Excuse me?” Edward was completely oblivious to the point of fact.
“The watch man, the watch, don’t tell me you don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?”
“Oh god, they’ll all be after you on the flight back.”
“Who will be after me?”
“Well, there’s the magicians, the smugglers, the thieves and the families.”
“Why will they be after me?”
“Because of the watch. God damn it man, the watch! They’ve already reported it to customs back home. By the time you get back you’ll have to pay about ten thousand for a surcharge on jewellery.”
“Surcharge on jewellery?”
“Yes, English speaking countries place a heavy tax on items of jewellery bought at airports. It’s like a fine or something. It’s how the government makes its money.”
“Yeah, but what will probably happen is one of the four groups I mentioned before will take it off you beforehand and you’ll be left with the bill. Good luck buddy.” The stranger patted him on the back and walked away.
Edward looked around frantically. Suddenly scared out of his wits. Jesus Christ! What was he going to do. He tried to return the watch, but they wouldn’t accept it. They told him that he had already taken it out of its container and it was therefore a used item because there was no guarantee or insurance purchased with the watch. He had to keep his cool. He looked around. Apparently there were people out there who would prey upon him to get the watch.
He walked around the airport. There, sitting off to the side was a man with a large beard. “Better have a good knock off to pull that one off. Let me see the knock off.”
“I don’t have a knock off.”
“Give me the farkin’ watch mate.”
“No.” And Edward walked off.
“Ah, well.” The man spoke as Edward walked away. “One of the magicians will get it or one of the families.”
Upon hearing this. Edward took off the watch and placed it in his jacket pocket. His jacket had a hole in it and he manoeuvred it through his jacket so that it could not be easily reached.
Then another man came up to him and began talking to him really quickly, “So you’re the man with the watch. What I want you to do is have a look at the time… Look at the clock spin around and be hypnotized by its movements.”
“I don’t have the watch anymore… Someone else took it.” Edward lied.
The man walked away with a fist clenched, “Damn smugglers!”
Edward went to the gate to board the plane. A man came up to him, kind of shady looking. “Hey buddy, where are you from?”
“I’m from Australia.”
“Pleasure.” The man extended his hand for Edward to shake. Edward shook his hand and felt the man grab his wrist. What the hell was that? Edward met the other man’s eyes. The man’s eyes quickly darted, he turned around and walked away. As the man walked away, he mumbled to himself, “Damn magicians!”
That is when they called out for the boarding of the flight. He lined up to board the flight as did the other passengers. Behind him stood a family. A mother, a father and their son. He overheard the family speaking, “That’s right, Jimmy. All you have to do is find the most expensive item on this man’s person and take it. He can’t do anything to you because you’re a child.”
This made Edward’s ears prick. He felt around in his jacket for the watch. He thought about it. This kid watching him for a twelve hour flight. The risk was too great… He decided not to give it up. He boarded the plane and took his seat. He had a window seat. On the flight home, the entire twelve hour flight, he held his jacket next to him and used it as a pillow. Underneath the material he clutched the watch for all it was worth. Afraid to let it go.
He fell asleep at some point and when he woke up the watch was gone. He looked around. There was nothing that he could do. When he got back home he would be stuck with a ten thousand dollar debt.