“Wait let me stop you right there, yes I am smuggler, and yes I am old, but I am not an old smuggler.” The young person across the table looked at him with a blank stare. Garak shook his head when he realized I would have to explain this. “An old smuggler implies that I have been doing this a long time, and while I have been smuggling for a couple of years now, which might seem like a long time to you, it is not to me, and while I am an old guy that does not make me an old smuggler.” He decided to stop when he saw the light go off.
“I am sorry for the confusion Mr. Garak.”
“Hey drop the Mr. part, it is just Garak and you know that is an alias right?” The youth nodded his head. “Okay what was the question again.”
“You are a smuggler.” The young person looked at him. “And you are kind of advanced in age to be one, most people your age are retired and leaving comfortable lives.”
Garak shook his head. “Life is not about comfort son, it is about grabbing as much experiences as you can, it is about making a difference as you see fit and hopefully helping people along the way make as much as they can with their dash.”
The interviewer looked up at the last part. “Their dash?”
Garak nodded. “Their dash, the time between their birth and death, signified on their headstone with a dash.”
The reporter made a face of recognition and then continued. “So why are you a smuggler?”
“That is a good question.” He paused. “I guess you can say my personal convictions.”
“Can you please explain that.”
“Of course, you see when they started passing more and more laws infringing on personal liberty, with California leading the charge, then Utah. It happened when the church got a new prophet and with the boys in DC losing control that joker started exercising more and more wacko based control in his home territory. All of it disgusted me, and since I had time on my hands and the ability, meaning the freedom to do something about it I decided to get into the smuggling business, moving objects from one place to another making things available to people that they should be allowed to have.”
“So you do this because you hate the system?”
“Well that is an oversimplification, I love people, I respect people and believe they are born with the natural right to pursue their own happiness as long as it hurts no one else.”
“But aren’t some of the things you smuggle hurting people?”
“I thought you did your research on me fella” Garak said looking at the reporter. “I guess you did not do a good job.” The kids face flushed.
“I did you are a two way smuggler, you smuggle straws, guns, slingshots, red meat, and paint into California and you then turn around and smuggle weed and booze into Utah back and forth, back and forth.”
“Don’t forget the lingerie, those holy rollers polygamist wives in Utah really love that Fredrick’s of Hollywood stuff, pretty tame stuff, no leather or pvc, they typically keep it to lace and silk. I guess that is a way to keep the husband interested. So what is hurting people bub?” Garak said lighting a cigar with a match. The kid leaned back away from Garak as the smoke drifted towards him. Garak chuckled.
“You are going to claim the guns don’t hurt people, the straws and the paint hurt the environment and the slingshots well that could easily hurt people.”
Garak shook his head beginning to regret doing this interview. “The guns are bb guns,” The blank look came back on the kids face. “Pellet guns, using compressed air, not gun powder and while there is some danger inherent with all projectile weapons, the most the could happen is you’ll shoot your eye out kid.” Garak waited for a laugh, maybe even a chuckle or at the least slight smile, nothing.
“Okay but what about the paint and the straws, surely you see how that is hurting the environment.”
Garak shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I know all about the straws and them hurting the sea turtles, I was fifty when that ban started, you were what ten?”
” Mean while everything and anything was wrapped in plastic. Instead of rewarding business who reduced, recycled and reused with tax breaks or something sane. They outlawed straws making it a criminal offense to give them out throwing the a caterer in jail, for three years.”
“But he won on appeal Garak.”
“Tell that to his family that went three years without a father because he made straws available at a kid’s birthday party he was catering. They destroyed his business and bankrupted the family. Luckily they got help and are now living in Colorado I actually met him nice guy.”
“So you don’t believe you are hurting anyone with your smuggling?”
Garak shook his head. “I don’t move addictive substances across state lines, and most of these things were legal until someone made an emotional filled video which was then seen by some meddling politician who held his finger up to the wind and then decided he knew what was best for everyone and wrote at law that the news media covered with the same emotional video that started the whole thing. Then they sent people with guns to enforce those law. Most of the time there was no reasoned debate, no scientific study, no search for an alternative answer. Not even a debate about personal freedom and personal responsibility. Just a rush to make something ‘illegal’ as though that made it bad and it would solve the bigger problem.”
“So you do all this out of the goodness of your heart and just to say ‘screw the system’?”
Garak shook his head slightly. “Heck no kiddo, I get paid on both ends of my run, and very well thank you very much.” He said smiling as a brief look of disgust crossed the teenagers face, Garak decided to twist the knife a bit more. “I am a capitalist after all.” The undisguised look of disgust now came on the face full force.
“So you do this for the money then?”
“No, kid like I told you I did this because I am idealist. I don’t need the money except to cover my expenses, you have no idea how much I spend in gas and maintence for my vehicle driving back and forth between those two states, not to mention the gifts I have to give some people to operate.”
“You mean bribes.”
“You say tomatoes I say tomatoes.” Garak said waving his cigar in the air.
“But you make a profit from the smuggling?”
“I would not be a very good capitalist if I didn’t.”
The kid took a deep breath and regained his composer. “So what makes you such a good smuggler, according to all my sources you have never been caught, let alone arrested and charged in either state or by the federal authorities?”
Garak chuckled. “First I am an old man, no one thinks old people, especially in the youth culture of California think old people can do anything, except maybe be experts on the early bird special. Secondly I spent all of my adult life in either military intelligence, law enforcement or private security, I can read signal and communications traffic like a road map, so I can avoid spot searches and other ‘imperial entanglements’. Garak looked for a bit of recognition, none. “You are not a movie buff are you son?”
The kid shook his head no.
“So why interview me kid, it is obvious you don’t like me and are working on this interview with your own bias fully intact.”
“I am not biased I am a reporter.”
“Saying you are a reporter does not automatically eliminate your bias boyyo. Like I said kid I used to read people for a living. It is obvious you don’t like me for several reason,” Garak held up a finger. “I am a money grubbing capitalist.” He held up a second finger. “You disapprove of the things I smuggle into California but not the things I smuggle into Utah and thirdly you wince ever so slightly every time I call you ‘son’, ‘fella’ or ‘bud’ but not ‘kid’. Are you one of those new eunuchs I have been reading about?”
“The term is ‘new person’ if you must call us anything.” The young person said defiantly.
“Hey that is cool pal. You are not hurting anyone but yourself, and you don’t even see it that way, I guess, so the more power to you and all.” Garak said shrugging his shoulders. “I just assumed you were a guy, no offense meant, I am old and all and I don’t speak this new language. I mean it is kinda like when you get senorita and senora mixed up down south, nobody really gets bent out of shape because at least you are saying por favor when asking for a cervesa which means you are trying to be polite. Now that I know I can just call you…” Garak faded out the last part looking for an answer. Then he heard the whine of a hovercraft approaching the building.
There was silence in the dusty barn as Garak stared in shock at the kid who was smiling broadly. “Just call me Special Investigator Tinsome and you Garak are under arrest.” There was a loud crash as several armed officers crashed in the doors of the dusty barn. Garak look of fright faded away as he reached down to the table and grabbed his matches and relight his cigar. “You are under arrest for bringing illegal substances into the Three Sovereign States of California and in addition subjecting a citizen to second hand smoke.” Special Investigator Tinsome said waving his had at the smoke that was coming towards him.
“Two questions before you take me away.”
Tinsome nodded as he was flanked by two heavily armed officers who had Tasers and handcuffs out.
“Why do you guys still have three states in your name, I mean you became three states, then you all succeed from the Union, why not just go back to one state, why keep the full title, The Three Sovereign States of California, just go back to being California, a lot simpler that way.”
“We are trying to be inclusive, is that really your question Garak.” Tinsome said.
Garak nodded. “You are right more of an observation. Okay here are my questions. How dumb do you think I am, and you guys know there are other ways to transmit information over long distances other than just wireless?” Garak said smiling, then blinked out of existence. Tinsome and the other officers faces showed a look of surprise, they were even more surprised when Garak reappeared a full fifteen seconds later. This time wearing a yellow t-shirt with the phrase ‘don’t tread on me’ on it. “Kinda of figured that this ‘interview’ was a set up so I ran a fiber optic cable into this place, I only buried about five hundred yards or so, the rest is just lying on top of the sand. So while you boys were scanning for a transmission coming in to this place we sent the signal to the projector via cable. I have been sitting outside of your scanning area thanks to some friends. I was surprised you did not pick that up, I mean you waved at my cigar smoke and it did not move, let alone that you could not smell it, pity it is a good one, nice and robust.”
Officer Tinsome muttered something under his breath.
“Well time for me to retire, catch you on the other side Mr. Tinsome, oh and I was streaming this to the internet so your cover as a ‘reporter’ has been blown, you guys are going to have to think of another scheme to entrap people.”
Tinsome looked at the man as he faded from view.
“Oh and one more thing, you guys can go to hell I am going to Texas.”
For more pop culture references see this story The Place to Go for Answers.
For another short piece on my Libertarian views read We Need A Monster.