“There they are, waiting. Remember when the only thing you had to worry about in the airport was the Hare Krishnas? Now it takes three hours to check in and another three to go through baggage claim.” Jack patted his companion on the back. “If we get separated, I’ll meet you in the bar.” Jack walked over to the man in the red jacket and asked where Flight 222’s bags were coming in. Paul just let him go. He had no intention of going to the bar. All he was concentrating on was getting his bag.
Paul was nervously looking for his baggage claim tickets. Thinking he would lose his job if he lost the bag packed with the evidence, he was starting to panic. Since the rules had changed recently, he wasn’t allowed to bring his computer on board with him, and packed it in a nondescript dufflebag for safekeeping. It was surrounded by extremely odorous gym clothes. Paul hoped that would discourage the handlers from digging too deep. Corporate espionage evidence was very important to any company and Paul was in charge of finding and reporting a particular incident. His job depended on the evidence reaching his boss.
He found the tickets and walked over to the baggage claim where Jack was waiting. As the bags started filing in, Jack closed in on Paul’s duffle bag. “I’ll get this big one for you, Paul,” lifting it off the conveyor and backing up. As Jack sat the bag by his side, Paul thought that was a strange action for someone he’d only met a few hours ago on the plane. “Yeah, that’s mine, the blue suitcase,” Jack pointed, “mind getting it while I watch your bag?” Since the area was full of hurrying passengers grabbing their luggage, Paul didn’t want to waste time, he just wanted to get his bag and get to the office. He turned and saw Jack’s bag and reached for it.
Suddenly two uniformed men put their hands on Paul and pushed him away from the baggage carousel. “That bag will have to be examined, sir. Come with us.” Paul couldn’t believe what was happening. He looked around to see Jack, but he was nowhere in sight. All Paul could think of was his bag disappearing with the evidence. He tried to explain about Jack taking his bag as he sat handcuffed in a small room occupied by airport security personnel.
“You don’t seem to get it”, he pleaded. “This guy has my bag! He’s probably gone by now. I’m going to lose my job. . .” Paul explained how he met Jack on the plane and Jack instantly started a conversation. The authorities told Paul there was no one on the manifest named Jack, J something, or any other form of Jack. The blue suitcase was reported as having drugs in it, so they grabbed Paul, thinking it was his. No evidence of drugs was found. Paul just shook his head in disbelief. They allowed him to call his wife.
Jack started looking through Paul’s bag in the cab. God, it reeked! But the prize was there–the laptop with the evidence proving his company had completed illegal trades. “I bet the boss’ll give me a raise!” He zipped the gym bag and told the driver to take him to a nearby town to a different airport.