Friday, 3 September 2010
Written by Margot Rhead
The police were checking each and every car at the road block. Hasan swore under his breath in Punjabi.
“Sod it!” he said, “We’re stuffed, Mohammed!”
“Breath slowly,” Mohammed replied, “Our only chance is to seem helpful.”
He looked ahead. There was an us-against-them air about the police.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, folks,” he heard the sergeant say to the family in the car in front.
“They seem easy enough,” Hasan said.
At that moment, the officers turned round and focused on Hasan and Mohammed, then stiffened. One spoke urgently into his radio.
“We’re next,” Mohammed said through his teeth. He muttered a prayer, then wound down the driver’s window and smiled. There was no friendly response.
“Open your boot, son.”
Mohammed obliged, glancing sideways at Hasan. They met each others’ eyes.
“Right, out the car, both of you!”
More police appeared, shouting instructions at Hasan and Mohammed. The tone was cold. They frisked them; took their mobile phones, then moved on to the boot. The big box sat there, open, its contents glinting in the sun.
“Inshallah!” whispered Mohammed.
“Do you mind explaining this, son?” barked the sergeant.
“They’re clothes,” replied Mohammed.
A lie would have been so much easier.
The sergeant methodically took each item out and held it up. All eyes were riveted. Two sparkling Elvis jumpsuits, two wigs, two pairs of high-heeled boots.
“We’re going to a Graceland fancy dress party, officer,” he said. “Tonight. It’s Halloween. Remember?”