6th October

A Case of Leaves (2)

This old fellow was coming through. We’d been watching him on the monitor as he crossed the concourse.

‘That’s a healthy old bird,’ Stan said. ‘Look at the way he’s swinging that suitcase.’

The man was wearing a brown raincoat and a hat from a 1950s movie. Stan was right: he was jaunty even though he looked above seventy. You could see it wasn’t any effort to carry the case.

‘Can’t be much in that,’ I said.

‘If anything,’ Stan said. ‘Let’s take a look.’

We stepped out and took the old fellow over to the inspection zone.

‘Is that your suitcase, sir?’ Stan asked.

‘Yes, it is.’

‘Please put the suitcase on the table,’ Stan said.

The man lifted it as if it were full of air. Stan turned it sideways on, so
that when it was opened we would all be able to see inside clearly.

‘Is it locked?’

‘No, it’s not locked.’

‘Did you pack this case yourself, sir?’

‘Yes, I did.’

‘Has anyone else had access to it? Could anyone have interfered with it, with or without your knowledge?’

‘Not with my knowledge. Without – how would I know?’

He did not seem anxious in his brown raincoat and 1950s hat.

Stan said, ‘Please open the suitcase.’

The man flicked up one catch, then the other. He lifted the lid. The lid went back so far, then stopped.

‘What’s this?’ Stan said sharply. ‘Leaves.’


‘It’s the fall back there. I brought the fall with me.’

Stan’s gloved hand rummaged around, like a squirrel in a park. It shovelled dry leaves onto the table. Some fell on the floor.

‘Do something, Pete,’ Stan said.

‘Is something the matter?’ the man asked.

What was I supposed to do? I wasn’t a park attendant. ‘It’s just leaves,’ I said.

Suddenly the man started laughing, a clean, happy laugh. It was infectious. I couldn’t help myself.

‘Pete,’ Stan said. ‘Can it.’

I pushed Stan aside. I put both hands in and flung a heap of leaves in the air.

‘It’s just leaves,’ I said. I dug in again, deeper this time, showering us all. I wanted there not to be a bottom to that suitcase.

Reader: John McGeachie
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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