Smuggler’s Camp

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The trucks come rumbling into our camp, dust rising in their wake. The beds are full of boxes and men with guns on their backs, and I run to meet them, praying to whatever god might listen that Fetch is with them. I’m always worried he won’t come back. He almost didn’t once. They dragged him in with blood on his face and his side all bandaged and bloody. It took him three weeks to get back on his feet.

I worry every time he leaves now.

But he’s with the trucks, and he smiles when he sees me. He jumps down from the truck and ruffles my hair, shoving my hat down over my eyes. “There you are, little brother. I told you I’d be back.”

He’s not really my brother. They found me on the desert after my father threw me out, almost dead with thirst and barely strong enough to stand on my own two feet. Fetch tells me I tried to put up a fight, even then, but I don’t remember. All I remember is waking up on his camp bed, and him giving me what was left of his dinner. I’ve been his little brother ever since.

I run over to the trucks and clamber up on the tire, climbing until I can see what they brought back. Boxes and bundles are stacked two or three high in the bed. It must have been a good run, though when I ask how it went Fetch only says it was all right, and it isn’t any of my business. He always says that. I’m going to join them in the trucks when I’m old enough, but he won’t tell me anything now. He says I have to be sixteen first.

It seems like a long time to wait.

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