By Tim Scott

Location: Manchester Airport

It didn’t even beep and they want to search me. This is how every holiday begins.

I’ve spent twenty minutes waiting. Every time the queue threatens to move I get poked in the back by a Japanese guy’s laptop. I’ve got a blocked nose and I put my books in the wrong case. On the flight, my ears are going to pop and I’ll have nothing to read. Now I’ve got to wait in line to be felt up, harassed.

I took my belt, my shoes off. I did everything right. I don’t look that foreign. I just forgot to shave and smile today.

I’m signalled to. With a flicker of this stranger’s fingers, it’s my turn. The guy searching me is orange. He’s a much odder colour than I am. I don’t know why no one suspects him of being a terrorist. Maybe they do.

He’s got a split spot between his eyebrows. And his moustache – it’s so sparse. It’s like it’s been drawn on him as graffiti. He’s drowned in bathroom cologne but somehow he looks sweaty and dirty too.

He’s still sort of hot. I’ve no idea why. I must be bored.

I lift up my arms. I show willing. I surrender, silently beg for mercy, and he rubs under my armpits. It’s like he’s pulling me in, about to say he needs me. His hands stroke my ribs. They head down, head home.

He bends to the floor with grace, his head now level with my crotch. He doesn’t want to look me in the eye; he has to look me in the balls. He pats around my ankles. I catch the edge of a smile.

He caresses the sides of my legs, from thigh back to ankle. Then he wraps his hands around the back of my legs, rubs up from the end of my calves to just below my buttocks. Then front, from thigh to ankle again, grazing my dick with his right hand en route.

He stands up and faces me, looking for signs of panic, bad intentions. He checks my chest, my back: each time stroking down the middle, then making and finishing an O with his hands, covering all territory.

He steps around me, asks me to spread my legs. ‘Just a bit for us.’ Through my jeans, he uses his fingertips to trace a line between my coccyx and my balls: perineum and worse. He sweeps across my buttocks with the back of his right hand and I start slightly. I giggle too.

With the back of his hand again, because otherwise it would be invasive, he checks my crotch, up, down, right, left. He pats me on the left shoulder – ‘All done’ – and I walk on tiptoes to collect my shoes, wallet, belt, bag and become respectable again.

Tim Scott is a young writer from Manchester. He has written a story collection called Sudden Scripture, set mainly in this city, and is now writing a novel about its suburbs.



One Response to “Machine”

  1. December 12, 2008 at 4:48 pm, Martha Jones said:

    I enjoyed the description and felt almost as if the character in some strange way enjoyed the “game”.


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