“I sometimes sell sand by the seashore.”
“Sand?” I asked, a twinge of excitement in my voice. “Yes, sand,” he continued. “I’ve got a whole box of granular materials here. Sand, silt, granite, basalt... the list goes on and on, kid.” I struck up a conversation with the enigmatic man, only to discover that he was an arenologist, one who studies the science of sand. I called him “The Sandman,” and he quickly became for me what after school specials were for kids who didn’t have an unnatural obsession with sand. He told me glorious stories of his exploits across Europe and Asia, how he went to the most exotic places and collected samples of the world’s most elusive sand. I came back every day to hear more tales and to buy large quantities of sand, which I would incorporate into my spells and potions that required sand. And the colors! Each individual grain of sand shone as if aflame; even the most beautiful rainbow pales in comparison with the grooves and patterns of sand.
He told me of his trek through the Sahara to sample the sandy banks of Ghana.
Then one day I went to hear the ending of a delightful tale describing the Sandman’s fight against the entire Russian army for a cupful of Siberian mountain sand, only to discover no trace of the venerated sage. I felt so betrayed, as if everything I ever pretended to believe in was a lie. Later that night, I heard on the radio that the government was cracking down on people who moved sand across international boundaries illegally. But the customs duties on sand were too high! I could never afford to buy sand legally!
Smugglers moving “precious cargo” across the border.
But the government didn’t care about my horrific experiments, or what they could eventually lead to. The War on Sand was to be the nudge I needed to become part of the seedy geological underbelly of North Überhaven. I set out to avenge my friend and being justice to the masses... by bringing unlicensed sand into the country.
And who would suspect such a lovable scamp?
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I had a thriving operation running. Over a thousand kilos of pure feldspar was moving across the Mexican border every ten minutes. But my biggest supplier was the Hawaiian syndicate. They practically destroyed Kure Atoll to fill their quota. Once my thirtieth birthday rolled around, I realized that smuggling exotic and beautiful sand from around the world was good for my bank account, but I wasn’t having fun anymore. So I faked my own death and started over as a pool boy in downtown San Diego.