|A friend in need´s a friend indeed... just how desperate had things to get for Nick that he would actually bring himself to call Le Anh in the middle of the night, that´s the question|
|Stiffly I hang up|
|Slowly I bend forward and press my forehead against the cool, slightly uneven surface of the painted wall, try to regain some conciousness... until I realize he is talking to me and I turn around to face him|
"So what is it, will this friend of yours come here to verify your identity?"
I am shivering a bit now... why do I shiver
Need... to get a grip...
"Um, yes Sir..."
My ears are ringing
|"Well fine, and did she tell you when, too... hey Mister? Are you with me?"|
|"Gee I hate night shifts"|
"Me too... listen up Hank we gotta be back on patrol, so what you want- shall we just leave him here with you, or..."
|"Why not ask him?"|
"Yeah right..." she sighs "...hey, Mister, will you behave, or do we have to move you to a cell while you wait for your friend to arrive?"
|... cell... |
|"Did he just say no?!"|
"That's what I've heard, too"
"Common partner, the guy's a nutjob- let's lock him up and get back on the road, eh?"
"Guess that makes sense..."
|"Good, err, morning officer- my name is Su, a friend of mine called me about half an hour ago and... well he was not to clear in his call, but he told me something about having been arrested? And having no ID on him?"|
|"Well Miss, tonight the choice is all yours. Who would your friend be, the drunk or the nutter?"|
|"I beg your pardon?!"|
|"Why, of course, if you want. But I have to warn you, both of them are not the prettiest of sights"|
|I straighten my shoulders and follow the desk officer to the back room|
I feel like walking into some cheap bar, the stink of stale smoke and alcohol is so intense in here. The stranger in the first cell starts to wave his arms around at the sight of me
|"Heya da´lin´where´cha been all night? ´Bout time ya showup, yanno! But hey, I forgive you... we both know you canno live without me"|
|"Never met this one" I state with a frosty undertone, turning towards the second cell|
"I guessed so much... well, that leaves us with..."
|"... the other one"|
Oh dear, it is Nick indeed and it seems as if he is about to try hide underneath the bed any second now that we entered the room.
I stiffen. Jail.
My god. This must be shere hell for him
|"Watch out Lady..." |
"Hey Nick... I came as fast as I could... come on now, let's go home"
He only starts walking as I gently poke his arm... it dawns on me that I have not really planned beyond this point and feverishly start thinking about that
|Gee Lady I sure hope this friendship thing you guys have is mutual|
|And then, just before we reach my car, I suddenly hear him break into a run|
As I turn around I am lucky to catch a last glimpse of Nick running into the night like a hunted deer
|"Nick, wait..." |
To late. He has been swallowed by the dark
|Two days now, and still no sign of Nick. He has not shown up at the Lizard, he doesn't return my calls...|
|Speaking of the devil... I am under the impression that she is getting more lazy by the day lately. I mean, seriously- I already finished two reports this morning while she is still reading the newspaper?!|
|"YES!! YES I knew it, bwaaaahahahaaa, finally! Oh sucker you are SO gonna pay!!"|
|Ok, this is it. She has officially gone bonkers now|
"Heather... are you alright?"
She freezes in midmove
|"Oh, eh... yeah thank you, I am fine... just read some... really good news, ahem"|
|"And what news would that be, if you don't mind to share it?"|
|Carella will make a lot of money soon?|
"How... interesting. And most convenient given your stressfull financial situation, too, I am happy for you..."
|Secretly, I google the newpaper article Heather was referring to... ah. This must be it... |
"Mesa's most famous archeologist returns to Egypt"
Carella constantly nags about the third map
Nick's house is broken into
Carella returns to Al Simhara?!
|But this will be my very last option, naturally. I decide to drive around town, maybe I can spot him somewhere... need to check the park, too...|
|The feeling of urgency is growing stronger by the minute now. God I hope he is ok... the state he was in... I will never forgive myself if...|
|The park seems to be deserted|
|Panting, I try to catch my breath. I try to blink the upwelling tears of frustration away- where else to look now?!?|
|Which is exactly when I spot Seamus at the playground. He is ok!|
So I jogg over to talk to him
|"Seamus! Thank God I found you - I need..."|
|"... Seam, is this a black eye?!"|
|"Yeah, it is. Nope, I don´t want to talk about it. Ok? So- you were saying...?"|
|Without hesitation, the boy snatches his mobile from the front pocket of his hoody and starts to hit the buttons |
For a second I wonder if I will be angry if Nick should answer this time, or just relieved
|But I can hear the automatic message announcing that the number is not available all too well although Seam is pressing the phone against his ear tightly|
|Quietly he puts it back, visibly paler now "Crap. Not available" |
"Guess this would have been to easy, huh? Seam, I do not know where Nick lives, but I really really worry and would love to check if he is ok. Would you give me his adress, please?
|"Are you kidding?! I am coming with you! Let´s go!"|
|Part of me is happy that he brought it up first, but on the other hand I am not so sure what to expect when... if... we should be able to locate his uncle|
|And by the looks of it, I am not the only one who is not too optimistic about this whole thing|
"Next one, turn left..."
|"Ok, here we are"|
A barn?! When Nick said he inherited a shack, I did not think he was to be taken literally about it
I draw the car to the side and stop
|"Oh dear. Look at this, he did not empty the post box for several days!"|
"Yeah... not good... wait, let me take a look inside..."
|"Can you see him?" |
"Nope. Crap, he is not in Le!"
|"So where else would you look for him? I am running out of ideas here"|
"Well the Lizard, of course! He might be there tonight, he always ends up there again, right? Common Le, let´s go, please?"
|I do not have the heart to tell him that I called Sheila every day so far. But he might be right after all, maybe today...|
"No. No sign of him still, and Darren asked around a bit, too... nothing"
|I am getting an idea why Seam was so hesitant about telling me of this place. Dear me I did not even know that there was such a rundown alley in Mesa at all.. in silence, we enter a shabby bar at the corner of a dead end street|
|"Seems like we found him"|
|And by the looks of it, he might well have been here all the time since the other night|
|While we still linger by the door, undecided what to do next, Nick slides down from his barstool...|
|...and staggers towards the door in the back, hickupping audibly|
|Time goes by and no sign of him|
"Ehm, Seam... it is the men's..."
"Oh, crap... ok wait here, I´ll check"
|No doubt about it, someone is retching his guts out here|
"Nick? Are you alright in there?"
|Some incomprehendible cusswords later Nick finally emits from the toilet box, tugging on his jeans, slurring his response |
"Whache hell doya wann... Sheam? Whache..."
"Let´s get out of here, ok? This place stinks of piss, man"
|Swaying like a sailor, Nick stumbles out of the restroom|
"... kayes... so.. whache hell aya doin her´? Tis ainno place for, for.."
|"For who, for me? Wake up man, this ain´t no place for nobody. What are you doing man? I really thought you were over crap like that"|
I´m good here, fine, juss... juss... great, yanno? Dinn feel so right
inn, inn.. dunno... yanno? Wait... tissis a black eye?!"|
" Nick. We need to talk"
"And for that, you better be sober... come on. Have a mug of java- please"
|"So, do you think you are coming around?"|
"Good, because I think if you drink as much as one more coffee you will probably have a heart attack"
|"No, it will do... Le, listen... I am... I don't know what to say..."|
"Never mind. Shall we go upstairs? There is something I think you should know about, and the upper floor is a little more private"
|"Are you sure you are ready to listen?"|
"Yeah... just stop yelling at me, ok? My head..."
|"Alright then... you might want to sit down, though. I guess this will knock you off your feet"|
why would you... I don´t know, come looking for me, sober me up,
whatever, just to kick me in the face, bring me down again?"|
"What? Nick, I would not, never! But I think I figured out who broke into your... house the other day!"
|Slowly he lowers himself onto the shabby couch, cautiously looking over to Le and Seamus|
"So what do you think who did it?"
|"Carella. Heather freaked out after reading a newspaper article, so I googled a bit- he is organizing another expedition to Al Simhara right now! Question coming to mind was, why now?"|
|"If you think about it for a bit, there is but one explanation. |
One: Someone kicks down your front door while you are with me and Seamus the very night he has been pestering you about the third map once again"
|"Two: Someone breaks into your home and searches the whole place, but nothing is reported missing, and frankly anyone could tell that there is nothing worth stealing in your house anyway"|
|"Conclusion, it was Carella, who must have overheard that I wanted to take you to hospital and took his chances to finally get what he wanted so badly for so long- only didn´t dare steal before because he was to scared of walking into you"|
|"And now the bastard has finally reached his goal. So what are we going to do about it?"|
|"So... what do you think we ought to be doing? Yeah, he took the last part of the map, yeah, he had me... once again. So what"|
|"So what?! Man you can't be serious! We need to thwart the sucker's schemes, we can't let him get away with that, not again!"|
Le tries very hard to figure out why Nick seem to be so unbelievably calm about the whole situation
|Nick shifts his weight |
"I told you once and I am telling you again. I am not going back. I don't care anymore"
|Why can't they just let it slip? Can't they see I just don't have the strengh to carry on fighting...|
"Life's not fair, never was, don't you guys get it"
|"It's getting late... shall I drop you guys off at home, or... do you want to stay?"|
"No, guess it's about time to catch up with some sleep... thanks..."
"Le, would you come upstairs, too? To, yanno, be there when I talk to Mom?"
|Uh. I am not looking forward to this conversation, not at all|
|"Nick, are you good back there? If you need to throw up again... "|
"Naw I am ok"
Nothing left to gag up down there anyway
|"Are you sure?"|
Because you, my friend, you smell like something that died some time ago.... good grieve, is there really nothing I can do to help you trough this?!
"Yeah. I am good. Let's go talk to Heather"
|I can't believe they came looking for me|
|I can not believe I did not realize how badly Nick was crushed by all this right from the beginning|
|Can't believe they agreed to back me up|
|The closer we get to meet Heather, the more the conversation dies down|
|I can not help wondering...|
|... was it his mother who hit him so hard that he has this black eye now?|
|"Ok come on in guys, I think she is..."|
who is finally home- where the hell do you come from now? I got a call
from your school today, Mister! They wanted to know why I did not
respond to their letters!! What letters?!?" |
"Le... this might not be the best time to have a chat right now... let's go!"
|"Heather, please... if I might..."|
"And you. What the hell are you doing here?"
|"Ah now I get it, this is why you have been so interested in my kids lately? You are after my teenage son, you perv?"|
"Mom, no, please- it's not like that, I asked Le to come and..."
|"Oh yeah right, holy Miss Su, how could I even assume she would be capable of anything like that! God beware!" |
|"And now look what the cat dragged in- what is this now, a nuthouse?"|
I seriously do not believe what I am witnessing here
|"Sis come down. Leave her alone, willya? She's just here because she gave us a ride. This is about the boy... Heather we really need to talk"|
|Why did I come here in the first place|
"... ok. Bye Heather"
|"Get the HELL out of here Nick or I swear to God, I will call the cops! - And YOU better get your bony little ass our of here right now, too, Missy!"|
"Le, please... just leave... there's nothing you... I'll be ok..."
"Very well, I am leaving. See you tomorrow at the office, my dear"
Be careful, Heather... be very careful. I will be watching you now, watching your every move... and you better watch your back. You have no idea who you are messing with
|"Come on Nick, let's go"|
|I learned a lesson alright... |
mother is a name you haven't earned yet, you're just a child with a temper. And I hate your guts
|"That was ... intense"|
|"Do you want me to drive you home?"|
|I can not believe she said all these... things... |
And now he is in that frozen state again...
|Without response, Nick exits the car and walks towards his barn|
"Good night to you too, Nick..." Le murmurs sadly
|He does not listen anymore, he carefully enters and gently closes the beaten door|
|He is turning around very slowly, scanning the room like he has never been here before in his life|
|Staring into empty space for what seems like an eternity|
|He just stands there, in the middle of the dump he has called his home for so long now, unmoving|
|Until, finally, he draws himself up to his full height and fumbles for his mobile|
|A text message- what the..?|
|From Nick... oh dear...what now...|
"I am in
need to talk
Liz tmr 6pm ok?"