Freitag, 3. Mai 2013

Chapter seven - The things I've done

Nick had to get some things off his chest for a long time. Has he finally found someone ready to listen?

Special thanks to Kirkuk for her sims Imad and Mounia from "Champs le Sims"! :oD

If you want to see more of her work, please check on her blog:

"Go ahead. We have all the time in the world" she said... all the time in the world... Jeeze how I wish I could turn back the hands of time... never do the things I´ve done...

Back in the day, I had a job at the archeological museum... hard to believe, eh? I never went to university or something, but I always loved historical stuff. So when they were looking for someone light- handed and physically fit to help with the excavation work and to deal with the antics after that, I kind of slipped into the business

My boss was some Ludvig Schreyter, a scrawny little beaurocrat with the heart of an adventurer, or so he loved to think

And Joe... Giovanni... was his ever so eager doctoral canditate from Europe

"Morning Professor..."
"What is it, Nicholas?"
"I could do with some help with the categorizing up there..."

"Again?! Well Nicholas this is untimely, I am still working on the essay about..."

"... then again, we need to assemble a nice line of artefacts for the next exhibition soon... oh, what to do..."

"Ah but Professore, I could help out - if you insist?"

"Well done" 
"Ah high time you came to get me out of this dusty rabbit hole, I say!" 
Yeah, Joe and me were best buddies back then

As hardly anybody ever came up into the attic where all the chests and boxes full of artefacts and old exhibits were stored, it was the perfect place to hide and have some drinks and the occasional chat and gossip 
"... and this chick is HOT, Nicky, I tell you! You should really try for yourself when we are through..." 
"Girls will be the death of you one day, trust me... common, time to get some work done"

I have often wondered over the years, what if I had listened to his stories some closer? Would I have guessed that he was dating my sister? If so, what would I have done about it? Given that Heather and I had always hated each others guts, would I even have cared?

If I had given things more thought back then, would I have been more alert about Joe?

Would I have noticed that things had a way of  `being misplaced ´ when he was around? Would I have cared?

Whatever, soon enough we went on the next expedition to Al Simhara, and this time Joe was with us

Thing was, while Schreyter and me dealt with the local authorities...

... Joe took more of an interest into Schreyter´s assistant Louise

Despite her looks, that girl was some wallflower, so I guess she felt more than flattered by his attention. It was so obvious where this was leading. Everybody noticed- except Schreyter, which was probably a good thing

I liked Louise, but hey, none of my busisness, eh? Joe didn´t have much time to make a move on her anyway, as the next weeks were terribly busy

The whole team spent days on end in the mercyless heat of the Al Simhara desert, digging up some shards and bones

Joe and I usually spent the evenings somewhere more inviting, like the bar on top of the Café Nefer

"Dio mio that old piece of jerky will kill us all if he keeps up this pace if work- I am done for today, see ya tomorrow"

This happend quiet often, that Joe would leave before I did- I thought nothing of it, though. It was none of my business where he went without me, and I didn´t mind to have a few drinks on my own, either

So when I saw him making out with Louise one night when I returned to the camp, slightly wasted...

... and watched them both sneaking into her tent...

... I thought I had found out and didn´t think about it any more

Then, one day, the unexpected thing happened- we discovered the entrance to a tomb. Schreyter was over the top with joy and exitement! Me, on the other hand, I combed my brain about what I knew of traps and ancient security systems...

"Dio mio, Professore, be careful- these ancient builders..."
"Ah Giovanni, where is your discoverer´s spirit? Let me see..."
"Yeah right Joe, let him go ahead..."

While we stood back a little to let the pros check the grave chamber, Joe pulled out some weird old piece of pergament, checked it, and started to curse under his breath "Cazzo! This is not her grave..." 

What the hell was he talking about? But it slipped my mind during the hours and hours of digging that followed this little episode

After working my fingers to the bone for god knows how long, I spotted something in a far corner of the chamber that would make up for the back pains... I carefully checked if someone was watching...

I have always been nicking small items on our expeditions. Average, unimportant stuff, before it was listed and categorized at the camp- which was my job, anyway. I knew Schreyter would not notice anything missing, and it still sold for a pretty penny back home

Schreyter and Louise were having a highly emotional discussion about some shards that lasted for what seemed to be a lifetime, so I strolled about the place a bit

This seemed to be a good time to have a drink in a quiet corner, so I sneaked into a side strake and pulled out my canteen

Which was when I realized that I was not alone

"Joe? What the hell are you doing?" 
"Ah, Nicky..."

"What do you think I am doing? I am helping myself to a little bonus, just like you did... now will you please have an eye on the jerky and Louise?"

From that day on, we were in it together. When Schreyter and Louise called it a day, we would stay behind to do some research work of our own

Did I have an uneasy feeling about it? If so, I pushed it aside. Joe and I were friends, right? So what could go wrong

We didn´t find to much insignificant things we could sell, but one day Joe discovered a piece of pergament that looked oddly familiar. He made a big effort not to freak out completely, but I could tell there was something about that bit of map... that second piece of map...

But no matter how often I tried to get him to tell me more, no way. He would not even let me have a look

So when I found another bit,  I decided to keep it my secret. Let´s wait and see if the boy comes around, eh?

Joe came up with the idea that we should sell our, eh, bounty on the spot to avoid customs. I thought about telling him that the easiest way of smuggling antics was among other antics, like I had done for years, but decided against it. No need to give away all my knowledge... so we started asking around, carefully

I didn´t get anywhere with it, probably because everything about me screamed foreigner! 
Joe, on the other hand, had more luck

Was it his dark features, or his superior knowledge of the language? His italian knack for bargaining, his charms? For whatever reason, he wrapped this one merchant around his little finger in no time

So we had a deal. And a good one, too

Then, one day, there was a crowd at the base camp when we returned

Three cops? I never even knew that Al Simhara had so many cops... this was when I realized that the guy was coming out of my tent

And that there were three of the major pieces we found lined up in front of it- this clay vase Louise had freaked out about, and the statuettes of Horus and Anubis from the tomb

"What the hell is going on there?"
"Relax Nicky... I am sure this will be resolved soon enough..."

"It´s true Sir, our informant was telling the truth- these invaluable pieces of heritage were indeed hidden in the blanket roll." 
"Well done deputy, now we better find out the whereabouts of this filthy grave robber! Go ahead! Find him!"

What?! No. No, not this could not be happening... I never... how?!

"He is here! Right here! Officers, this is the man- Nicholas West! - To think that I trusted you, all these years! God knows how many precious artefacts you have been stealing over they years!!"
 "But I..."
"Shut up, you, you, rogue!!"

"Nicholas West, I hereby arrest you. You are accused of the theft of those priceless artefacts"

"Will you follow us without resistance, or to I have to handcuff you?"
Everything about the cop´s features litererally begged me to put up resistance... I shuddered and tried to look as humble as humanly possible
"I´ll do whatever you say, officer"

I shot Joe a glance. He had stepped back a few yards and now tried to dissapear into the shadow of a large palm tree nearby, looking unsuspicious

Right then, I had other things to think about. With the mininum amount of push and shove reserved for the not yet proven guilty, I was taken to the local jail

My mind was racing. I had been framed! But by whom?  Who was that informant? What, exactly, had he told the filth?

The commissioner greeted me with a sly smile
"Welcome to my humble instituion, Mr. West. Watchhouse, jail and prison in one building... very practical, don´t you think? You, my dear guest, are accused of stealing antics... are you aware of how strict our laws are on this behalf, my friend?"

Oh yeah, I knew all about those laws. So I did the only thing I could do- stick to the truth...
"Sir, this must be one great misunderstanding- or someone trying to frame me. I swear, I have not stolen those artefacts that were found in my tent."

"Ah now, if I had one denar for every time I hear that statement, I´d be the richest man in all Al Simhara, Mr. West... but let´s give you the benefit of the doubt. I will call the Sim State embassy tomorrow morning to inform them that we have another one of their fine citizens staying here... until then, you will find the time to explore our premises some more. -Take him to the cell!"

The cell. No mispelling here, the building they lead me to really had only one large cell where all the inmates were stored

The place was... rundown would be putting it nicely

And the guys in there were not happy about yet another guy to share what little space it offered, either

I have always been an athletic type, but there where so many of them... I chose not to start a fight about getting a bed for the night and settled with a pile of mattresses next to the entrance instead. 
Not that I could sleep that night, anyway-there was only one thing on my mind. 
Who?! Who framed me?

The next day, nothing happened.
Day after that, same
I thought the cop didn´t call them at all, but - yes, it took the guys from the embassy full five days to sent over one of their lawyers.... was I angry about that? No. By that time I was shaking with joy that he came at all. I only wanted to get out.
He introduced himself as Charlie Watts
"So, Mr. West, sorry about the delay... what can you tell me about your case?"

I shifted on my chair "Sure. They say I stole some artefacts. I did not."

Watts frowned at that, then said slowly
"Mr. West, the items in question were found hidden in your tent. With your fingerprints all over them"

Somehow I didn´t like where this was heading
"Of course my prints are on them. I categorized them, that´s my job. And literally everybody could have accessed my tent. It´s a tent for chrissake!"
"No need to get cheeky with me, Mr. West. Fact is, they were found there. Fact is, your prints are on them. Fact is, you have been selling antics to a local merchant over the last weeks..."

"... so unless you come up with a better story than "I was framed" or a at least a confession , there is nothing I can do for you"

And with that, he left. I couldn´t believe it

I just sat there, unmoving, until the cop who had watched over me during the meeting finally cleared his throat and adressed me
"Alright then, seems you will stay with us for now, huh? Come on, time to go back"

Yeah. Seemed like I would stay... longer then I had expected

I learned that it could take weeks, even months until my case would go to court at all, and there was no way to speed this up
So I  had to settle in, find my place in the pecking order

This included a lot of fighting... and most of the time, I was the one eating dirt

The warden never interfered. Sometimes he would stand there and watch, but that was it. First I wondered if I could make them take me to hospital if I was hurt badly enough, but after pissing blood for a week without as much as getting a doc I skipped that plan

I wrote letters. To the museum, to the embassy, to Joe, Schreyter - hell, even to Heather. But no one as much as wrote back

Then I learned that the court hearing had already taken place. Without me present. After all the things I did, the one thing I didn´t do had broken my neck

Four years. The sentence was four years.
I thought I could handle that

But I learned that there is only so much heat, thirst, dirt, hunger and beating and... other things a man can take
I lost track of time completely
In the end I spent my days crouching in one corner of the yard, next to the gate, praying I would be left alone, please, just today

When a shadow fell on me, I flinched, not daring to look up until I realised this was a uniform trouser
"Get up!"

Slowly, I raised myself, uncertain what to expect now. She had never hit me, at least  
"You did your time, West. Please proceed to the office to pick up your personal belongings- and then do both of us a favor and get lost"

And so, just like that, I found myself on the streets of Al Simhara again

The silence is killing me 
I don´t dare look at her 
"I am sorry Le"

"For having been stupid? You served a sentence for that. It´s in the past... but how did you make it back to Mesa?"

"I still had a little money in the bank, and when I managed to sell my watch it was enough to pay for a flight home. When I finally made it to Mesa, I couldn´t waste time on a shower, so I just tried to make myself a little more presentable and headed straight for the museum"

"I know it sounds stupid, but I literally had nowhere else to go. My appartment had long been re- rented, and I just had to try to get my job back somehow"

"I knew Schreyter wouldn´t be happy to see me, but still, I had to try... or so I thought as I entered the main hall. Then I heard them talking in one of the exhibition rooms"

"It was Schreyter- and Joe. My old boss was congratulating him on his doctor´s degree and his promotion to the head of research"

"So I decided it might be a better idea to talk to Joe in private. He could get me a job, surely?"

"I sneaked out the building and waited in that little park opposite the museum until he finally came, then whistled to catch his attention"

"My, my- Nicky, is that really you? Almost didn´t recognize you... since when are you back in town?"

I was so desperate, I didn´t even think how odd a hallo that was after several years
 "Since today. Joe I am totally broke and have nowhere to stay- please help me, I need a job! Can´t you get me a job at the Museum? I heard you are the head of research now, really, any job will do"

"A job. At research. With your reputation? Come on, you can not be serious, surely? No way. Try somewhere else- although I doubt that you will find a job in Mesa at all. You have been all over the press, buddy"
"And don´t you even try to ask me to lend you money, I am no idiot. I would never see it again"

And just when I thought he was done, he turned around once more with a smirk on his face

"By the way, as you have been cut off info for some time, here is a little update for you- I knocked up your sister. You are an uncle, Nicky boy! Congratulations. I wouldn´t ring her doorbell if I was you, though. What else... ah, yes, and I was the one who placed those statuettes in your tent... it was the easiest way of getting rid of you and winning Schreyter´s trust."

And with that, he turned away and left

"Dear me. How stone hearted can you get? This... man... I am impressed that you did not beat him up right there and then, Nick"

"So, did you ever try to approach Schreyter, or the director of the museum after that... conversation with Carella?"

Nick helplessly throws up his hands 

"How could I even? No, it was useless. Joe was right, with my reputation there was no way that anybody in the archeological business would ever hire me again. Only thing would have been to set up an expedition of my own, but as there was no way any bank in the world would give me a loan... no. I was lucky enough to inherit this shack from my grandaunt so that I have a place to stay now. Hell, after the things I´ve done, I am lucky to be able to make it from day to day"

"But I gather that you would generally be interested to return to the field work again? Because, you know, there might be an option for that. Take a look around- I know you can tell how much all theses souvenirs are worth. I can sell them all, and the appartment as well- it´s not like I really need two, right? So I could fund an expedition"

"Are you kidding? You got to be- Le did you as much as listen to what I told you? I am a thief! I even went to prison for it, for four years! Now you tell me you want to put your money in some pipe dream I once had? Lady you better have your head checked!"

"No need to get rude, Nick. I only mentioned a possibility- so do not say no right now. Give the idea some thought, will you please?"
"Hell NO! There is absolutely NO way I will go back to Al Simhara!! Forget it!"

Unnoticed by the two, Seamus has woken up in the meantime
"If he is not coming, I will"
"Seamus, what are you talking about?"

"Eversince I found out that Carella is my ... genitor, I have read into this. I read every article about him, all his books, then all books I could find on ancient Egypt... Le please take me with you on that expedition!"

"Slow, slow now. There is no expedition yet, so please calm down- besides, you are under age, remember? Do you even have a passport, Seamus? This is one thing you would absolutely need to travel... and Heather would have to sign a power of attorney letter, too"


"You are crazy. Both of you.. I am out"
"But Nick, she is right, this could be so worth it!"
"I am out"

"Let him go. Give him time to think this over"

Shaking, I turn the doorknob and rush out into the corridor

How? How could I have possibly told her?

That I spent what was left of my cash on cheap drinks?

That I begged for change in the streets?

That I dug through other peoples waste to find something worth selling... or worth eating?

That I slept in public toilets?

That, in the end, I was only one step away from doing the decent thing...

... and top myself?

That I turned myself in instead, because I could not even muster the courage for that?

I just couldn´t

"Yeah, right... shizz, I mean really, after all he´s been trough there, no wonder he´s not to hot on going back, right?"

"I am such an idiot"
"Not really hon. Come on now, I better drive you home"

Oh dear, it´s getting light. I sure hope Heather has gone to bed hours ago

"Thanks for the ride, Le"
"Your welcome. Sleep tight!"

"I´ll take the stairs, she´s always listening for the elevator coming up. Seeya Le!" 
She what?

Alright. So far, we have successfully avoided to let Heather find out about the three of us sticking together. But I have a strong feeling that this is about to change soon

And I know for sure that I will talk to Nick again-  about Egypt. I can sense all to clearly that there is some more to his story, something that he didn´t tell me yet

Dead tired, I drag myself up the stairs to my place when I realize that I have missed a call from an unknown number... a few minutes ago? Hm, call back now or later....

Curiosity gets the better of me and I press redial "Hello? Who is this, I had your number on my..."

"What? Who- Nick?! Is that you? - Please calm down, say that again, I can´t..."

"Oh my god"

3 Kommentare:

  1. Man Joe is so mean. LOL. But so cute. =)

  2. ... did I ever mention that little theory of mine about the likelyhood of people being nice, clever and beautiful at the same time? *g*

  3. No... I don't think you mentioned your theory about that. LOL.