Saturday, October 15, 2011

Excerpt from "Indiana Jones Never Mentioned This"

Chapter Seventeen: Casey Dennis – Early July – Day 43 – The Temple Complex of Karnak

With renewed strength we get to work near the west corner of the Temple of Amun in Karnak. Dr. Sinclair is almost crazy in his search for the Ark. Everything that we discover has to be logged in so many books that it makes my head spin. We all heard about the wager between Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Wexler. That wager drives everything we do. Aaron and Dr. Sinclair spend hours going over maps and charts, planning where to dig next. We only have until the end of July and one week in August to make good on Dr. Sinclair’s bet. The only day we are not at the temple was on Saturdays. Every three days Deacon and I trade places with Tag and Josie in the Valley of the Kings. Mr. Larson drives back and forth to each site relaying messages and progress to both doctors. I start bringing my laptop with me so I could download all the photos I’m taking and analyze them on the spot instead of waiting until we get home.

The one thing I do notice was that Veronica and Aaron are acting strangely. They whisper together and hold each other’s hand when they think no one’s looking. Being a wallflower for most of my life, I pick up on odd behavior quickly. I have a feeling that they’ve been surreptitiously together since the night of the festival three weeks ago. Because it’s none of my business I leave it alone. If Veronica wants me to know what’s going on between her and Aaron she will tell me in her own way. Until then I’m just going to do my job and take pictures of our findings.

Along the same line, Deacon has been acting curiously since the festival. I enjoyed the dance we shared but not another word has been spoken about it since. I had caught Deacon watching me closely one afternoon but he hurries away before I can say anything. Other times he will say my name and start to tell me something then change course and ask for some haphazard item next to me. It’s infuriating but like the Aaron/Veronica debacle I will just have to wait it out.

With the rest of our schedules going to the loony bin, Bubbe manages to stay exactly the same. It doesn’t matter how late it is when we drag our tired and sun-burnt bodies back to the house, Bubbe always has something hot and ready for us to eat. One night we came home to pizza, a welcome sight for us Americans. Bubbe always makes sure we are happy and content. One thing is for sure, I’m going to miss that wonderful lady when I return home. Store bought hummus will never be or taste the same.

Everyday we dig and every day we come home with nothing more than sore limbs and sun-burnt bodies. Aloe Vera gel is becoming my best friend. Dr. Sinclair is getting desperate. Two weeks into the dig at the Temple of Amun is turning into a bust.

“Abba, are you sure the scribe said the west corner of the Temple of Amun?” Veronica sighs, wiping the sweat from her brow. “Could Ima have translated it backwards?”

“I trust your mother’s translation skills,” Dr. Sinclair replies. “What we could use is a good ground penetrating radar device.”

“Did someone call for some radar?” Mr. Larson’s jolly voice shouts from behind a sand dune. Mr. Larson comes cresting over the hill in a small truck. He is waving his hat out like a passenger on a ship.

“Where the hell did you find that, Liam?” Dr. Sinclair asks, loudly.

“You won’t like the answer to that,” Mr. Larson replies. “Let’s just say I may have to move in with Marilyn and Andrew until I can get my savings back to where it was.”

My first guess is that Mr. Larson purchased the equipment on the black market. He and his driver unload the radar device, setting it gently on the sand.

“My question to you bro, is why haven’t you thought to invest in this stuff before now?” Mr. Larson teases.

“Shut up Liam,” Dr. Sinclair laughs. It was the first time I had seen Dr. Sinclair genuinely smile since arriving in Egypt. Veronica said it best when she told us that having her uncle, our teacher, around lightened the ex-Marine up immeasurably.

It’s going to take a few hours for the radar equipment to be set up so Dr. Sinclair tells Deacon and I that we can go be tourists at the rest of the temple compound. Deacon and I pack up what we were working on, refresh our water bottles and wander over to the visitors entrance for the temple.

The great stone rams greet us as we walked towards the temple. My camera’s out and I’m snapping pictures left and right. Poor Deacon is the subject of every single photo I take. He never once complains. We walk along the compound taking in the grand structures of the ancient times.

“Excuse me sir?” Deacon asks the man walking next to us. “Could you get a picture of me and my girlfriend? She has yet to be in one.”

“Of course, young man,” the older gentleman says, his accent that of a Scottish burr. “Such a handsome couple ya make. Say ‘pharaohs!’”

“Pharaohs!” Deacon and I exclaim. He wraps his arm around me, pulling me closer to him. The Scottish gentleman snaps several pictures of us. I thank him as he hands me back my camera and Deacon takes my hand and we walked on.

“Girlfriend?” I question.

“Do you want to be?” Deacon asks and I can’t tell if he’s joking or being serious. We walk hand in hand for awhile longer. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be walking hand in hand with Deacon Talbot at the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt. Never have I fathomed that he would be the one to initiate the hand holding. At one point I wish that if this is a dream that I never wake from it.

“Umm, Casey, there’s, uh something I need to tell you,” Deacon says, stuttering over his words. I’ve never seen Deacon Talbot that nervous before.

“Tell me what, Deacon?” I ask, stepping in front of him. He leans back against a pillar, looking down at his shoes.

“Do you remember that day in March when you asked Mr. Larson to drop you from the internship program?”

“Not one of my favorite days,” I say. “But yes, I do remember. I ran into you in the hallway. You asked me if there was anything you could do to help.”

“What did Mr. Larson tell you about how your balance was paid off?”

“The faculty got together and sponsored me,” I reply. “I wrote them all thank you notes. Deacon, why do ask?”

“It wasn’t a sponsorship from the teachers, Casey. It was…it was me. I left the money on Mr. Larson’s desk with instructions that it was to be used to pay for the rest of your trip here.”

I drop my hands from his grasp. I’m an abundance of conflicting emotions. I want to slap and kiss Deacon. I’m eternally grateful and extremely furious. What would have possessed him to make such a grand and… romantic gesture?

“Why?” was the only thing I can say. “Why? Why would you do something so… romantic?”

“Because I love you,” he says, pushing a curl back behind my ear.

“What did you say?” I ask, not trusting my own voice. Now I know I’m dreaming.

“I adore you Casey. I love you.”

His hands go into my hair, pulling me into a kiss. I give in instantly, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and holding on for dear life. Tears sting my eyes, I am so happy. Deacon Talbot loves me. Me, Casey Melissa Dennis. I no longer care if this is a dream. I never want this moment to end. Deacon ends the kiss first. I sigh and lay my head on his shoulder.

“I never even thought you knew my name,” I whisper. “Or that I was even alive.”

“I knew your name Cee. I knew much more than that though. Don’t you remember? You were in my algebra class. I know your class schedule and what bus you ride to get home. Casey, be with me.”

“Deacon…Tell me I’m not dreaming.”

“You’re not dreaming,” Deacon replies, kissing my cheek. “You have no idea how long I have wanted to tell you the truth.”

“I’m glad you did what you did, Deacon. If you hadn’t, I would be spending another summer working at Aunt Melanie’s peach orchard.”

“Shall we continue our brief day of freedom?” Deacon jokes, offering me his arm. I gladly take it.
We wandered around a bit more before we figure we should get back before our ride home leaves us here. Twenty minutes later we are back at the site. Not much has been done since we left hours earlier. Dr. Sinclair and Mr. Larson are arguing about the proper functions of the ground penetrating radar.

“Liam, if you wire this wrong and this thing blows up in my face, I will haunt you forever,” Dr. Sinclair says.

Deacon and I stay together while we walk back to the tent where Veronica and Aaron are hiding from the arguing adults. They have a card game laid out on the table.

“What are you guys playing?” I ask.

“A game my friend Roxie taught me while I was in America,” Veronica says. “She called it ‘Egyptian Rat Race.’ But I am failing to see the Egyptian or the rat part of this game.”

“I know this game!” I exclaim. “My friends and I played this during the breaks in our block periods at school. Don’t worry about the name. It doesn’t make sense to me either. Deal us in?”

Veronica reshuffles the deck and deals Deacon and I into the game. Several hands later Deacon has condemned me to hell three times, told Veronica she can eat rocks and Aaron to walk into a vat of salt acid. He does not take to losing very well at all. It’s an endearing fault to add to his other qualities I seem to enjoy.

“Casey Dennis, how do you keep winning?” Veronica questions.

“Freshman and sophomore class testing,” I laugh, scooping up the cards. “Had a lot of time to kill before classes started. That and being a camp counselor.”

“I have never gone to summer camp,” Veronica says. “I guess being around places like this is summer camp enough.”

“I think this summer has been camp enough for anyone.”

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