The Staff of Moses – Chapter 12

Examination Room

They rode the elevator down to the lobby and the concierge immediately pointed them towards the taxi that Oliver had ordered from his room phone. Oliver gave the taxi driver a slip of paper with the address of the antique dealer and they settled back for the ride through the crowded streets.

The narrow streets of Cairo were hopelessly packed, especially along the many side roads where there were no sidewalks and the vehicles had to compete with pedestrians and animals. A wide selection of cars from the past fifty years crept bumper to bumper through streets that twisted at odd angles between buildings which had stood in this city since before the first European colonists had set sail for the Americas. The pedestrians were likewise a brightly colored mix of business people and youths in Western-style dress, men and women wearing all manners of traditional clothing, traditional being defined as everything from long robes to pants and shirts that differed from their Western counterparts only in the pattern of their cut, and obvious tourists in loud shirts toting large cameras. The main avenues had been widened and paved over with tar. These weren’t crowded so terribly. The side streets, however, were still paved in an assortment of cobblestone and brick and were so narrow that the taxi’s mirrors occasionally scraped against the stone buildings on either side.

Oliver briefly considered paying the taxi driver, getting out, and ordering his phone to give him walking directions to the meeting place, but he restrained himself. Instead he took advantage of the drive to pull out his phone and post several tweets informing Amber of their plans. His final message said, Sellers are supposedly from Leonidas Security. Keep in mind if things go bad.

He switched to a web browser and tried to track down information about Leonidas Security, but could find nothing but the bare facts: It was a private security contractor headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The corporate website did little to explain what, exactly, the company did to secure its clients. There was no contact information. Apparently if you were to sort of person who might need Leonidas Security’s services, they would contact you.

Forty-five minutes after leaving the hotel, the taxi deposited them in front of a dusty stone building with windows of thick, possibly bullet proof glass under a wide green awning. Faded gold Arabic lettering scrawled across the awning. Oliver’s command of written Arabic was more shaky than the spoken language, but he got the impression that the text proclaimed this to be a bookshop specializing in antiquities. Diana confirmed this and went to look in through the window while Oliver paid the driver and offered him a generous tip to remain parked in front of the shop until they returned. The driver agreed and spun the volume of his radio up a bit before levering his seat back.

“Crowded street. Several people browsing in the shop. Looks like they plan on letting us out of here alive,” Diana remarked as Oliver stepped up to the window.