The Final Deal
Summer was in full swing in Washington D.C. The air was hot, humid, and heavy with the reek of automobile exhaust from the thousands of vehicles that sat in gridlocked traffic around and throughout the city. Oliver strode down K Street with his hands in the pockets of his jeans, a camera slung around his neck and a backpack hanging loosely over his shoulders. He smiled to think that the security guards lining the streets would assume he was nothing but a tourist, even down to the bright red tan, bordering on sunburn, on his face and arms.
It had taken Oliver and Diana only four days to get back to the United States after the events in the temple.
He had emerged from the bath chamber, pursued by Kyle’s screams of pain and rage, to find Diana hiding behind a statue of Horus half way down the path of the gods. She held the staff in one hand as she hugged Oliver, but said nothing. They had used the rope from his pack to climb down the rock face to sands below, then hiked to the jeep as quickly as they could, the darkness that covered the entire basin of the lake to a depth of a foot or more dissipating to nothing as they ran through it.
When they reached the jeep Oliver was immensely relieved to find that the water in the five gallon jugs was still fresh. The two of them had each drunk nearly a gallon before Oliver got the jeep started and drove back the way he had come.
Diana hadn’t said a word to him until the jeep was underway, bouncing and skidding across the desert sands as Oliver followed a route on his GPS that would, eventually, return them to the wide loop of highway surrounding Al Fayyum Lake. When she did, it was only to ask Oliver what he planned to do with the staff.
He had remained silent for a minute, then glanced at Diana as he replied, “I’m going to break it.”
Diana had nodded.
They were both silent for several kilometers, then Diana had said, “That’s the right thing to do. It… it felt angry, and powerful. We can’t let anyone get their hands on it.”
Oliver had stopped the jeep then, there in the middle of the Egyptian desert, and looked toward Diana. She had returned his gaze for a moment, then leaned forward and put her hand on his cheek.
She kissed him gently on the lips, then sat back and studied him in silence.
They now shared an understanding of something that went beyond their personal history, or their shared belief in ancient powers and conspiracies. Both had now touched a relic of awesome power and been judged worthy of determining its fate.
Oliver slowed his pace as he approached Founding Flounders, an upscale seafood restaurant only three blocks from the White House that was increasingly popular with executive office staff. Oliver pushed through the rotating door and introduced himself to the hostess, explaining that he was expected by one of her more private diners. She checked the reservation book, nodded, and passed Oliver off to a waiter who led him back past the crowded bar and whitewashed walls decorate with framed caricatures of political figures as fish, to one of the private dining rooms at the back of the restaurant. The waiter knocked on the door. The door opened to reveal a burly man in a dark suit.