Part 26

[Looks like Tuesdays are going to need attention…]

*

I’ve had this romanticized notion of myself in the past few years that any time I’ve made a promise to someone, I have kept it. Barring any potentially deadly secrets, that’s been true for most of my life. The catch here being, I hardly make promises, and certainly not to any strangers.

It’s not so much an honour thing as it is one of those precious few things I hold myself to, a person’s word (which, really, can be so changeable anyway, which is why the promise part of it solidifies the thing). So you ask me, I’m not quite sure why I said it.

The doctor was stuck between replies, a breathy little gasp working through his thoughts. He took my hand and remembered to squeeze it more than let it lie in his fleshy palm.

He spoke. I told them I was expecting people from the camp, that there was nothing new in my everyday experiments, that I was fine and that if they wanted I could show them some of my work, threw some jargon at them until their eyes wandered.

Did you give them a lot of money? Três asked.

Not any more than usual, he answered, fanning himself with his shirt. A little token, an appreciation for their so-called protection that I had worked out with the leader of their little commune a few years ago, when I was aban–when I chose to stay here.

I raised an eyebrow at that, and Lena looked askance at him, ashamed or upset.

Três stared at him and said, They will never leave you alone, and they will ask for more and more if you keep showing that you are not a poor man. You should leave here before they get tired of you.

The doctor licked his lips and gave a non-committal grunt.

We have a deal, anyways, I said. Now, if they weren’t here very long, and they didn’t head back to camp, they would have had to catch a ride somewhere, or steal a boat, or something. Where can you get a guide around here? And anything you have that they could have possibly left behind that might tell us where they were going next.

I do not see how far they could have gotten, they were a pair malaise, caught out in these wilds. This from Lena. She tried to hold onto the doctor’s hand as he turned about to his work desks, slipping against his rough fingers.

She continued. It is not impossible that the… man was a sneak enough to bribe someone or take a quiet way back to the Rio once he got hold of this prize. But, if they were to do so, there is a village another day, two day’s walk, along the way we have been walking. Here she stopped, adjusting, picking at her dirt-ached shorts. The farms have been creeping close, more and more, every season.

Três nodded, and Manocarci scratched at his head as he rummaged. She touched at my elbow, wanting to discuss more in private, but the doctor made an exclaimed sound, and turned around, holding a crumpled printout scrap in his hand.