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A Body of Water

by Tim Simmons

part 2 of 5

Grayson rang the doorbell of apartment #283 and waited as the sun was just beginning to set beneath a lavender blanket of clouds. He had arrived a little early, as was his usual style.

Some moments later, Jack opened the door and ushered him inside with a smile. “Well, look who’s here! It’s that rich business tycoon, Grayson Thorne.” Jack laughed. “Come on in. Have a seat here. I think Sarah is in the kitchen. Honey? Grayson’s here. So, how’ve you been?”

After the two men’s brief exchange of small talk, Jack’s wife rounded the corner into the living room. “Grayson, I’d like you to meet my wife, Sarah. Sarah, this is Grayson Thorne. He is the CEO and founder of Thorne Software Associates.”

Grayson stood up from the antique couch. He knew he was gawking in spite of himself. Modestly dressed, wearing no jewelry and little makeup, her natural glow and easy smile made Grayson feel like a nervous schoolkid on his first date. She had a shapely figure that most women dreamed about but were too busy or too lazy to work for. Her hair fell below her shoulders in waves the color of rosewood, accenting her dark brown eyes and high forehead. This was the girl he had always wanted to meet, but somehow never did. She seemed to glide across the room as Grayson held out his hand.

“Grayson Thorne.”

“Sarah Sheppard.”

“Nice to meet you. Jack here tells me you’re a wonderful cook. I can’t wait to sample some of your cooking.”

Sarah threw a bashful smile toward Jack and looked back at Grayson. “Well, as they say, the proof’s in the pudding! Why don’t you two have a seat and chat while I finish up? It won’t be long.” She turned and made her way back to the kitchen, Grayson watching until she disappeared from view. The strong aroma of curry and chili spices made Grayson’s mouth water as he started up the conversation.

“I’ve been thinking about this legend all day, Jack. But I must confess, I’m really not sure I believe in all of that mystical stuff. I’ve never put much stock in religion. If I can’t see it and touch it, it isn’t real.”

“I know how you feel. But I believe this will work. This is our chance. This is the culmination of your funding and my research. Grayson, if this works, this is our ticket to immortality!” Jack’s gray-blue eyes seemed to implore Grayson to believe in the legend. “Once I translate the plates, we’ll take old Hudor Diabolos out for a spin!”

Grayson was unmoved by Jack’s sales pitch. “I wish I was more enthusiastic but I’m just not sure about this.”

“Grayson, you were the one who spent a fortune. You were the one who kept telling me that you wanted to find some way of living forever. And as crazy as that sounded, I believed it.” Jack paused, staring. “And now that I’ve hit pay dirt, you’re getting cold feet?”

“It’s been three years, Jack. Now that you’ve found this... well, I guess I was expecting something a little more... impressive.” he said before taking a drink from his glass.

“Grayson, if this legend is just a myth then nothing will come of it anyway, but if the legend has any truth to it, then we will be the ones laughing.”

Grayson stared down into the glass. “I suppose.” He felt as if he had betrayed Jack by being less than impressed by the statue and plates.

Jack smiled and grabbed Grayson by the shoulder. “There you go, pal! We are going to find out what lies beyond the door. Tomorrow is Friday. Unless I run into problems, I should have the translation finished by the afternoon. I’ll give you a ring and you can come over.”

Grayson nodded assent and asked, “Why do they call it the water devil? What does water have to do with it?”

Jack thought for a second. “Nowhere in any of the writings does it say anything about that. I really have no idea.”

“So, tell me how a guy like you ended up with such a beautiful wife.” Grayson chuckled.

“Grayson, she’s a blessing from Heaven! I honestly don’t know. I couldn’t ask for a better wife. If I were to ever lose her...” Jack’s voice trailed off.

“Anybody hungry?” Sarah asked as she placed the last dish of the meal on the table.

The two men walked to the dining room table and took their places, eyeing the fine assortment of edibles. Sarah took her place by Jack, placing her hand in his. Jack announced, “I’ll give the blessing. Lord, bless this food and our family. Amen.”

Grayson was amazed by Jack’s sudden propensity toward things of faith. How could he believe in things that couldn’t be seen or felt, things that couldn’t be proved to exist. He felt a little jealous that Jack seemed able to believe so easily, yet for him, it was asking too much. It wasn’t fair. If God exists, why doesn’t he make himself known? Grayson’s thoughts trickled along until the sound of Jack’s voice jarred him from his short daydream.

“Did I tell you that Sarah and I are expecting our first child?”

“No... no you didn’t. That’s wonderful, Jack. I’m happy for you both.”

Sarah proudly added, “Yes, I’m about four months along now. From the ultrasound, we know it’s... I mean... he’s a boy. We still don’t have a name yet. I think I want to name him Joshua. That’s a good Biblical name.”

“Yes, I like that.” Grayson agreed, as he began to slice the bright red meat. “If this tastes half as good as it smells, then I’m in for a real treat!” He brought the fork up to his nose, savoring the spicy aroma of the Tandoori chicken just for a second before eating the first bite of the meal. “Excellent. Simply excellent. It’s been a while since I’ve tasted food like this. Jack, you lucky devil, you. Not only do you have a beautiful wife, but a great cook as well.”

Sarah’s face blushed and she turned the conversation in a new direction. “So, Mr. Thorne, I hear-“

“Please, Sarah, you make me sound as ancient as the pyramids!” Grayson chuckled. “I’d be more at ease if you called me Grayson.”

“All right, Grayson. Jack tells me that you’re interested in archeology, too.”

Grayson swallowed the mouthful quickly in order to answer her. “I have a casual interest... yes. I met Jack about six years ago. He got me interested in some of the mythology surrounding some of the idols of worship that were used around 600 B.C. in what used to be Assyria. I’m not a religious man but I was drawn to the ceremonies and rituals that were conducted by these people. Jack here tells me that they were able to summon up some devil or the like and strike up bargains with it.”

Sarah’s countenance darkened upon hearing the last statement. Idol worship was a blatant breach of God’s commandments. She shot a concerned look toward Jack, who quickly chimed in.

“Yes, that’s what the legend says. Of course I don’t believe it. I don’t think that it’s really possible to conjure up demons or spirits, and besides, that isn’t what God wants people to be doing. Right, Grayson?”

Grayson paused in mid-chew, then gave a knowing look to Jack and spoke in a light tone. “Yes, some of those stories can be pretty unbelievable. Downright silly, if you ask me.” Then taking a drink of his tea, he casually tried to change the subject. “So Sarah, how did you and Jack meet each other?”

“I was on a missionary trip to Egypt when I first met him. I had spent two years in Hyderabad, India prior to that. My church sponsored the trip to Egypt, and we decided to go see a few historic spots. I wanted to see some of the pyramids but we were just too far from the big ones.

“We weren’t too far away from where many of the great tombs of the Pharaohs were, so we drove to Dier el-Bahari to see the tomb of Hatshepsut. After two hours of driving, we were lost. We drove up to this spot that was obviously some excavation site and we saw this man standing beside his tent when we drove up.

“I leaned out of our vehicle to ask him for directions. He walked over and smiled. I recognized him from somewhere. It couldn’t be! Fifth grade? I ventured the question. ‘Does your name happen to be Jack?’ He looked surprised and told me that it was.

“I then put the final nail in the coffin. ‘Jack... Sheppard?’ He then squinted and tried to place my face. I had to help him a little. From then on, we kept in touch by phone and when he got back to the States, we were able to spend some time together. We just seemed to be right for each other. We were married about a year later.”

“Yes, it was love at first sight.” Jack beamed.

Grayson finished off his Indian tea and stood up. “Sarah, I’ve enjoyed your food and the hospitality immensely but I really need to get moving. I have one of my most important presentations to give tomorrow morning and I must go over it tonight.”

“We understand.” Sarah said. “It was very nice meeting you and we hope you’ll come back soon. I’ll teach you some Telegu next time.”

“Telegu?” Grayson looked puzzled. Jack explained.

“It’s a south Indian language that Sarah learned while staying in Hyderabad. It’s amazing how many languages there are in India. I think there must be at least a hundred. Sarah, help me escort Mr. Thorne to the door.”

As they reached the front door, Grayson turned to Sarah and asked “How do you say ‘I’ll see you later’ in Telegu?”

Velli vesthanu. It means ‘I’ll go and I’ll come back’.”

Grayson paused then tried his luck. “Velli Vistuno.”

Sarah laughed and encouraged him. “Not bad. With a little practice, you’ll be speaking Telegu in no time.”

Jack opened the door and gave Grayson a firm handshake. “Good luck with your presentation. I’ll call you.”

“Sure thing. Goodnight.” The night was clear and crisp as Grayson walked to his car. He knew it was going to be a long night and wished he could call in sick tomorrow.

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2008 by Tim Simmons

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