The Stealing of Things [Chapter 5]
After the strange, alluring woman ran off, I disposed of her bag and the crowbar into one of the trash bins closer to the street, making sure no eyes were on me to see me do it. As much as I was covering my tracks, I was covering hers as well. I felt the hole deepen as I departed yet another shift without making a report, neither on paper to nor to Hank, about the possible break-in.
That night, I made up my mind to at least tell someone, even if it wasn’t the whole story. Maybe to prepare myself for the bigger ordeal. There was only one person, I decided, I could come out to without the risk of being disciplined or fired entirely- the custodian.
I luckily managed to come upon him during my first patrol about the interior, before he left. Sahir was pushing around the wide broom, anchored to the room by his cart full of trash bags and cleaning supplies to remove fingerprints from the glass storage cases. He slowed down and looked me up as I entered the room, then fully stopped in place. I realized I had been walking as if I were ready to tackle him, which looking at me, might have seemed possible to him at that moment. I remembered how to move with a bit less intention, and I defused myself by offering a friendly wave.
“Good evening, Miss ’Lizabeth.”
I pretended I was admiring his attention to detail on the glass cabinets of fossilized droppings while I worked up to the desired topic. “Just call me Liz, if that’s alright with you. Looking good in here, I bet a lot to clean up after the weekend crowd.”
Sahir shrugged, hands wrapped around the smooth worn-down grain of the broom handle. “Weekend or not, it must get done.”
“Luckily… it only lasts two days.”
The custodian shrugged. “But also our days off are only two.”
I forced out a chuckle and clapped my hands together. “You’re right about that. Speaking of that… when I’m not here, are the other night guards as… thorough as me? Like, do they seem to work as hard?”
“As you?” Sahir rolled his head back and forth. “Nobody. Of course, my time here has not been long. But I see them go around here. They do as they must. But what is there to see, but the same things as always?”
“You’re… right about that,” I nodded furiously. “Except for that new exhibit, huh?”
“Do you ask for a reason?”
I held my breath for a moment. “Just to… make sure I’m not overworking myself. My… husband thinks so.”
“Let him think what he wants, he is not here.”
I nodded with a sigh and almost turned around with a farewell at the tip of my tongue, but another question popped into my mind. “One last thing, just what was on my mind. You aren’t from around here, so maybe you might have a different opinion.”
“In what situation… would a woman kissing another woman make sense?”
Sahir leaned in harder on the pole of the broom. “Lips to lips? They could be sisters, or maybe really close friends. That is how it goes in my country. They hold hands too, and the men do the same things. It is normal.”
“But if it is because they are lovers, it can make people mad, the people of my country.”
Sahir shook his head. “It does not matter to me, what people do.”
“Is… that why you no longer live in your country?”
He shrugged again and return to sweeping. “There are many reasons. That could be one. I wish you a good weekend after tonight, Miss ’Lizabeth.”
“To you too, Sahir,” I said, separating myself from him before any other foolishness came out of my mouth.
My heart was racing and palms sweating by the time my night patrol outside came around, but to my surprise, there was not a sound nor a visible movement out of place that night. I even checked the trash can where I had tossed the crowbar and bag the night before. The contents were gone, and I could only hope that it meant the bag had been changed.
I doubled back before the end of my usual patrol path. That spot outside of the anthropology hall was calling me. The bushes were clear, but the spot where I had encountered the woman the previous nights couldn’t help but make me curious. I could see the interior of the building well enough from the path, but from close up, even at my height, the lowest windows were just at eye level. It certainly would have made them hard to jump through, let alone force them open with any sort of tool. Telling myself that, I decided that I would let the whole matter go for the weekend.
3 thoughts on “The Hole”
Great read! I really enjoyed the conversation between Liz and Sahir, particularly their discussion about cultural differences and societal norms. It showed a great depth to both characters. My question is, do you plan on exploring more of Sahir’s background and experiences living in a different country?
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