Ch 3: Uncharted Territories and Dangerous Waters
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The young man had been through hell and back in his academic pursuits, but the social scene at his school was a reprieve he desperately needed. Yet, after failing to meet the academic requirements for a scholarship to study abroad, he found himself back on his family’s farm, striving to improve their harvest. It was a task he threw himself into, but despite his efforts, he couldn’t please those around him.
Like so many post-high schoolers, he yearned for a sense of belonging, recognition, and revelry. So when he stumbled out of a nightclub in the wee hours, he hoped the night might bring him the sense of fulfillment he craved. But a dark, deserted alleyway had other plans. The young man sensed someone, or something, following him, and his pace quickened. Suddenly, a hand shot out from the shadows, yanking him back.
The young man spun around to find a short, stocky bald man in a sport coat and clerical collar, with a deep, French-accented voice and a look of grim determination. The stranger growled, “Help me,” and pressed a small pouch into the young man’s hand. “Take this,” he instructed, “And go. À lundi!” And with that, the man fell to the ground in agony. The young man was shaken but composed. He recognized a vulnerable person when he saw one, but he also sensed danger lurking in the darkness.
The pouch contained a crumpled piece of paper with the ominous message “Bring $5000” scrawled across the top and an address on the letterhead. And as the young man emptied the pouch, shimmering green crystals spilled out, cascading onto his bed in a haunting rhythm that sent shivers down his spine. Each angular crystal reflected the light in a different direction, twirling and spinning as if alive. The gems were emeralds, and they were far more valuable than $5000.
The young man knew nothing of the seedy underbelly of the stone trade, but he could feel the danger creeping up on him. As he washed away the acrid taste of cheap brandy and cigarettes, his heart raced with anticipation.
He realized that the stranger’s plea for help was the beginning of a journey that would take him into a world of danger and intrigue, where the line between right and wrong was blurred, and the stakes were higher than he could ever have imagined.
The dangers of the black market were all too clear to him. Fear and tension mounted as he realized he was in over his head, caught in a deadly game of life or death. The precious stones in the pouch were the only bargaining chip he had, and he locked them away in his school briefcase, setting the combination and sliding it under the bed. But sleep was elusive, as he tossed and turned, grappling with the weight of the situation.
Emerging from a restless slumber, he was instantly flooded with the haunting memories of the previous night.
His body jolted upright as he snatched the briefcase from under the bed with urgency.
The door creaked open to reveal his neighbor, a trusted friend with a faltering grin. The young man launched into a frantic explanation of the bizarre encounter in the alleyway, the mysterious French-speaking man, and the pouch of precious emeralds.
As the tale unfolded, his friend’s face drained of color. He wished he could undo his decision to enter the room, but the young man’s revelation of the true value of the stones was too much to resist. His expression shifted from shock to greed as his eyes lit up with a malevolent gleam, a smile on his lips that spoke volumes: “ka-chi”
It was a damn fateful Saturday morning, the clock striking ten and twenty, and he knew just who to seek.
A family friend, a man of medicine, renowned in the murkier realm of gems and minerals. A passport to privilege, a ticket to the upper crust, where secrets and connections flowed like a river of gold.
The Doc, he reckoned, might hold the key to unlock the daring plan, to make it a reality by Monday’s moonrise.
As they made their way to the Doc’s sprawling ranch, they couldn’t shake the feeling that they were wading into dangerous waters, uncharted territories, where danger lurked around every bend. But still, they pressed on.
The Doc was a gentleman, a towering black figure of distinction, his gleaming bald head a beacon of authority, as polished as a freshly minted coin. His glasses, large and ornate, perched upon a regal nose that seemed to lead the way.
And his safari suit, a work of sartorial art, was always pressed to perfection, giving the impression of a man ever ready for adventure.
No whiskers graced his cheeks, but the Doc’s face was a canvas of expression, his emotions a symphony of feeling, conveyed with the skill of a thespian supreme.
Whether his countenance was set in a stoic frown or a warm smile, one couldn’t help but feel the weight of his presence, and know their place in the world, with but a single glance at his noble visage.
As they made their way towards the entrance of the Doc’s Ranch, their hearts were pounding with a thrill that could only come from venturing into the unknown. And then, they saw him—the Doc, a gentleman with a twinkle in his eye and a grin so wide it could light up a room.
He was standing outside his abode, tending to his prized orange trees with a love and care only a true gardener could possess. The Doc was taken aback when he saw his visitors, as if he were staring at a ghost from his past.
But as they approached, the reality of the situation set in and he realized that the man before him was not his old friend, but his son and a stranger.
The Doc’s smile faded for a moment, replaced with a look of confusion and disappointment. But just as quickly as it disappeared, it returned to its place on his face, as he welcomed his guests with open arms. As they chatted and caught up, the boy confided in the Doc that he was in need of expert advice on gemstones.
The Doc’s eyes lit up at the mention of these precious stones, as they held a special place in his heart. With a flourish, he motioned for them to follow him to his office, a separate building from the main ranch house. Once inside the office, the Doc closed the door with a dramatic flourish, sealing them inside with a sense of mystery and suspense. He made his way to a large safe, hidden behind a bookcase filled with medical literature. With a twinkle in his eye, he opened the safe and retrieved a few gems and the tools of the trade that jewelers use to examine stones.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs