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Melindaís Memoirs

Macedonia, 1940. Xena Scrolls dig site.

Iím finally in Macedonia and what happens when I get here? I head straight to the dig site to find Dr. Janice Covington. Upon enterin one of the tents, some big lug tells me, "Gimme the briefcase now." while heís holdin a gun to me! "Oh my." was the only thing I could squeak out as I drop my briefcase and raised my hands up.

From the corner of my eye I saw some movement and turned my head towards who I thought, at first glance, was another man. "Melinda Pappas what on earth have ya gotten yourself into now?" But then I realize that figure wasnít a man at all, but a woman dressed in manís attire. There she stood confidant as can be Ė all of which I wasnít. I was shakin in my stockings!

I quickly eyed her from her leather boots up to her brown dusty fedora. She just stood there, head tilted down slightly, one hand on her gun and the other hand holdin a lit cigar. She spit on the ground before sayin, "Now thatís no way to treat a lady." Then the look she gave them when she finally looked up, why, if I were them I would have high-tailed it outta there! "Run along now boys, I donít have time to play."

Next thing I know, bullets are flyin everywhere and Iím hidin behind a box of bottles prayin for dear life. But not this woman, she just stood there in the midst of it all firin away with her gun. "Three against one, what is she crazy?!?! Sheís gonna get herself killed." I thought to myself.

Crazy like I fox that is, because when she was finally ran outta bullets she drove behind a table to reappear again behind a machine gun. Me, bein busy with all that was goin on in front of me, didnít notice one of the big olgers come up behind me and grab me. "Lord help me! Iím gonna die." But she took care of him by aimin at one of the bronze artifact that was hangin right behind him. The bullets ricocheted off of it hittin him in the back of the head. "One down two more to go."

The second one ended up flat on his back when she used her whip on one of his feet causin his machine gun to end up flying, smack dab, in the womanís hands. She quickly took care of him.

And as for the last oneÖ. Well he was lucky enough to get out of there by the skin of his teeth. "Now dance." She said aimin within a hairs width of his feet. And I have to say that he did do some dancin before she yelled, "Get outta here!" And he took off runnin.

With that over with she turned her attention to me. "Who are you?" I introduced myself explainin the whole story of why I had come. And told her that I was there to help her out with the translatin she needed done. All she said was "I donít think so." Before she walked outta the tent.

Well me bein stubborn as a mule as my daddy would call it, followed her outside. I heard her yellin at one of the workers about someone named Smythe. "Whoís Smythe? And why did they want to get my briefcase?" I asked. Janice said that they were probably looking for the tablet.

While Janice was tryin to convince me that I didnít belong there and to get back to town, a worker stumbled up to her with a knife stickin outta his back. I had all these questions, my curiosity gettin to me again, that I needed to know the answers too. "Who was Smythe? What tablet? What tome? And what was inside that tome that would drive men to murder?" Yeah thatís right, I said murder. Little did I know that all of those questions would soon be answered and practically change my life.

"It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing... do whap do whap do wah..." I hum out loud as I try to pry open the truck's door, then settle my tush down in the passengers seat of Janice's truck. It sure does feel good to be sittin down. I don't really know why I'm in such a good mood. You would think after all we've been through today, my nerves would be frayed and I'd be ready to drop. I'm sure later on tonight I'll be plum tuckered out and then tomorrow, Oh lord am Iím gonna be sore!

Starin out the passenger window, my mind starts recallin the dayís events that have just transpired. It sure has been quite an adventurous day. I think to myself as I run my fingers through my disheveled hair. Meetin Dr. Janice Covington and findin the Xena Scrolls and fightin Ares. Ohmy! Definitely something I didnít expect to happen when I arrived here. And to think it all started when I found that telegram Janice had written to my daddy, askin him for help translatin ancient writins.

Lookin over, I notice Janice smilin and shakin her head at me. Probably wonderin why I agreed to stay with her. I mean, she doesnít trust me, which was apparent when she held that gun up to my face and nearly scared the bajeebers outta me. Or maybe sheís just wonderin why Iím hummin. Wonder if she knows the name of the tune?

I watch as she throws whatís left of her cigar out the window and think to myself, Thank goodness, those things smell awful. I hope she doesnít smokeíem all the time.

"Maybe Iíll keep it like this." I say to her, my fingers still combin through my hair, still tryin to tame it somehow. Canít remember the last time I had it down like this.

"She did a number on that skirt." Janice teased glancin at my thighs then gigglin out loud. She sure did. It was one of my favorite skirts too! I canít wait to get back the my hotel room and change outta these clothes, at least whatís left ofíem. Lookin down at my bare feet, ruined stockings and Xena-custom-tailored-ripped-way-to-high-up-the-thigh skirt that Janice is still eyein; I try to pull the ripped seams together. But that doesnít work. Even my tailor back home wonít be able to fix this.

Itís a good thing Janice knows where my hotel is because I havenít a clue as to where it is. And I get the feelin sheíll be stayin with me because she hasnít mentioned anything bout her place. Thatís fine with me. Itíll give us some time to get to know each other. And I do have a suite which should have plenty of room for the both of us.

The ride back to my hotel went pretty well, with the exception of my occasional hummin. Havin come straight to the dig site when I got here, all excited and anxiously, hopin Janice really did need my help translatin ancient writins, I didnít really notice the scenery. Charlotte, South Carolina, is nothin compared to Macedonia. Everythin that Iíd read about it was true. Itís really a beautifully country, if you could look past the part that there's a war goin on.

I glance over to Janice and can tell, by the look on her face, she too was replayin todayís events in her head. And now, well, Iím startin to get curious bout what that sweet little man handed her before we left the dig site.

Finally I can see the lights of the town and the hotel straight ahead. "Thank goodness." With the sound this truck was makin I was wonderin if we were even gonna make it. Ok so it was more like prayin then wonderin.

As I swung open the door to my hotel room, Janice heads straight to the bathroom. "Guess she had to go." Moments later I hear the shower runnin. "Well, Iíll just change outta these clothes while sheís in there. Sheís got the right idea, though. A nice bubble bath would feel real nice bout now."

I hear the bathroom door open and turn around to see Janice walk outta the bathroom. "She cleans up pretty nice, doesn't she? What's that phrase? A diamond in the rough?" She looks around the room, picks up the phone and calls room service. "Why Janice are you readin my mind? First the shower and now food." Satisfied with the order she's placed, she starts goin through her bag lookin for some clothes to change into. "Wonder how long it's been since she's worn a dress - if ever. She does look pretty nifty wearin those kaki pants, knee high leather boots, and brown leather jacket." Reminds me of a fella my daddy said he once met. "Indiana somethin or other, I think it was."

Catchin myself still starin at her, I turn my attention back to what I was doin - puttin on my navy blue pumps that match the outfit I finally decided to wear. "Melinda, why do ya always pack so much?" I sign quietly lookin over to the mile high stack of suitcases I have yet to unpack.

"Sure Janice... make yourself at home." I say teasinly standin there once again watchin her.

I spot the bullet hole in her fedora she's holdin and start to giggle. She forgot bout that, huh? Well, I'm not gonna mention it. I remember how mad she got when it happened. And from what Iíve seen of her temper so far, well, letís just say I wouldnít want Janice Covington mad at me.

"Well somebody had to." She responded with that mischievous grin of hers, still surveyin my room.

"So Janice. What are we gonna to do now?" I ask as I sit down on the bed. "Lordy, my feet are killin me! Oh great... I just had to look at that bullet hole again, didn't I?" And now I'm gigglin to myself again. Uh oh... there goes her eyebrow archin up on her forehead again. Wonder what caused that reaction. I hope she didn't expect me to just sit around here while she's out doin lord knows what. I mean, we are partners now. Aren't we?

She starts walkin towards me with her hand out, "I have to meet this man. Are you coming with me?" she ask waitin for me to take it. You bet your sweet tomatoes I am!

"Sure! Who is he?" I reply as I take her hand, pullin myself up. There goes that idea of a smoothin bubble bath. At least Iím wearin clean duds, have on shoes and have my spare set of glasses on now. Besides, she did invite me to join her and my curiosity gets the better of me at times.Yeah, I guess Iím just plain nosey even though it  gets me in trouble sometimes.

I turn to grab my purse for one second and sheís out the door quicker then a flash of lightnin. Quick tempered and looks to be impatience too. Was it somethin I said?  She never did answer my question. Guess Iím gonna have to get use to that. By the time I caught up to her she was already by the truck, lookin up at the beautiful nightís sky and gettin ready to light one of those smelly cigars again.

Sheís startin to look really tired now. Sheís not the only one. But donít think Iíll say anythin bout it. Whatís the worse that could happen? I pass out of pure exhaustion? Nah... wonít happen.

"Do you really like smokin those things?" I ask pointin to the cigar, prayin that her answer, of course, was gonna be Ďnoí. "You want one?" she asks as I made my way around to the passenger-side door. I had to suppress a sudden gaggin feelin I had in my throat before answerin her, "Oh... no thank you."

"Mel, you are not wearing those shoes again are you?" Janice asked as she started up the engine of her beat up old truck. What about them? I cross my leg over the other one and tilt my foot up to her, "Which ones? These?"

"I really need to talk to you about sensible shoes Mel." These are the most sensible pair of shoes I own. The heels arenít to high and besides, they match my outfit.  Ok, I must be gettin tired because I didnít mean to sounds so rude and try to change the subject so abruptly by answerin, "Well Janice, I find these things to be very comfortable. Thank you very much. "Well let's go."

"Mel the first time you have to walk in sand and fall over, I will laugh at you." So much for tryin to change the subject. "I hope not." was all that I replied.

The next thing I know, my eyes flutter open and itís dark. What? Where am I? My eyes try to adjust to the darkness of the room, Iím lyin on my side in a bed. What... what happened? How did I end up back in my hotel room? Did I have one of my faintin spells again? I must have cause I can make out the stack of suitcase in the corner of the room.

I nearly jump outta my skin when I realize, Good Lord, Iím nekkid! But before I could finish that thought, I felt a hand placed at the small of my back. Slightly callused fingertips, but very gentle with its touch. Who on earth?!  I felt the fingertips start to trace small circles where they laid, gentle, tender causin my heartbeat to speed up a notch. Slowly they made their way up my spine, up over my shoulder and down the length of my arm, causin goosebumps to spring up from where they had just traveled. My mind is racin, my body warms... "Oh my!"

I lay perfectly still, not knowin what to do next. Melinda Pappas,turn over and find out who that is and why theyíre in bed with ya! my mind screams out at me. But before I could comply I felt a feather-light kiss placed between my shoulder blades. Just like the fingertips, the kisses traveled up to my shoulder. Oh, sweet mother of pearl, I canít take this anymore. I have to know who this person is thatís doin this to me. Whoever it was was now lightly bitin down on my neck, causin me to shut my eyes, as a silent moan escaped my mouth. I could feel the hot breath so very close to my ear, and a shiver run down my spine.

Then I hear, "Mel, donít you leave my side, you got that?" from the very recesses of my mind. JANICE?!  My eyes fly open and I nearly bang the back of my head on the window behind me, as I jerked my chin up off my chest. It was only a dream.  Thank goodness she had gotten outta the truck already and apparently didnít notice I had fallen asleep when she was talkin to me. She would have surely asked me why I looked all flustered. And just how would I have explained that?

As we walked past one of the parked cars, I donít think Janice noticed it because Iím sure she would have commented on it. One of the cars was rockin slightly or at least I thought it was. And I could have sworn I heard a woman say in a British accent, "Shag me." several times. Now I wonder what on earth that means. Iíll ask Janice that later, maybe she knows.

I really wasnít sure which buildin we were headin to, I didnít see any numbers on them. And to be quite honest it looked as if we were standin in an alleyway anyway. Lookin around, this is definitely not a type of area I would be caught dead at back in South Carolina. But then again it looks like things are gonna get really interestin bein partners with Janice. If this mornin was any indication of how life is gonna be from now on, well looks like Iím in for quite a ride then.

Walkin besides her, we headed towards a doorway that had a solitary lightbulb swingin freely over it. Looks like Janice isnít very keen on the idea of bein in this alleyway either. I see she has her hand on gun.  What kinda establishment is this weíre goin to anyhow?

Before I knew what happened next I felt Janice's hand shove me back, between my bosoms, and she had already drawn her gun outta its holster. Thatís the second time today she has done that to me.

"What the..." was all I manage to get out of my mouth as she pushed me outta the way of door that just flew open. "And stay out!" yelled the bouncer to the poor fella heíd just unceremoniously threw outta the door. He turned to give Janice and I the once over, but didnít seem to care that Janice was holdin her gun towards him.

"Iím looking for Mr. Small." Janice sneered to him. I swear, she sure is one tough cookie! "Mr. Small?" I echo back to her. "Yeah? Ainít heard ofíem." he answered back still starin at the guy he had just thrown out who was layin face down on the concrete.

"Told me to meet him here." she said as she fished out the note this Mr. Small fella had written handin it over to the bouncer. "Whatta I know?" he finally said after readin it.  Janice turned to give me that "Yeah I know Iím right." kinda smirk.

"Can we come in and look for him?" she asks tryin to look past the huge bouncer into the bar area. Pointin his hairy thumb to the door, "Will get in Ďere den!" As we get past him, he says, "A dame in a suit? Huh? Whatís this world comin ta?" That caused me to look down at my own attire, then to Janice.

Whoís he talkin about? Me or Janice?

Just like the dark alleyway, we had just came in from, the bar was dimly lit. There were only about a hand full of patrons sittin around drinkin at several tables. Considerin the day Iíve had today, I should start drinkin.  I silently think to myself.  Perfect time to do it, just nothin too strong.  I never could handle my liquor.

I hear a sigh leave Janiceís mouth as we make our way to grab a stool at the bar. The bartender was standin there lazily cleanin a glass as we made ourselves comfy on two of the barstools. Then I couldnít believe me eyes when I saw how he was cleanin the glass. He spit on the one he was holdin and wiped it off with a dirty lookin dishrag. That was disgustin! I make a quick mental note to try not to touch any glasses, while Iím here, unless itís absolutely necessary.

"Give me a whiskey and a gin and tonic for the lady." She says before I could object. I would have preferred some wine. but itís too late as he turns to makes our drinks. "In a fresh glass please." Which is exactly what I was thinkin also. "I cleaned it." the bartender started to say. "With water." Janice said finishin his sentence for him.

I could have sworn I heard him mumble somethin under his breath as he turned around again to make our drinks. Probably gonna spit on the glass again for good measure. I feel the color drain from my face at the mere thought of it.

From behind me I hear, "Put that on my tab, Jimmy. Janice, they told me you were in town. I see you got my note?" I turn around slightly in my barstool to take a look at this Mr. Small. And to my surprise he wasnít what I had expected a Mr. Small to look like. He was about my height and had to weigh at least 250 lbs if not over. Which I couldnít tell if it was muscle, pudge or a little of both from all the black he was wearin.

Janice looked over her shoulder at him, "You're Mr. small?"

"Well.... I don't like to brag...." he states with a grin and a wink.

Janice apparently noticed somethin the bartender was doin before she hopped up onto her barstool and told him, "You donít mix whiskey." I didnít know that. The barkeep then looked at her, "Shaddup! Iím a getting to yah." Which cause Janice to lean over the bar to stare directly into his eyes sayin, "Hey! Be nice, thereís a lady present."

She looked back at Mr. Small "What can we do for you?" By this time I had some how unconsciously slipped off my barstool and was now standin besides Janice again. Iím not really sure what to make of this Mr. Small fella. Not entirely sure what to think of him. Thereís somethin about him that tells me to lock up my valuables and the refrigerator too for that matter.

"Janice, I need to sell your body." Big Rod blurts out without blinkin an eye.

The bartender must have found that assumin because I heard a grunt come from him directly behind me.

I couldnít believe what I just heard come outta his mouth. I had to make sure my ears werenít deceivin me so I asked, "What did he just say?!" I canít believe he just said somethin like that about Janice. Sell her body? Is there somethin I should know about her?  Iím sure he must have seen how far up my eyebrow had arched on my forehead, but then again, maybe he was lookin for that kind of reaction outta me.

Janice spun around in her barstool when she heard him say that, "I know you just didn't say that Rod!"

"Hey, you're the best in the business baby!" he exclaimed.  All I could do was stand here and stare wide eyed at the both of them. Good lord, what have I gotten myself into now?

Janice grabbed her glass, which I hadnít notice the bartender had passed to us; and in one swift gulp downed her whiskey while still glarin at Big Rod. I really could use a drink now also, but thereís no possible way Iím gonna touch that glass.

Somewhere in the bar I heard a woman cough. But it was too dark for me to see where she was. It did surprise me that at this time of the night there is another woman in here other then Janice and myself. I canít believe that weíre in here to begin with. Janice, please just find out what he wants so we can get outta here and back to the hotel room to get some sleep.

After hearin him say she was the best in the business I had to find out what he meant by that. "What is he talkin about?" I asked Janice as I made my way behind Janice, not really knowin why, but I knew I felt safe havin her in front of me. She probably thinks Iím a big baby for hidin behind her all the time, but I'm not a fighter. Iím a... Iím a... letís just say Iím not a fighter and keep it at that.

This must happen a lot with him because she asked, "Rod, you have done some stupid things in your time, what have you gotten yourself into now?"

"I mean these hands just work magic!" he said as he took her hands in his. She still looked unimpressed by the dramatic show he was puttin on. She asked, "When and where Rod?"

And me, well Iím not sure what to think of this all. "Um..." No nevermind, I wasnít gonna get in the middle of this. Iím just gonna stand here and let Janice handle him. He is her friend anyway and I donít wanna get in her way when sheís doin business. Whatever kind of business this might be.

Sensin that he had gotten her full attention he reached into his pocket pullin outta wrinkled old note pad. "Let me see. Iíve got this written down somewhere." He said as he flipped through the pad.

"Meet Big Rod Mel, he's my supplier." Janice turns to finally introduce me to him prior like. I was wonderin when she was gonna get around to the introductions. "Umm... you're supplier?" I asked lookin down at Janice, feelin my eyebrow, yet again, arch up in question.

I could tell she wasnít payin close attention to what I had just asked. She was eyein somethin to the right of me so I quickly glance over to see what it is she is lookin at. All I saw were three big drunken burly patrons that were headin our way. I assumed just to get some more drinks, so I paid them no mind. But whatever it was that she saw that I didnít made her grab my arm and move me to the other side of her. "Letís go somewhere else and talk about this." she said as she got up from her stool.

Thinkin she didnít hear my question I had ask her, I repeated it, "What do you mean by supplier, Janice?"

By that time, Janice had taken my wrist and begun to try to drag Big Rod and I away from the bar. But one of thugs walked right up to me and started starin at me up and down like I was some sort of piece of meat. Didnít you mother ever tell ya it was impolite to scare at people? "Hey! Youíre awful pretty.  Wanna dance?" he said to me with breath that could have killed a cow and definitely would have caused me to faint if he kept talkin to me much longer. There was absolutely no possible way I was gonna dance, let alone, be touched by that man. And then it hits me why Janice was in such a big rush to get away from the bar. She saw this comin.

Janice was still tryin to make get us to a table but one of the other thugs stepped in front of her, blockin her way.

I looked over at Big Rod to see if he was gonna be any help here, but he was still busy lookin for whatever it was he was lookin for in his book. He seemed totally oblivious to the situation at hand. "Men!" And by this time all three of the guys were surroundin us. "I feel another fight comin on. Janice, I hope this isnít an everyday occurrence. Cause Iím afraid I might not be able to keep up with ya."

Janice shook her head, pulled out her gun and stunk it against the guys beerbelly, "Move out of my way mister." But all the drunken brute did was look at the gun then began to laugh, causin Janice to cock her gun. "Haha... look boys! Little girls got a toy!"

"Oh, Janice... um..." I tried to get her attention because the one that was standin in front of me was now gettin awfully close. He, unfortunately, liked the perfume I was wearin and was now sniffin the air around my neck. I canít believe this is happenin again! Twice in one day is just too much. Maybe I should have just stayed at the hotel room?

Big Rod, havin finally put that stupid little book of his away, looks about then says, "Friends of yours, Jan?" Then looked over her shoulder, "I've been meaning to talk to you about that... I have a guy who can get you a bigger gun for a very reasonable... Oh I see youíre busy. I'll just go grab a booth"

"Thanks Rod!" Janice yelled to him as he turned to me grabbin my hand. "This way, mam." The nerve of that man tryin to leave Janice to take care of this situation all by herself! I wasnít goin anywhere with him and pulled my hand from his. "Um... um... Janice?" I was hopin she would tell me how I could help her out, if any.

The bartender drove behind the counter yellin somethin bout, "NO blasters no blasters!" "What a strange phase. Macedonian sayin maybe?"

Big Rod just shrugged me off, "Oh well... I guess I'll be slipping on by then. I'm sure I'm the last thing they want to dance with." He the had the nerve to actually apologize to these unsavory characters by sayin "Iím not with her." I moved aside to allow him to pass by me cause lord knows I donít want him touchin me again. Janice turned for a moment to give him an evil look. Heís definitely not gonna be any help. Patsy!

Turnin her attention back to the thug in front of her Janice raised her knee, makin direct contact with his family jewels. He doubles over holdin himself as his eyes bulge outta their sockets. Janice is rather proud of herself from the huge smile she has on her face. Then she laughs evilly turnin to the next guy and says "Next?" Iím really beginnin to think she loves doin this.

"Ouchie." Is all that comes out of my mouth. I hear Big Rod behind me, "Owwwie". Guess he felt that too. I eyed the fella double over holdin his groin, "That'll teach ya." After what happened I decided that gettin outta arms way would be the best thing to do and I tried to make my way over to where Big Rod was standin. Guess he had the right idea after all. Janice was able to handle those three lugs this mornin. And if things start to look really bad, well, Iíll try and help her by hittin one of them over the head with me purse or somthin.

Out of no where this stranger, a woman, walks up quietly behind the thug on the left, twists her foot around his ankle and shoves him to the ground. This causes Janicesí eyebrow to rise up high under the brim of her hat and a huge smile to form on her face.

"Oh I hate the sight of blood." Oh for heavens sakes, did I just say that out loud? I must be more tired that my by body is lettin on. Looks like my brain is already shuttin down to go night night.

I can tell by the look on Janiceís face that sheís itchin to shoot someone. She has that same look on her face she had back in the tent when she was shootin those three other lugs this mornin.

"Hey I can't even dance.. bad leg you know.. I'll just be going to that booth if you don't mind?" Big Rod says makin excuses for not helpin her. "Get outta ma face.. we want them!" one of the brutes says to Big Rod as he steps over the one who is still on the ground holdin himself.

"Them?" I heard Janice asked as I simultaneously thought the same thing to myself.

Big Rod stepped over high pitched brute, "Yes, well good luck. You'll need it." he said under his breath.

"Should I get menus?" he asked over shoulder to Janice. I knew it! I was right about lockin up the refrigerator when it came to this guy. I couldnít believe that Janice actually thought about it for a moment, then looked around and said, "No lets go somewhere classy, I got paid today." Which made Big Rodís eyes light up as he said with a big smile, "Ooo really? You got the truck, throw me the keys. I'll start her up."

The now high soprano brute squeaked out, "That hurt wench!" and tried to pull her down by grabbin on to her legs. Janice looked down, sneered, then glances up at Rod. "Bit Busy here Rod!"

I donít know what I was thinkin or where it came from but I yelled out, "Kickíem!" to Janice from my little hidin place behind one of the chairs. I smiled when she actually did it and kicked his arms away from her legs. She looked over at me smilin also.

"Throw me the idol... I mean keys" Big Rod yelled over to Janice. I wasnít sure what made him, all of a sudden, more excited to leave, the fact that Janice just said that she just gotten paid or the fact that he was gonna get a free meal.  Probably a little of both.  She fished around her for her keys, while still holdin her gun in the other hand.  And Big Rod was just standin there tappin his foot impatiently waitin for her to find them. "Men!"

While that was goin on I heard that other woman say, "Now now, donít look at me like that." to the brute she had shoved to the ground, who was now glarin at her. He tried to kick her kneecap but missed it by inches.

"You're gonna pay for that knee Missy!" the poor sap that Janice turned into a high soprano said as he pulled back and hauled off a punch towards her. I notice that Janiceís isnít payin one bit of attention to him cause she was yellin at Rod who finally said, "Don't worry toots, I'll get her started without the keys." Janice did not seem to like that idea for her eyes widen and she turned to stop Big Rod as he made his way to the door. "No you donít!" she yelled after him.  Thank goodness the punch that brute tried missed Janiceís jaw when she turned to try to stop Big Rod from leavin.

Seeing that both of them were leavin the place, I quickly darted after Janice.  There was absolutely no way I was gonna get left stranded in this place.  She was headin towards the door still in pursuit of Big Rod. From the corner of my eye I saw that that woman also is makin a retreat towards the door.  Smart woman.

"STOP!!" I hear ringin out from behind me, but thereís no way Iím gonna stop to see whoís callin out to us. I keep a steady pace for the door. Big Rod was sayin goodnight to the sleepin bouncer, when he stopped and turned around. What on earth are ya doin? Why are you stoppin? I hear myself say, not payin attention to the fact that Janice had just stopped and turned around also causin me to walk right into her. "Umph."

I turned around to see who they are lookin at. From the back of the bar area I see a well-dressed man appear, followed by his chauffeur. Or at least thatís what he looked like to me was a chauffeur.

Big Rod made his way back to where Janice and I were standin. From the look in his eyes and the way his nostrils are flarin he either knew this nicely attired man or smells that thereís money involved in this somehow. Janice on the other hand still wasnít goin to take any chances and still had a firm grip on her gun. And me, well I still wanted to get outta there, but my curiosity is startin up again. Who was this handsome gentleman in the well tailored suit and tie?

The gentleman looked over at the thugs and started laughin, "And you thought she was going to be easy?"  That statement caused Janice to glance up at me smilin. Yeah I see she knows sheís one tough cookie and her reputation proceeds her.

The gentleman turned his attention back to our group, " I see Miss Covington, that your reputation is well earned!" Janice lowered her gun. Pushin her fedora high up her forehead she asked, "And you are?" Which is exactly what we were wonderin.

"Boris! Get yourself and your brothers out of here!" he yelled at the thugs.

"Ah ha! Russian, I knew it!" I heard Janice exclaim and turned to look at her, wonderin how she had suspected them of bein Russian.  I surely didnít recognize the accent to be Russian. Maybe it was because they were so drunk that their accents turned into Ďlush speechí. I mentally shrug it off turnin my attention, once again, to the Suit.  I donít see that strange woman anymore.  Either she made it out of the door or sheís hidin in the shadows watchin us.

"I," bowin at the waist, "Am Mr. Giles Nelwin!" Lookin over at Big Rod I can tell heís in deep thought, probably tryin to remember if heís ever done business with him.  Janice, of course, isnít impressed by any of this, shrugs then says, "And?"

"Giles Nelwin" I repeat the name in my head, I certainly donít know any Giles Nelwin. But he is a very handsome gentleman. "Oh well..." accidentally sips out of my mouth as I stood here takin in his features. "Mel." I thought I heard Janice say to me, but I didnít answer her nor did I look at her to see if she had just called my name. Iím sure she would have been givin that look she gave me when I was talkin to Jack. I have been known to be on the flirtatious side. But then again Jack said he thought I had a nice set of gambs. So he wasnít all that bad a guy.

Mr. Nelwin pointed at a table "Please sit... and you too Big Rod and Ms..." he directed that question to the woman who was standin in the shadows. "Helena. Call me Helena." Well least we know her name now. Wonder why sheís bein asked to sit and join us. Mr. Nelwin probably thinks she was with us since she tried to help Janice with those drunken fools.

"I just needed to test you was all. To see if I heard was true. Smithers, help the ladies with their seats."

I raise my eyebrow at what he just said, "Heard of me? I say innocently pointin to myself.  What on earth could he have possibly heard of me? And what did he mean by testin us?  He looked directly at me, "Ahh, yes indeed I have. But please sit." And gestured for me to sit down as Smithers helps us ladies with our seats.

"What have you heard about me?"

"This is Smithers my driver." Smithers nodded his head politely at all of us then goes to sit at a near-by table. I looked over at him givin him a nice warm southerly smile.

I sit quietly just listenin and surveyin the group seated at the table. Iím really tired now. The fastest way for us to get outta here is for me to not say a word and hope that this is all done with quickly. Helena also sits quietly in her seat eyein Mr. Nelwin."

"You know mister drunks don't usually make the best thugs. I could hook you up with some Macedonian strongmen." Mr. Nelwin looked and started to laugh at Big Rod. "And I see what I hear about you is true too!" He limped over to a chair, plops down, his bad leg sticking out in the walkway then sighs, "Well, don't believe everything you hear about me."

"Well, now that I see we are all aquatinted. I must speak to you all. I needed to see if you really were the people I wanted. Especially you Ms Covington." Mr. Nelwin said pullin up a chair. Well now it looks like everybody wants something from my partner tonight.

"So there Giles, you know about us. Now it's time for you to tell us a story. Tell us about yourself, starting with why you had those thugs attack us." Janice asked coolly.

"Well. For one thing, I was an old friend of your fathers."

"Well that's nothing new, everyone knew my father." Janice answered as she swung her chair around and pulled out a cigar. To which Nelwin simple replied, "Yes."

Big Rod interrupted by sayin, "Well any fees for Janice will have to go through me." Janice leaned back and rolled her eyes at Rod. "Let me handle this, toots."

"Well it so happens I have a very ancient text that was once his."

"Ah ha! You stole it!" I thought she was gonna hop outta her seat and choke him, by the way she yelled that out.

I was startin to shut down from lack of sleep. So I leaned over to Janice and quietly said, "You really have to explain all of these to me later. Who these people are." She tapped my leg with her hand, "Donít worry Mel, I will."

Then my ears perked up as soon as I heard Mr. Nelwin said had some ancient text. "Ancient writins? I turn to regard him with my full attention. What ancient writins?

Mr. Nelwin continues by sayin, "Steal is such a harsh term." Big Rod, of course, nodded in agreement with him, "Oh I agree with that mister, steal... bah! Everyone throws that word around to loose, Jan, allow me."

Ignorin every word that is comin from Big Rodís mouth Janice bit down on her unlit cigar, "Well return it and I won't charge you a late fee." Gotta love that gals sense of humor. I think to myself. At least sheís not cussin up a storm. She must be tired.

"I've had it for some time but can make no sense of it. I want to put you in charge of an expedition to figure it out." Janice sighed as she lit the cigar "I don't work for just anyone, especially thieves." But Janice weíre talkin about some ancient writins here. Iíd at least like to seeíem.

Mr. Nelwin tried to put on the most innocent of faces, "I merely borrowed it. Now I'm returning it and wish to put your skills to good work." Which of course none of us were buyin. She held out her hand, "Then return it."

"How bout if you give Janice the text and we cut you in for a small cut?" Rod said wavin off Janice still tryin to get in on the deal.

"Rod here will supply you with what you need." Mr. Nelwin continued to say. Janice looked over at Big Rod, "That's a given anyway." Which caused Big Rod to frown, "Janice please."

Me... my mind has wandered back to the hotel room now where Iím startin to wish I was at this very moment.

"So Giles, what do I get out of this?" Janice asked. "Why to follow daddy's dreams!" Nelwin replied. Causin Janice to chuckle, "I've been doing that for more years than I care to remember. You have a problem answering questions Giles."

"So just what are ya offering mister?" Some how I knew Big Rod was gonna ask that.

"Well I will pay you all well." That caught Janiceís attention now. She leaned in closer to him, "I want to see the mullah."

Big Rod nodded in agreement, "That's a start. Up front right?" If I was sittin directly in front of him Iím sure I would have literally seen dollar signs in his beady little eyes.

I watch as Mr. Nelwin reached into his jacket pocket to extract somethin from it. I can sense Janice start to coil up like a snake ready to attack if need be. And Big Rod looked like heís gettin ready to dive for cover under the table.

Mr. Nelwin pulled out a wad of cash, big enough to make everyone's eyes in the room widen includin my own, and threw it onto the table. "There is twenty-five hundred American dollars there as a good will gesture." backin away from the table as he watched two bodies go flyin towards the pile of cash layin there. Big Rod, of course, tried to snatch it up. And surprisingly so did Helena.

Mr. Nelwin looked at Helena. "I don't know who you are." Well then why on samhill did you invite her to come sit down with us? "Sheís not with us." Janice tells Nelwin. "Oh don't worry, I'll pull my weight." she eyed the cash, tryin to make a grab for it.

Granted Iíve seen lots of money before, but never that much just layin out on a table. "Oh well now look at that." I said as I lean in for a closer look at it.

Janice had the fastest reflexes of both Helena and Big Rod as she snatched up the wad of cash, holdin it snug up to her chest. "Get off!"

Poor Helena, she had tried to grab the money so fast off of the table, which at the same time Big Rod was tryin to do also, but he landed right on top of her. "Jan Iím gonna need that you know. Oh sorry bout that Miss." Big Rod frowned as he pushes his two-hundred and forty something pounds off of her.

Janice just sat back laughin at them. "Who invited you anyway?" she said to Helena. "Oh thatís gratitude for you." she answered with a scowl on her face. For cryin out loud, look atíem. Actin like a bunch of hungry vultures that have never seen money before.

"Well... if yíall want. I could hold the money." I said lookin at each of their faces, finally lockin eyes with Janice, battin my eyelashs at her. "Oh good grief Melinda." I have to remember that only works on men and wonít work on women. "Stop doin that for heavens sakes before she thinks thereís somethin wrong with ya." From the look she was givin me I saw she still doesnít totally trust me, but agreed to havin me hold it anyway. "Keep it safe sweetheart." She says handin' me the money. "Well maybe sheís startin to trust me now. And did she just call me sweetheart?"

Now where to put it? Openin up my purse I can tell thereís no way it could possible fit in there. I have way too much junk in it. Iím lucky to get my purse closed to begin with. Hummm. Lookin down at myself the next logical place to put it would be in my pockets. Which this outfit does not have. But maybe if I... Foldin the money in half I sipped it down in between my bosoms, pushin it deep down to make sure it didnít fall out. No one would think about lookin down there for money. Oh, it feels a little unevenÖmore to the left. There thatís better. I was hopin that no one was actually payin attention to me while I arranged myself to where the money was as snug as a bug in a rug.

"Well. Do you accept?" Mr. Nelwin said as he leaned back into his seat starin at Janice. "Show me the tablet." She answered as she stood up holdin out her hand to him.

I was gettin ready to wiggle my shoulders side to side to make sure the money didnít fall out, when I glanced up and caught Mr. Nelwin lookin at me. And just want are ya lookin at? Well thatís gonna have to do until we get in back in the hotel room. "Well now that that's all settled." I said as I leaned back in my seat, rested my hands on my purse again and continued to listen to conversation between Janice and Mr. Nelwin quietly.

I guess Janice must have heard what I said cause she smiled and muttered, under her breath, "Rather nicely too." Why Janice Covington, I swear, some of the things that come outta that mouth of yours could just make a gal blush. Which was true, in fact, I had to turn my face away from her before she could notice the redness on it. Though I was a bit flattered too, which caused me to grin. Oh my.

"Oh there will be more, and I am sending Smithers to go with you. He will be my representative on this little expedition."

"Me? Sir? I just a drive, sir. I don't know the first thing, or the second or third thing for that matter about Archeology?" came a very quiet but shocked voice of Smithers from the other table, where he was seated.

"You know we're gonna need more than that right? That will barely cover labor costs, pick rentals, and sorry but Smithy here hardly looks like the out doorsy type to me." Big Rod interrupted. That man definitely has a one track mind.

Then it hits me, "Oh Smithers... what a lovely name. I use to know a Smithers once, we wereÖ" I looked around to see that no one was actually listenin to me. Well, Janice was. "Down Mel." She said rollin her eyes at me. Well Iím sorry. Iím just tired and ramblin off at the mouth I guess. I really wish this was over and done with so we could get some shut eye. Iím exhausted.

"Where is the expedition?" Janice asked. I know she has to be just as tired as I am right now.

"Oh Smithers will be fine. As for the expedition, I will get the tablet to you tomorrow. As I said I was unable to decipher the tablet so I hope you have better luck!" Janice has one of the best translator as her partner now, Mr. Nelwin. Donít ya go worryin about havin any problems decipherin that tablet. I thought to myself, tryin to hide a grin.

"I'm sorry but as the sole supplier I'm gonna need at least another thousand on top of our personal fees, Mister." Looks like Big Rod is determined to squeeze out as much money from Mr. Nelwin as possible. "What? That much more?"

"Oh yes, and that's conservative believe me" Big Rod said as he held up the palm of his hand.

"Well. I suppose I can, I will have it brought tomorrow with the tablet."

Big Rod nodded and lifted himself up from his seat, "Fair enough, but can you spot me a note for gas?"

To be Continued...
Updated January 10th, 2000