Friday, September 16, 2011

Harrison Bogart

The night is clear and the moon shines bright down on the sparkling Ramkahen sands.  Harrison Jones strides swiftly across the flats.  A Gnomish plane stands ready on the far end of a makeshift launching strip, engines puttering softly.  In front of the plane, kissed by silver light, stands Decedereful, radiant even in a long, concealing jacket.  At her side stands Valentis.

Harrison pulls down on his brown fedora, tilting it into the gentle wind.  A few palm fronds stir in a clump to his right, and behind him the city lay sleeping.  His thoughts are fixed on his beloved, though, and the escape that the plane behind her signifies.

As he steps up to the couple, the wind gusts a little harder.  It pulls the flaps of Decedereful's jacket away from her body.  Harrison recalls the seductive dress she had on the night before, but she wears it no longer.  Simple, boring clothes lie underneath.  He looks at Valentis, and the man shifts uncomfortably.

"You have the papers?" the Gilnean asks.

Harrison nods and pats his pocket.  "All that remains is for you to get on that plane."

Valentis blinks, and opens his mouth.

"Unfortunately, it appears that will not be happening."  The voice that interrupts them comes from the cluster of palms.  Out of the shadows steps Captain Renault.

"Louie," Harrison says, turning.  "Why are you here?"

"I'm afraid Major Strasser has learned of this little launch."  Renault spreads his arms.  "It seems that I am compelled to do my job for once."

Harrison frowns and looks around.  "I do not see the Schnottzy."

"Rest assured he is on his way," Renault says with a sigh.  "Now, hand me the papers, Harrison, and we will simply say you were aiding the investigation."

"I'm afraid that isn't going to happen, Louie," Harrison replies.  From the folds of his jacket, he pulls out a gun.  Decedereful gasps behind him.  There is grim determination on Harrison's face as he points the weapon at his friend.

Renault slowly and calmly holds his hands out to both sides.  "Have you lost your mind?"

"I have," Harrison replies.  "Sit down."

"Put that gun down!" Renault steps toward him.

"I don't want to shoot you, but I will if you take one more step!"

They stare at each other for a moment.  The policeman on one side, the nightclub owner on the other.  Sands brush by their feet, paying heed to neither.

Renault flashes a wry smile.  "Under the circumstances, I will sit down."  He folds himself to the ground.

Harrison steps closer, gun steady.  "And remember, this gun is pointed right at your heart."

Renault chuckles.  "That is my least vulnerable spot."

A gentle hand on his arm pulls Harrison's attention away from the Captain.  Decedereful stands at his side.  She opens her mouth to talk, but Harrison holds up a hand, stopping her.

Taking a deep breath, he begins.  "Last night we said a great many things.  You said I was to do the thinking for both of us.  Well, I've done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you're getting on that plane with Valentis where you belong."

"But, Harrison, no, I... I..." Decedereful stammers.

Harrison takes her hand in his.  "Now, you've got to listen to me!  You have any idea of what you'd have to look forward to if you stayed here?  Nine chances out of ten, we'd both end up in one of Schnottz's camps.  Isn't that true, Louie?"

Renault nods.  "I'm afraid Major Strasser would insist."

"You're saying this only to make me go," Decedereful accuses.

"I"m saying it because it's true," Harrison clarifies.  "Inside of us, we both know you belong with Valentis.  You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going.  If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

"But what about us?"

"We'll always have the Lost City.  We didn't have.  We... we lost it until you came to Ramkahen.  We got it back last night."

"When I said I couldn't leave you."

"And you never will.  But I've got a job to do, too.  Where I'm going, you can't follow.  What I've got to do, you can't be a part of.  Dece, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.  Someday, you'll understand that."

Decedereful lowers her head, sadness hanging heavy on her features.

"Now, now..." Harrison mutters.  He cups her chin in one hand and raises it so their eyes meet.  "Here's looking at you, kid."

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