For the Very Last Time...

By L. Vancil
I have lived in Cairo all of my life.  Every day I sell my ices and Coca Colas to the tourists in their crowds in the square below my window.  Sometimes the tourists come in large busses from the big ships that sail over the Mediterranean.  Americans, British, even Jews from Israel come to see the antiquities of Egypt.
The stupidity of Man never ceases to amuse and shock me. From time to time the stupidity flows out of Cairo right up to the edge of these reminders of powerful days gone by.  Today was one of those days.
I woke tired and sore from yesterday and the weight of my years. The crowd had flowed back and forth through the market as each new group came from the landings.  Three times I had to push my little cart over  a kilometer to the Ice machine and back.  Four times for more soft-drinks. The guides said that another ship was expected to come in the night. There would be more tourists  today.  I sent word to my sons.  Today, I would stay in the market as my sons replenished Ice and colas.
The crowd of tourists arrived suddenly.  My cries of Ice!  and Coca Cola! brought them flocking to my little cart.  The sun was climbing towards the top of the sky, my sons had made two trips to the ice machine already and the money belt was getting full when I saw him in the crowd.  I wasn't sure but as the bodies of the big Americans and the khaki clad Brits floated back and forth I became sure.  One of those stupid fellows was sitting near the bus stop and glancing nervously around.  He looked out of place in his dirty khaki shorts and that bulky vest over a new Disneyland teeshirt.
Later I saw him again when the big bus from the large American boat pulled up and he stepped into the opening doorway.  There was a flash of light and for a while I knew nothing.
Pain brought me back.  My oldest son was trying to stop the bleeding from a wound in my chest.  "Stupid Americans!"  He muttered.
The sun had fled west. I could feel the cold of death creeping up my legs. "Not the Americans my son," I said. "Our stupid countrymen."
"Father.." He protested, the pain of my death already welling from his eyes.
"No, let me watch the sun behind the great pyramid."
"Father.." He said again lifting me in his strong young arms.  The pain made the world fade a little at the edges.  Then I could see Cheops.  I could see its special shape, its history streaming back into the dawn and forward into the future.
"Not the Americans."  I said again as I watched the sun make two great black silhouettes loom skywards from two perfectly shaped mountains made by man.  As I watched the sun, for the very last time.
Copyright L E Vancil, 1998  All rights reserved

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