I sat on the floor defeated, gathering the vase shards in a cloth until I heard Rika’s voice disappear. It feels weird to say but, I was kind of grateful that she spoke so loudly.
I placed the cloth with the glass pieces carefully in a corner of a box piled with other items, and other boxes on top of it. There’s no way anyone could find it here, cleaning all this would be a nightmare.
I shook the dust from my hands and clothes ready to trek my way back through all the doors and staircases and tunnels. At times like this I was grateful to be a design student with a good memory. And then I realized I almost forgot something very, very important. The other evidence.
I stared at the USB. It was sort of dubious the way it had been tucked away in a vase. But then again, maybe someone dropped it in there by accident and never managed to get it out. Definitely sounds like something that a bald eagle would do. Sounds like something I’d do by accident. Nope. I shook my head. The thought of comparing myself to that man gave me the creeps.
I needed to get back to my shift as soon as possible now that the coast was clear. If the eagle found out I’d been gone for this long, he’d probably cut my pay.
Oh, it. I grabbed the USB and shoved it in my back pocket. No one will notice it’s gone, no one probably even noticed it was there in the first place.
I retraced my steps to get back to the main floor. I had almost made it to the final staircase from Scanta’s office when I heard the footsteps of two people. Oh no.
Before I could go anywhere else, the bald eagle came face to face with me on the steps. He looked a little… on edge, more so than usual, and in a more serious way this time. But that was only for a moment. As soon as he saw me, he put on his usual smile.
Behind him was that DJ from the rave event two weeks ago, he looked pretty mad, or maybe that was just his face.
“What did you break?” said DJ McDizzle straight away.
I was taken aback, there’s no way anyone on the main floor heard that. “Sorry?” I replied, like I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I took drama in 9th grade, I can do this. C’mon Tristan, awaken your inner actor.
“I heard something shatter in the lower floors,” he said pointedly.
Shoot shoot shoot shoot. “Oh? You must have heard wrong.” No, he heard right. “I did move around alot of glassware so maybe you heard that rattling instead?” I responded innocently, hoping it would be enough.
McDizzle’s brows furrowed, “No. I think you are mistaken. I definitely heard something break.” He took a threatening step towards me, “Show us immedia-”
Scanta put his hand in front of the DJ cutting him off mid sentence. “Hey, it’s ok. Even if you did, I wouldn’t be mad. Half that stuff is ancient anyways,” he chuckled. “Anyways, it doesn't really matter. I got the text from Wabong, did you end up finding any tea?”
Relief rushed through me. “Nope, sorry. I tried.”
“Oh ok, no worries. I’ll put in an order to restock.”
He paused. “The storage room is quite messy isn’t it”.
“Oh yeah, I guess so. There’s lots of random stuff scattered throughout, it’s pretty cool though,” I said.
The air suddenly shifted. The bald eagle was still smiling but any trace of ease or his usual happy-go-lucky attitude had vanished.
“Did you find anything interesting?”
“Oh, um... The plates with the bird patterns on them are nice, they remind me of a set my great grandma had from when she was younger.”
His face relaxed a little. He slapped my shoulder and let out a laugh. “I see you appreciate antique tableware, how refreshing!”
The DJ behind him still looked slightly irritated.
“Alright, alright. Let’s head back upstairs everyone. I’m sure it’s been a tough day for you. Have some almond cake! Compliments from the owner.” The eagle winked (EW), and ushered me and the DJ through the stairs and his office into the main room, closing the doors behind him.
The USB in my pocket felt heavier with every step. Does this count as theft? Not sure. Thankfully Scanta couldn't see it since it was covered by the back of my shirt.
I waved to Wabong and he gave me a reassuring thumbs up.
I eased up a little. Things could've been so much worse today. I knew I hid the shards well enough. I found my way back to the main floor. Scanta didn’t seem too bothered by McDizzle’s accusations. I took a deep breath and dug into a deliciously free slice of almond cake.
Thank God I don’t have to join some host club to repay my debts.