The Day I went to Cairo
Word on the street was that something nuclear was coming down from the old Soviet arsenal in Belarus, and it was bound for Al Qaeda, so I went to Cairo to talk to a guy I knew, entirely without orders. It’s one of my charms and the reason I get into so much trouble, but nuclear is nuclear. I’m Lee Carruthers, an analyst chasing black money for the CIA. I’m an analyst, not a field op.
Anyway, my usual Cairo sideman said he was sick, so he turned me over to a man he said I could trust. He took me into the bowels of Old Cairo, down the crooked lanes and through the tunnels until I could smell the river. Then he turned me over to a scrawny guy with a straggly beard and a cast in one eye, and I knew I was screwed. There was no way I could find my way back, even if I could get away. That one threw me into an opium den that looked like every opium den you’ve ever read about: racks of men in various stages of stupor and the sweet and pungent smell of burning opium. I turned around to go back out, but he was blocking the way so I had to go out the back door to the wharf. I knew what to expect when I got there, but there were two of them. I jerked the first guy’s head around, but I wasn’t strong enough to snap it. He would have a sore neck, though. I can never take two. I always come down wrong-footed. The other guy had a knife, and it became one of those desperate life or death struggles in the dark, until I slipped on a cobble. His knife cut me on the ribs as I went down. He got ready to finish the job, but I rolled into the Nile, ten feet down, which smacked the breath out of me. I came up and began to float in the Nile’s swift current, the cold water slowing the bleeding from my side.
My plan—in-so-far as I had a plan—was to float past the embankment and get out on the bank, but when I got there, I was too weak to swim against the current, and I knew I was dead. My body would wash down the river to Alex and out to sea, but I’m a stubborn woman with a keen sense of survival, so I kept floating, looking at the stars, and wondering if my body would ever be found. About dawn, a fisherman picked me up and took me home to his wife. She cleaned me up and got the local abortionist to sew me up and shoot me full of penicillin. That river has prehistoric germs.
Penicillin doesn’t work on prehistoric germs. I lay on a pallet with a high temperature, those lovely people taking care of me like family, and all I could give them when I left was my profound thanks. There are still some nice people left in the world. It was eight days before I staggered back to my hotel, claimed my luggage, and flew home. When I got there, the resident Gentleman Caller flew into a rage because I was ten days late from a “business trip” and stormed out, slamming the door behind him. After some thought, I concluded that he was no great loss. As I floated in the Nile knowing that I was dead, I had never thought of him once. I had thought only of survival.
In a recent performance evaluation, I was called “impertinent, insubordinate, and impossible.” There’s some truth in that.
This is the 8th stop on the The Spider Catchers Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE
You can read more about Lee in The Spider Catchers, the first book in the new “Lee Carruthers” mystery series, published by Artemis Hunter Press. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
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Meet the author
Marilynn Larew was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and after a living in a number of places, including the Philippines and Japan, she finally settled in southern Pennsylvania, where she and her husband live in an 150 year old farmhouse. She has taught courses about the Vietnamese War and terrorism at the University of Maryland and travelled extensively in Europe and Asia. She likes to write about places she has been or places she would like to go. She has published non-fiction about local history, Vietnamese history, and terrorism. This is her first novel.
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