She placed her hand in Ian’s, almost disappearing within his calloused grip.
“Lisa Gudgeon,” she said.
Ian gaped in mid shake.
“Yeah, well, you must have read it in the papers.”
“It was me that found the bones in the stormwater pipe.”
“Oh well… this is a privilege.”
The barmaid returned with her tray.
“Can I get you another drink?” asked Ian.
“A crème de menthe for me” said Lisa.
“And nothing for me,” said Ian.
The barmaid left them to continue their conversation.
“It’s a male skeleton. We didn’t learn much from the bones themselves,” said Lisa, “but we were very fortunate. Can I trust you with a secret?”
Ian shrugged. “Yeah.”
“You probably already know about the video receptor goggles, but what you don’t know is that we’ve had a stroke of luck. The electronics department at the museum managed to get them to work.”
“Do you know who it was?”
“I’ve told you too much already.”
Ian nodded dejectedly.
“You’ve got to understand, Ian. The top echelon of the archaeological community have a responsibility to properly interpret data collected before passing it onto the public.”
“No offence, Ian, but you’re just a…”
She trailed off, realising she had gone too far.
“What; a labourer?” Ian challenged. “I’ve got an IQ of 135; how are you going?”
“I’ve got degrees in archaeology, paleontology, and…”
“… How arrogant.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Here, let me put it in an equation for you,” Ian said with upraised finger.
He pretended to trace a quote on the wall.
“Strength, and or physical prowess equals stupidity.”
Underlining it all, he slammed his fist on the table. Lisa jolted, but held his gaze.
“Why are you acting like this?”
Ian leaned closer. “Because that skeleton has plagued me every night, since the day I found it. I’ve worked in the mines for about thirty years. Can you imagine what goes through a man’s mind when he dies alone in the dark? To you, he’s a “great find;” to me, he was a human being.”
Lisa stared hard for a moment, then her expression became strained as she attempted to leave.
“Wait!” Ian said, gripping her hand.
He did it out of impulse, before realising he could be up for assault. Lisa relaxed her hand and stared hard at Ian. Tears welled then steadily streamed from her eyes.
“You’ve got no right saying that to me. You found his body in a pipe, but I’m looking at his life through a video projector. He lived to be 58 and died 600 years ago… and I’m afraid for him.”
“I’m sorry, Lisa. I had no right to say any of that, but why be afraid? He already died.”
The barmaid returned with the drink.
“Thank you,” Lisa said, accepting her cocktail.
Ian waited as the barmaid retreated, giving Lisa the privacy to speak.
She took two swallows. “I’ve only started watching his video diary. He looks fit and he’s intelligent, but right now, I’m only looking at a frightened 15 year old boy who just crawled out of a bunker. To make matters worse; the first friend he’s made is a manine.”