“Literally everything about this is illegal.”
Jake kept pushing through, seemingly impervious to the risks we were taking.
“Would you stop being such a worrying baby?”
His response was coarse like always.
“Are you seriously not afraid? What if we get caught?”
Jake stopped in his tracks and looked at me seriously.
“Listen, I’m going to do anything I need to do to get my hands on that treasure. You know I will. No matter how hard it is, no matter what I have to do, I will get what I want. You get that? Now stop your whining and come, you know I’m only bringing you because I’ll need your help.”
He was right. He could have left me behind, or not let me out at all, but he did. Only because he needed an accomplice. I knew he cared about the bounty more than about me.
Jake was the one to break open our cell. He had learned this trick not long ago and used it sparingly when those guarding him got distracted. This time around it wasn’t too hard, our watch just got tired and fell asleep. I was asleep too, but Jake wasn’t. He was relentless since he first laid eyes upon the sweet reward we were after.
Jake woke me up as soon as he noticed the oldest one in the room fall in slumber. He figured once he did, all the others would fall too, so he took the risk and opened the cage we were trapped in. The break out was an art in itself and it took him some time, but he got it. I myself could never even picture doing so. I couldn’t even reach the apparatus that opened the doors to our freedom. After that we left the room we shared with our guards. We didn’t care much about making noise, there was already plenty noise that hadn’t affected their sleep.
After having escaped the cage, we were now on our path downwards. Easily, the most difficult part in our quest. Admittedly, I’m smaller and weaker than Jake, so I had to be extra careful on my way down. It was a treacherous road. One false step and we could get hurt badly. I had considered going down this road myself before, only to retreat after I looked down on the precipice. Jake was in front of me, already climbing down as if he was an expert at it.
“Come on man, we don’t have all night.”
He was right, we didn’t. I braved the infinite void and took a stab at the way down. It was a slow process but I kept going. Jake had promised me we’d share the bounty, he needed my help after all. The promise of the riches to come powered me through the intense experience that was my first downward exploration. When Jake got to the bottom he checked that whether the coast was clear. It seemed to be so, as he motioned for me to hurry. I tried to move faster in the last steps, and in doing so I almost fell on my face. Jake was quick to catch me and immediately hushed me. That was the right call. I was afraid and almost reacted to that near death experience by being so loud that we could get caught. I tried to collect myself.
“It’s okay. Let’s move on.”
We moved stealthily to avoid getting caught. On our way to our final destination, we had to go past those who were looking for us. Lucky for us, they were well distracted in a celebration they were participants of. That’s where the noise we’d been hearing all along came from. In their distraction, we passed two of them, who seemed to be engaging in a fight of their own. Their arms on each other bodies, their faces so close that they might as well be one. Awful fight, what a nasty sight to see.
Finally, we were in front of our treasure. It stood suspended above us, so far out of our reach. That’s where I came in. I would kneel down on four legs and Jake would use me as a step ladder, because he was taller. That should be enough for him to bring down our loot, and we would share it down here. My mouth watering already, I gladly got in position.
Our plan soon proved to be easier said than done. Not only did my back hurt from Jake’s weight, he wasn’t able to see what he was reaching for. It took him some time, so I started trembling due to the physical requirements of my task.
“Don’t move, I think I have something.”
I understood my duty but I couldn’t do anything, Jake was just too heavy. I kept shaking sporadically, trying my best to not give up. Even then, just one of my sporadic spasm made Jake loose balance and he fell backwards on his butt. At the time, he had reached something. Unfortunately, not the treasure. It seemed to have been some sort of vase, porcelain, that crashed loudly as soon as Jake fell. We knew what that meant.
Jake and I exchanged panicked looks at each other. We were frozen in place, just waiting for what we knew was going to happen. We didn’t have to wait long, a group of four elders quickly came into the room and gasped at what they saw. One of them ordered for us to be taken care of while she started to clean the mess Jake had made. Two of them, a man and a woman who I didn’t recognize at first in all the commotion, took to rounding us up while more spectators came into the room.
Jake got picked up easily by one of the elders, and soon enough I did too. Our journey had ended fruitlessly. Jake’s face was already contorting, as he was internalizing the pain of our defeat. He seemed to be trying to explain himself to the elders, but was unable to do so. How pitiful. I myself had learned how to cover my basic needs with a few expressions but Jake seemed unable to. And he was almost a year older than me. As we were about to be taken away, hurt by the shameful and disrespectful indifference offered to us by the elders, Jake gave in. He began to cry.
It was an awful sight to see. His face got all red, his features deformed in an unrecognizable shape, his lungs exploded with rage and impotence. The entire room turned their attention to Jake. He was crying and desperately stretching his arms towards the bounty we had come after, now closer to his reach than ever. And yet, so far out of reach. It was pathetic, I almost had to look away. And then, his mother.
“Awww, look, he just wants some of the cake.”
That woman always came to bail him out. My own mom was holding him, but his mom, my aunt, brought a plate with a half eaten piece of his father’s 30th birthday cake. She took a small piece and fed it to Jake. Everyone around became quiet suddenly for a second or two. Then Jake broke the silence with a quick laugh. Everyone followed suit.
I wanted some cake too so I tried my best to cry, but it just wouldn’t come. I couldn’t really fake it, but I did start yelling a bit.
“Be quiet. You don’t need sugar now, you need to go to bed.”
My father, who had picked me up in the first place, gently whispered in my ear. I kept quiet. I didn’t get cake. All this time, I had to risk so much for my piece of the bounty and I was not going to get any. As if reading my mind, Jake, smile on his face as he chewed another small piece of cake, winked at me.
“I told you I’d get what I wanted.”
And of course he did. Just by crying. All this work, and he only needed to cry to get what he wanted. What a lesson to learn, I just thought to myself.
“Well that was one way of doing it.”