The Pharaoh’s Vase

I tug down on my night-watchman’s peaked hat to make it sit more snugly on my head, and wriggle a little inside my jacket. It doesn’t quite fit. I stop at a mirror and give myself a quick once-over: ID card; torch; night stick; taser. All present and correct. I tug at my collar and scratch my neck under my shirt. Should’ve washed it first.

Stop fidgeting, I tell myself. I walk briskly down the corridor towards the next stop on my route: ‘The Pharoah’s Vase.’ It’s only on display here for two weeks, and even that took months of pleading by the Director of the museum.

I round the corner and almost jump in shock: the vase is gone! The case is intact, untouched. How? Who? When? I don’t hear any alarms. Was the vase moved? I didn’t hear anything about it. The rest of the display is still here, boards and all.

Was someone here before me? My client will not be happy. Not happy at all.

I’ve got to get out of here, quickly. I start to cross the room, heading towards my safe exit at the rear of the building. A man in a worn trench coat steps out from the shadows. Behind him, half a dozen constables.

“I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist this one,” he laughs. “We’ve been waiting for you since half past five.” He lights a cigarette. “It’s over.” He gestures at the constable holding the cuffs to come and get me.

“Three years of chasing and you haven’t caught me yet, Inspector.” I reach into my pocket and brace myself for the flash. “And you won’t tonight.”

7 thoughts on “The Pharaoh’s Vase”

  1. Really enjoyed the classical feel of this story. Like a slightly kitsch 70’s movie – trench coats and entrapment – sweet.

    I enjoyed the first person voice, slightly irritating and nagging like the voice within when you’re nervous. I also like the idea way you invoke a well thought out and plotted plan without actually telling us anything of it (how he got be there, how he got the uniform, who the client is etc).

    Not too fond of the detective’s dialogue but not really sure why – perhaps in this paragraph the story is too plain and not human enough for me.

    First paragraph is a rocker – full of intrigue and humanity – amusing that tolerating uncomfortable clothes is something we can all identify with.

    1. Thank you!
      I had that trench coat vibe in my head, so I’m glad it came across.

      Hmm, I might like to add a line or two of extra description for the Inspector.

      Re first para: thanks!
      Although I now notice a reuse of “tug” there that I’mnot happy with. Ho hum.

  2. This was lovely. I enjoyed it a lot. As elementalsystems says, it is very reminiscent of a certain kind of movie. For some reason, I had the Pink Panther movies in mind (probably the trench coat – to which I attached a moustache in my head, and the pharoah’s vase which makes it all mysterious) so it felt very light-hearted in that vein.

    I also wanted a bit more on the inspector. It felt a little uneven, as there was so much exposition about the uniform, and the paragraphs describing the initial discovery that the vase is gone are also very descriptive. But I love the last paragraph. I think it is a perfect ending.

    I didn’t mind the double tug in the first paragraph, but don’t like the double my in the second tug sentence :-) For me, you could leave the whole unwashed collar bit out to make space for more inspector description. It’s connotations (sweaty, stained, yellowing, possibly lice-ridden) make me cringe slightly which doesn’t quite fit the rest of the vibe.

    1. Thank you!
      I think trench coats with moustaches are brilliant and I want one. :)

      I take your point about the lack of inspection of the inspector. He could definitely do with a few lines about him. Possibly in a slightly sneering tone from the narrator.

  3. A thief disguised as a security guard makes their way through a closed museum at night, looking for the Pharaoh’s Vase — only the vase is missing and a detective and his constables is in its place. The piece ends with the thief about to vanish, ninja style.

    I did wonder about the night-shift guard who is examining their clothes and neatening it out — but this turned out to be a good setup for the little surprise of the character being the thief.

    There is one spot in the text where Pharaoh has been spelt “Pharoah”.

    The detective in a worn trench coat reminds me Columbo, which is all good :) When he spoke he sounded to me more like Inspector Clouseau, though. Also, the twin examples of “goneness” amused me: the missing vase, and then the protagonist himself.

    On the bad side, while I love Columbo, the trench coat is slightly cliched.

    This was fun :)

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