Scenes from a Roman Taverna: Decisions

Antonius rushed up to Calgacus. He seemed about to wet himself with excitement.
‘They’ve doubled the reward on that girl!’ he squealed, ‘I didn’t see that coming. Her owner must really want her back for some reason,’ the foreman nudged Calgacus,’ she must be a special one… Maybe she does tricks.’
Calgacus responded with a withering look which he tried to use to hide the panic he felt.
This wasn’t good news. The plan had seemed simple enough before. Hide Vita until things calmed down and then…
Actually, he had to admit to himself he did not know what to do after that.
In his heart he understood Vita could never live here in Verulamium and be safe.
Maybe they could move to Londinium. Or even Calleva Atrebatum.
And I’m going to have to move with her, he thought. She’s too young to be on her own.
‘Calgacus? Are you listening to me?’ Antonius was glaring at him now.
‘Honestly? No I’m not. I was away with the nymphs. What was it you were trying to say?’
‘It could earn us a lot of money if we find his little runaway squeeze. But we need to do it quickly. According to Vitellus – you remember him, the Centurion with only three fingers on his left hand, smells terrible – well, according to him the Legion is expecting an Imperial Investigator to come up to the city. That’s very serious,’ Antonius concluded over dramatically,’ apparently.’
‘It is?’
‘Yes – they never stop until they complete their mission – it is part of their code or religion or something. If we don’t find the whelp soon and claim the reward we could miss out.’
Calgacus knew he would have to warn Senodo and Exuperatus as soon as possible.
They had to come up with an alternative plan. Although maybe these Inspectors were not as clever as their reputation suggested. Antonius was an idiot who would and usually did believe anything he was told.
‘Apparently even the Praetorian guards are afraid of these guys. They answer only to the Emperor.’
That did it for Calgacus, it was serious after all. Action was definitely required.
‘I need the afternoon off, Antonius…’ Calgacus looked down so he would not give himself away,’ to, um, search for the girl. I… I know the kind of places she may have hidden herself.’
Antonius looked at him suspiciously.
‘You don’t just want the reward for yourself, I hope?’
Calgacus tried to stop himself from laughing despite the gravity of the situation.
‘No, of course not Antonius, you’re my friend. We’re a team, you and I.’
‘Right,’ Antonius whispered conspiratorially, looking around as though they might be overheard by the other construction workers,’ so go now then. No time to waste!’
Calgacus needed no more enticement and took off in the direction of the Taverna. Then he stopped.
What if Antonius was not as stupid as he normally seemed?
So he took the long way around, checking several times to see if he was being followed. As far as he could tell, that was not the case.
He got to the closed door of the bar just as Exuperatus opened it.
‘Right, open again…,’ the small man’s face fell, ’oh, it’s you.’
‘We need to talk,’ said Calgacus, tersely.
‘Yes we do. Come in,’ said Exuperatus but not before slamming the door apologetically in the face of another potential customer. There were cries of annoyance from outside.
Exuperatus sighed and felt he had better say something through the thick oak door.
‘Sorry, we’re closed again. There has been… there’s been a death in the family… Inconvenient, I know, but what can you do when that happens? Other than blame it on the gods of course. I usually do.’
And the bloody gods have certainly got a lot to answer for at the moment, Exuperatus thought with some venom.