Peter and Neal exchanged wary glances.
"Excuse me, cursed?" Peter asked.
"As in damned by the Egyptian gods?" Neal added.
"Exactly," Mr. Campbell replied, just as matter-of-factly as before.
"Would you care to elaborate?" Peter suggested.
"I'm sure you'll think I'm just a crazy old man, but I got rid of those damn statues for a reason. I thought when they were out of my house all of my problems would stop. But apparently they're determined to wheedle their way back into my life. I don't want anything to do with this."
"We're not trying to inconvenience you. We're just trying to learn as much about the art as we can so that we can finish our investigation. First, where did you obtain the art?"
"I'll answer your questions if you promise not to show up here again. I never want to hear about this art again," Mr. Campbell said softly.
"We're a little out of our way, so I don't think you have to worry about us coming back."
"Where I obtained them then," Mr. Campbell began. "A few months ago, I went to Egypt. It's a very dirty country; I wouldn't recommend a vacation there. No one speaks a word of English. And I certainly wasn't learning Egyptian. Not to mention the cars and the people. They were everywhere, all the time. It was maddening."
"Did you find the art in Egypt then?"
"I was getting to that," Mr. Campbell said, rubbing at his forehead as though trying to remember. "On my last day there, I went into a shop. Well as into a shop as one can go in Egypt. It seems like they're all half outside. I don't understand how the Egyptians live. I'm certainly never going back there. But anyway, since I'd gone to Egypt, I decided I'd be damned if I didn't come back with a souvenir. And I wanted it to be a decent one. I tried to barter with the local riff-raff over the generic Egypt memorabilia. But they always started too high, and at this point in the trip, I really just wanted to go home. Then I saw a young American guy setting up wares that seemed to be mainly art pieces. I went over to look at them. He would have been a handsome young man except he had one of those goatee things and an earring in one ear. His appearance made me a little uncomfortable. " Mr. Campbell shook his head," But anyway, he seemed to know a lot about the pieces. He told me a wonderful story about the statues. I finally offered to buy them; he didn't barter with me at all. In fact, it seemed like he suddenly couldn't get them out of his hands quickly enough. I should have realized then there was something wrong."
"And what made you suspect the art was cursed?" Neal asked.
"Although I didn't think much of it at the time, my flight out of Egypt was delayed. Then all of my luggage was lost. At the time, I thought it was fortunate that my souvenirs, at least, were in my carry-on. Foolish me. Not long after I returned home, things in my house started ending up in strange places. And the statues, I would always leave them on my mantle. And every couple days, all three statues would be in different parts of the house. One on my dresser, one on my sink, and one on my banister, just as an example. Then, every now and again, the lights in this room would flicker intermittently. But the last straw for me was the day I broke my leg. I had just been putting the cursed things back on the mantle, with their beady almond shaped eyes seeming to haunt me, and the power went out in the whole house. I was heading for the fuse box, and I tripped over one of the statues. One of the statues I had just put on the mantle."
Peter and Neal tried their best to look a little shocked, but they did not find Mr. Campbell's story as compelling as he did.
"Is there anything else you can tell us?" Peter asked. "Did you find out the name of the American vendor? Do you remember the name of the shop?"
"I don't remember the names or anything, but I do have a picture of the shop. Let me find it," Mr. Campbell abruptly walked out of the room to find the picture. He came back shortly, shuffling through a small stack of photos. "I know it's in here somewhere. Ah, here it is."
Mr. Campbell set the picture on the table, and Neal leaned over to examine it, "May I?"
"You can have the picture if you want it; I didn't realize those damn statues were in it."
"Are they here in this corner?" Neal asked, pointing to the corner of a table that seemed to be otherwise covered in well-done miniatures of various Egyptian gods and goddesses. As Mr. Campbell nodded, Neal ventured one further question, "And do you see the gentleman that sold the statues to you?"
Mr. Campbell looked closely at the picture; there were only a few people in it, most of them clearly Egyptian. Then Mr. Campbell pointed at a man who had had his back to the camera, "That's him. Look, he's got an earring in his left ear."
"Well that's something to go on. Are you sure you don't mind if we take the picture with us?" Peter asked.
"Not at all. I'm quite willing to part with it."
"In that case, I think we've learned enough from you. If you think of anything else we might need to know, give us a call," Peter said, offering Mr. Campbell a business card.