The man sitting beside Noah leaned to the side, whispering in Noah’s ear appreciatively, “Noah, your uncle Phil is a giant among men.”
Noah grinned, noticing how the master of the ceremonies towered over his uncle. Amusing wording, but the meaning was clear.
“Yes, sir. I think so too. A giant among men.”
“Mark my words, give Phil a few more years and he’ll be all over National Geographic and every science and historical magazine you can find.”
“I hope so. Most of those scientists call him a crackpot.”
“They called others crackpots too… until they were proved wrong. Give it a little while. Someday they’ll realized that Phil is an intellectual genius. Then he’ll get the recognition he deserves. And,” the man added slyly, “it’ll be good for you as well, you being his special partner or apprentice or whatever you want to call it.”
“Journalist. I’m just a journalist. But when I win fame and fortune, it won’t be because I’ve been riding on my uncle’s coattails.”
“Well said!” the man chuckled. “It’s that kind of attitude that takes you places, young man. Remember that.”
On the stage, the MC shook Phil’s hand, their shadows appearing large and warped on the projection screen against the backdrop of the presentation’s final panel. As Phil disappeared into the aisle, the MC began the wrapping-up speech, for Phil’s presentation had been the grand finale to an evening filled with archeological speeches and slideshows.
It had been a rousing event, for each speaker had put his reputation on the line in order to proclaim an unpopular idea. Most of these were brilliant men that attracted only the scorn of both the scientific and the historical fields. Noah understood a lot of the reservations—these men and women were talking about a type of science and history that would be difficult to prove—but they were willing to try. That curiosity, Noah felt, was the soul of science. And, after all, Phil had just given a brilliant example of the truths behind his claims. It was only a matter of time before people began to take notice.
There was only one niggling detail—neither Noah nor Phil could remember the author of the final quote of the presentation. Phil had attributed the words to Shakespeare; Noah was in favor of the poet Alexander Pope. In the end, they had decided it didn’t matter.
Noah met his uncle outside the building, having struggled through the crowds into the refreshingly cool air. Phil laughed when he found his nephew waiting by a fire hydrant. Sweat plastered their hair to their foreheads and caused their clothes to cling to their bodies. Neither dared raise his arms for fear of revealing the spreading damp stain on his garments.
Several colleagues congratulated Phil and spoke to him about some interesting points on his presentation. Noah listened politely and did not interfere in his uncle’s glorious moment.
The conversation was interrupted by the appearance of a car which pulled up to the nearby curb.
The driver chuckled. Elijah Wordsworth was an old friend of Phil who had offered to provide a late evening supper for Phil and Noah after the conference. Noah reflected that, although his uncle and Elijah were physically and characteristically different, they both shared the same sense of humor. It was a testament to their friendship that they were able to overlook their differences in worldviews and find harmony in their similarities. The world would be a better place, Noah decided, if all men were like Elijah and Phil.
Elijah’s home was comfortable, perhaps a little small to accommodate the six children, but full of light and cheerfulness. Mrs. Wordsworth had prepared a meal befitting a president (or so Phil commented) and in a short time, Phil and Noah were sandwiched between various children at the large table. Elijah, a devout Christian, said a simple blessing and the meal commenced.
One of the young Wordsworths poked Noah in the ribs.
“Hey, Dad said you’re an archeologist.”
“Actually, I’m a journalist, but Phil is an archaeologist. I accompany him and help with his work.”
“Does that mean that you dig up mummies? Are you under Pharoah’s curse?”
Noah smothered a grin.
“Not really, David. Archeology isn’t all Indiana Jones.”
“What about dinosaurs? Do you dig them up?”
“No, that isn’t our field of expertise.”
“Then what do you do?”
“We try to learn about ancient cultures from the remnants that have been preserved from their civilizations. It’s our job to figure out how people lived thousands of years ago, or even millions of years ago.”
Noah remembered too late that the Wordsworths were Creationists—they didn’t believe that the earth was millions of years old. Thankfully, Mrs. Wordsworth asked David to pass a particular dish and the little boy did not comment on Noah’s mistake.
At last, Elijah asked the inevitable question.
“I couldn’t make it to the conference, but I’m very curious. Can I see this fascinating project of yours?”
“I’ve been waiting for you to bring it up,” Phil said, leaping to his feet with enthusiasm.
Under Phil’s direction, the Wordsworths transformed one wall of their living room into a screen for the small projector. Phil opened his laptop computer and, after a moment, the first of his frames illuminated the bare wall.