Screenplay By Phillip Ghee (USA)
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DeBaptise waits outside the Professor’s mansion. He traces his fingers along the outside of an African Mask. The mask, the observant viewer will notice, is one that hanging in his uncle’s restaurant. Braxton is the first to leave. Once again DeBaptise summons his memory and tries to match the image of Braxton with that of the blurred figure from the almost accident. This time it seems a little clearer and closer to a match but, then again it may be just his imagination. Soon the door opens and Jared emerges with the Professor in the foreground. Jared walks over to the car.
OK Jean, I told the professor about our work at the at-risk center. He is impressed. He only has a few minutes but he would like to meet you and take a look at the mask.
(Jared looks at the mask)
Wow! What a beaut. Let’s go.
(As the two men approach the house. The maid and her young apprentice leave. The professor embraces the maid and bids her farewell in Spanish. DeBaptise see the young lady but also in his mind his see a pretty Esmele. The men exchange introductions.
Jean DeBaptise sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you.
(His eyes quickly dart from DeBaptise to the mask, excitement fills his eyes)
Well! Since I am being sought out for my professional opinion, Professor Alagore, at your service but, just call me Professor, like my boys do.
(He places his hand on the back of Jared’s head and leaves it firmly planted there
as he leads the men back inside.)
I truly apologize. I have to rush this through but maybe we can meet again some
other time and chat, Mr. DeBaptise, by the way, what a wonderful name, full of
implications you know, Haitian isn’t it?
Yes, born just outside a little village_________, just outside of Port Au Prince.
I haven’t made it to that little corner of the world yet and I am dying to find out more about it? I have some question to ask of the spiritual nature, are you familiar with the Voodoo practices?
(caught off guard – hesitates to answer – before he can form an answer, Alagore breaks back in).
Oh how rude of me, always we Americans and stereotypes, anyway maybe we will save that for a later chat.
[He leads the men to a lift, the exit into a large basement, as large and as cluttered as a small warehouse. The basement is full of shelves loaded with all sorts of artifacts. Huge bins are located throughout the premises fill to the brim with presumably items yet to be cataloged. The walls are full of hooks with mask and paintings and larger display items. There are book cases with reference and long tables indicating works in progress of being described, cataloged and entered into log]s.
Professor, where am I? I feel like I am in the basement of the British Museum.
(pleased with the compliment)
OH! My dear, Mr.DeBaptise, this is the working area. You should see what I have in the garages and also I have a sitting room with the more polished works that I like to display as show pieces. Now let’s get a good look at that mask.
(He holds the mask and stares at it for a few seconds)
Good news is, I can tell you already that it is authentic and not a forgery. You know our friends in China have become so adept at forging anything that can fetch a dollar it is getting harder and harder to tell nowadays. Now lets see it we can pinpoint where it from. He heads over to the bookcase and draws out a book on African masks.
While the professor checks that out, why don’t you show me that mask you are so gag ga about...what was it the dragon people or something?
No! the Dogon Peoples.
The professor momentarily cuts the two men a cautious look as they head over to another area of the basement. He then returns to his research. The mask in hanging from the wall amid other artifacts and less flamboyant mask presumable from the same region. Jared is
so engrossed in his presentation of the intricacies of the mask that he fails to notice DeBaptise’s quickly scanning eyes as he surveys this area of the basement. On one of the tables he spies a collection of knives and daggers and spears already cataloged and numbered. He notices that a dagger, very much the same as the one he referenced in the library, seems to be part of a pair according to the same reference number being displayed twice, yet there is only one dagger to be accounted for. Jared is at the end of his presentation. DeBaptise distracts him by asking about a bowl in the far corner. While Jared goes to retrieve it, DeBaptise quickly pockets the remaining daggers while moving the collection in the pile closer together to cover the noticeable absence.
(DeBaptise is startled)
He we have, A mask of the Yabamdo people, Upper Volta region. Probable around the mid eighteenth century. Quite a find you got there Mr. DeBaptise. If you ever want to donate it for safe keeping, you know where to come. Who knows, I may be even to offer a pretty penny for it. Anyway Gentleman my time is short, we can discuss it more at another date.
DeBaptise thanks the Professor and the men enter the elevator.