Mindy spent a lot of time in the sub-basement beneath the Library where the archives were kept, and she searched through every tome that she, a mere undergraduate, was allowed to touch. It took a long time because she kept stopping to read, bad as she felt her Greek and Latin were. But it was all so fascinating. Meanwhile, she found nothing about the tattoo of the circle with the three squiggly lines apart from some vague references about the search for immortality, and they might not even be accurate or related.
She also searched through the archive database where some of the scrolls and more ancient writings were scanned into the system. Most of the materials had not yet been scanned. It was a new program, and she was not allowed to touch the originals, but she had a friend working on that. Bill was one of Papadopoulos’ graduate students and he was keeping his eyes open as he scanned his documents. So far, though, he had not found anything.
Mindy had not shown the symbol to Professor Papadopoulos, yet. She was not exactly sure why, except the time was not right. He was a busy man. When she was first asked about it, by contrast she went straight to Professor Schultz. Heinrich said he only recalled seeing the symbol once, carved on an old Roman column in front of a ruin, and knew nothing about it. At a guess, he said the column was probably from the third or fourth century, but he did not think the ruin was there anymore so there was no way to check. He imagined it fell victim to some war. “Napoleon, probably,” he said. “That man was an expert at accidentally blowing up ancient things with his cannon balls.”
It was late in the afternoon when Professor Papadopoulos came down into the basement. He had a man with him that Mindy did not recognize, a man with a slight limp, but he made a point of stopping by her reading desk so Mindy got a good look at the man.
“I know it is getting on winter,” the professor said. “But the sun is still out and the day is warm. I am not one to discourage my students, but you really should spend some time in the sun lest you end up old and pale like me.”
“I’m trying to research something and having a hard time finding anything about it,” Mindy went straight to the subject. She had drawn the symbol on paper to show because she imagined showing photographs of dead men’s arms was not the best approach. “Have you seen this symbol?” She handed over the paper. “A friend of mine says it is being used by some kind of secret society, like a fraternity or something, but she was wondering if I could find out what it stands for. So far I haven’t had any luck.”
The Professor showed it to his friend and looked again at Mindy as he spoke. “I’m sorry, I haven’t seen this before.”
“Probably some modern stylized version of a more ancient symbol,” the friend said, and he made a point of turning it upside down and right side up again. “Some kind of fireball?”
“A shooting star?” Professor Papadopoulos suggested. “Possibly some modern cult?”
Mindy took back the paper and held her tongue. She wanted to say she saw the symbol on a page of symbols in a book from the middle ages—unfortunately without a name or description of the symbol. She wanted to tell them about the carving on the Roman column, but she said nothing about that. “If you come across this symbol, would you let me know, please?”
“Of course,” Professor Papadopoulos smiled. “But I am sure you have other homework, too.” He touched his friend on the arm and walked back into the stacks. The friend limped after him. Curiously, the Professor never introduced the man, and he forgot all about encouraging Mindy to partake of the great outdoors. Professors could be like that, and Professor Papadopoulos was especially the absent minded professor.
“No help?” Bill came over after they left.
Mindy looked up at the man, but not for long. She stood on her tip-toes and kissed him smack on the lips before she said, “Keep looking.”
“What?” Bill was looking, but somewhere in outer space.
“A little encouragement,” Mindy said, and she thought if she was really going to be an Amazon there was no point in waiting for him to make the first move. Scholars were slow by nature. With Bill, she might wait forever. She gathered her books and put her hand to Bill’s shoulder. “Keep looking,” she repeated herself before she walked to the elevator.
“Right,” she heard him say that with conviction as the elevator doors opened, and it made her smile.
Lisa watched as the Cadillac pulled into the underground parking garage. A half-dozen young men in their late teens and early twenties were there, standing around making noises at each other, pretending to be tough. The Cadillac pulled into a parking space and two men got out. One had a semi-automatic in his hands. The other looked around and then walked to the back of the car to open the trunk. The young men lined up like children in a lunch line. The man at the trunk began to pull out brown paper packages tied with twine, and Lisa spoke into her microphone.
“Move in.” Then she started to hum “These are a few of my favorite things.” Ashish ignored her and brought the car in to block the exit. The lower level of the parking garage was a wonderful place off the street, where few cars went, with few prying eyes, but it was a terrible place if the police were watching. There were only so many ways out, and they could all be blocked.
Lisa and Ashish got out when everyone got in position. A dozen officers came from the four exits and Lisa spoke up. “Police. You are surrounded. Lower your weapons and put your hands up.” The man at the back of the car, the driver and the one with the semi-automatic had no hesitation in complying, but one of the boys reached into his jacket pocket. “Don’t be stupid,” Lisa shouted. “Dead is forever.” The young man did not listen. He drew the gun, jumped away from the others, fired twice in the direction of the voice, hit nothing and ran in the opposite direction. He caught at least three bullets in return fire and went down.
The police let the ambulance right in as they cuffed the others. “Good thing the ambulance was waiting,” Ashish remarked. “Why does one always have to be stupid?”
Lisa could only shrug. She got out her phone now that they were out of the underground. She wanted to call Latasha and let her know that Janet’s information was accurate but Bobby Thompson was not there, and she thought, neither was Carlos.