It was hard getting back into the normal routine of school and the real world after Avalon, especially when there was something to do that didn’t have anything to do with homework. Sara and her friend Nancy in the administration building, kept a close watch on President Batiste’s office when the mail came. Bernie the campus cop kept one eye on his superior, Captain Gouldos. Mindy tried her best to keep watch on Professor Papadopoulos. Melissa and Maria had their targets, too, but these three topped the list. The only one they could not track was Ferdinand Franco, the drug kingpin, but they imagined they would know if the man came to campus.
Emily could hardly concentrate. She could hardly eat or sleep. It was like a twisted Christmas vigil. The letter got delivered Thursday and Emily ran to the administration building in record time. She managed to say “Hi” to Nancy, the President’s secretary before she sat, picked up a magazine and pretended to be nonchalant about life. Sarah came in after a moment and was not surprised to see Emily already there.
Only another moment later, President Batiste came wandering out of his office, a calm look on his face. Emily hid behind her magazine and Sara leaned in to her shoulder so as not to look obvious.
“Nancy, get me Franco on the phone.” Batiste looked at his hands like he needed to remember what he had. “Here. Send these to Captain Gouldos. This is his department.” He set down Emily’s package and went back into his office, unperturbed.
Emily spouted as soon as the door closed. “That’s it?” She was flabbergasted. “He didn’t even blink.”
“Wallets?” Secretary Nancy looked up at the women. “Driver’s licenses? These are the identification of the missing men.”
“Maybe Gouldos is the one we should be watching,” Emily finished her thought.
“Maybe Batiste figured out the men were dead and saw this coming,” Sara countered.
“Wait a minute,” Emily interrupted and Nancy paused with her hand over a wallet like she was about to pick it up. “Franco. Ferdinand Franco?”
“And he calls here regularly?”
“Yes,” Nancy said, but then she backed up. “But I probably shouldn’t be telling you that.”
“You should. Ferdinand Franco is the biggest drug kingpin in South Jersey.” Emily pulled out her phone and dialed Lisa. Sara was miffed.
“Nancy, this is exactly the sort of information I needed.”
Down in the archives, Mindy was getting frustrated. Papadopoulos was not being at all cooperative. He was not showing any signs of involvement with apples or tattoos or anything. Presently, she was rummaging around his personal desk in his private space. She knew she was risking her scholarships, but she couldn’t help it.
The desk drawers had nothing of interest, but the center drawer was locked and she wondered if she could open it without breaking it. The files in the cabinet at any other time would have captivated her, but they weren’t what she was looking for. She rummaged through the papers held in short stacks beneath the knick-knacks on his desk. The one beneath the desk lamp looked like bills. The one beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa souvenir looked like shipping orders. Mindy picked up the Medusa, a cheap metal statue with chipped paint. She pursed her lips and thought of Gorgon Hall, the main classroom building. What a stupid statue, she thought as she felt arms around her middle. It startled her and she dropped the statue.
Mindy squirmed around to face him and looked coy. “I hope so.”
Bill immediately started to back up. It was one thing to catch a woman unprepared and quite another to find out it was what she wanted. “Yes, well.” He let go.
Mindy decided to be good. She reached down to the floor to pick up the gaudy statue and saw it was hollow and had popped open. Inside was a scroll. It was the scroll she was looking for. She took it. After all, Papadopoulos shouldn’t have had it either.