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Uno and Fog: New Light University

May 4, 2019

New Light University was too close to bother with a private jet, but inconvenient enough for driving over there, so the company helicopter it was.

The university itself was a small town in size and scope and with plenty of buildings with covered, yet open walk ways under grey stone, with plenty of ivy, stained glass and gothic arches. The university had come a long way since it had been founded centuries of ago with thirty students.  Young people bustled around, I noted that few of them looked happy or relaxed and I wondered if I had been the same way at university, or if it was specific to this university.

I got my bearings first, walking the school grounds, there were nine libraries, an number of halls, one chapel that looked like a small cathedral and was done in a style reminiscent of religious structures from several hundred years ago, even though it had been built less than a hundred years ago according to the plaque on the wall.

There was in fact a wedding occurring in the chapel as I walked past, which seemed a little odd, but I recalled reading somewhere that Wednesday used to be the preferred day for weddings, I wondered if it was some bluebloods getting married today.

I considered visiting Teri’s department and see what I could gather there, but I decided against it.  I headed toward graduate student housing, which according to the school records was James Everett’s residence while on campus.

When I reached the housing, it was in the same gothic style as the older buildings on campus.  A tower with spires rose out of the center of the structure with wings heading in both directions.  People with bikes pedal past, if anything the young people here looked even more harried and miserable.

It made me glad I didn’t pursue a graduate degree, despite the lovely environs.  I took the granite steps up the front entrance under the tower.  The entrance was leaded beveled glass and paneled oak. and opened into a broad hallway, painted portraits lined the walls.  Ahead I could see what looked like a common area, leather couches, over stuffed chairs and tables, to the left was small office with a bored looking undergraduate sitting.

I walked up to her, “Hello, I’m Michael Pitti, I’m a private investigator,” I handed her an embossed card with the alias on it that I prepared for things like this.  She took it and looked at it, “James Everett’s parents hired me to try and find him, he’s been missing for about six months, and I believe he used to be a resident here.”  Embedding lies in the truth make them easier to sell, I was looking for him and he has been missing for over six months.

The student shrugged her shoulders, “don’t know’em.”

“Do you know anyone that did?”

“Nope.”

“How about his roommate, did he have one?”

She gave me a long look, then shrugged.

“Would you mind looking?”  I nodded toward a computer.

She sighed, then looked typed for a few minutes on the computer, “He had a roommate.”  She said unhelpfully.

“Could you direct me to that individual?”  I tried to control my impatience.

“Not supposed to divulge that type of information.”

I sighed inwardly.  I thought about bribing her, students were as a group notoriously poor, but I got the feeling that wouldn’t go down well.  “Tell you what, let me leave my card with you and you can give it to his roommate and if they want to, they can call me.”

“Fine.”  I handed her the card and thought the odds of her following through weren’t very good.  The number on the card went to a burner, that had its calls forwarded to another burner and then to my cell.

I was going to probably come back in the middle of the night, put however was at the desk asleep and look for the information myself.  I hoped it wasn’t password protected.

So I wandered over to the art and archaeology department of the university and found the same gray stone and gothic style, but this building was squat and blocky, and looked like three buildings had been smashed together, or the building had been expanded three times and an attempt, which failed, had tried to make it look seamless.

The funny thing about college buildings I have noticed is they lack any kind of map, they assume you know where you are going.  I couldn’t even find a room number guide, students flowed in and out of the building, mainly around the times of classes starting.  I had noticed that there was an ebb and flow to the students on the grounds, like they were following some strange ancestral rhythm that even they no longer completely understood, but followed because they were compelled to at some limbic level

I walked the halls, noting where the lecture halls were, the lavatories, the offices and study nooks.  This was Teri’s domain, but roaming the halls gave me no insight into her at all.  James had scurried along these halls too, but if there was some trace of him, some sign that a young man bent on evil had been here, I couldn’t find it.

I asked the administrative office where I could find Dr. Alvinson, and they directed me to her office after telling me that she was on sabbatical this semester.  I thanked them and made my way to her office down one of the halls.  I noted she didn’t have a corner office, so either wasn’t good at office politics within her department, didn’t care or wasn’t viewed as senior enough to merit the privilege.

Having worked for a professor as an undergrad I learned how competitive and nasty professors fought over little perks.  There wasn’t any fighting directly over money since salary was set by the administration based on position, tenure, and seniority.  That left fights over where your office was, where your parking space was, when you got to use the copier, who got first pick of the grad students, the list of petty little things was endless.

People think the corporate world is nasty, and it can be, but the office politics were strictly bush league next to how college professors fought each other with continuing shifting alliances, subtle sabotage, back stabbing, brown nosing, and manipulations.  Since there isn’t money to compete over directly, the fights over the other stuff is much more heated.

In business, money is the easiest way to keep score and in a strange way it alleviates some of the status fights among people.  People still compete, the expensive suit, the fancy car, but at the end of the day, everyone knows which guy has bank, which is a poser, which is climbing their way up.

There was a number above the door, nothing else, no name plaque or indication that this was her office. You had to want to find a specific professor.

The door was locked, I had fuzzed out the cameras on my roaming through the halls, but I wasn’t going to break into her office during the day.  I was going to have to seriously consider whether to do it at tonight, the stuff James had left in his home of mirrors made me wary, but no risk, no reward.

It was while I was considering my next move when I got a phone call, “Hello?”

“Mr. Pitti?”

“This is him.”

“My name is David Coburg, I was James Everett’s roommate, I understand you’re looking for him?”

 

 

 

 

 

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