Goddess Murder, 23: Ambushed

XXV. Ambushed

He who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.

William Blake

Back from the Aquinas, I was sitting at my desk, wondering what to do next, when Andy appeared in my office door.

“Hi, Eddie. Are you busy? Or can I kidnap you for an espresso?”

I felt pleasantly surprised. “Hi, Andy. No, I’m not busy at all. An espresso sounds fitting. Maybe even some lunch.”

“Good. Want to walk down to the Mediterranean?”

“That’s the place.”

.

As we walked, I told her what I had learned from Fonzarelli. She looked worried.

“Eddie, we keep in touch with our relatives in Italy; so I have a clearer picture of Italian politics and power than most Americans. I can guess who Fonzarelli might be talking about. He was right to warn you. They’re dangerous.”

“I’m sure you’re right, but I’m reluctant to give those papers up yet. They’re historical documents. We have to be able to date them. Besides, I don’t even know who to give them to.”

Suddenly Andy looked startled, then began staring at the crowd ahead of us. She blurted out, “Eddie, those two men in suits, on either side. They’re killers, and they’re after you. We’ve got to run!”

“What?” I said. “How do you know . . .”

She lunged against me, shoving me sideways. “Shut up, Eddie. Don’t argue, or you’re dead. Run!”

We were just passing the main library. I glanced at the back entrance and saw that it was being manned by my student Jimmy. I grabbed Andy’s hand and we ran to the entrance and inside. As we passed Jimmy, I stammered, “Jimmy, there are two thugs after us! Don’t let them through!”

“You got it, Professor,” Jimmy said calmly, pressing a button under the counter.

Jimmy later told me what had happened next. The two hoods run up and tried to leap over the counter, only to run into the large fists on the ends of Jimmy’s powerful arms, which flipped them onto their backs on the tarmac. Jimmy’s an odd combination, a theology major who plays football.

Jimmy leaned over the counter with a pleasant smile. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but these are closed stacks. May I please see your stack permits? I’ve already called the campus police, in case you don’t have any.”

The two men looked puzzled and stopped trying to draw their guns. They stood up, glowered at Jimmy, and walked rapidly away.

Andy and I ran through the narrow, cluttered aisles of the stacks, until we reached the spiral iron staircase on the other side. We clattered down the staircase to the basement.

Andy peered around in the dim light, at the shelves of ancient periodicals and boxed memorabilia. “Now what?” she demanded.

“There’s an old access tunnel over here. I discovered it when I was helping with a local history project. It runs under the street and comes up in a brick shed on the other side. I think it was part of the local water system a century ago. If those jerks are trying to cover the library entrances, I doubt they’ll be looking across the street. At least, I hope not.”

I led the way through the tunnel. Andy stayed close beside me. In the darkness, I was intensely aware of her scent and her warmth. Soon a dim light appeared ahead, and we were able to climb up an iron ladder into the shed.

It was locked, but I found an iron bar and pried the door open far enough to break the ancient lock. Creeping out, we peered cautiously across the street. A suit was standing outside the main entrance.

“I think I called that one right,” I said.

“That’s my apartment right there,” she said, pointing. “I think we can get to it through the back yards.”

We set off behind the houses and buildings. There was one awkward moment when we were getting over a rather tall fence, but we made it without damaging ourselves.

In Andy’s building, we climbed the stairs to the third floor. She unlocked her door, opened it, and shrieked. Her apartment looked as if it had been bombed. Books and papers were strewn everywhere. Every drawer had been dumped out. Clothing had been pulled from the closet. Every cabinet had been emptied onto the floor.

She looked at her desk and said, “Omigod, they know who I am!”

“This is what my office looked like, and Alan’s, and every one else on the team. But why are they onto you? How could they possibly associate you with this?” I asked her in disbelief.

She looked resigned. “There are several pathways they could follow to connect me to you. I’ll explain that later. I can’t stay here. They might be back.”

I felt a new and great need to protect this young woman from the folly that Bob had gotten me into.

“I know a place where we can go hide out. It’s a few hours’ drive north. These hoodlums couldn’t track us there. Would you like to go with me?”

“Yes,” she said. “Let me pack up a few things.”

As we were about to leave, I called Bill Kennedy, explained what had happened today and what we were about to do, and asked if he knew where Avalon was.

“That I do,” Bill said. “Brendan keeps me current on all the new religions around here. Just be very careful. These characters may be even nastier than I can guess.”


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