Hunting Diessen

"Ray Diessen is not an easy man to find," I said to Marisa, who was on the phone. "Perhaps I shouldn't have waited two weeks to go looking for him after our little adventure."

"Given the nature of what's inside that box of Ray's," I wouldn't be surprised if he was hiding. Hang on a sec." I could hear Marisa negotiating the bill for her groceries at Trader Joe's. After a few seconds, she came back on. "I mean, we don't have the slightest clue what that thing does and I've been freaked out enough to barely leave my home."

"Lucky for us, writing doesn't require too much outdoor activity, eh?"

"Not usually, but I'm supposed to be on a book tour, remember? Rose is so pissed with me right now. She's had to cancel eight appearances and I'm pretty sure that she thinks I've lost my good goddamn mind. I owe her big time."

"Well, have you seen anyone suspicious around your place lately?"

"Only about every six minutes. The only reason I'm at the store is because I ran out of toilet paper. And coffee. Though now that I think about it, I've probably been overreacting. The world does not appear to be out to get me today." The sounds of Marisa starting her car filtered through her words. "So back to the diesel guy. You can't find him?

"Diessen, and no. But I don't think he's hiding. I think he's gone off looking. Everyone at the school says he's out on trips to archaeological sites across the state. I keep leaving cryptic messages for him to call, but he never does."

"Perhaps your messages are too obtuse?"

"Hardly." I sighed and took a sip of my coffee. "I mean, I say that I'm a former student of Ray's and that he wanted me to get in touch."

"Joe, not to sound like a paranoid storyteller or anything, but isn't that exactly what the bad guys would say when they called him? I mean, how's he going to know you're the real Slim Shady?"

"Perhaps I should send him an autographed copy of my latest book?"

"That's a start. And it may not hurt to actually deliver it in person, so his TA or whatever can see that the photo on the jacket is in fact of you. Aww dammit."

"What, did you back into somebody?"

"No, I forgot to get toilet paper."

Two hours later, I was walking through the campus of UCLA, a place not ten minutes from my home and yet totally alien to me. The only building I was familiar with was the performing arts center. After checking with seven different secretaries, three map kiosks and four rather handsome students I was finally in the right place: Haines Hall. And Diessen was again on a dig.

"Do you know when he'll be back?" I stared intently at the matronly woman manning the department office.

"Well sir," she stammered,  "we don't usually get many clues about when professor Diessen is coming back. He kind of just re-appears."

"It's very important that I speak with him soon," I said to her. "My name is Joe Sullivan, and I'm a writer." I handed her a copy of Painting Death. I am also a very close friend of one of his colleagues. This colleague asked me to speak with him as soon as possible, so here I am."

I paused to see if Marisa's suggestion had worked. She opened the jacket, looked down at the picture and then up at me just in time to see me strike a pose. Then she pursed her lips. "You've called here looking for him, haven't you?"

"Yes, I have, but I figured coming down here in person might yield better results."

Normally, that would very much be the case," she replied. "But I'm afraid I don't know when he'll be back. I can, however, try to reach him at his current location."

I raised an eyebrow. "Would it be possible to find out what said location is?"

She thought for a moment, then picked up the phone. "Why don't you hang on a second while I try calling him." She motioned to a row of chairs waiting patiently behind me. I took a seat and tried very hard not to bounce my knee. "Hello, Karl? It's Pamela. I have a young author here who is very anxious to speak with you. He says a colleague of yours sent him to you." She listened patiently for a moment, then looked at me. "Mr. Sullivan, who did you say this colleague of his was?"

"Ray Zepeda," I replied. "From CSU Long Beach."

Pamela turned back to the phone. "He said it was Ray Zepeda from CSULB." She frowned. "Yes, he's in front of me right now. I have a copy of his latest book." She began scribbling furiously on a piece of paper in front of her. "Yes, I'll tell him. Yes, well I'll ask. Hang on." She looked back to me and asked, "Professer Diessen is very anxious to speak with you. How soon can you be in Hawaii?"

I blinked. "I'm sorry?"

She gave me a look that I could tell had been administered repeatedly to confused undergrads. "Hawaii. He is currently on the island of Maui. How soon can you be there?"

"Tell him 24 hours or less."

1 comment:

  1. More, more! I really like this additional section.


    P.S. My word verification word was Unders, no kidding!