Ayisha didn’t go to the talk. Her reasoning was as any girl’s – Sean had treated her badly therefore she was not obliged to listen to what he had said. Surprisingly, she kept that specific night open, even declining an invitation to dine with her parents on the pretext of previous arrangements. In all fairness, her parents’ home was 2 hours away and travelling would not have been pleasant. For a brief moment, not paying attention, Ayisha positioned herself in front of the mirror and instinctively sought her lipstick. The action was dropped immediately and study problems soon filled her head.
At the same time, Sean was actively participating in the post-talk discussion. His ideas were apparently too controversial for the audience and he ended up defending a minority view. This continued even afterwards in the corridors of the humanities building. Midway young Mr Cooper stopped at the men’s room at what he felt as the most embarrassing moment to leave the conversation. There he met Herbert Drury, a first year student doing the same degree as him.
“I see you still have problems making any allies, Mr Cooper” began Herbert but was quickly countered, “Apparently you still have problems getting yourself noticed, Mr. Drury. Sorry I didn’t find out sooner”, effectively bringing the conversation to an end.
Sean continued with the group to the pub where the heated discussion was fuelled by excessive amounts of food and beverages.
Ayisha was woken up by a commotion in her hall. Quickly dressed in her pyjamas, she opened her door to find her fellow students watching two men clad as policemen inspecting a neighbour’s room. Having found nothing of interest, the duo left the crowd wondering as to the purpose of their visit. Despite some ludicrous rumours about drugs, trafficking of people and smuggling, she managed to hear from a trustworthy source that a young foreign girl had been attacked and robbed yesterday evening. Her purse was stolen and apart from an awful fright the girl was unharmed. The thought a thief would dare strike at the heart of such a closely watched university brought shivers down everybody’s backs. Later that morning an official announcement over all media – phones, snail and e-mail, social websites and personal communication – warned students, especially girls, not to walk alone at night. Weighing the risk of going and the benefits of hearing a lecture, Ayisha decided to put her fate into the authorities and headed for the lecture halls.
On her way there she saw the police line around the scene of the crime and everybody who wanted a piece of the action. “How appalling”, she thought looking the crowd, “instead of minding their own business and doing something worthwhile with their time this … weed … gathers around others’ disasters.” But Sean was also there, a bit further than the others, but looking just as another carnivorous animal evaluating the prey. She had no distinct desire to strike up a new conversation, to start a new one or to even exchange greetings but bits of female curiosity and instinct made her pass next to him.
“Your high-society, womanly antics maybe worked in your last environment but now saying what you mean is considered better.”
“You are absolutely crazy”, interrupted him Ayisha but Sean continued as if nothing had happened.
“One of your roommates had his room searched this morning, right?”
“So was mine. You see, that is the right move when you have partial, biased information on the suspect (before he has time to dispose of the evidence you catch the guy with his hand in the cookie jar) and many students were fooled into thinking the university is doing everything they can to find the guy.”
“You implying the guards are not doing their job? Or the university? Or that they lack professional expertise? You know, you could give them a hand – I am sure they’ll appreciate it”, said the girl rather smirkishly.
“The cameras all around would have certainly caught part of the perpetrator. Plus, the theft was around ten in the evening and the “room search” began in the morning. Wouldn’t you want the get this guy ASAP? And I don’t see any “Do you recognize this face” posters anywhere. Do you not find it strange?”
“Let’s presume I do. Then what?”
“We go and get the footage from the camera. The student working part-time in the security department owes me a favour.”
What’s more interesting – sitting in a stuffy lecture hall listening to a boring lecturer or going on a childish, make-believe adventure which is bound to be a waste of time?! Ayisha followed Sean.
Michel was just about to head off and have lunch when two familiar figures walked into the surveillance room.
“If it ain’t Cooper! A thousand thanks for the warning the other day. I’m sure I would’ve been a goner if it wasn’t for you. Can I help you with anything?”
“Yes, I am doing a bit of research for the University newspaper and wanted to check out the footage from the security cameras. I think…”
“No can do. Sorry, it’s beyond my means; the student relations department took it during the night shift.”
Apart from raising eyebrows a bit, Sean maintained his serious tone, “…it wouldn’t an unreasonable request considering I did save your life. Hmm, perhaps you have back-up copies? No? What else then.”
“Sean, I don’t think …” began Miss Butterfill.
“Indeed you don’t”, replied her companion with the slightest movement of his eyes.”Michel, show me the emergency back-up files – they shouldn’t have been deleted so early.” Having found his source of information, Mr. Cooper went into another room and in a few minutes emerged wearing a victorious grin on his face.
He uttered “Herbert” before rushing out.
“I finally have a chance to contribute to the university and to society – YES!!!”
“Sean, wait, who is this Herbert? And why would he commit the crime?”
“He is in my class – a despicable person. Since our first meeting I have had a strong dislike for him.”
“A gut feeling!”
“You can’t blame somebody purely on intuition.”
“That is why I am happy – I have concrete evidence he did it.”
“Shouldn’t the picture have been smudged and unclear?”
“The thief wore a black leather jacket, identical to the one Herbert had yesterday night. And I do gather the victim, Emily, will testify it was him.”
However, the lady at Home Security didn’t think so:
“Mr. Drury and his son are important benefactors of this institution. As such, they should be treated with respect. DO you honestly believe this circumstantial evidence is enough to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt? I think NOT. Good day, Mr. Cooper, Miss Butterfill.
Upon existing the building, Ayisha noticed a slight change in Sean’s expression – from cheerful to deep in thought to secretly enraged. This, however, took a few seconds to subside and with a calm, a bit emotionless voice he started:
“The Mafia (My daughter, I think, from Italian) first began when one clan attacked the daughter of another. This highly functional crime syndicate has since not moved much beyond its initial purpose and it just happens that Emily comes from such a family. I’ve even heard rumours they are offering ridiculous sums of money for information.”
She gasped. “You don’t mean to escalate a minor theft into a bloody family feud?!”
Sean Cooper stopped. He looked her in the eyes, not blinking, not flinching.
“SOMEONE HAS TO RESTORE JUSTICE.”
PS. Chapter Five will be called New Horizons