Welcome to this twelfth episode in this unique series of interviews of some key players in Book One of The Genesis Saga: PASSION & STRUGGLE. Author, Nonnie Jules of the famed interviews, ‘Who’s On The Shelf With Nonnie Jules?’ has been teleported through space and time, courtesy of Author, John Fioravanti, to lend her formidable skills to this process.
Nonnie and John are sitting in the Campus Café on the University campus in Genesis city. A few minutes earlier, they witnessed the apparent abduction of Professor Marco Rossini from the café by two rough-looking men and a young woman. Understandably, Nonnie was outraged and worried about Marco. John convinced her to calm down and wait for the arrival of two other young women who were looking for the professor.
Nonnie: “Exactly who are we waiting for, John? Don’t give me any more evasions! We should be doing something to help Marco – not sitting around! Are you listening to me?” (She glares at him from the other side of the table. John’s response was pre-empted by the arrival of two young women, who, stopped a moment to scan the café and then settled into a booth behind John’s back – but in full view of Nonnie.)
“John, do you know those two?”
John: “Yes, the short blond is Annie Pinto and the taller brunette is Marie Brooklynn. They’re ace reporters for…”
Nonnie: (Interrupting.) “Is that the Marie that Marco wants to date?”
John: “Yes, but they haven’t met yet. Let’s listen in…”
Annie looked up from her salad and pointed her fork at her friend, “Marco is always prompt and considerate. I can’t believe he stood us up, Marie!”
Despite her foul mood, Marie couldn’t resist baiting her friend, “Hey, watch out where you point that thing, it’s loaded.”
Annie looked at the slice of kukumber affixed to the prongs and smiled, “Cute, Marie.”
Marie didn’t respond, because of the appearance of a campus cop in his mid-thirties standing beside their table.
“Marie Brooklynn. I haven’t seen you in over a year… how are you?”
Annie noted the tight smile that formed on Marie’s face. He stood five feet ten in his navy blue security uniform, and he had no facial hair except for a thin, black moustache. He had a medium build and looked paunchy around the middle. The nameplate on his chest said ‘James Miner’, and he looked happier to see her than Marie was to see him. Annie recognized that Marie had shifted into ‘polite’ mode.
“Jimmy, I’m good. This is my friend, Annie Pinto. Annie, meet Jimmy Miner.”
Jimmy graced Annie with a smile that showed off a perfect set of pearly white teeth.
“Pleased to meet you, Annie.” He turned his attention back to Marie. “So tell me, what are you ladies doing on campus today? Are you still reporting for the Genesis Free Press?”
“Our assignment is top secret, Jimmy, but we’re doing an investigative piece on professors who don’t keep their appointments.”
It took a moment, but Jimmy chuckled when he clued in to Marie’s humor. Annie rolled her eyes, and decided to rescue her friend.
“Jimmy, have you seen Professor Rossini around campus this afternoon?”
His face brightened, “Why yes, I did. While walking my beat just outside the café, I saw the professor come in here and sit with a black-haired woman. I didn’t get a good look at her, but judging by her clothes, she was older than most of the students here. Mind you, I didn’t go inside to get a better look.”
Marie switched to ‘interrogation’ mode in a flash, “What time was that, Jimmy?”
“I’m sure it was around 2:30 because I started my shift at 2:00. I’m on afternoons this week.” He checked the time suddenly. “Hey, it’s wonderful seeing you again, Marie, but I have to get back to work. Nice meeting you, Annie.”
Obviously relieved, Marie smiled, “Thanks Jimmy, you’ve been a big help.”
The pair waited in silence until Jimmy stepped out the door. Marie returned her attention to her half-eaten tuna sandwich.
“Okay, Marie… give! Did you used to date that guy?”
Marie swallowed the food she’d been chewing, “Yes, as a favor to a friend… end of discussion. This makes no sense. Now I admit, I don’t know Marco Rossini, Annie. My research indicates he’s a big man on campus – so he’s got a reputation to protect. Also, the High Chancellor himself set up this interview. So why would he fail to show up? Something is beginning to smell…”
“I have no idea, Girly, I’m so disappointed. I wanted to see him again. I wonder who that mystery woman was.”
Brooklynn shrugged, “Maybe she’s romantically involved with him…”
“No, I don’t think that’s it. Marco was serious with a faculty member several years ago, but she devastated him. He told us that he’d decided to bury himself in his work.”
Marie looked up and locked eyes with her partner. “What if he’s in trouble?”
“Are you suggesting a kidnapping? Whoa… where did you get that idea?”
Marie held up a hand while she finished chewing the last of her sandwich, “I’m throwing out possibilities; I don’t know what to think. But one thing is certain; we won’t find answers sitting here.” She looked out the window beside their booth and spotted Jimmy walking away from the café. Marie grabbed her purse and jumped to her feet, “Quick Annie, pay the bill while I grab Jimmy before he gets too far. I have an idea!”
“But it’s your turn…” Annie’s forlorn complaint trailed off as the door closed behind Marie.
Nonnie: “Those two are pretty sharp, John! That Marie is a real go-getter – my kind of girl!”
John: “Marco will think so too.” (forms a crafty smile) “I have an idea…” (John reaches out and touches Nonnie’s arm and they both disappear from the café.)
Join us next time as Nonnie is treated to a first-hand look during Marco and Marie’s first date…