Near 500 words: TW and the Scholar

Episode 22 of The Writer.

Dr. Christine Baxter looked up from her text, showing a face that did not like to be interrupted. “Yes?”

TW (aka The Writer) felt intimidated. Who was he to interrupt a scholar at her very important work? Then he remembered. He was someone who needed help with a puzzle. The puzzle being the ancient text on Sylvia’s postcards.

He introduced himself and apologized for missing his appointment that morning.

Dr. Baxter sighed a sigh that said, “If I have to be interrupted, I might as well give the interruption my attention. Otherwise I won’t be able to get back to the text.”

“Well, have a seat.” Her blue eyes seemed to say, “This had better be good.”

TW followed her instruction.

“Now,” Dr. Baxter said. “Tell me. What is it I can do for you?”

TW explained about the postcards he had received for some thirty years from Sylvia. He didn’t mention Sylvia walking from inside one postcard to the next when they were in order. “Below Sylvia’s signature is a strange text. I’ve looked through the library’s books but I can’t find anything like it. Other than Sanskrit. And it’s not Sanskrit. At first, I thought it was ancient Hebrew because the words move from right to left. But there are differentials.”

“Let me see the postcards.”

“I only have the one. The other twenty-nine were stolen.”

“Stolen? Why would anybody want to steal postcards?”

“I don’t know.” He pulled the most recent postcard out of his suit jacket. “But this is the latest.” He passed the card over to Dr. Baxter. As she took it, he noticed she had long fingers. His eyes glanced over at the bookshelf next to the desk. On the top of it was a photograph of a young woman at the piano. “Do you play the piano?”

She looked up from the card and smiled. “Not so much anymore. I used to. And some say I was quite good. But not good enough to pursue a career. I didn’t have the passion for it.” Her eyes returned to the postcard. “Are you trying to pull my leg? If you are, you might as well leave my office.”

“I’m sorry,” TW said, apologizing for what he wasn’t sure.

“There’s no ancient text on this card.” She passed the card back to TW. “Why don’t you just leave.”

She stood up and walked to the door and opened it and gestured. “Please. I don’t have time for nonsense. I get enough of that from my students. Now go.”

TW hesitantly stood up. “B-b-b-but.”

“Please,” she insisted.

He looked at the card. There was Sylvia’s latest message, ““The end of the rainbow. Shangri-la at last. Sylvia.” But the ancient script was gone. The script was gone. How could that be? He turned the card over. Sylvia was no longer in the picture. Only the older woman dressed in red.

“Wait,” TW pleaded. “You have to help me.”

Dr. Baxter went to her phone and picked up. “I’m calling security.”

“The script may have disappeared. But I can remember enough of it to write it out. If you’ll let me.”

“Security, can you come to Dr. Christine Baxter’s office? I have an intruder.” She gave the building and room number. Then she hung up the phone.