Chapter 30

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Two to six weeks. That wasn’t going to work for Raymond. The department had sent out the sample of ashes, or at least the “official” sample, down to some lab in Boston. They had promised to have it identified in two to six weeks. Already working on one unsolved case that seemed to be going nowhere, he didn’t have the patience to wait that long. Raymond had quietly gone back to the site later that day and filled another bag with some of the ashes that had yet to be collected. Scribbling down a quick note about them on a sticky note in his car and taping it to the bag, he sent it off that day to a teacher at one of the state universities whose class he had failed a few years back.

His attempt at a second education hadn’t gone very well.

Raymond had gone back to college wanting to end his career in the forensics side of law enforcement. More money, and a better retirement package. Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart enough to make it through all the required courses, too many computers and too many complicated programs to learn to use. The worst part was that he had had to pay for the failed year of classes taken, the good part was that he had been on friendly enough terms with some of the professors, and that they allowed him to come back on occasion and use them as a resource for times like this.

 Over the last couple of years, a few of his old professors had either retired of moved on, only a few were still in New Hampshire. Luckily for Raymond, Donald Harris was one of them. Donald was a professor of Biochemistry and considered a genius of his field. Meticulous in his work and obsessive almost to the point of insanity, most of his colleges considered him impossible to work with. Over the years Don hadn’t changed much, he was short, skinny as a rail, and bald. Like a few others Raymond has met with well above average intelligence, Donald was very hard to get along with. Donald was also not shy about his general distaste for teaching, and considered most, if not all of his students incapable of learning Biochemistry to a level where they would be capable of making a contribution to the field in any meaningful way.

It was Donald’s class, in fact, that had been the final straw in Raymond’s decision to give up attempting college so late in his career. Raymond struggled with everything about the class, from the computer programs to the memorization of words he considered too big to be in the English language. After one particularly difficult assignment, with some overly snide comments from Donald, Raymond had had enough. He waited until class was over and confronted Donald at his desk. Raymond let loose with a strongly worded tirade about the treatment he had received from the professor throughout the class, and his declaration that he was quitting college and finishing out his career with some dignity. Donald had simply leaned back in his chair with a big smile on his face. The two had gotten along well ever since. 

He pulled into the university and paid his parking, cursing under his breath as he handed over twenty dollars for the privilege. Raymond stepped out of his car and headed to his friend’s office feeling like some cop in a crime novel. Part of that was the knowledge that what he was doing was illegal, and any information he received would not be able to be used in any court case that may come out of the investigation. Taking evidence from a crime scene and taking it without permission to a university was grounds for immediate dismissal. But at his age, Raymond didn’t care about bending rules a little when he wanted to know something faster than typically came out of standard procedure, but mostly stuff like this kept him interested.

Raymond walked into Donald’s office after a few unanswered knocks to find the man hunched over his desk marking papers with a red marker and frowning. From across the room Raymond could see a large “F” marked on the report on top of the pile he was grading. In his concentration, Donald didn’t even notice Raymond walk in.  Raymond had to laugh to himself a little, the man’s face was so close to the paper that the tip of his nose had a red marker smudge across it.

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