“Hi, Benjamin Cooper?”
“Yes. Who’s this.”
“Ah, sorry. This is Carolyn Wilkowski. I’m sorry I missed your call this morning, I get terrible reception here at work.” Aha. My only other connection to my Great-Uncle. Maybe talking to her would be a little more productive than searching this desk.
“You have to work at nine in the morning on Saturday? Sucks to be you.”
“I get my best work done on the weekends.” There was not even a trace of a smile in her tone. *Okaaay.
There was a moment of silence, and I started to feel a little awkward. “Okaaay. So, uh, you were the one who called me last night. Mind telling me what’s up?”
“You mean Michael didn’t tell you?” She sounded genuinely surprised.
“Um, no. He’s dead, remember?”
What? Okay, now I was starting to get annoyed. “What? What do you mean, ‘Oh shit’? You were the one who called me! You know he’s dead, that’s why you called! And you said something about people ‘getting him’ or something. Which makes it sound a lot like he got killed.” I stopped for a moment, and took a deep breath. “So, wanna tell me what the hell is going on?”
She sighed, loud enough to be heard over my cell phone, which is something. “Sorry, I just thought he told you what was going on, and that’s why he told me to call you. I didn’t realize. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, no worries, just tell me what’s up.”
“Well, I just hoped…but if you don’t know anything… Look, maybe this is better. If you don’t know anything, maybe it’s better if I just keep you out of it. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt because of me.”
“I’m sorry. Goodbye.” She hung up.
Okay, what the hell? She definitely knew something, and there was no way in hell I was going to leave it at that. I looked up at Sam, said “Hang on just one more minute”, and I called the number back.
“Capitol Archaeological Institute, Dr. Wilkowski speaking.”
“You can’t just hang up on me like that. You called me. And if my Great-Uncle thought I could help you, maybe I can. And maybe I want to. After all, he was family.”
“And besides that, if something happened to him, and you know about it, I want to know. Someone tried to kill me last night. Nearly shot me right in front of my house. I don’t know if it’s related, but if you know something…my life may literally depend on you telling me.”
She sighed again, and then was quiet for a moment. I was about to say something else when she said “Okay.” It was quiet, quieter than the sigh. “I’ll tell you what I know. And maybe you can help me. Stranger things have happened. But not on the phone.”
“Don’t thank me yet, you haven’t heard what I’m going to say. Not that you’ll believe me anyway. Anyway, I don’t want to say any more over the phone. Can you meet me in Foggy Bottom in half an hour?”
I thought about it for a second. I would have to call a cab, but maybe I could make it. “It’ll be tight, but I’ll try.”
“Okay. There is a Starbucks on the corner of H Street and 22nd. I’ll see you there.”
I was about to ask how I was going to recognize her, but she hung up the phone before I could get the words out. I frowned. I hated being hung up on. But if this would give me some information, either about my Great-Uncle or about who had shot at me last night, it would be worth being hung up on a few times.