Ashley didn’t call Connor immediately. He needed some time to think it over.
During his class the next morning his mind was on Connor’s call. He ignored students with raised hands wanting to ask him questions, continuing with his lecture instead. After the class a student wanted to discuss something, but Ashley asked him to come back later. Once in his office he closed the door. He didn’t want any interruptions when he was talking with Connor. His office was small with a desk facing the window and a bookcase towards the wall. Stacks of papers were piled up on the table. He could see students walking outside. Ashley settled into his chair, put his feet on the table and called Connor. A receptionist answered and transferred the call to Connor.
“I know you are a busy man Dr. Wilkins. I wouldn’t take much of your time. I just have a few questions for you.” Connor said.
Ashley was expecting a typical bureaucratic voice of arrogance and condescending attitude, instead the person on the other side was polite.
“Did you know a Dr. Owen Martin?”
“I knew a Dr. Owen Martin from Florida. Yes.”
“Precisely, what was the nature of your acquaintance?”
“Well. I knew Owen since we were both students at the University of Oklahoma.”
“Did you continue to be in touch with him after you both graduated from the University?”
Ashley didn’t understand why the officer was asking about Owen who was dead.
“Not really. Owen, uh…Dr. Martin…. left to join the military. Then he did a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, South Africa.”
“Were you in touch with him during his tour of duty at the Peace Corps?”
“Not really. Not all the time.”
Ashley told Connor about the only letter he had received from Owen from Malawi with a photo of him with a young lady, whose name he didn’t remember.
“What else do you know about Dr. Martin as a Peace Corps Volunteer?”
“Not much. Not much at all. Was he in some kind of trouble?”
Connor didn’t answer the question.
“Did Dr. Martin tell you about a Demond Ibori?”
“Demond Ibori? …Le’me see… No…I’ve no idea who he is or what he has to do with Owen.” Ashley answered, pausing between each sentence as if to think it over.
“How did you hear about Dr. Martin’s death?”
“Well. I invited him and his wife Agnes to visit us for Thanksgiving. That never happened. According to Agnes’s note he died as a result of a freak accident when he was running near his home.”
“That’s right. Did Mrs. Martin say anything more?”
“No. She sent me the baseball cap with the OU logo that Owen always wore.”
“Thank you Dr. Wilkins. Are you still in possession of the cap?”
“Of course. That was Owen’s trade mark. I have kept it in a prominent place in my study.”
“Thank you, again. You have been really helpful. I’ll be in touch if I need more information. Have a nice remainder of the day.”
With that Connor hung up the phone. Ashley didn’t have a chance to reciprocate, not that he really had anything to add.