Breakfast long-since past and lunch 'imbibed' at a local pub, the fog
afflicting wits begins to lift—not so trepidation; wary of the Scotch required
to maintain semi-clarity, while demoralized by climbing back on the wagon
(with Florence, bless her tolerance, yet to be apprised), the private eye, with
bloodshot corneas, blinks.
"Mr. O’Rourke? Mr. O’Rourke?"
Recollecting where he is and wishing he were not:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (bed a better option), Dad acknowledges the
'roadblock' obstructing his plodding progress.
"The Chancellor will see you now."
nods, is ushered in, and takes a seat designed to put subordinates in their
place. Looking up and across a desk of ostentatious girth, Dad confronts
Authority in all its academic grandeur.
"Good of you
to see me, Sir. I’ll not misuse
your time. 'Tis about a former graduate student
I’ve come to inquire—one Stuyvesant Fink—who was enrolled some twenty-four years
ago at this institution, and who doubled as a researcher at Brigham And..."
"Yes, yes; I’ve been told as much. Of the student, we’re aware—though his
matriculation does predate my tenure. What has yet to be established is
who hired you and why. Frankly, your credentials are unpersuasive."
Dad’s affiliation with Intercontinental Life (his ruse of record) has evidently
leveraged him an audience but not cooperation; for that, some heavy
artillery might be required.
"Shrewd of you to notice, Sir; insurance is a ploy. Perhaps another of my cards
will earn your confidence; and discretion?"
From his billfold, Dad produces a
convincing Federal ID (which he displays inside its plastic sheath without
relinquishing), the sight of which revamps the Chancellor’s curt demeanor.
"What has Homeland Security to do with our vintage discipline problem? And, yes,
I do appreciate prudence, when warranted."
"Stuyvesant Fink’s post-curricular activities have prompted our concern. Mine is
a fact-finding mission to investigate predisposition—a background check, if you
will, helpful when assessing possible threats."
Careful to imply but not to assert, to suspect sans accusation, Dad conducts a
Did you know the lad personally?
Q: Have you
reviewed his transcripts?
Q: Who at...?
His advisor of record was Dr. Herbert Stuart, Dean of Genetics at that time and
Head of the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Stuart retired well nigh
twenty years ago. When I looked him up in our Alumni Directory the sidebar read
Q: Are there
others who might remember Mr. Fink: teachers, staff, fellow...?
Mr. O’Rourke, Stuyvesant Fink was expelled from MIT. The few details we retain about this sad circumstance indicate that he
stole some specimens from one of the labs—stem cell specimens, to be precise—which
cast our Institution in a negative light. The research we were doing was rather
controversial, way back when. Issues of security arose. There were some
alleged improprieties. But criminal proceedings were never initiated, nor was
there any subsequent litigation. Making off with highly sensitive material was
Mr. Fink’s undoing; the case of a brilliant student, by all accounts, gone bad.
Q: Were his
transcripts ever requested by...
Q: A potential employer, perhaps?
Negative. His documents were red-flagged, meaning not to be released except by
special authorization. Yours is the second application; the first was made
earlier this year—and was denied.
Q: Do you know who
made the request and why it was turned down?
Swiveling toward a monitor, the Chancellor enters commands on his touch-tab
desktop keyboard, generating data which he imparts.
A: Someone claiming to be next-of-kin. Our note UN-CONFIRMABLE
suggests why we refused. There is an email address, if that
is of any interest: