"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me and hear what I'm proposing. I touched on it in the email I sent you but I'm sure you have some questions."
"I do. And frankly since I don't have teaching experience, I'm wondering why you think I'm the best person to work with a group of students."
Alexander leaned forward, resting her manicured hands on the table. "May I call you Brian?"
"Brick is better." Despite a few strands of gray, the nickname from his youth based on his red hair would, undoubtedly, always be his preference.
"Oh, yes, I remember that from the article in the Washington Post Magazine."
Without realizing it, Brick rolled his eyes. He felt heat rising around his collar and shifted in his chair.
"I take it the article makes you uncomfortable," she said.
Brick nodded. "For most of my career, I flew under the radar. The Delgado case changed everything. Now total strangers know where I live, where and what I drink, and things about me that I never planned to share, but others who were interviewed did. Case in point, it's how you were able to find me."
"That's correct. Although Eamonn Boland protected your privacy by just passing along my contact information to you. I had no idea where you were until you responded."
"I'm not surprised. Eamonn always has my back. Anyway, I am curious why you think I'm the best person for the job."
"Aside from the fact that you were a homicide detective for...was it eight years?"
"I think the complexity of the Delgado case showed the determination a detective needs in order to succeed. Who better to mentor graduate students pursuing careers with the FBI or ATF than someone who has, as the saying goes, walked the walk."
Brick uncapped the bottle of Fiji water and poured some into the glass. He appreciated her logic but "walking the walk" often comes with a price. Rather than students being motivated, they may end up reevaluating their career choice when the reality of the job sets in. He took a sip of water then set the glass aside. "What exactly do you have in mind for this project?"
"As I mentioned in my email, this would be for a select number of graduate students. In the past, there have been programs where students worked on innocence-type projects. To their credit, two inmates serving long prison sentences have been freed after DNA showed they didn't match the evidence from the crime scene. I would like to see a group of students have the experience of investigating a cold case with a goal of finding the perpetrator."
"Given that many cases will never be solved, that could be more challenging and disappointing," Brick pointed out.
"I understand, but isn't that a reality of being in law enforcement?"
"Definitely. Arrests always bring satisfaction, but an unsolved case is the one that wakes you sweating in the middle of the night." Brick thought for a moment. Being involved in solving a cold case did appeal to him. It's not that he believed in being able to provide closure for victims' survivors; knowing what happened is always preferable to living in limbo. "Do you have a specific case in mind?"
"I have and it hits very close to home. About three years ago, a Lincoln U. student named Henry Yang was the victim of a hit-and-run in Rock Creek Park. His death was, of course, a shock to everyone here, but what was even more shocking was how quickly the case went cold. You must have been working homicide at the time, right?"
"Do you remember anything about it?"
"Henry Yang?" Brick shook his head. "No, the name isn't familiar."
"What do you think? Does this project sound like something you would be interested in doing?"
"Maybe. But it would require the approval of Lieutenant Sonia Hughes. She's the current head of the Homicide Squad."
"I understand." Professor Alexander hesitated for a moment. "If you're willing to get involved, I'm thinking a request from you would carry more weight than if I contact the lieutenant first."
Brick was silent for a minute. "Thanks for offering me this opportunity, but I need to think about it for a day or so."
"Fair enough." Professor Alexander smiled warmly as she handed Brick her business card. "I look forward to hearing what you decide." As Brick headed to the elevator, it occurred to him that had he taken a day or two to think back in April instead of acting impulsively, in all probability, he'd still be a homicide detective.