Tabula Rasa

Chapter 3

Tabula Rasa

Chapter Three

On their way to search for the dean, Wes and Travis ended up speaking to two of the other staff members of the college, one of whom was Ryan Conway's physics professor. The man explained to them what a shame it was that Ryan was dead, as the kid appeared to have been one of the professor's best students.

The detectives had also tried to speak with a few of the students, most of whom didn't want to speak with them. One of the girls said that Ryan was really sweet and that he didn't deserve to be killed as he was, but what sparked their interest the most was that at least two students claimed that he wasn't the perfect student that he appeared to be. However, Wes and Travis couldn't get them to explain anymore as two of the security officers interrupted them, scaring the kids away.

After being told that the dean was waiting for them, Wes and Travis began to follow after them, as Travis leaned over toward his partner and whispered, "These guys seem more like the men in black than they do campus security, but without the humor of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones."

Wes just rolled his eyes and then quietly replied, "Relax, this is just their way of trying to intimidate us and to show the students around here who's in charge. And for your information, Tommy Lee Jones wasn't funny. He was the more disciplined and responsible member of the team."

"You mean more anal and obsessive like you?" Travis asked sarcastically. "Tommy Lee Jones was funny because his character was trying hard not to be. You haven't got a funny bone in your entire body. You wouldn't know what humor was if it came up and shoved a pie in your face. That'd be funny."

"You know what, Travis…," Wes responded a bit louder than he meant to and then quickly lowered his voice again as the men in front of them looked back. "I can't believe I am having this conversation with you. How do you always get me into such pointless arguments while we're at work?"

Travis answered smugly, "It's a gift."

When they finally arrived at the dean's office, the guards walked them in and both detectives took a seat in the chairs that had been placed in front of the man's desk as the man sitting behind his desk spoke up saying, "Good afternoon, Officers. I am certainly sorry that we had to meet under these grim circumstances."

Wes nodded as he replied, "It is unfortunate. Dean Wilkins, I'm Detective Mitchell and this is my partner, Detective Marks. What can you tell us about Ryan Conway? Whatever you know would be a big help."

"I didn't really know the young man very well, but sadly, I was beginning to shortly before he died," the dean responded.

"What do you mean by that?" Travis asked curiously.

Wilkins answered, "Up until about two weeks ago, he was a straight A student, who always did excellent work and even taught a few of his teachers a thing or two. Ryan Conway was very bright."

As he paid close attention to the man, looking for any kind of deception coming from him, Wes asked, "What changed? Did he talk to you at all about something that was bothering him?"

"I am not sure what brought on his change of behavior, but I do know this," the dean continued. "Ryan started mouthing back to some of the professors, to me, and even to several of the students. His choices in the clothes he wore changed, and two days ago, he was caught giving out answers to the exams we've got coming up soon. One of his classmates turned him in. We were going to have a hearing with the board sometime next week to determine if he should be expelled or not."

"That isn't the only thing that changed about him!" a young woman cried out as she suddenly came charging into Dean Wilkins' office. "He became violent and hard, as if he had joined up with a gang or something."

"Whoa, take it easy," Travis quickly said as stopped the two officers, who grabbed a hold of her and tried to remove her from the room. "My partner and I would like to hear what she has to say. What's your name, Miss?"

She pulled her arm out from one of the officers' grip on her and then turned to Travis and Wes as she replied, "My name is Connie. I was dating Ryan, or at least I was until a few months ago. We had been together since middle school. Ryan was kind and sweet, but he was shy, especially in a big group of people. He hated going to any parties and he hated going to the clubs or bars, but once we started college, the pressure to succeed and his desire to stop being invisible to the people around him became too much for him to handle. Eventually, he found a friend, who did for him, kind of like what the Fonz did for Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. I like the older classics on TV. The only difference was that his friend wasn't always a good guy. He had a darker side to him and he dragged Ryan into it."

Wes looked over at Travis and then turned back to look at Connie as he responded, "Let me guess, this campus' Fonzie is Ryan's roommate, Jeremy Walker?"

"Yes," she answered. "Ryan and I eventually just drifted apart so much as he started to become more sociable with the wrong crowds that I broke up with him a few months ago. Then, four nights ago, I confronted him about his behavior and begged to know what was going on. He became angry and he grabbed my arm so hard, before shoving me down to the ground. Then, he just ran out of the room. It was the first time I had seen him become so angry. It was like he was on drugs or something."

"Did you report any of this?" Wes asked sadly as she rolled up the sleeve of her shirt and showed them the dark bruise around her wrist.

Connie nodded and then glared at the dean as she replied, "Yes, I told Dean Wilkins what happened. He told me he would have a talk with Ryan and then asked me not to say anything to anyone about it. Ryan's attitude only became worse until, well you know, until he was killed. Ryan was a good man, Detectives. He was young and he just wanted to be liked, but someone did this to him. Someone made him angry and then they killed him. Please, find out who did this. They need to pay before they hurt anyone else."

Wes escorted her to the door as he handed her his card and she walked away, while Travis kept his eyes on Wilkins and the other en in his room until his partner came back looking very angry as he spoke up saying, "I'm guessing that all of that just happened to slip your mind. Why would you try to hide the fact that one of your students, a kid, may be using drugs and was becoming violent? Were you just trying to cover it up in order to save face? Trying to protect your own image?"

"Take it easy, Wes," Travis stepped in order to keep him from losing his temper. "You'll have to forgive my partner, Dean Wilkins. He gets a little emotional sometimes, but nonetheless, he's right. I know now that the appearance of a school, especially one as big as UCLA, means everything to guys like you. It's how you draw so many students in and how you make all your money you spend on things like your expensive watch, your big house, and your nice fancy car."

"How did you know that I had a big house and fancy car?" the man asked in surprise.

Travis looked at Wes and grinned, then turned back to look at the dean as Wes responded, "We didn't, but you just confirmed that you did. I had a feeling that you were a man who liked nice things and didn't care about, whose feelings you hurt, or the things you swept under the rug to get them."

Dean Wilkins stood up from his chair as he asked angrily, "Are you threatening me, Detective Mitchell?"

As the security officers moved forward and grabbed Wes by his arms in order to pull him out of the office, Travis quickly shoved them both away from him and took over pulling his partner away as Wes answered firmly, "It wasn't a threat, but I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't have a job at the end of the week. If we have any more questions, we'll be back."

"Look, I know how angry you are, Wes," Travis said quietly as they finally left and headed to the area where they parked their car. "I hate that scumbag too, but I'm pretty sure he didn't have anything to do with Ryan's death. He's just an arrogant, smug, money grubbing bastard."

"I know," Wes replied and then sighed in frustration. "I'll report him to whoever I have to report him to, but I doubt he'll get fired. Men like that usually have a way out of trouble. We need to go and speak to Jeremy's kinky girlfriend and her boyfriend, then find this club Jeremy was talking about. If drugs are involved, maybe someone there is giving them out to young college students, who are only looking to loosen up or become popular."

"I can't believe you said the word 'kinky," Travis responded in hope of lightening up the mood and get Wes' mind off of the dean. "That's so not like you."

Wes chuckled and then pushed Travis over toward the passenger's side of his car as he answered, "Shut up and get in the car. We've got a lot to do still."

Travis smiled and said, "Sure thing, Agent K."

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