5 November 2006
The box was delivered with no introduction to a file clerk in an underground office building outside of Grove City. It was never signed in. The clerk opened the tape, verified the list, made a note about the missing items, then resealed the box and added a label with a case number. The box spent the next day sitting on a table in a locked room filled with files before it was picked up by another agent, who did not sign it out. This agent loaded it into the back of his van, beside the crumpled remains of a console pulled from the wreckage of a small town just across the state line in Ohio and a body bag labeled “Caretaker.” The van picked up the turnpike and headed across Pennsylvania, pulling off at Breezewood to grab some food at a drive-thru before turning south.
Outside of Washington, D.C., the van passed into a slowly gentrifying neighborhood, cruising past a third-generation barbershop that sat next to a cafe with drinks named in poorly-translated Indonesian before turning down a largely-forgotten alley. Here, tucked away from curious eyes behind a brick wall, was a loading dock. The van pulled up to it, the driver hopping out to ring a buzzer next to the doors. A gruff man opened the door, checked the driver’s ID, then went to the van to confirm its contents. Satisfied, he grabbed the box and walked it inside, barking orders to a few people in overalls watching a television. These quickly ran outside to grab everything else; he continued on his way, into an elevator and up to the third floor. With a practiced feel of the place, he navigated through the stacks and the shelving units until he came to a small section labeled “Jeremiah Bazyli Matteson.” He slipped the box onto an open shelf, rearranged a few folders that had fallen over, and left the room.
3 November 2006
The hall surrounding Henry’s office was empty of staff and students, the doors closed and office lights off, as everyone who worked there was either in class or at his funeral. The two agents passed by quietly, their eyes fixed on their target. When they reached Henry’s office door, one turned his back to the wall and watched for anyone passing by, while the other produced a key from a small envelope and used it to turn the lock. As soon as the door was open they both slipped inside and softly closed the door behind them. The second man put the key back into his envelope, and that into his breast pocket, before reaching inside his suit jacket and pulling out a list. The other man began opening drawers and pulling out plain-looking notebooks, scraps of paper, and trinkets. Each of them was briefly compared to the list, and placed either on one corner of the desk or returned to its place. They made fast work of the room, small as it was, and finished with one last pass to ensure they had checked everywhere. Two items on the list were still missing, and the man holding the list frowned at that, but the other set his focus to gathering everything into a box. The list was placed on top of the materials in the box, which was then taped shut. The hallway was checked and, being empty still, the agents exited the office. They locked the door again before walking away with the box, vanishing into a nearby stairwell.