College senior E.N. Harris didn't know about the family heirloom pocket watch until he found it in a box of stuff from before his parents died. Inside the lid of the watch box, is a note signed with just the letter N, piquing the genius' curiosity. When a false back falls off the watch revealing a cryptic clue, curiosity becomes obsession, and the hunt is on. The journey takes him to relatives he knew nothing about and a pedigree that answers many questions while asking many more.
Transfer college junior Calla Rose is trying to fit in. It's not going well. But when her Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy runs across the quad and into the arms of E.N. Harris, the smartest and best-looking guy on campus, fitting in becomes essential.
E.N. has never met a woman as challenging and engaging as Calla, someone not intimidated by his intelligence. He invites her and her puppy to help him learn the identity of the mysterious N. and discover the meaning of the clue from the watch. As they get closer to the truth, rich man's minion and a government opportunist are nipping at their heels.
What E.N. and Calla find, will rewrite the history books and hurl science in a new direction, if they can stay ahead of danger.
© copyright 2018 Patricia Otto
He dug into the front pocket of his jeans to pull out the watch. The ticking was soft but full. Calla’s father had polished the thing until you needed Ray-Bans. The three filigree hands stood out against the iridescent pearl-like face. The numbers were raised black numerals outlined with dark brown.
In the numeral three, he noticed the two spaces between the “I”s were not quite the same. It was easy to overlook, but it was there. He shot up from the bed to go to his desk. He found the tiny screwdriver in his eyeglass repair kit. E.N. was pretty much blind, so he always had glasses as backup for his contacts. And a repair kit for the glasses should a truly dire situation arise.
He used the screwdriver to pop off the crystal covering the face.
“Hey man,” Rob said coming through the doorway, “how was your trip?” He flopped down on his bed.
“Very interesting.” E.N. gave Rob some of the details of the day.
“You’re a Gypsy? No shit. You know I wondered about your palm reading on the quad and your overabundance of gold neck chains.”
E.N. looked up from the watch. “Haha, jerk.”
Rob laughed. “Is that your watch you’re messing with?”
“Yeah. I noticed what I think is a pinpoint just to the right of the middle numeral of the three. It’s almost part of the side of that middle numeral.” Rob came over to the desk. E.N. held the watch under the lamplight. “Do you see it?”
Rob was silent for a moment. “I think so. Is it a hole?”
“A damned small one.”
“The screwdriver is too big. How about a paperclip?”
E.N. tried the clip, but it was too big. “We need a safety pin.”
They dug around in their desks and dressers. “Wait,” Rob said, pulling out an old pair of jeans. “I have one on the pocket.” He handed it to E.N.
Rob steadied the watch to get the best light. E.N. slowly pushed the point of the pin into the hole.
Rob adjusted the gooseneck lamp. “Too big?”
“No. It’s a tight fit though.” He turned the pin a bit to advance it deeper. “I don’t want to break anything—”
The back fell into the palm of E.N.’s hand. But it wasn’t the back that exposed the mechanism. It was a shallow false back.
“A hidden compartment?” Rob chuckled. “No shit. What’s in there? I hope it’s a million-dollar bill.”
“There is no million-dollar denomination.”
“It was a joke.”
E.N. turned over the watch. A white piece of paper was crammed in the space. He pulled it out then laid it on the desk.
“Probably not. Probably not redeemable even if it was.” E.N. unfolded the first fold.
“Not big enough.” E.N. opened the paper.
Rob poked his head into E.N.’s field of vision. “What is it? What do you see?”
“You mean other than your big head?”
The paper was yellowed with age otherwise it looked in good shape. E.N. gently flattened the paper revealing several lines of numbers.
Rob cursed. “Numbers. That’s it?”
“It’s not Pi. What the hell is it?”
E.N. rested his chin in his hand. “Not Pi. Not a coded message.” E.N. committed the sequence to memory then stretched out again on his bed.
Rob sat in the desk chair. “Maybe it’s an equation.”
“Equations have symbols.”
“Maybe you have to put in the plus sign or the equal sign.”
“How would you know where to put them? Or which ones to use.”
“Give me a break. I’m brainstorming here.” Rob frowned. “Maybe there’s an app for that.”
They went back and forth until they agreed that hunger was interfering with brain function. Another round of debate ensued before they decided on pizza from Mama Nina’s. Over a large meat-lovers pie, they came up with scenario after explanation for the numbers and any possible relevance. E.N. kept the “I-am-possibly-a-descendent-of-Nikola-Tesla” info to himself.