Doctor Jones drew the curtain of his small private office at the Arts and Sciences Department in Marshall College to disperse the blinding afternoon sun disturbing his quiet afternoon of reading. He had just finished checking the final semestral exams of the senior high school students. Most of them received fairly passing marks with only a handful with exceptionally high grades.
He was concerned about one of his top students, Jonathan Bower, whom he caught cheating at the finals last Thursday. He couldn't believe that the straight A, well-mannered young man whom he thought highly of had been cheating during the final exam. It led him to wonder if he had cheated all these time albeit he displayed a thorough knowledge of the subject during oral recitations and group presentations. He left him no choice but to fail him.
He sat back at his professor's chair and took out a 1908 first edition rare Egyptian history book that he was studying. For years he'd been intrigued by Pharaoh Rameses III's Tomb whom several archaeologists both renowned and nameless alike have tried to unearth and study but everyone who survived the expedition attempts have talked about a golden gate at the inner recesses of the huge catacomb, a gate with a huge golden idol with black jewel eyes seated cross legged in the middle of the gate that said to guard the door that leads to the legendary treasure beyond people's imagination.
Several expeditions have been orchestrated but all were not only a failure in opening the golden gate, but all ended with a tragedy of an archaeologist's death. He believed that none were successful in the excavation of Ramases III's catacomb because archaeologists were ill-prepared. For years he had been studying the life and reign of Ramases III to deeply understand the recesses of his mind, and by understanding and knowing him, he would find out the secret of opening the infamous golden gate at the bottom of the crypt.
Doctor Jones carefully flipped the page of the old book, precarious in preserving its fragile and almost decrepit state. A black and white photo of an unusual and ancient ring appeared in the next page. It had a huge stone in the middle and baguette shaped small supplementary stones surround the main stone. The jewellery was set in claw like emblem that appeared to be an evil's eye from a far. The kind of stone used was not mentioned in the book but despite the lack of information about the ring, its mysterious and unusual design deign it easy to distinguish from other jewellery.
The book had several pages missing that prevented him from having further information about the ring. He sighed and hid the book at his bottom drawer as a steady knock came on his office door.
"Come in," he said in a nonchalant manner. Who would be calling on him at this hour? All students have left at noon since they have been given the afternoons off for the entire week to study for final exams scheduled each morning for the week.
"Good afternoon! Doctor Jones?' inquired a soft feminine voice with an assertive manner.
He looked up and the vision before him was the last thing he expected. Before him stood a beautiful woman in a Dolce and Gabana classic stretched wool pinstriped black jacket on a turtleneck white cashmere top with a printed grey and black silk scarf and straight leg stretched wool pinstriped slacks. Very professional yet attractive, thought Doctor Jones.
"Have a seat, please. Yes, I'm Doctor Jones," he answered.
"I'm Angela Bower, Jonathan's mother. I..I just want to discuss about my son's situation in your class...you see..."
He didn't get past her first sentence. Her voice drowned as he scrutinized her. Jonathan's mother. He noticed they had the same light blond hair, and intelligent eyes the colour of maple and sunset. She looked very corporate and formal. What did Jonathan say about her when they had a little chat in the library? She is an advertising president. Or did he say a model for some advertisements? He couldn't quite recall.
"...and if you would only make further investigations, you would know he didn't cheat the exam."
He did catch the gist of her visit. "Ms. Bower, I'm sorry, I caught him having the paper with answers on his desk..."
"But you caught it just in time that good for nothing bully threw that sheet of paper on his desk. Perhaps, of you would give him another test just to prove he knows the subject...please, Doctor Jones. My son is running for honours. If you could only extend a little consideration..."
He noticed the note of desperation in her voice albeit not losing her professionalism. He was indeed seriously considering giving Jonathan another test-a longer, more difficult one but before he could express this thought to Angela Bower she inadvertently touched his lower arm while making her point and the ancient glistening claw like eye that he thought was a mere fictional detail in his book stared back at him menacingly from her beautifully manicured ring finger.
Her voice was downed again by the overwhelming existence of the ancient Egyptian ring staring at him from her finger. For a moment Doctor Jones lost touch with the present as he eyed the ring thoroughly. The beautiful center stone was a clear princess cut diamond, embellished by what appeared to be black onyx or black moonstones. He could not make a mistake this was THE RING or a very good copy of it.
He felt embarrassed when he realized Angela Bower was staring at him, waiting for his reply. He cleared his throat and looked back at her earnest expression. "I will give Jonathan another chance... Can I...Can I invite you out for dinner tonight?" he found himself saying. Funny that he remembered she was divorced but couldn't remember what her profession was.
Jonathan's mother smiled. "Thank you, Doctor Jones. That's greatly appreciated but I hope you are not hitting on me as I am a very engaged woman," she joked.
He released her hand immediately. "Engaged? I'm sorry. I... didn't want you to misconstrue...I only meant a friendly dinner. I don't want you to take offense..."
"No offense taken Doctor Jones, believe me. Perhaps we can take a rain check," she smiled.
"That would be nice," he said.
As Angela Bower stood up to leave, he asked, "Uhm...Ms. Bower...where did you get that unusual ring?"
She beamed brightly. "Oh, this ring? It's my engagement ring. My fiancée just gave it to me a week ago during our weekend trip to Vermont."