The summons from Professor Barrett – for that is what it amounted to – was cursory, emailed the day after their customary third-Thursday sessions:
“Dear Students and Co-Investigators, Yesterday evening – absent our normal session – was a “bummer” for me – I missed our get-together. Also, I now feel we haven’t properly finished off our year-long project, so: next month – third Thursday – 7 p.m. – my home – everyone please bring a bottle of champagne – look sharp (I’ll be wearing my red bow-tie, short-sleeved shirt, creased pants and moccasins), also be mentally sharp: session subject; ‘Biblical Exodus, 21st Century Verification,’ Let’s really nail it down. No excuses short of a heart attack. Prof. Barrett.”
As Avi would later tell it, on reading the email, Bethe got that “look” on her face, grinned at him and grabbed the phone. The professor wasn’t in, so she rapid-fired into the message machine: “Professor, remember my comment at the end of the final session? I’ll have a surprise for you. Please have your secretary copy all the power point summaries of our sessions – will pick them up at 3 p.m. today.”
Professor Barrett, on hearing her message, guffawed out loud, quickly called Bethe’s number. Her answering machine responded: “Bethe, I’m guessing what you’re up to. Great idea! Looking forward to it. Don’t tell others – great surprise for them. Thought you were into arcane mathematics – not fiction. You and Avi have fun. Barrett.”
On the Tuesday before the now-final session, Professor Barrett, Bethe and Avi had dinner (at a kosher restaurant) going over their plans. Bethe gave the professor a 먹튀폴리스 sheaf of papers which he quickly skimmed, the smile on his face broadening as he read the first paragraph. He clapped the two young people on the shoulders, “Wonderful – I’ll read the rest later. This is just fabulous. Congratulations. Now, let’s order and eat, then we’ll plan the session.”
After the meal, as they parted, the professor said, “OK Bethe, you’ll start it. Work with my secretary, make seven hand-out copies to distribute to the others, chapter by chapter – no reading ahead for them. After each chapter, I’ll take over. I want some real, solid judgment-estimates from all of us as to how much of the biblical narrative we’ve validated. Great idea and job, this – I’m proud of you two, every one will love it. Come an hour early.”
On the evening of the final session, Professor Barrett met all his students at the door, escorting them to the bar where open bottles of champagne were being poured into cocktail glasses. Everyone was neatly but not overly dressed, all eager to learn what was going on. As his grandfather clock toned seven-fifteen, the professor waved them to seats, stepping to the lectern.
“OK, let’s begin. Our imaginative Bethe and Avi have done themselves and us all proud. They’ve written a fictional account of Hebrews living the Exodus experience, the Passover saga – interacting with Moses and Pharaoh – just as told in the Bible.” The reactions from everyone were exclamations of pleased laughter. The professor continued, “They’ll pass out the first chapter now – then we’ll go over the charts of our first sessions, and begin progressively evaluating how much of biblical historicity we’ve validated by hard 21st century science.”
Everyone eagerly grabbed the sheets as Avi passed them out – Bethe then began reading aloud: “Chapter 1, Circa 1300 BC, Egypt; the Royal Palace of Pharaoh Dudimose, 36th Ruler, 13th Dynasty”. Bethe paused, looking around, and seeing everyone had sheets, she smiled and her voice deepened as she read the first words of the story, “As Binami, lying flat on the gallery floor, peered down through the open weave of the curtains onto the Throne Room below, – ” Bethe stopped, noting everyone was reading by themselves – many chuckling or openly laughing. some serious and quiet. Bethe slid onto the sofa next to Avi.