The four arrived in Rome a week later; Jeannine insisted she needed the extra time to pack. Shortly after they got there, they began searching for Josiah, whom they had immense difficulty locating.
“We’ll never be able to stop him if we don’t know where he is,” said John. “We’ll keep looking tomorrow. I’m too tired tonight.”
“I wonder what he is doing here, Comrades,” pondered Mischa.
“All I know is what I already told you: he came to Rome in search of a new assistant. Whether he found one is anyone’s guess,” replied Jeannine. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”
But you, lucky reader, are going to find out now. Having abandoned all hope of finding a competent assistant in America, Josiah had set up a base in the Coliseum, where he hoped to accomplish all of his remaining goals. The first was, as Jeannine had said, to find a new assistant.
“So why do you want to be my assistant, Mr. –”
“Graham. Doctor Graham.”
Josiah sat at an ancient, crumbling desk, across from a very pompous applicant, a man evidently named Doctor Graham. He was the first candidate to be interviewed.
“I’m a doctor,” continued the applicant.
“Yes, I was already aware of that, thank you,” replied Josiah.
“Well how could you possibly have known?” inquired the man.
“You introduced yourself as Doctor Graham!” said Josiah impatiently.
“Oh, no, no, no! Doctor is actually my first name. It’s purely coincidental that medicine also happens to be the occupational path I’ve chosen,” explained the doctor.
“So you’re Dr. Doctor Graham?” asked Josiah skeptically.
“Okay, well, I don’t think you’re quite what I’m looking for at this time. Get out of here before I have you murdered,” said Josiah abruptly. “Next!”
Doctor Graham sulked away bitterly and the next applicant sat down. This one was a woman, easily more beautiful than every other woman in the world combined and placed into a giant gem-encrusted swimming pool filled with gold and chocolate – GOOD chocolate, not the crap you’d get in a supermarket or whatever.
“Hello there, Mr. Malum. I’m Cyprus Papandrou,” she said.
Josiah, however, was too awed by Cyprus’s magnificent beauty to respond. He simply sat there staring, his mouth hanging open, his eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets.
But then Josiah’s inner evil began to work its magic, and he remembered the plan, remembered his mission: he pulled himself together. She was just another applicant, to be treated the same as any other.
“Welcome, Miss Papandrou. So, you wish to be Deputy Secretary of Evil. Do you have any past evil experience?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” replied Cyprus, “I used to slaughter puppies and eat their flesh. Oh, what am I saying, ‘used to’; I did it just this morning!”
“Wow! That’s really evil!” blurted out Josiah, again letting his obvious attraction get the best of him. “I mean…very impressive, Miss Papandrou; very impressive indeed. Well, you certainly appear qualified. I’ll get back to you.”
He nodded curtly, and Cyprus stood up, flashing Josiah a coy smile before exiting. He took out a cigarette and watched her intently as she left, accidentally lighting his finger.
“I think I’ve found myself a new assistant,” he said to himself. “Now I need to get back to my evil plotting. My hand hurts.”
Thus Josiah set to work on his plan, trying not to give in to his urge to call Cyprus. Before ten minutes had passed, however, Josiah realized the futility of his endeavor. He picked up the ancient Roman phone on his desk and dialed Cyprus’s number.
“You’ve got the job,” he said, not bothering to introduce himself.
“Yes, I already knew that,” she replied.
“How?” asked Josiah. “That’s impossible!”
“Not if you have psychic powers,” retorted Cyprus mysteriously. “Which I do, if you didn’t get that implication.”
“You can read minds?” asked Josiah, stunned.
“I certainly ca – oh…my…GOD!”