Fool's Journey

Fool's Journey by Mary Chase Comstock

Book: Fool's Journey by Mary Chase Comstock Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Chase Comstock
might need it. Then,
she slid the box shut, secured it with the manager, and left the bank.
                Running far later than she’d expected, she summoned a cab
for herself, and directed it to take her to the Wyndham.   There she instructed the cabby to wait while
she ran in and left a thick envelope addressed to her aunt with the clerk at
the front desk. A minute later, she was on her way again
                She’d done well, she told herself. She’d dealt with a
nasty surprise with efficiency and strength. Now it was over and done with.

 
                As the cab wove through the midday traffic on the way to
Dmitri’s Cafe, she turned her mind to her upcoming lunch with Bess Seymour. She
wasn’t looking forward to it, but at least whatever Bess had hinted at would be
out on the table, known and therefore disarmed.
                When she arrived, Deirdre scanned the restaurant, hoping
she wasn’t so late that Bess had given up on her. A morning gone awry often
portended that the rest of the day would follow that ragged path. The place was
almost empty, but she didn't see her colleague anywhere.  
                “There you are,” came a voice from behind her. “I knew if
I went to the ladies room you’d come while I was gone. Our table’s outside.”
                “I’m glad you’re still here,” Deirdre said, relieved.
“I’m sorry I’m so late. Something came up.”
                “Not a problem,” Bess smiled. “I started without you.”
                She led Deirdre past a potted palm and a beaded curtain
to an outdoor patio where the weather was held at bay by umbrellas and sizzling
heat lamps. At the table an open bottle of wine stood beside a plate of
kalamata olives and feta cheese.
                “I’m drinking retsina,” Bess said as she seated herself.
“You’ll join me, won’t you?”
                Deirdre nodded. “It tastes like poison, but I love it.”
                Bess poured a glass of the pale gold wine and handed it
to Deirdre.
                “To good things,” she said.
                Deirdre tapped Bess’s glass lightly. Amen to that. She
took a sip and savored the familiar shudder that always accompanied her first
sip of retsina. It was like drinking Chardonnay mixed with paint thinner.
                  She leaned back in
her chair and sighed, content to draw a veil over the morning’s events. If she
could put those out of mind, perhaps she could address her other problems.
Regardless of what Bess’s revelations entailed, Deirdre needed someone to talk
to, someone who could, hopefully, guide her through the upcoming tenure review.
                In the past, she and Bess had attended the odd committee
meeting together, but their conversations had been limited to such subjects as
admissions standards and proposed course offerings. That, and a few day-to-day
pleasantries in the hall comprised their communications. Northwest University
was not the sort of collegial place where senior professors looked out for
newcomers. There had been several times, however, when Deirdre had accidentally
revealed independent thinking during a faculty meeting. Bess had always been
there to deflect any ill will at such effrontery from a junior professor.
                “When’s your next class?” Bess asked. She looked tired,
more tired than Deirdre had ever seen her. Thin lines around her eyes and mouth
betrayed strain and fatigue. Bess must be due for a sabbatical, she thought.
                “I don’t teach on Tuesdays,” Deirdre reminded her.
                “Good.” Bess refilled her own glass and took a sip. Then
she looked at Deirdre. “I have a lot to say to you and I don’t want to rush
it.”
                Deirdre’s curiosity was mixed with anxiety now. Something
was coming she

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