Honest Doubt

Honest Doubt by Amanda Cross

Book: Honest Doubt by Amanda Cross Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amanda Cross
Tags: Fiction
it seems; there’s no middle way, though I’m learning to make do living in New Jersey as well as working there. And I miss Antonia,” he said. “I see her from time to time, and I listen with a magnificently sympathetic and knowledgeable ear to her cries of distress, but it’s not the same as working together.”
    â€œWere you in modern literature too?” I asked. “I’m afraid these fields or areas or whatever you call them aren’t as distinct in my mind as they might be.”
    â€œThey shouldn’t be that clear in anyone’s. I was an Americanist, actually, hired as one by the Clifton department. But I didn’t make any secret of the fact that I was gay, and then queer studies came along. . . .”
    â€œQueer studies?”
    â€œIt sounds like an insult to your innocent ears? It isn’t; self-named in fact by the practitioners thereof. Anyway, the gay movement had taken on steam, there were some among the student body either already gay or wondering if they might be, or just interested, and of course when a perfectly normal-looking young man asked to write his senior thesis on homosexuality, the old boys flipped. At first they were going to forbid it on the grounds that it wasn’t really literature, and then they decided to turn it over to me and Antonia.”
    â€œIs Antonia gay too?”
    â€œNo, baby, but she’s a feminist, and they figured they might as well put all the crazies together. She and I cooperated on directing senior honor theses, became comrades in arms, otherwise known as friends. There’re a lot of great people where I am now, but no Antonia. I’d love to get her to move near me. Get yourself a garden, I say, but the very thought of New Jersey sends chills up her spine. It’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of New Yorkers. A bit odd, but who am I to throw stones? Ah, here’s our food.”
    I asked for iced tea, not without having a fierce inner battle with myself over wine. I was happy listening to Rick, and I would have liked another drink. I couldn’t remember another case where I seemed so often to be wishing I wasn’t investigating and could just relax; I worried about it. But not half as much as I worried when Rick really got going on the English department at Clifton College, and the story of him and Antonia.

He appeared to Henry James,
“so utterly other than had
been supposed by the ‘fond
prefigurements of youthful
piety,’ ” and [he faced]
“the full, the monstrous
demonstration that Tennyson
was not Tennysonian.”
    I SCRIBBLED notes while Rick talked, writing with one hand and occasionally scooping up mouthfuls of food with the other. It was a technique I had fully developed. The notes I took on such occasions rarely turned out to be important, but taking them was necessary to ensure concentration on what I was hearing. If I just listened, it was possible I would let something significant slip by me; taking down the sense of what was being said meant I didn’t miss much. It worked, at least for me.
    Some detectives pride themselves on having a meticulous memory and perfect recall. Maybe they do, although I doubt it; and even if they can rely on their unerring memory today, who knows what tricks it may play tomorrow? Some P.I.’s use tape recorders, but I scorn that. It’s like copying some essential document instead of reading it. Tapes are okay for interviews, but no good for detection, not unless you want some sort of legal record, and then the courts will probably throw it out. I use tapes only to bully reluctant husbands who think there’s no proof with which their wives can nail them for adultery; sometimes I find that hearing their own voices saying what they denied having said pushes them over the edge.
    I took notes as Rick talked, stopping now and then to wave for another martini and going into more and

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