The Skeleton Haunts a House

The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry

Book: The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leigh Perry
own fast-food place. We got there at about the same time, went through the line to get our cheeseburgers and fries, and grabbed the last free table.
    After applying ketchup and mustard as needed, I said, “How does it feel being back on campus?”
    â€œAggravating,” she said. “I’m not overly impressed with Dr. Eberhardt.”
    I hadn’t seen that much of the new English department chair myself. There’d been a short meeting during which Dr. Parker, the retiring chair, introduced Dr. Eberhardt to all the adjuncts. Then I’d dutifully attended the departmental welcome-aboard party and sipped my share of punch while listening to the dean extol his virtues and eaten a meal’s worth of cheese and crackers while Eberhardt extolled his own virtues. While I knew there’d been buzz about hiringhim from another school rather than promoting from within, it was hard for me to get my panties in a twist about internal people getting passed over when I was eternally external. So far, the only difference I’d noticed in his regime was extra paperwork for us adjuncts.
    â€œI take it he wasn’t very sympathetic to Roxanne’s issues.”
    â€œWould you believe he quoted that old line to me? ‘We call it graduate school because we want our students to graduate.’”
    â€œWhat do you think? Politician?”
    â€œDefinitely.”
    We Thackery academics divided department chairmen into categories: the Fair-Minded, who only took the chair because it was his or her turn; the Rebel, who wanted to shake up the department, the university, and the world, in that order; the Functionary, who was a lousy academic but a decent paper shuffler; and the Visionary, who actually had a direction and a flair for management. Unfortunately Dr. Eberhardt was our least favorite: the Politician, who saw departmental power as the first step on his ascendancy to university dominion.
    â€œAt least he’s fairly young,” I said. Young Politicians didn’t stay long on their hikes upward. “Maybe the next one will be better.”
    â€œPossibly, but it won’t be in time to help Roxanne.”
    â€œSo you couldn’t get her an extension?”
    â€œHe said she could have through the beginning of next semester rather than the end of this one, but that was only because I’m still officially on sabbatical this semester and therefore can’t oversee her final work. Roxanne is in a panic, needless to say.”
    â€œShe
has
been taking a while to finish her dissertation. Technically she passed her deadline a while back.” As in five years before, according to campus gossip.
    â€œShe’s had a lot on her plate. She had to take a leave ofabsence at one point because of family problems, and while she was gone, her thesis advisor changed jobs. Then her second advisor took over, but he retired, and she had to start over with me. Eberhardt just doesn’t realize how valuable Roxanne’s work is—you can’t rush academic progress.”
    I nodded, but I thought Roxanne was one of those people who was afraid to graduate into the real world or even into academia. Grad school could be very cozy and safe, particularly once one had finished classes and qualifying exams, with only the research and dissertation to attend to. Of course, most people ran out of money sooner or later, but according to Mom, Roxanne’s family was both wealthy and willing to fund her studies indefinitely. Since I had Madison during grad school, I’d had an urgent motive to get my own dissertation completed, so I wasn’t overly sympathetic toward anybody who had time and money to burn.
    I was, however, sympathetic for my mother’s concern, so I let her fuss about Dr. Eberhardt, and made the right noises at the right places.
    When Mom had gotten it out of her system, I asked her if she knew anything about the McQuaid family’s string-laden bequest, but she knew

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