Writing the Short Novel

Webpage for English Course 531
(minor corrections made October 20, 2011)

See additional course supplements at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/69413993/A-Concise-Recipe-for-ShortNovel-Writing

The authors reserve all rights to the content of this webpage. None of the content may be copied or reproduced for any purpose. The authors grant individuals the right to read the contents directly from the Internet only and forbid any printing, downloading or public display of the contents. Two Cuckoos is copyright 2009 by Eric Pimblu. Students can use this webpage in conjunction with the cut and dried theory in the course textbook. This webpage is meant to illustrate the theory using an exemplary short novel, Two Cuckoos, by Eric Pimblu. Students can study this material by whatever approach they choose, whether by reading Two Cuckoos itself first and then the analysis, or reading the analysis simultaneously with the novel. No chapter receives a full analysis in terms of the theory. Individual paragraphs are analyzed in varying terms, some in terms of drama, others in terms of the power struggle between author and reader, others in terms of the author’s strategy for convincing reader of his ideas. Many paragraphs are ancillary to crucial paragraphs and so do not merit close analysis. For your convenience, a synopsis of the textbook theory and a table of definitions are included at the beginning.

Synopsis of the Textbook Theory
The textbook’s theory is rather speculative but provides an excellent heuristic for analyzing the short novel. In other words, it is useful without being the

last word in short novel analysis. All art is essentially the aggressive act of the artist imposing his perspective onto others. Artists use seduction to effect that aim. People who experience art, subject themselves to the author willingly in order to have their orientation to the world challenged. The author will be forced expend a great deal of ingenuity and trickery in subduing the resistance of less passive readers. A novel is not mere information as could be found in a news article. It is the means to an experience. The reactions one has while reading the novel are those of real life, with all of the emotions, fight or flee hormonal reactions, wishes, anxieties, and other mental and autonomic reactions one would expect in ordinary life. Because readers subconsciously treat their novel-reading experience as real, the conclusions they reach through their experience permanently change their perspectives on life. To accomplish such reaction from readers, the author must take advantage of the human instincts that make such vicarious experiences possible. The human psyche is naturally equipped to blur the line between a real and vicarious experience because vicarious learning is easy. It is both low-risk and economical. Some situations in life occur only rarely, and by experiencing vicariously a person need not wait for special opportunities to present themselves. Learning can then occur without physical experiences. Vicarious experiences are an excellent way for the mind to build new practical beliefs while saving energy and avoiding the risks inherent in real action. This sort of learning-without-doing is vital when we are children, but the desire to continue to learn in this way continues into adulthood. Unlike a real experience, a vicarious experience does not allow reader to make inputs or get feedback —or so it would seem. But as the theory proposes, readers do subconsciously attempt to make inputs and get feedback from the novel. By playing-off reader’s urges to influence the novel’s action, the author can trick the reader into accepting author’s perspective as

if reader had acquired it himself through a real experience. Fiction is not a real experience. But a successful novel will make a reader feel he has had a real experience, and that the new perspective on life he acquires from the novel is the result of that real experience. How the author tricks the reader will be explained in more detail later. First, we should understand the cognitive processes that the author manipulates. The human organism is naturally primed to react quickly to new situations. Humans store concepts by which they can quickly derive meaning from information. These concepts are the human interface with reality, and are termed “schema”. Through its schema--which are like a computer program--the mind associates certain information, e.g., events, with certain preset meanings, which evoke preset responses. It is as if the mind tries to be as reflexive as possible. Humans are born with proto-ideas that allow them to use their environments to satisfy their needs before they have the opportunity to learn about their environment. Those proto-ideas are called “archetypes”. One archetype, for example, is undoubtedly a positive association with a nurturer, another, with a protector, which a child naturally finds in his parents. Many archetypes have an antiarchetype, e.g., the anti-parent is a witch or devil. When a need arises, a person focuses on an archetype to fulfill the need. The mind automatically evaluates informational input in terms of that archetype. As the human matures, he reifies (that is, fleshes-out) the innate archetypes with features from his environment. The archetype of “nurturer”, for example, becomes associated with the actual characteristics of his own parents. Behaviorists would call that sort of reification “imprinting”. A reified archetype is called a “schema”. Vicarious experiences enlarge the schema by adding knowledge gained by observation, in an easily accessible, risk-free way. Schema are probably shaped only by a strong stimulus, for example, in response to opportunities to satisfy needs or avoid potential threats. The novel

presents both the need-satisfying opportunities and the threats. To repeat the definition of schema: it is the archetype’s interface with reality. It is a formula for interpreting environmental inputs so as to discover their meaning for specific needs. Schema prepare an individual to analyze a given situation very quickly, based on being able to identify the survival value of the situation. Schema are rigid, but they are not immutable. The process of change is rather difficult for humans. Schema are built with much effort from experiences. By means of his novel, however, a literary artist can drastically change a reader’s vital and long-held schema. A fully mature schema is a formula reflecting those behaviors and remembered circumstances that the person believes will lead to satisfaction of needs. Schema anticipate that certain types of inputs are going to be more relevant for needs than others, and as such prepare a person for circumstances so that decisions can be made quickly. Schema are composed of guidelines as to what to be alert for: qualities, images, shapes, etc. (“quality sets”). It is possible that as a person matures his schema become more complex, and that some schema become dormant because they are no longer useful yet can be activated in times of crisis. Behavioral conditioning probably dictates the content of schema. Social models and social conditioning also contribute to the content, as do vicarious experiences. When developing new schema a person most likely generalizes from existing schema and otherwise borrows from existing schema. To inculcate a schema of his design (“thema”), the author targets one of the reader’s archetypes and discredits the schema that the reader has already reified. In rebuilding his schema within the limited and stressful environment of the novel, the reader is controlled by the author. There are two general types of schema relevant in novel-writing, which differ on the basis of the generality and the certainty that a person attaches to

them—Ad hoc Schema and “[general] Schema”. Ad hoc schema have relevance to only a single circumstance, whereas general schema can be used in various circumstances. A person quickly puts together an ad hoc schema to meet a new and pressing circumstance and uses it only when sufficient information is lacking to use a general schema. A person treats an ad hoc schema as a hypothesis, easily subject to challenge, whose proof is yet untested. Given the time constraints and other pressures on its formulation, the ad hoc schema’s components may be selected under a fairly loose criterion, one with its own sort of logic, and be easily subject to change. A person will be keen to get immediate feedback about the validity of an ad hoc schema. A general schema, in contrast, is one whose components have been tested and proven over time or that has been copied from a reliable source, such as a cultural tradition, and will be applicable to a range of situations. In the novel the author encourages the reader to construct a special category of ad hoc schema called “werschema”. Werschema guide the reader in anticipating the outcome of dramatic conflicts. During conflicts the reader quickly formulates a werschema to note the relative power of the participants involved. That map of the relative powers of the participants will be vital to predict the outcome of the conflict. It is human nature to prepare oneself for conflicts by using werschema, and so reader readily forms them when presented with dramatic conflicts in the novel. In normal life people usually do not face a incessant barrage of conflicts, and one is not called upon to formulate werschema constantly. In the novel, however, the author presents dramatic conflicts of ever mounting intensity at an ever increasing rate, presenting reader with the exhausting need to formulate new werschema. While challenging the reader to rapidly formulate new werschema, the author starves the reader of information and thwarts reader’s expectations. The author’s barriers to werschema formation will eventually prevent reader from creating viable werschema, despite the “need” to

do so. As a result, the reader will lose confidence in his ability to form werschema and enter a schema vacuum called “skanomy”. In the state of skanomy the reader is susceptible to suggestion, and will use primitive forms of reasoning that the author can manipulate to inculcate his thema. When the reader faces accelerating crises in an information starved or ambiguous environment, he will become desperate for feedback on which to build new werschema, so desperate in fact, that he will abandon rational and critical forms of thinking and fall back upon primitive modes of reasoning. Some of these primitive modes of reasoning, Wiset and Backcausation, the author uses to inculcate the thema. Wiset is a reader’s prayer for the vanquishment of the antagonist (i.e., his “curse” upon the antagonist). [In a sentimental novel, wiset could be solely a prayer for the emcair’s (see definition) success, but our theory does not concern itself with that type of novel.] The Author stimulates reader’s wiset and then fulfills the wiset by suddenly and unpredictably vanquishing the antagonist. When the antagonist is vanquished seemingly at reader’s command, the reader will believe his own wish-power indeed changed the novel’s situation. The reader has wished for something improbable, the sudden vanquishment of the antagonist, and it has now happened. Also, the vividness of the sudden vanquishment, coupled with the intense focus of his wiset, causes the reader to momentarily abandon a critical sense of cause and effect. That induces him to accept the vanquishment as realistic and genuine. When the reader’s consciousness revives after the vanquishment, it seeks to reassert control by imagining some plausible reason for what the subconscious mind has already accepted, i.e., it rationalizes the vanquishment. The mind reasons that if an event is genuine, it has a real cause. This is a primitive form of reasoning called backcausal reasoning. When the reader feels he has had an active part in the outcome of the novel, he will accept the novel as a real experience. Creating the illusion of a real experience is the essence of an author’s artistic endeavor. Whether the

author is able not only to make reader accept his thema, but to make reader feel he has done so through a real experience, is the ultimate test of the novel’s art. Throughout the novel the author contrives to inculcate his thema. His strategy is part psychological and part rhetorical. He achieves the psychological part by thwarting new schema formation, resulting in skanomy. The rhetorical part he achieves by setting out rational arguments for the new thema and by rationally discrediting the startema (see definition). [Incidentally, the author may also have secondary themes, which are often social critiques, that he will present at moments when the reader is most vulnerable to suggestion. Those secondary themes are termed “uberthemes”.] The essential test of the success of the author’s inculcation strategy is whether the author makes the reader replace his vital and long-held schema with the author’s thema. The following are a sequence of steps that the author takes to achieve that result. This process of steps is termed “egotifying”, which means getting the reader to believe that he, and not the writer, is the author of events. The author will place a character with whom the reader feels some empathy in a new situation for which the character’s existing schema are inadequate. This is traditionally called the “Crisis”. The reader will witness the character (termed “emcair”) trying and failing to create changes to the startema that would be appropriate for the new situation. The stages of emcair’s failure are called stages of “malschema”. During the crisis, an antagonist raises his or her ugly head to threaten the emcair. A character specifically intended to weaken the antagonist, called the “avedram”, also appears. In the conflicts that ensue between emcair, antagonist, and avedram the reader will have to repeatedly construct werschema to anticipate the outcomes. As described above, the author will thwart the reader’s attempts to create appropriate werschema (and thus to successfully predict the outcome of conflicts), and that will undermine the reader’s belief in his ability to create werschema. As a result, the reader will fall into

a state of skanomy. Once that is achieved the reader is primed to accept the thema as an appropriate answer to the schema crisis. In his state of skanomy the reader readily embraces the thema because he sees that it is effective in resolving the novel’s crisis. What remains to be done, however, is to convince the reader that the thema is a product of his own experience. If the reader does not believe he has had a real experience, he will not incorporate the thema into his corpus of general schema for the real world. He may simply consider it as an ad hoc solution for the artificial environment of the novel alone. To give the reader an illusion that he has had a real experience, the author manipulates the reader’s wiset. To repeat what has been said earlier, the author induces a hope in the reader for the vanquishment of the antagonist. Having induced that wish, the author gratuitously fulfills it—usually in a serendipitous manner (traditionally called “deux ex machina”). Reader would rationally reject such implausibility, but under skanomy and author’s hypnotic conjurings (vividness and intense wiset-induced focus), he accepts. The reader is of course delighted to see his wish for the antagonist’s vanquishment fulfilled. In truth, though, the author is simply giving false feedback to the reader’s wiset. The author grants reader that false victory so reader feels he has participated in the action. The author co-opts the reader’s ego as instigator of the action. That egotifying will cement the reader’s adoption of the thema. When the reader feels he has had an active part in the outcome of the novel, he will accept the novel as a real experience. When the reader reaches skanomy the author can conclude the novel very rapidly, using intense action at a telescopic rate. One of the problems with swiftly concluding a novel is to tie up things within the realm of probability. If the reader has been properly primed and thus is in a state of skanomy, the author can take a great deal of license with actions and can rely on improbabilities to bring things to a rapid close. (An author who seduces a reader into subconsciously

believing the most outlandish of endings can rightly pride himself on a great achievement. See the textbook for a long list of famous novels with such outlandish endings as a whaling ship captain being dragged to the ocean bottom by a white whale). **** The short novel can be divided into about 20 short chapters. Because of the brevity of the short novel, almost every chapter constitutes an entire structural part. For example, the first chapter is a tease, the second introduces an empathy character and antagonist, the third presents the archetype and the situation, the fourth, the crisis, and so on. Strange plotting for unique effect might change that order— but the principle of one structural element per chapter would remain. The novel presented here, though of excellent form, is simply one of many possible examples of how a well-crafted novel could be put together. There could be many changes in its plot, for example, or in the story. But the basic form of presenting a culturally cherished schema, then debunking it, and replacing it with the author’s new schema is standard. This novel is rather dramatic and uses some rawness for effect. Some may find it overly dramatic or overly raw. However it is typical of the genre in that it inculcates a thema very quickly by keeping the reader in a state of stress. Naturally such a state of stress could not be maintained for a long, long time, which is why this is a style that is more appropriate to the shorter novel. The author introduces new terms for many of the analytic categories or aspects of the novel. The reason for using new terms is the textbook’s writer new perspective on analyzing the novel. He looks at the novel from the reader’s perspective, whereas traditional analysis is from the author’s perspective. The student should consult the following list of terms regularly. The student will notice that many of these terms are based on traditional terms of literary analysis but have been made more technical or have been changed to reflect the reader’s psychological

experience.

Table of Terms
Akeel Adaction Ad Hoc Schema {Achilles’ Heel} A weakness that will cause antagonist’s downfall. It can be a petty foible, a physical ailment, etc. {Dramatic Action} Action becomes adaction when it is a conflict that changes the relative power of the characters involved. A temporary schema used to attempt to analyze information that defies analysis by an existing schema. In forming ad hoc schema people are especially prone to suggestion and apt to forego normal, critical scrutiny (because of the temporary nature of the schema and the time pressures involved in their formulation). In novel analysis, we consider a special case of ad hoc schema, in which the reader creates an ad hoc schema to anticipate the result of power conflicts. See the definition of “werschema” below. {Antagonist} This term is merely a convenient abbreviation of the full word “antagonist”. {Red Herring Antagonist} A temporary antagonist, whose threats against the emcair are not central to the novel’s thema. The reader may for a while believe the anterreg is the novel’s true antagonist, but unlike a true antagonist, the anterreg’s actions do not create an emasis (see definition below). The author uses an anterreg to distract reader from the novel’s true crisis, the emasis. Red herring crises function mainly to demonstrate emcair's fitness for conflict, especially to show that he does indeed have the aggressiveness and skill to confront the antagonist, when the time comes. Innate ideas that steer humans to behavior and resources that enhance survival. Typical innate ideas are nurturer, self, protector, and human/non-human. {Dramatic Avenger} The character who disempowers the antag. The avedram serves to help make the antag vulnerable to vanquishment at the hand of the reader’s wish-projection. A primitive form of circular reasoning that works as follows: the subconscious mind accepts an event as real (while under mental impairment), afterward the conscious mind rationalizes a real cause for the event that the subsconsious mind has already accepted. Reader may fall back upon back-causation

Antag Anterreg

Archetypes Avedram Back-Causation

Conrelact

Denu Egotify

Emasis

Emcair

Episode

when his critical faculties have been surpressed (through the contrivance of the author). Author induces suggestibility through skanomy (see definition below) and hypnotic tricks. When reader’s consciousness does reawaken from an authorinduced state of suggestibility, it seeks to reassert control by imagining some plausible reason for what the subconscious mind has already accepted. The mind reasons that if an event is genuine, it has a real cause. {Control of Action and Reality}. The adaction between author and reader over who controls the action and sense of reality. Reader will be aware of both the author’s powers over the action and his own power of “veto” on the score of believability. Reader knows that he can see through an author’s poorly disguised devices. Conrelact is an explanation of how author diminishes reader’s critical faculties by manipulating reader’s assertion of ego. Event in which antagonist loses all power. After surrendering his volition to author, a reader’s ego will attempt to reassert control by imagining some rational explanation for the acts for which the unconscious mind has already accepted responsibility. By that process the reader accepts the author’s perspective while accepting it as the consequence of his own real experiences. The author controls the reader’s belief-making process so that reader not only forms a new belief but feels he has done so through an actual experience {Schema Crisis} Because of a change in circumstance, the startema (see definition below) no longer serves emcair as an adequate guide for living. This becomes a crisis that threatens his survival. Often the “change in circumstance” is a sudden threat posed by the antag. The character that undergoes schema change as an alter-ego for reader. This character faces the emasis. Reader is want to identify with the character so as to (1) test his own preparedness for crises; and (2) view first-hand how the character deals with the threats. Reader selects the emcair based on which character is most threatened by antagonist or anterreg. Reader’s association with the emcair is tergathy (see definition below), which is not mere sympathy. Adactions that advance the schema development (i.e., from startema to thema) from one structural stage to another. Those stages create breaks that provide transition points or that simply give reader a chance to relax or reflect. Episodes are usually

Infarv Kerflat

Kerund

Malschema

Pagathy

Plot Pocal

Practication Realization

divided into separate chapters. {Starve of Information} To deprive of the knowledge necessary to complete a werschema. {Flat character} A character who is a stereotype, whose actions are predictable. His role is to facilitate the adaction or to help create a social setting—serving like a member of the chorus. A kerflat’s needs do not relate to the startema or thema, and he does not affect emcair’s schema development. {Round character} A character whose unique needs, motivations and power resources affect emcair’s schema development. Kerund’s uniqueness will make his actions unpredictable, and that will retard reader’s werschema formation. Author will withhold information about kerunds in order to induce skanomy. Emcair’s initial replacements for his inadequate startema. They are weak schemas that do not solve the emasis. Malschemas are weak because they are copied from a poor model, or they are incomplete, or they are based on a poor understanding or denial of circumstances, or are a dysfunctional synthesis of various schema, etc. {Antipathy} Reader's hatred for antag. Reader's hatred reaches an ever higher ferocity, stoked by antag's increasing malevolence, and, by reader's increasing tergathy with emcair. In the denu, reader's pagathy reaches such a high level that (having no faith in the author to dispatch antag) reader wisets the antag's demise. The sequence of events. Usually events are plotted chronologically, but can be plotted in any order, for example the denu (see definition below) could be presented first. {Power Character} A kerflat who wields great power in conflicts. A couple of examples will illustrate this character type: (1) the avedram, whose needs have nothing to do with the startema or the thema, and whose sole function is to deprive the antagonist of power; (2) the anterreg, a temporary antagonist for an diversionary incident that does not contribute to schema development. Reader will readily confuse a pocal with a kerund, so will have to expend energy to distinguish the two. Narrator’s description of how the thema could be used to improve the reader’s physical/social survival—for example how the thema could be used to improve one’s work life. Emcair adopts the thema as the proper schema for the topic archetype (see definition below). This is a structural point in

Reify

Schema

Situa

Skanomy

Startema

Story Tergathy

Thema

the resolution. {To make real} To give real (from life) attributes to an archetype. For example, for the archetype of nurturer, one would naturally first choose the attributes of one’s own mother —but could choose a father, sibling, saint, etc., instead. The product of one’s reifying is a schema, which is used as a practical guide for survival. A behavioral formula for satisfying a need—i.e., it helps a human predict what actions or objects are most likely to enhance survival. Archetypes (a priori ideas) suggest the attributes to look for in creating a schema. A schema is a reified archetype, that is, an archetype that has been fleshed out through actual experiences. {Situation} Situa is the matrix of (1) characters’ needs and (2) characters’ need-satisfying resources (i.e., their power resources). As the action progresses, that matrix will change. Characters will acquire new understandings and new resources at the author’s discretion. As the novel begins, the situa is in equilibrium, but antag’s aggression destabilizes it, leading to the emasis. Reader uses the data of the situa to construct werschema. The state of being without a schema, specifically for purposes of the novel: without a werschema. To induce the state of skanomy, the author uses dramatic tension to induce the reader to constantly form new werschema to meet new threats. Yet by starving the reader of information or misleading him author will prevent reader from creating any viable werschema— inducing the skanomy state. In the state of skanomy the reader is susceptible to suggestion, and will use primitive forms of reasoning that the author can manipulate to inculcate his thema. {Start Schema} One of the schema that emcair has been successfully using to organize his life at the beginning of the story. At the emasis the startema suddenly becomes inadequate because of antag’s threats (i.e., a change in the situa). A synopsis of the action in roughly chronological order. Story does not describe the novel’s all-important esthetic qualities. Reader’s regarding the emcair as an alter-ego. The verb “tergathize” means “feel tergathy with”. Tergathy is similar to the standard literary word “empathy” but does not include feelings of pity. [It is a technical word made up by the textbook author] {Theme-schema} The new schema that author inculcates into reader by means of the novel. Through the author’s craft,

Topic Archetype Triumph Ubertheme Werschema

Wiset

reader replaces the startema with the thema. The archetype of the startema, for which emcair needs to create (“reify”) a replacement schema, namely, the thema. Avedram and/or emcair’s display of power gained from the vanquishment of the antag. A secondary theme, which is often a social critique, that author inserts at moments when the reader is most vulnerable to suggestion. {Power schema} An ad hoc schema formulated to anticipate the outcome of an adaction. It is human nature to try to quickly map the relative power and motivations of the actors in any conflict so as to anticipate the outcome. Author thwarts reader’s werschema formation, so as to make reader abandon critical reasoning and fall back upon primitive forms of reasoning, which the author can then manipulate to inculcate his thema. {Wish-Projection, Wish-Project} Wiset is a reader’s prayer for the vanquishment of the antagonist. It is a primitive form of reasoning that reader falls back upon during skanomy. Like a curse, wiset is reader’s primitive belief that he can affect the outcome of action by a wish-force. Author will stimulate reader’s wish to see antagonist vanquished and emcair prevail. When the antagonist is in fact vanquished, especially under peculiar circumstances, the reader will believe his own wishpower indeed changed the novel’s outcome. When the reader feels he has had an active part in the outcome of the novel, he will accept the novel as a real experience.

Text of Two Cuckoos [Those wanting to read the analysis concurrently with the text, should skip down to the Analysis section]

TWO CUCKOOS
BY ERIC PIMBLU CHAPTER 1 “You’re lucky you ordered that uterine laparoscopy, doctor. It’s amazing she’s had any children at all. The uterus walls, they’re chewed up with scars.” “She must have had chronic streptococcus infections her whole

life. Which patient was that?” “She was the one who complained to you that the doll in the waiting room was a child and not an infant.” “Oh yeah, the one who said something like, ‘Well, this is a baby-making clinic, isn’t it?’ I’ve never seen anyone in such bad physical shape come in for artificial insemination. She’s way too old anyway. Marguerite, you should never have let her in the door—at her age . . . 55—if that’s her real age. She looks 68.” “Well, I didn’t reject her, because you told me not to be judgmental.” The nurse had raised her voice now, and had taken on the bitter tone of one too often accused after merely obeying orders. The doctor looked past her to be sure the door was shut completely and then said loudly, “I didn’t tell you not to use professional good sense. I said you shouldn’t scrutinize people’s motives too closely. I didn’t say you should ignore their physical health!” “You’re the doctor. How did I know what she was like inside? She seemed strong enough.” The doctor put his open hand to his face. “What about her hands. Didn’t you see the crooked joints? She’s obviously ridden with rheumatism.” Marguerite stood silently while the doctor shook the hand, waiting for her reaction. The nurse merely sat down limply, making no retort. After a moment she said plaintively, “Well, the first thing that occurred to me was that her motives were very weird. What does she want with another child anyway? She’s already had six, plus that stillborn. And one of her children is a retarded son who’s still living with her—and she’s a widow.” The doctor sat listening with a dismissive air, as the nurse continued, “She says she hasn’t any money but she could use government benefits if you called the procedure ‘gynecological treatment’.” In disgust the doctor pretended to occupy himself with assembling the folders on his desk, and said in a low voice, “What kind of scam is she running anyway? She’s got an address in an expensive neighborhood. If she’s that poor, what’s she doing trying to get pregnant anyway?” Shoving a folder toward the nurse, he lifted his head and gazed

directly at her, “I don’t want her to step foot in this clinic again. She’s dangerous—the kind you never want as a patient. Marguerite, I want you to go to the waiting room and bring Mrs. Mackart into a consultation room. Write up a prescription for penicillin for the streptococcus—then tell her to see another gynecologist for follow-up. Tell her I cannot see her again, and another pregnancy would be out of the question. . . . ” The nurse stood to leave. “ . . . And don’t tell any other woman that sick—physically and morally—we can help her get pregnant.” Saying that, the doctor grabbed another patient chart from a stack on his desk, and engrossed himself in it. Mrs. Colna Mackart and her son, Patrick, were sitting alone in the waiting room. His psychological abnormality was evident from the manic way he would repeatedly stand up and walk around the room, peering at pictures on the wall and shuffling noisily through the stacks of magazines on the end tables. In his rummaging through the magazines he found a tabloid article recounting a popular actress’s fickle decision to have an abortion —after having been artificially inseminated at a fertility clinic. Patrick had tastelessly told his mother about the article, and she had angrily rebuked him—though, as the nurse entered the waiting room, a faint smirk had begun to register on her face. Colna Mackart’s wrinkled skin and thinning hair gave her a post-menopausal look, but her firm jaw and active, steel-blue eyes gave her appearance an undeniable vigorousness. The prompt, though somewhat stiff, manner in which she rose from the couch as the nurse entered the waiting room, reassured the nurse that her initial impression of the woman’s robustness had been well justified. The kindly manner in which Mrs. Mackart asked her son to wait while she saw the doctor, also belied the perfidy in which doctor had cast her. In fact, Mrs. Mackart had seemed so gentle and honest that the nurse could not muster the courage to tell her of the doctor’s rejection, but she merely gave the gentle lady the penicillin prescription and told her they would have more examination results for her later. Colna seemed quite surprised at hearing of the streptococcus infection, though upon hearing of it she became suddenly quite pensive, and it was a moment before she responded. “As a girl, I

remember having ear infections all the time. I would cry all night because of the pain. Eventually the pain would go away. I think my mother thought it was a normal part of childhood to have such infections, so she never took me to a doctor. You know, I’m not the type who complains or goes to the doctor about every little thing.” A suggestion of pity now entered the nurse’s perception of the woman, and she reflexively put her hand on Colna’s shoulder. “Well, there’s no need now to suffer from that kind of illness and pain.” As if waiting for such a prompt, however, Colna asked the nurse to add some strong pain relievers and tranquilizers, whose generic medical names she pronounced effortlessly, to the penicillin the doctor had already prescribed. The nurse winced at the woman’s seeming opportunism, but nonetheless assured her that the doctor would call a pharmacy with the prescriptions— though she knew she might have to endure another confrontation with the doctor to get them. Having made that concession, the nurse was anxious to discourage the patient’s hopes of insemination as much as possible, and so gave an exaggerated account of the potential cost of an insemination, and told her the clinic would not accept Medicaid or Medicare or whatever from her. Colna had set her jaw all the more firmly upon hearing this and had raised her head determinedly. As she accompanied Mrs. Mackart, who was walking with stiff dignity out of the consultation room, the nurse was left puzzled by thoughts of the woman’s true motives in seeking a pregnancy —a puzzlement made all the more trenchant by the pity she felt for the woman. After the woman and her son had left, the nurse began straightening up the waiting room, as if to rid herself of the feelings of confusion. She stacked the magazines that the son had left strewn around, and adjusted the sofa cushions. As she laid a loose cushion in the corner of one of the sofas, however, she noticed a toy hand protruding from between the cushions. Instinctively, she looked toward the reception desk for the plastic doll that normally stood on display in the waiting room. It was gone, and this hand then obviously belonged to it. She pulled the

doll out, and straightened its dress. Who had stuffed it between the cushions, she wondered—as if to hide it? CHAPTER 2 Cats make excellent animals for research. The sparks of animation that enliven their normally sedate lives come only in short bursts. The long periods cats remain at rest give them ample opportunity to recover from experimental procedures. Neal Mackart, the oldest of Colna Mackart’s three sons, valued the contributions of such “volunteer” felines, and though they were his experimental subjects, he treated them as if they were Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess. A particularly sleek and beautiful black cat lay harnessed to a table in his lab that morning. It had unfortunately decided to abandon its normal languor and vault into one of its few but regular periods of frenzy. Neal feared that the tight bindings may be agitating the beautiful creature, and so loosened them, except at the head, where the animal had electrodes implanted through an incision in the skull. Above the neck, the feline’s head was immobilized by a securely fitting metal and leather armature. Neal and the cat were engaged in a search for the chemical stimulants that control animal memory. The cat would be doped with medication and the electrodes would record the resultant changes in activity of cells in certain areas of the brain. Neal had invented a means of delivering the drug directly to certain cell groups through a unique pipette. He had also created models for reading the electrical output of cells in such a way that the data was far more intelligible to researchers than had been possible previously. This particular animal, in whom he had invested nearly a month of work, was the last animal of his recent research project, and he had given it the very ordinary human name “Sue Clark” in his data log. This would be the last data session, and he had already laid out a bottle of secobarbital with which to terminally sedate the animal after the lab session. The animal was a laboratory animal and not a pet, and Neal restrained any selfish desire he might have to create an emotional attachment to the animal. The cat was continuing to struggle impatiently however. Neal

wished he hadn’t started the tests before his lab assistant had arrived. She could have helped restrain the animal and help it to settle down. Just then the lab telephone rang, startling both researcher and animal. Neal happily left the fidgeting creature and walked over to the phone. “Your mother is here at the department office,” the caller was saying, “She can’t remember where your lab is. Could you come and get her?” Neal hesitated. He had already strapped in the cat and though he had not administered the neurochemical or begun the tests, he could see that the animal was becoming uncomfortable and he was eager to get back to the table to soothe it. “Neal,” the voice prompted, “Neal, your mother’s here. Don’t forget your filial duty—drop everything so she doesn’t have to wait.” Neal’s mother had decided to drop in unannounced at quite an awkward time. But Neal had been trying to interest her in his work at the lab for some time and was delighted to hear that she had finally taken the initiative to come. Even though her timing was not good, he would certainly enjoy a shot of emotional support. His quick rise at the university had been fortunate—of that he was daily aware—but it had come at the price of ill-concealed envy and sabotage among his colleagues. As a student, Neal had imagined a far more collegial atmosphere would prevail in the huge block of university medical labs. Once he entered the fray, he realized that the competition for funding had turned researchers into back-bitters or worse, into spies, pirates and marauders, as much interested in denigrating each others’ work as in promoting their own. Neal often asked himself how it was he had risen and survived. What was it that had built up his character? His mother had disappointed him many times before by refusing his pleas to come look at his work or even to talk about what he was doing. It would be wonderful, he thought, if his mother were in a generous mood and could offer some encouragement today. Looking over at the cat, which had stopped moving but was

alertly surveying its harness, undoubtedly scheming to free itself if possible, Neal looked at his watch and quickly stepped out of the lab into the bright, block long corridor outside. Neal hurried along the empty hall toward the departmental office until a voice called out in the commanding tone of a summons. Vikus Sarzolian had stuck his graying head into the hall, a gesture which could not be merely acknowledged with a casual greeting. Sarzolian was the “P.I.”—principal investigator —on Neal’s National Science Foundation grant, and would control all publications of Neal’s data. Sarzolian was something more valuable to a young scientist than the most original hypothesis: he was a darling of the federal science funding community—and as such was a mother lode of grant monies. Sarzolian had developed a methodology for doing science that enabled him to create seemingly unique results on a regular basis, on time, and within budget. His method consisted merely of buying the most advanced and recent scientific equipment and allowing it to make his discoveries for him. For example, he freely admitted to confidants that his only role in the scientific enterprise was to act as a consumer of scientific equipment. Sarzolian had never disappointed the federal funders and was a grant magnet. The money allowed him to attract the most promising of young researchers, like Mackart, especially ones that were machine-savvy—abreast of the latest products of instrument makers. Mackart’s work had been a disappointment to Sarzolian—not that Mackart hadn’t produced valuable knowledge, but he spent too much time inventing theories and formulas and not enough time using the expensive equipment. Mackart, as an unmarried young man, seemed to forget that the other members of the team had families to support, houses to pay for, and pensions to fund. Sarzolian had frequently to prompt him with the motto “No data —no moola.” Sarzolian had been particularly impatient with Neal’s most recent work, and the principal investigator’s voice summoning him from the hall was to the young researcher the most unwelcoming of sounds, as if it were the midnight knock of the Inquisition. As Neal stopped and turned to face Sarzolian, he had already

clasped his hands together in supplication, to beg to be allowed to postpone the P.I.’s summons, while he retrieved his mother. But Sarzolian had the first word, “Come in a minute,” and Neal could do nothing but obey. Colna Mackart had stood in the departmental office for as long as her patience allowed, about 5 minutes, and then without a word had turned out into the hall and began walking in the direction she had recalled from her prior visit to the lab some years ago. Though she passed through a nondescript hall lined with identical doorways, some open, some closed, some emitting the odor of medical solvents, some the smell of preservatives, some of warm tissue samples under the heat of electrodes, her instinct served her well, and guided her to the area containing her son’s lab. She stood in the hall for a moment and cocked her head as if waiting for some sort of telepathy to guide her into the correct lab. Seemingly cued to her search, the cat in Neal’s laboratory issued a faint meow that turned Colna’s head in the direction of the lab. “He said he worked with cats,” Colna mumbled to herself. That was justification enough for her to brazenly peer into the lab from which she had heard the sound. “Neal,” she called out, as she stepped in further. In a corner, curtained from the rest of the lab, Colna saw the cat still strapped to the laboratory table. It cast a wearied expression in Colna’s direction, as if to suggest, “What are you doing here? Can’t you see we’re busy?” Colna had never shown any affection for animals, but if any creature might claim her affection it would probably be something like the one before her—a cat with short, rough fur, as dark as a moonless night. “What are they doing to you, poor kitty,” Colna said as she recognized the cat’s head was clamped into it armature as surely as a spindle on a lathe. Colna put a finger to the cat’s forehead as if to stroke it, but the animal, not used to such treatment, bared its teeth and began struggling fiercely in its restraints. Colna went quickly to work unbolting the metal armature around the cat’s head. In her efforts to loosen the cat’s restraints she was much helped by the animal itself who was now moving its head vigorously from side to side.

In a great force of agitation the cat managed to not only free its head, but also to extract a paw from the sack in which its body had been secured, and with both teeth and nails tore violently at Colna’s hand, slicing and digging at the fingers until tendons, already half-destroyed by rheumatism, lay exposed on several knuckles. Colna suppressed a scream, and bringing her other hand over the screws of the armature, began tightening it back around the cat’s head. The maddened cat swung its hand to attack the fresh hand as it had the other, but such was the feverish motion with which Colna tightened the armature, that the cat’s head was soon immobilized. Colna’s fingers ached with the pain of rheumatism and from the use of too much force on such wasted muscles and joints, but such was her frenzy that she continued to tighten the armature even after the animal had been restrained, until the animal’s tiny skull had been garroted to near the breaking point. Colna then grabbed the animal’s neck and squeezed out what life remained. Such had been the suddenness of the attack that Colna’s wounds had only just begun to bleed. Her eyes, inflamed now more in rage than with terror, combed the laboratory for a bandage. A first-aid kit mounted prominently by the door soon caught her desperate glance, and she ripped it open with a fury. She heavily bandaged her damaged hand. In an instant, on turning to leave the lab, she had apparently had one of those realizations that she was going to get away clear and in a moment of sordid glee had looked on the counters for any medication she might take with her. Seeing several vials of secobarbital, she had scooped them into her purse. Moments later Colna presented herself in the hall, just in time to see her son come wandering down from the departmental office, confused as to her whereabouts. Colna had, in the breath of a spark, assumed a pitiable and bewildered composure and appeared to be wandering lost in the hallway. Her injured knuckles she had painfully turned into her palm so they were little visible. Neal’s relief at seeing the figure of his mother in the hallway, close to his lab, showed visibly in a broad smile as he quickened his step to meet her. “Give your mother a kiss,” she greeted him, pulling her mouth

to one side to expose a cheek heavily made up to cover the heavy wrinkles that had stolen over her complexion. Her face was as redolent of scented emulsions and powder as the labs were of chemicals. “Mother, I want you to see my work,” he said joyously. “Well, I’m a bit tired. I just returned from the doctor’s,” she replied. Neal was barely able to register his disappointment before the thought of his lab animal claimed him. He would quickly release the cat and return it to its cage in the vivarium, he thought to himself, and then could give himself fully to his mother. Leaving her in the hall, Neal dashed into his lab. The shock of seeing the dead cat upon the laboratory table seemed to suck the air from his lungs, and he was left momentarily unable to inhale. The horror of the spectacle on the table, as gruesome as it was, paled in his mind before the thoughts that came rushing on him of the dire consequences for his research of that animal’s death. At first, he assumed the animal had strangled itself on the apparatus, but then he noticed that the armature holding the head was fastened to the crushing point. He would never have done that himself. Obviously someone had done this maliciously, but for what reason . . . cruelty, sabotage? He had never heard of such an act in a university lab, where researchers were always so punctilious about following animal treatment protocols. Neal stood gaping at the scene before him when he heard his mother’s falsely plaintive voice from the hall, “Neal, have you forgotten me?” There was nothing to be done at the moment other than release the dead cat from the harness, and to cover it until he could call the vivarium to dispose of it. He certainly wouldn’t need to inject the secobarbital now. Having drawn the curtain around the surgical station containing the dead cat, Neal, still in a state of extreme alarm, drew his mother into the lab, apologizing that he had had a phone call. “Don’t be rude to your mother, Neal. I told you I had just been to the doctor,” she said sternly, “Anyway, Neal, I want to ask you for some help with a gynecological procedure I need. Could you give me some financial help . . . $15,000?” She then dropped her

head as if into a sling of pitiable resignation. “Mother, why do you need so much? Are you having an operation?” “Oh, Neal, please don’t ask me to give you the details—it’s gynecological.” “I’m not that squeamish, mother. I’m a biologist.” “It would be vulgar to talk about your mother’s body— especially that area. Save your mother some dignity, Neal. Yes, I’m having an operation.” In his flustered state of mind, Neal was eager to simply eliminate any further decisions that day. “Okay, mother, send me your bills. Whatever’s left after Medicare. Are you feeling okay?” “No, in fact I’m not,” she said sharply, “I’ve got your twin brother in a cab waiting. I have to go—before he does something weird.” The expression “taxi waiting” had visibly soured her son’s expression, and Colna was quick to add, “I’m using free taxi vouchers, don’t worry.” Just then the meowing of a cat became audible in the hall, and Colna stiffened in alarm. “What’s that?” she asked agitatedly. Neal walked over a few paces behind his mother and pushed open a door that had been only partially closed. Colna turned her head and followed him with her eyes. “This is the floor’s vivarium. It’s were we keep animals we’re working on each day.” Colna took a few steps and peered into the semi-darkened room, and made but a single remark, “Smells like cats in there.” Colna began to move toward the elevator, but as she turned, the large presence of Dr. Sarzolian seemed to block the hall in front of her. “This must be your mother, Neal,” he said. Colna smiled sweetly and gazed with an affected pride at her son. Dr. Sarzolian’s suddenly became effusive, and after cheerful introductions, he added, “I have some very good news for your son, Mrs. Mackart. I know you will be proud to hear it. This will mean a big boost for his career.” The cheerful look Colna had assumed seemed to leak from her face. Neal stood expectantly, and Sarzolian teasingly withheld

his announcement. “Our nicotine receptor grant has just been funded by the National Institutes of Health!” “Oh mother, this is a huge grant. We’ll have money for all our experiments,” Neal said excitedly. He looked eagerly into his mother’s face for congratulations but instead saw an expression of pain that the woman was trying to mask. “That’s wonderful . . . but your brother . . . ,” she replied, as she turned her head in the direction of the elevators. In a moment both the P.I. and mother had left—Sarzolian returning to his lab to contact other colleagues with the news of his new funding, and Colna going immediately to the adjacent university hospital to have her recent wounds stitched. Neal returned to the scene of the morning’s horror. Fortunately the day’s good news would make telling Sarzolian of the loss of his lab animal less dire. Nonetheless Sarzolian had never liked Neal’s style of experimentation, in which Neal used the same animal for months—carefully attempting to prove hypotheses. Sarzolian much preferred to use an animal briefly and then sacrifice it so the brain tissues could be analyzed using some of the sophisticated laboratory apparatus at his disposal. Neal’s laborious method of acquiring data was too slow. This recent disaster with the cat would fully vindicate Sarzolian’s prejudices. Sitting on a lab stool, with the dead animal lying in the curtained space on the other side of the room, Neal found to his surprise his thoughts turning to his mother and her demand for money. His first thought, strangely, was of the taxi cab waiting for her. How could she use taxi vouchers? How did she qualify herself for government assistance? His father had seemingly left her good investments. In her old age she had become incurably restless and loved to travel—spending $20,000 a trip on exotic cruises to places like Vladivostok or the Yangtze gorges. But certainly, he thought, she couldn’t have spent everything. His parents belonged to that small but supremely lucky generation who began earning money immediately after World War II, and whose assets, bid up in value by the huge generation of children that followed them, would produce investment incomes greater than even their children’s working salaries. Colna and her husband, despite his big income, had raised their large family on a shoestring, passing off their miserliness as good

husbandry. Their large family had been a ready excuse to effect the most draconian household economies, and frugality became a sport rather than a necessity for the parents. After their children had left home, Colna and her husband could deny themselves nothing, and justified their lavish living standard as a reward for a life of hard work—fatuously ignorant of the predominant role that luck had played in their prosperity. So convinced had Colna herself become that her generation’s success was hard-earned, she felt no compunction in availing herself of the ample government-funded benefits available to her generation at retirement—to be paid for by their children. The philosophy of self-reliance that she and her husband had used as an excuse not to share their good fortune with their children, Colna conveniently put aside when it came to taking monies from well-funded and politically popular government programs for the elderly. It was often that upon seeing a middle-age man at a grocery store or shopping mall in the middle of the day, Colna would unconsciously snarl, “Why aren’t you at work, earning my social security money?” Perhaps her generation had been too much affected by post-war commercial advertisements or the glamorous lives of pulp fiction characters, which recklessly promised everyone an endless bounty of commercial goods. Colna could never say no to tokens of a lifestyle that had hitherto been reserved for individuals at the peak of society—such things as large automobiles lavish enough for an ambassador, vacations and restaurant meals erstwhile reserved for capitalist barons, and so on. In order to preserve her income-producing assets, Colna would not hesitate to ask her children for financial support, and tried to cast herself as the impoverished senior of her own parent’s generation. Colna would never allow herself to die without plenty of assets. Her dignity demanded that she have an estate in her elder years, and not pass away like her own mother, with a measly set of assets that cried out lower middle class. Had he known the true state of his mother’s ample financial resources, Neal would not have so readily consented to her demand for money. But he had never made inquiries into her finances because she had trained him well to believe in a duty to his parents.

By the time that his musing about his mother’s sudden medical needs had run its course, Neal was left with one thought—his unquestionable duty to his mother. CHAPTER 3 Colna continued to occupy the family home her husband had bought when their children were still at home. Her husband had been concerned that he appear prosperous, and had bought that fine-looking house, though he had furnished it sparsely, if not crudely, while his children remained at home. “You even lost your license from all your drinking,” Colna was saying testily, as she and her son, Patrick, entered the house. “You could have driven me, and I wouldn’t have had to use up all my taxi vouchers. What a waste.” “Well, I was sick then,” Patrick was replying limply, “I couldn’t help myself.” “Too bad you couldn’t get a job, and pay me back for the car you smashed up,” was Colna’s final word on the subject. A young Hispanic woman appeared in the entry as Colna was hurrying to the living room and to the comforts of the couch. The woman was trailed sheepishly by her four-year-old son. “Mrs. Mackart, you had three calls while you were out. One from your doctor’s office and two from your daughters.” “Two daughters?! What do they think this is, Mother’s Day,” Colna snapped. I really am the old woman in the shoe—with so many children, she didn’t know what to do. My husband—sex was his only real pleasure outside work. The son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t wear a condom. There was no way he was going to deny himself one moment of sensation. The result—six children! And I hadn’t even recovered from a pregnancy before he started in again, and during my periods too. . . . The doctor’s office? Give me the number,” she said, thrusting her injured hand toward the Hispanic woman. Almost instantly Colna withdrew the hand, realizing the heavy bandages would arouse questions. She quickly substituted her other hand, but too late. The woman had already seen the huge bandage. Colna could see from her look of surprise that an inquiry was imminent. But Colna had so well trained the woman that by merely waiving her hand in a

dismissive fashion she was able to preempt any satisfying of the woman’s curiosity. Teresa was a home health worker provided by the state because Colna had qualified as “restricted in self-care capability”, unable to perform the “activities of daily living” without assistance. Teresa was the latest in a long string of such workers whose tenure with Colna never lasted more than several months. Colna took the telephone number and quickly dialed the doctor’s office. Steeled by distance from Mrs. Mackart, the nurse finally raised sufficient courage to tell the old woman of the doctor’s rejection. But by way of consolation the nurse informed her that the doctor had okayed a two-week prescription of the sedative she had requested. “Mrs. Mackart,” the nurse counseled, “at your age, you risk possible miscarriage or another stillbirth.” The word “stillbirth” Colna felt like a vicious wound and her immediate reflex was to defend herself savagely, “I had five children after the death—didn’t I more than make up for it— doesn’t that satisfy you that I’m fertile,” she said with a voice whose initial furor was quickly smothered by self-pity. Colna could in no way be consoled. “I’ll just find someone else, then,” she yelled into the phone angrily and slammed it down. She promptly lit a cigarette and made it obvious to the adults who were standing in the room that no one dare approach her in her present mood. The child, however, seeing her discomfiture, instinctively and naively climbed onto the couch, and with his small hand patted her on the shoulder. “Mrs. Mack, don’t be unhappy. You look scary when you’re mad.” But far from being soothed by this tender and innocent gesture, Colna turned her head to the child and blew a strong stream of smoke in his face. “Get this horrible nuisance away from me! Patrick, take him over and play some kind of game with him on the other side of the room.” Colna felt no affection for Miguel, but found him tolerable to the extent that she could put him to use running petty errands for her, such as getting the mail, finding her cigarettes or reading glasses, and so on. Miguel was generally quite cooperative about being run about the house in that way, but if interrupted in the

middle of play, would naturally find such demands irksome. Even more irksome would be her insistence that he remain nearby in case a whim for something seized her. Had he been older, she undoubtedly would have made him into a virtual domestic worker, giving him a list of the most disagreeable household chores—cleaning dishes and the bathrooms, etc. His young age fortunately saved him from such drudgery. In the face of Colna’s authority, Miguel could hardly say no when Colna interrupted his play, though he would make futile complaints to his mother. “She’s letting you stay here for free,” his mother would reply, “You should be grateful.” At times Colna would amuse herself spitefully at the child’s expense. In doing this she was but following a long adult tradition of using children as objects of derision. Miguel’s childlike primitiveness, his good-natured but incomplete attempts to learn, his elementary grammar or his mimicking adults would all be cause for an enjoyable guffaw. The child was easy to tease, and Colna relished falsely accusing him of things, and then watching him vehemently but inarticulately, try to defend himself. Apart from the petty labor and amusement, Colna could barely tolerate the child and made clear to him that he had no rights in the household. He did not have the right to seek her attention or take up her time, and Colna would berate Teresa if she found her serving the same food to her son as to Colna herself. “Children don’t like steak” or “Children don’t like pizza. You should be feeding him hotdogs,” she would tell Teresa. Miguel, though naïve, was acutely aware of his low status. But he contented himself, like most children, with the idea that once in adulthood, he himself would be in the position to exploit others. Teresa quickly rescued her son from the couch, and carried him promptly to the other side of the room. He was still wiping the smoke from his eyes as she set him down. Colna, for her part, assumed an arch-dignity and unapologetically said, “Civil, but strange—that’s how to treat children. That was my motto for dealing with my own children.” In her concern for her son, Teresa was oblivious to the

comments of the old woman. Teresa would have gladly left Mrs. Mackart’s service long before because of the woman’s harassment of her young son, but her current job was the only one she could find that would allow her to bring her young child with her to work. Colna studied intently the woman’s form as she raised herself up from her son. She drew a heavy breath of tobacco, and as she spoke the smoke drifted out of her mouth in spiky swirls. “Teresa, do I see a little bit of a stomach there? You’re not pregnant are you?” With her bandaged hand she clawed the air, beckoning the young woman in her direction. Teresa had not heard her but could see plainly the woman motioning for her to approach. As the young woman approached closer and closer, Colna’s injured hand continued to beckon insistently. Colna had coaxed the woman within a foot of the couch when suddenly, with the bandaged hand, she stroked the young woman’s stomach. Instinctively Teresa pulled back and began wiping her stomach, as if to clear it of the woman’s touch. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you? That is wonderful.” Teresa moved back in disgust at the old woman’s strange glee. “I am not pregnant. I’ve been putting on weight lately.” “Well,” Colna replied, “that’s too bad. It would have been nice to have an infant around here again.” Surprised, Teresa rejoined, “But I thought you didn’t like children—you said they should be seen and not heard—and usually not ever seen.” “You have quite the memory for quotes, Teresa. I like babies. It’s just a shame they have to grow up.” Colna paused for a minute and then said, “I enjoyed my pregnancies too, except the twins—especially when I discovered I was pregnant again so soon after . . . Well, if nothing else, the pregnancies seemed to cure my rheumatism. What a relief that was. I would know I was pregnant because all of a sudden I’d become limber as a goose— the joint pain—all gone.” Teresa stood listening, but too amazed at what she was hearing to even respond. On the other side of the room, Patrick had been too preoccupied to listen to his mother’s ramblings. As if to catch his

attention, Colna raised her voice further. “And the twins—when I discovered I was pregnant with twins . . . I asked myself, what am I, some kind of animal—having a multiple birth—a litter, and you, Patrick,” she said as loud as she could without shouting, “As the second born of twins, I guess you’re the runt of the litter!” On seeing Patrick look painfully away, Colna laughed in a short, self-satisfied staccato. Looking at the young woman before her, Colna said in a tone that wrapped command inside suggestion, “You should get pregnant again, Teresa.” “Miguel,” she shouted at the woman’s son, “You’d like a little sister wouldn’t you?” The child looked too uncertain of the reply expected to answer and looked fearfully to his mother for a suggestion. “I’m not even married now, Mrs. Mack,” Teresa said plaintively. She had tolerated as much as civilly possible, and, murmuring to herself, she called the child to her and hurried from the room. Patrick too had gotten up, but Colna had not given up as yet, and called out to him before he could leave the room. “Sit down Patrick. Let me suggest something to you.” Obediently he sat in an overstuffed chair next to her, and began one of his usual manic monologues, this one about what working in a hospital would be like, croaking through a throat hoarsened by his often incessant talking. Colna, never much want to give him any feedback in any situation, made no attempt to respond to the topic of his monologue and instead interjected, “Have you ever thought of asking Teresa for a date?” “But you told me to stay away from her.” “I told you to stop grabbing her like some kind of animal. She doesn’t like that kind of thing, and I don’t blame her, especially in front of her son. But maybe she wouldn’t mind a date. I think you two would make a good couple.” Colna knew her son to be sex-driven like his father, and she had long dreaded he would commit some sort of incident with a home health worker that might have gotten her into trouble. But today Patrick seemed strangely reluctant to follow her abrupt encouragement of an affair with the health worker.

“I think she finds you attractive,” Colna added, “You never know how far you could get with her if you approached her like a gentleman instead of a pig. You have to be seductive, not pretending to reach around her just to rub your elbows in her chest, and that sort of gross thing.” “Well, I used to find her attractive, especially when I was drinking, but now that I’ve backed off . . . I respect her now as a person. She’s very honest . . .” Patrick then launched himself into a further monologue on the essential dignity of man, which Colna was loath to endure. Getting to her feet as pain coursed through her rheumatic knees, she peremptorily announced her need for a nap. Patrick remained talking until she had left the room. Colna was in fact exhausted from the morning’s traumas, and in her condition would be expected to welcome a rest in her bedroom, but once in her room, she placed her purse on the bed and began hunting for the bottles she had taken from her son’s lab. “Secobarbital,” she read to herself. Having suffered from the chronic pain of rheumatism, Colna had developed a fair acquaintance with medications, herbs and salves of all sorts. This one, she vaguely recollected as an oldfashioned sedative. She might find it a useful addition to the huge collection of medications she had been amassing, in case the rheumatism really became too much to bear and she needed to give herself a maximum overdose. In a drawer in her bedside table Colna kept a drug reference, and she reached to pull open the drawer, but as she touched the handle Teresa knocked on the door, and then let herself in. “Teresa, don’t ever just open the door like that,” Colna said crossly, “I could be dressing.” Colna could see however from the stern, emotionless gaze on the young woman’s face that something strange was happening. Teresa then announced she was walking out. Thereupon, taking her son and her luggage, she left the house and waited at the roadside for a relative to pick her up. Colna feigned indignity, but in actuality saw in the young woman’s departure a new opportunity. Colna unlocked the tambour writing desk that stood near the window in her room and withdrew a neatly written list of

government agency telephone numbers. She had soon dialed a number and was saying with a practiced weakness and decrepitude of voice, “This is Mrs. Mackart. My home health worker has just quit. I’m almost helpless without home care . . . I’m desperate for someone. I’ll gladly accept even a woman with a new baby. They could even live here.” CHAPTER 4 Teresa and her son were gone. “Had she been my daughter,” Colna thought wistfully, “she wouldn’t have been able to just pack up and leave like that. Children are convenient in that sense —they can be ordered about, made to do petty chores, even beaten, with no recourse.” Teresa had been industrious and quietly obedient, which considering that the government paid for her services, was an exceptional boon. Teresa had been conscientiousness too, but that had a downside that Colna found highly vexing: Teresa had been overly moralistic and thus resistant to the kind of uses Colna would have liked to have put her to. Teresa wouldn’t use Colna’s food stamps, for example, unless Colna went to the cashier personally. Teresa always looked mutely disapproving when Colna took one of her expensive vacations, while collecting benefits intended for the indigent. Colna would have much preferred someone who saw eye-to-eye with her on the subject of getting the most out of the system—someone a little crooked. In Colna’s mind, she, Colna, had had six children and well deserved every benefit she got. Teresa’s self-help moralism was a disrespectful and mean-spirited begrudging of Colna’s due rewards for the hard work of being a 50’s and 60’s coffee klatching mother. Two weeks had passed since Teresa stormed out. To Colna’s delight, there was once again the sound of an infant in the house. Colna sat grasping the newborn to her breast as if she herself had just given birth. She congratulated herself on finding a replacement for Teresa who had come with an extraordinarily desirable asset: a newborn child. While most clients of the in-home health service would have

shunned any woman with a newborn, Colna could not have been more effusive in admitting the woman to her home. The new woman, who had the somewhat artificial-sounding name of Robanna, was in her early twenties, but her corpulent body and her unemotive face gave her the air of a much older woman. Colna discovered that her new in-home worker was utterly lazy and a shirker, and Colna had had to order Patrick do some of the chores that the woman had been sent to do. But the woman’s attitude was excellent—at least on the score of getting all possible public benefits. Colna even found Robanna looking on admiringly as Colna ordered up services from government agencies and from her children. Infants are very tactile creatures, and because one is able to hold the infant’s entire body, its feelings and thoughts become readily apparent from its body tension and movements. In Colna’s arms Robanna’s child would become rigid—except for a slight and constant shuddering—which no amount of cuddling would alleviate. All the same, Colna prided herself on having an almost magical ability to silence any crying fit merely by picking up the child. At those times, however, the child’s breathing would become short and its normally caramel-colored skin would pale to almost a beige. Colna would never hold the child long, and preferred to pick the child out of its cradle as the mood struck her—at all hours of the day—regardless of whether the child was sleeping or awake. Robanna took little notice of the child’s unease in Colna’s arms and was grateful to be freed from the burden of attending to the infant. The infant had a revivifying effect on Colna that was truly astounding to watch. While Colna would reach into the cradle with every rheumatic joint stiff, inflamed and aching, minutes later she would return the baby with joints limber and pain-free. Even the deep, almost scar-like wrinkles of her face seemed to unfurrow under the infant’s influence. Colna had just reached stiffly for the baby when a strong odor of frying meat reached her. Robanna was cooking another greasy meal, with all the attendant smells. “You want a hamburger, Mrs. Mack?” Robanna bellowed from the kitchen. “Just cook for yourself, and keep the kitchen door closed,”

Colna replied, “I don’t need you for cooking—I have all my dinners delivered from the senior center.” Robanna came from the kitchen holding a spatula glistening with grease. Colna waived her hand dismissively, and repeated, “Just cook for yourself. . . . There are food stamps in one of the kitchen drawers—buy yourself what you like.” “Keep ‘em, I’ve got my own,” Robanna sniffed and returned to the kitchen. Shortly afterward, she reappeared having sated herself with her usual buffet of fried foods. She was still thinking about the food stamps and was marveling at how a woman in such a nice home could have a kitchen drawer full of food stamps. “So you’re a stamp collector, too, Mrs. Mack. You’re living in quite a palace for a welfare queen.” Such impertinence was only bearable because Robanna had come with an infant, and so Colna withheld a rebuke. In fact, on hearing the remark she felt rather relieved that Robanna was comfortable joking about such subjects openly. “I’m just an impoverished, abused senior—and handicapped,” Colna replied with bitterness so insincere as to sound almost wry. Robanna’s facial expression, heavy with satiety, suddenly lightened. “Who’s abusing you?” she challenged, sceptically. “My son. He was taking my social security money for booze. And of course I reported him. Now I’m officially an abused elder and no longer able to rely on my family. That’s how I got a home worker . . . like you. I’ve got Patrick under control, but now, thank god, I’ve earned life-long in-house assistance, and if you’re smart, you’ll stay here and live off my benefits.” Colna’s condescending tone registered rather offensively, and Robanna assumed a haughty tone of her own. “You have a decent life here, but if you really want gourmet government benefits you’ve gotta have a baby.” Colna was not about to be outdone on the subject of benefits by a scrounging unwed mother. “Patrick’s my baby.” “But he told me he’s supporting you!” “Bah! Of course I put some things in a trust for him, except the house—officially anyway—how else would I be eligible for public assistance?” Colna stood sharply to her feet and then stuffed the pale, rigid

baby unceremoniously into its cradle. “Robanna, you say you have to have a baby to get benefits. You’re wrong about that. You’ve got to have a house. The government pays for my heat, bought me new insulated windows. They give me a big property tax discount. They even bought a share of my house and on a reverse mortgage will pay me every month for the rest of my life —and I’m going to live forever! The state pays me Section 8 rent money for Patrick—and I don’t even own the whole place.” Robanna was obviously not getting the better of the bragging match and so pretended to be unimpressed. “You must have sold the house to them pretty cheap—because . . . you don’t really seem to be rolling in dough!” With such a remark, Robanna had now struck a vital nerve, and with great umbrage Colna lifted her head and glared into Robanna’s dark eyes, “Don’t think you’re seeing even a fraction of what I’ve got!” Robanna stood silent for a moment, sensing the conversation had degenerated into a confrontation. Colna moved to the couch and lit a cigarette while Robanna stood waiting to politely allow the old woman the last word. Colna had regained her temper, and now regretting having alluded to any hidden assets, and so felt obligated to divert the conversation back to its former level of banter. “And of course,” Colna said, trying to inject a jocular tone into her voice, “the state is helping pay for my life insurance—so I don’t lose it after my husband paid on it all those years.” Robanna took up the challenge once again, and pointed to her eyeglasses. “I got the eye exam from Medicaid, the money for deluxe frames from Aid to Families with Dependent Children.” “Nothing,” Colna replied, “I got an eye exam from Medicare, lenses paid for by supplemental security income and a free ride through dial-a-ride, with a stop at the senior center for a free meal. “Senior center for lunch!” Robanna rejoined, “I used my money from the state emergency cash program to take a cab to a proper restaurant for lunch.” Robanna was grinning now, as she was getting the best of her adversary. Stung by the last remark, Colna displayed her gnarled fingers. “Well goody for you, but I’m afraid you don’t have half the

benefits available to me. I’m severely crippled.” Colna’s hand, with its red and purple scar from her visit to her son’s lab, had just barely healed, and its large and reddened joints, finger bones projecting at odd angles, some to the left, some to the right, some turned inward, looked as if it had been broken by a mallet. Colna thrust her hands up in front of her face. Robanna was at once struck by the contrast between the gnarled fingers and the adornments on them: the exquisitely mounted jade ring and matching bracelet, and the impeccably lacquered nails. She could see the hands were deformed, but didn’t know whether to believe the old woman about being handicapped. “But you don’t seem so crippled,” Robanna remarked bravely and matter-of-factly, “I mean, you can feed and dress yourself. You’re not what they call ‘functionally-impaired’.” “Don’t get technical about what is or isn’t crippled, Robanna. You’re lucky I take care of myself and you don’t have the kind of smelly decrepit old lady that you’re really supposed to be taking care of.” With that, Colna laid herself across the couch and called out mockingly in a weak voice, “Turn me over, now— turn me! Oh, and nurse, I pooped my dress again.” With that, Colna felt she had had the last word, and, slowly and painfully raising herself from the couch, reached again into the cradle for the infant, who by now had fallen asleep despite the two women’s loud bragging match. Robanna made no attempt at a reply, and so Colna became gracious, “You got a good deal here . . . because I love having a baby around the house,” she said as she fell back onto the couch with the baby on her lap. The infant at once stiffened as the old woman nuzzled it with her wrinkled face. “In fact, next week you won’t have to do anything here at all. I’m going to the Midwest for several days. When I’m gone, just relax. I’m not taking Patrick though, so he’s going to be around here. I’ll tell him not to bother you, and if you’re smart you won’t let him charm you into anything. Sorry to leave him here, but I just couldn’t stand traveling with him. What a horror—the idea of being stuck up in an airplane with him—having to listen to his constant babbling and nonsense. I’m a saint just for letting him live here.” Robanna was somewhat taken aback by this sudden announcement, and could hardly believe she was being trusted to

stay in the woman’s home after only a couple weeks of employment. She had to suppress a feeling of malicious delight at the news. “Here, take your baby, and call a cab,” Colna ordered, “I need to visit the other twin—who is only a little less of a nuisance than Patrick. I’ve got something I want to give him.” Colna walked stiffly to the front hall and reached for a purse lying on the table there. Meanwhile Robanna stood eyeing the room for the television remote control and impatiently waiting for her patron’s departure. But having made mention of the twins, Colna could not stop herself from launching into what Robanna had already learned would be a standard diatribe. “Can you imagine giving birth to twins—like some kind of sow with a litter? I like babies . . . but one at a time, please . . . like a human.” Then as an afterthought, Colna mumbled, “unwelcome usurpers”. Robanna had spotted the remote control, lying on the coffee table, and gazed politely with glassy eyes toward Colna, while the old woman continued her tirade. “My mother’s first words on the phone when they were born were ‘Ewww, are they identical?’ And I told her, ‘No they’re not. Would you like the pick of the litter?’” Colna laughed the selfpitying cackle that always accompanied that anecdote. “At least they had each other when growing up because I wasn’t in any mood for any more children at that point—when I was so sorrowful. I used to lock them together in a room all day, so they wouldn’t bother me—or remind me of what I had lost, and what they could never replace.” “You mean Andrew?” “You’ve been snooping in that bedroom,” the old woman said, eyes flaming fiercely, “How did you get into that closet anyway —I lock it.” “Well, you told me to clean everything. The door wasn’t locked.” “Since when do you do any cleaning! Well, stay out of there— don’t ever go in there again.” The cab driver was honking. “Go tell him I’ll be right out,” Colna said, waiving Robanna to the door. Colna hobbled immediately up the stairs to the second floor.

“How could I have left that door unlocked—what a fool I am— or maybe that bitch jimmied the lock,” she said to herself as she pulled open the door to a walk-in closet in one of the unused bedrooms. The room contained three small period-style tables inlaid in precious woods and obviously of some value. Light shown somberly from a shallow alabaster bowl suspended by ornate wires from the ceiling. On the center table was a gilded frame containing a pair of baby socks with the name “Andrew” embroidered on them. On the other tables were toys and baby clothes, some still in their original boxes—a rattle, a colored mobile, tiny mittens, a hat—among other things. To her great relief, nothing seemed to have been touched. “Andrew, I’m so sorry your peace has been disturbed. I didn’t take proper care. I didn’t give you the respect you deserve. But believe me I am devoted to you. You will always be first in my heart. No one has replaced you! I won’t let them take advantage of your death—I won’t.” “Mrs. Mack, the cab says he can’t wait,” Robanna called up the stairs. “All right, all right. I’m coming,” Colna said as she reverently closed the closet and carefully checked the lock. CHAPTER 5 The death of his important animal subject two weeks earlier left Neal indecisive and paranoid. He considered terminating the experimental phase of his research and publishing the existing data, but in the end, he was unable to shake feelings that without data from one more animal his hypothesis would not be confirmed. He dared not discuss the cat’s death with anyone, lest he be accused of having abused the creature. He had been slow to begin work with a new animal, however, and had spent the prior two weeks in a stupor, looking blankly at his data, and mulling his future as a researcher. The prior week Sarzolian had come to the lab to insist Neal stop experimenting and put his data into publishable form “Okay, let’s see the data—one more week Neal”, he had said. Nonetheless, Neal had arranged to do experiments with one more

cat. In dread of being discovered with the animal by Sarzolian, Neal had kept his lab door locked, much to the vexation of his lab assistant. The meowing of a cat interrupted his thoughts, and Neal turned to see that his assistant had brought the new animal for the afternoon’s work. The animal was still in its traveling case. It was an adult calico with a small nose and ears, giving it an almost sweet, juvenile appearance. Neal felt an overwhelming urge to pet it, but it was his rule never to allow himself to make pets of his research subjects. The cat kept meowing plaintively nonetheless, and the urge to befriend the creature was becoming almost wrenching. “The thing would probably just bite my hand,” Neal told himself, “It’s not a pet. It’s meowing because it wants out of the cage. . . . Ha, don’t we all!" “Some pet owners would have me tortured, my skull opened with a can opener and knitting needles inserted in my brain. But what is pet ownership, really, but animal torture. What animal wouldn’t run away to the forest if given a real choice?” The cat had given up and had curled up quietly in the cage. Neal was becoming angry now at thoughts of how animal activists had villainized researchers. “Isn’t it really a Munchausen situation with pets? People keep animals captive, cooped up in apartments and houses alone all day, until the animals become completely neurotic, and then the pet owners ‘save’ their pets with love,” he thought, scoffing so loud that even the cat was momentarily roused. There was the sound of a key in the lock, and Neal watched as his lab assistant let herself in. “Should I get the cat ready,” she asked, smiling warmly as she noticed Neal. “Sarzolian asked me to come to his lab, so I will be gone for a little while. Let’s leave it in the cage for now.” “Neal, you still busy Saturday? Are you sure you don’t want to join us at the pool?” “Yes, I’m sorry,” was Neal’s terse reply. The assistant nodded and busied herself with work on the other side of the lab. “I must be very lonely,” Neal thought, “I feel awful to turn her

down. But I just can’t go to a party with a lot of people I don’t know. I’ve got to stop isolating myself, but I just can’t motivate myself to meet people. Maybe I’m paranoid. Could be genetic. Do I have any relatives with the same problem? Can’t think of any. “My assistant, she’s got her family. What a great mother she has—always calling her—interested in everything she does, encouraging, affectionate, soothing. She even helps her meet people. She’s Chinese . . . maybe that’s the reason . . . but that can’t be it.” He thought then that perhaps if he had a similar rapport with his own mother he could alleviate his own loneliness, and strengthen his resolve to start a social life. He and his mother had never been close. Who was to blame for that? Was it her, himself, or . . . ?” The lab assistant stopped working long enough to turn toward Neal. He was doing nothing but sitting and thinking, and she was a bit quizzical how lately he could spend so much time staring into space. “Neal, don’t you have a meeting with Sarzolian,” she felt obliged to remind him. “Thanks, I guess I was trying to put it out of my mind,” he said, hurriedly gathering folders from a disorganized pile in front of him. Vikus Sarzolian had the admirable trait of showing in his manner the full character of his mood when dealing with subordinates and colleagues. By merely looking in his face they knew instantly how to approach him. As Neal entered Sarzolian’s lab, he found Sarzolian wearing a lab coat and busy examining magnifications of cell section photographs on a computer screen. As Sarzolian looked up, his expression turned at once, severe and uncompromising. “I hope you have the data for me today and a summary. I’d like to send off a paper next week.” Although he had fully expected to be confronted, Neal was terrified by Sarzolian’s bluntness. “Well, I can give you a progress report on that. I mean I’m almost finished. I feel I haven’t quite proven my hypothesis and need one more test.” “Hypothesis! What are you worrying about that for? I’m the P.I. I’ll do the final analysis. Just give me your data,” Sarzolian demanded, standing up in exasperation, and reaching for the

folders Neal carried. Desperate to mollify the P.I., Neal tried to explain his situation, and hoped for pity. “I lost a lab animal that I had invested a lot of time on, a couple weeks ago. I’ve had to start recreating the data with a new animal.” Sarzolian was outraged. “I need only enough data to publish. You always give me too much! You understand?! No more experimenting. Just give me what you’ve got right now,” the P.I. said, grabbing the folders from Neal’s hands. With his open palm over his brow, Sarzolian sat scanning the data and ignoring this young protege. As he scanned the carefully prepared charts, his bluster devolved considerably and was replaced by a certain eagerness. He was obviously relieved to see that Neal’s data was well presented, and could be used without further compiling. He gathered the folders and dropped them with a satisfied and conclusive thump onto the desk. Sarzolian, at heart more business manager than intellectual, and for that reason a proven survivor in scientific research, felt he was losing control of his young colleague. Neal would have to revise his work philosophy if he were to stay on. A short diatribe was much in order. Sarzolian directed Neal to a lab stool and then began. “Live animals are a nuisance, and the way you do research, using the same animal week after week—it’s no wonder you produce only a trickle of data. All your effort is tied into a few animals. Then if they die, you’re screwed,” he said, looking at Neal knowingly. “Do one or two procedures on the animal, and then start analyzing. We’ve got great machines for that—reams of data and analysis: algorithms, models, matrices.” Sarzolian looked at Neal with the sceptical hope that he was changing the young researcher’s viewpoint. But by the severity of his tone, the P.I. conveyed no doubt that he intended to be obeyed in any case. Neal’s first reaction was relief that the cat’s death had meant nothing to the P.I., but then an obsessive dread crept back into his mind that, without data from one more animal, he could not securely confirm his test hypothesis. The stress of work, worries about his research, the loneliness, all had worn down Neal’s reserve. He began to feel Sarzolian’s remarks were nothing less than a savage and philistine attack on good scientific practice.

His mind raced as he justified to himself his practices. “Sarzolian would have me inject something into an animal, give it one task to do, then slice it up to be examined cell by cell under a million dollar microscope. Merely recording the physiochemical makeup of an animal at the cellular level is empty knowledge—not leading to a usable theory. To create a theory you have to observe how the organism’s functions over time, not just record visual changes to anatomy. To create a theory you have to have first a hypothesis about the function of anatomy—a teleological basis—otherwise you just have indigestible volumes of data with no idea how to synthesize it into something meaningful.” Neal had worked himself into a state of agitated selfrighteousness—and a manic daring seized him. Neal held his neck rigid and spoke directly to Sarzolian. “You’ve been squinting down a microscope too long, Dr. Sarzolian. You’ll never get the big picture that way. I want more out of my science than just a lot of pretty snapshots of cell parts.” The effrontery of such a remark, to a widely-published senior researcher and the man who provided all of Neal’s research monies, was beyond reckless. Neal realized immediately the suicidal character of his daring and forced from himself a plaintive “sorry” as Sarzolian stood unbelieving at what he had heard. “You’re entitled to your opinion, Neal, but mind whom you’re talking to.” Such a mild rebuke in the circumstance could only have come from one like Sarzolian, able to exercise supreme self-restraint in sacrifice to a higher goal. Sarzolian’s business-like focus on the real goal of his research, maintaining careers for everyone, might save Neal’s career, despite his ill-considered and mean-spirited outburst. Neal felt entirely unprotected at the moment. There was no one to hold him back from the selfish impulsive that drove him to act out his paranoia—no one to comfort him in his folly. Neal wanted to withdraw, as usual. Sarzolian, for his part, wanted the impertinent young researcher out of his sight for a while. “You’re finally finished with this study. Thanks for the data. Why don’t you take a week off. I mean it. Take a week off, Neal. We’ll start work on the

next project when you return.” Neal was too ashamed to demur and merely nodded assent, “I will, thank you.” Sarzolian turned sharply away, and Neal realized he had been dismissed. With a few clicks of a mouse Sarzolian pulled up on a large computer screen a dazzling million-colored cell section, with hues of almost expressionistic vividness. With a second click he was able to project a simulated three dimensional view of the same section. What had been a dreary, monochrome laboratory was suddenly illuminated with a kaleidoscope. The distinguished researcher sat staring into the screen as if mesmerized. CHAPTER 6 Neal returned immediately to his lab and canceled the afternoon’s research. “Sarzolian says this project is finished, so I guess we won’t need to do any more tests with this animal after all,” he said pointing at the caged cat. “Should I give it the secobarbital then,” the assistant asked. “No, I’m still going to run some more tests, just for my own interest,” Neal replied. “But Sarzolian said . . . “ “Yeah, don’t worry. He wants me to take a week off. I blew up at him. I think I’m being banished.” The assistant seemed to be interested in all the details of Neal’s confrontation, but whether, despite her apparent sincerity, she sympathized with Neal’s indignation at being told to change his research methods, Neal could not tell. Like the rest, she would probably do whatever it took to please Sarzolian and get her paycheck. “I’ll take the cat to the vivarium,” he said lifting the traveling case to the top of a stool. The cat was sound asleep with its face toward the mesh in front, and for once Neal could not resist the temptation to poke a finger through the mesh and rub the animal’s head. Quick reflexes allowed him to retract it in time, as the cat, startled suddenly, opened its serried mouth to bite him. “Was it solicitous affection that made me touch it—or was it selfishness,” Neal asked himself. He had awoken the cat, and the

cat, itself, seemed none too pleased about it. “Mind whom you’re trying to bite,” he scolded his feline colleague. As Neal crossed the hall and opened the vivarium door he noticed at once that all of the lights were on, and so he looked to see who else might be there. This had been a day of shocks, but he suddenly felt an unreal astonishment as if doubting his own consciousness. Oblivious to the fact that he was holding a heavy cat case, he rushed over to where his mother was pushing food through the bars of a cage. The cat inside was unhesitantly eating everything put before it. “What are you doing,” Neal said in a deep monotone filled with admonition. The remaining crumbs of food fell from Colna’s hand as she pulled her arms back in a panic. “I felt sorry for the kitties. I brought them some treats.” Neal noticed her hand trembling as she pushed down a bag that was sticking up from her purse. His shock and upset suddenly faded into sympathy. He had never known his mother to be fond of animals. This was a side of her he hadn’t seen before—kindly, solicitous, nurturing. He smiled approvingly and said in a politely admonishing tone, “Mother, these are scientific research animals. They are not pets. You shouldn’t add anything to their diet. You could affect the outcome of the tests.” Colna seemed to be accepting the scolding, bowing her head. Witnessing that, Neal felt emboldened. “You’re not doing the animals any favor. It’s just selfish to try to use food to get affection. These animals serve a far more noble purpose than supplying lonely humans with affection. If you want a pet you can have one at home.” Colna was becoming a little irritated at the lecture, but was still a bit shaken and unable to muster a defense. Neal could see no point in belaboring his mother. Her intentions had been good and she had been sufficiently chastised. “Why don’t we take a trip together,” he suggested tenderly. Colna could hardly have been more surprised at such an invitation, coming from her son, with whom she had never been close. Her first thought was to reject the idea as too unexpected and awkward. “I’ve already got a trip planned for next week.” “Where’re you going?”

“Back to Morrisville.” “Are you going alone?” “Yes. I have some personal business there.” “You’re not taking Patrick?” “No, of course not—the jackass.” Neal wanted badly to break the ice between himself and his mother and begged her to consider going together. “I’m just going to see my family’s homestead out in some tiny town on the Nebraska prairie. I’m sure you’d be bored to death.” “I’ve always wanted to see it,” he said with marked enthusiasm. Colna could now see her trip becoming quite disagreeable, in the company of someone she was so little fond of as her son. But somehow she felt it would be unmotherly to say no, and rationalized to herself that she could put him to work carrying luggage and driving her around. Maybe he would even pay for the whole trip. “Okay, Neal. Why don’t you come along. That would be nice. But I told you I had some personal business to take care of, so you must be prepared to entertain yourself and let me mind my affairs privately.” Neal readily agreed, and looked forward to the chance to put their relationship on a good footing. After he had put his cat into its vivarium cage, Neal turned to extinguish some of the lights. Colna then mischievously reached into her purse and pulled out a tidbit for the cat her son had just put into a cage. She had just dropped it into the cat’s cage and had not yet retracted her hand before he son turned around. With her hand outstretched on the cage, Neal noticed the red scar that now had healed. The thought of his mother’s surgery then came to the fore of his mind, and he suddenly felt guilty for not asking her about it. “Mother, when is your gynecological procedure? Is it soon?” “Never mind,” she replied, almost bewildered at the question, “I discovered I don’t need it after all.” She looked away as if not wanting to be questioned further. CHAPTER 7

Morrisville, Nebraska, is a fly-speck prairie town so uninviting of even a moment’s notice that not one descendant of the original late 19th century settlers can be found among its present inhabitants. Although two railroads cross the center of town, neither has a station in town nor makes any stops. That a dusty town of 800 inhabitants could continue to exist at all almost defies belief, but its few stores, repair shops, schools and churches serve a collection of family farmers, who continue to make a decent living from the deep and well-watered prairie soil. Colna’s family had originally come to Morrisville after floating around small towns in the Midwest for decades, to take advantage of the speculative boom in wheat during the late 1800’s, not as farmers but as money lenders to the speculators. When the speculative bubble burst in the horrendous west Nebraska dust bowl of 1925, farmers found themselves with huge loans and tiny crops of wheat that 15 years previously would have been like gold but were now almost worthless. The big family house above the lake, the empty family bank and the family hotel in town stood as the sole tokens of the former boom in Morrisville. The endless and featureless prairie exercises little hold on the human soul, and so when Colna’s family remained in Morrisville for a generation, even after they had lost their money, people wondered had the family itself lost its spirit. The once proud family had latched onto political patronage jobs as a way of surviving, and Colna’s father had been postmaster until the Democrats came to power, and then had worked as a rural mail deliverer until collapsing of heart failure under the load of a sack of mail. Colna despised her parents for not fleeing the scene of their fall from majesty. But all the same, the family lingered in Morrisville, hanging on in the ill-repaired remains of their big house. As soon as she was old enough, Colna left for Omaha and set her sights on a strange-acting man whose one asset was his medical degree and promises of future income. Her mother hung on in Morrisville, abandoning the family house by the lake to the elements and moving into what had been the manager’s apartment at the now decrepit family hotel, where she ended her

days, polishing the few silver table ornaments remaining to her and making sure the hotel’s foyer had a change of fly strip every fortnight. Though she had left the town as a young woman, there remained in Colna a dark force that would never be allowed in a more civilized environment—a force she imbibed from the poisons and toxins of the isolated dank earth of the prairie. The force feed the roots of bitterness that came from too much isolation and nurtured a parasitic craving for social stimulation. Unfortunately, her mother had surrendered herself to those toxins and sustained herself in bitter envy of the outside world until her death. The family hotel, though 60 years old, still functioned as such, though only the five rooms on the second floor were let out. Its basement had become a chicken hatchery, and the ground floor housed a couple permanent residents. Its wood frame, under the influence of hot summers and parching steam heat in winter, had become shriveled and brittle, and cracked and creaked with every vibration, whether from footfalls inside or passing cars on the two lane highway outside. Since there was nothing remotely worth seeing in the town, Colna conceived that Neal would spend the day in his hotel room, reading whatever books he might have brought with him. However, in the hot morning sun his room had become an oven, and the dry air and desiccated wood seemed to draw the moisture from him like talcum powder. Colna had gone by Neal’s room after breakfast to take her leave of him for the day. “Of course you brought things to study here in your room,” Colna had said. Neal was unhappy about the prospect of staying cooped up in the overheated room and asked his mother to let him go with her. Colna was incensed that Neal would not give her the privacy he had promised. She could not restrain the urge to strike out malevolently, “I thought you liked isolation. You don’t have a wife, you don’t date, no friends. You should be used to it. I always knew there was something mentally wrong with you. I was hoping it was just a maturity problem, but I can see it’s not going to go away.” Colna looked away as if unconcerned about the effect of her

remark. The mean-spiritedness of her remark echoed about the room, and when Neal refused to respond, his opprobrium weighed on her until she could utter something conciliatory. “All right, come with me, but I will have to leave you behind for a little while. If you can’t handle that, then don’t come.” “Mother, I can entertain myself without any problem. I just don’t want to be stuck in this overheated room all day.” Neal helped his mother into their rental car. “I want to see some familiar place,” Colna said. Heeding her directions, Neal drove south of town on the highway until all buildings had left the horizon, and then drove west on a dirt road. Suddenly a slight ridge appeared before them, and as they drove forward, the shore of small lake came into view. On the opposite shore, overlooking the lake, stood the once proud hulk of a wood frame house, its many gables still projecting a handsome outline against the sky, even though its paint had long ago flaked away. Golden wheat, nearing harvest, stood high around the house, and there was no visible sign of even a driveway, the ground having been plowed almost to the rotting treads of its porch steps. Only a few large trees marked the former presence of a yard. “That’s the family house. You want to look around?” Colna said, matter-of-factly. “This is a very pretty setting. I can’t believe nobody lives here anymore,” Neal said, delighted at the prospect of exploring such a gloomy ruin, especially since it was part of the family history that his mother had told him little about. “I still own the house, can you believe it?” Colna told him, as they waded through wheat to reach the porch. The house stood before them a giant with three floors, and despite its wood construction it seemed to have stoutly resisted the elements, even with windows intact. Colna reached into her purse and withdrew a set of keys, one of which, after some struggling, opened a padlock on the front door. The scene inside showed that although the exterior walls had remained intact, the roof had disintegrated badly and seepage and rot had destroyed wall surfaces and ceilings inside, leaving everything a mottled brown. Hunks of fallen plaster littered the discolored floorboards.

The house was certainly big, but Neal could sense why it had been allowed to go to waste: it was as crudely built as a barn. At the time it was built, skilled craftsmen could not be lured to the Nebraska prairie, and so the house’s details showed carpentry of a primitive level—unmitered joints, uneven windows—a great deal of catalog-purchased decorative detail—wood moldings and machine carved pilasters. The kitchen and bathrooms were dingy, undecorated areas with elementary fixtures. Neal insisted on looking at every room, despite the rising heat from the summer sun and the strong odors of wood rot inside. After a short time, however, Colna told him to keep looking on his own, that she had a private errand to run and would return for him in an hour. Neal imagined himself touring through the house and then reading outside on the porch—where he could get some air. He happily agreed to having the house to himself, and gave no heed when he heard the front door close behind his departing mother. Neal peered out one of the dusty living room windows as his mother drove on the dirt road a short distance up the ridge behind the house and then pulled to a stop. He could discern the figure of his mother as she left the car and then disappeared on the other side of the ridge. He was naturally quite curious about what she might be looking at on the other side. Was it perhaps a favorite childhood play spot or the distant home of a childhood friend? Neal abandoned his curiosity for the moment and returned to exploring the house. By the time he reached the third floor, however, the sun had climbed high in the sky and the heat inside the shuttered house, coupled with the smell of rot and mildew, had began to make him nauseous. He looked forward to reaching the fresh air of the porch. The front door, which he naturally assumed would be unlocked, would not open however. After some vigorous pulling that loosened the door slightly out of its jamb, Neal realized that the padlock outside was the only thing holding the door closed. His mother had locked him in. Neal’s thoughts turned strangely to memories from childhood of being locked in a room with his twin brother, so that they couldn’t bother his mother. At once he began to feel guilt at having forced his mother to take him along. She obviously was very worried that he would

follow her. But as the heat intensified in the moldering house, he began to resent being locked in. It had been more than an hour and the car remained parked on the ridge. Neal had tried to open a window on the ground floor but found them all nailed shut. In desperation to escape the suffocating heat, he made his way to the basement, where at last he found a small service door, probably a coal chute, that had been bolted from the inside but not nailed shut. After several shoves, the wood came out of the jamb and he was free to lift himself up into the field of wheat. By that point he had become enraged by his mother’s failure to return on time, and by the torture of being locked inside. He could feel his rational sense being hopelessly submerged by anger. With wheat burrs scratching through his shirt at his arms and chest, Neal made his way to the dirt road and began climbing the ridge to the car. As he looked over the ridge, Neal at once chided himself for not guessing the reason for his mother’s trip out into the wheat field. As he looked from the top of the ridge he could see, a short distance down the slope, his mother kneeling amongst gravestones in a small, ill-tended plot. Immediately before her was a grave marker smaller than the others. His mother was making an apostrophe aloud, and Neal, very curious to hear, squatted down among the shafts of wheat. A breeze of warm air rising out the depression below gave him some help in discerning her words. Neal knew it was not his mother’s habit to be sentimental, and found this sight to be quite a revelation. “. . . should have had the section . . . Could have saved you . . . but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to have any more children . . .” His mother was pleading cryptically. “You will always be my first . . . others will never take your place.” What he heard made little sense to him and he wished he had been closer to hear everything, but in the noisy dry grass, to move closer would be impossible. After a few moments he could hear nothing further and so elevated his head. His mother had raised herself, in some pain, and had moved over to the railing of a fence surrounding the small plot. There she sat somewhat unsanctimoniously smoking a cigarette, her obsequies apparently over. Then in a perfunctory

gesture, she rubbed the cigarette out on the railing beside her and threw the butt into the wheat, away from the graves. She had apparently made a poor effort at extinguishing it, for the brush into which it had landed began to smolder almost immediately. Her joints stiff and painful with rheumatism, Colna raised herself slowly, and before she had straightened herself completely she had noticed the smoldering brush. She made a rather poor effort at stamping out the incipient fire, and if anything her fruitless motions merely aerated the smoldering area until it had ignited in flame. Neal had not yet seen a flame or smoke and was not aware of the reason for Colna’s precipitous flight from the graveyard. He crouched low in the wheat as she hurried stiff-legged up the dirt road next to him, heading for her car. By the time the car had pulled away from the ridge, flame and smoke had become obvious, and as he smelled smoke Neal jumped to his feet. The fast traveling fire, whipped by the breeze, engulfed the graveyard and then swept up the hill toward him in an ever widening arc. Neal hurried to the road as the flame roared past with a heat so tremendous he examined his clothing to be certain the fabric had not caught fire. His skin stung for minutes, but his flesh had fortunately not burned. The speed of the fire had been such that when he finally thought of turning back to look at the graveyard, the ground around it showed little sign of flame but had been so completely charred as to appear doused in black ink. The remaining stubble showed only the barest of smolder, but everywhere the air stank with the acrid smell of burned grass. Neal’s curiosity overwhelmed his judgment and drew him to the small graveyard, in particular to the place where his mother had been kneeling moments earlier. The small headstone had suffered little in the fire, apart from a dark sooting. Neal squinted his eyes against the blowing gray ash, and tried to rub away the dark soot from the stone’s carving. The stone was remarkably hot and Neal pulled away a burned finger with a yelp. With some effort, however, he was able to discern the one word engraved on the tombstone, “Andrew.” The stone curiously showed no dates. Other stones in the yard bore familiar family names. There was his grandmother’s grave, and his great-grandfather, the banker, among others.

Neal began to return to the ridge top and could see a great pall of smoke coming from the other side. There was however, the sound of shouting voices and of machinery. The fire had crested the ridge and captured a great prize on the down slope: the dry hulk of the abandoned family mansion, which now exhaled flames in great gasps. The high column of dark smoke from the prairie fire had quickly roused the fire brigade in Morrisville, and it had already arrived on the scene. Men were hurrying to stretch hose to the lake where water could be pumped, and others were throwing dirt on flames that were now creeping along the ridge against the breeze. The house itself had obviously been given up for lost and a small crew could be seen preparing to hose down whatever ruins remained after the flames had had their way with the structure. Neal noticed his mother’s car alongside a fire truck, and as he approached could see a fire fighter talking with his mother on the dirt road, a safe distance from the building. “Is there anyone inside, ma’am?” the fireman was asking her excitedly. After hesitating, Colna replied, “No . . . it’s been abandoned for years.” Colna’s face showed almost a relief at the destruction occurring before her—much to the perplexity and distaste of the firefighter. As her son came into view, however, a look of alarm seemed to finally come over her, and it was only by completely repressing her feelings, that she was able to sigh in mock relief and say curtly to him, “I knew you’d be safe.” “Where did you go, mother?” Neal asked, as if nothing had happened. “Oh to see some relatives’ graves. Sometimes you simply have to be alone for grave visits.” Neal nodded. “I don’t know what started this fire—perhaps it was a car backfire,” she announced. Mother and son then turned their attention to the fire before them and barely looked at each other until the flames had been put out. CHAPTER 8

Neal and Colna had watched the last of the house collapse late in the afternoon and then had returned to the hotel to cleanse themselves of the soot. Neal noticed a trail of soot below each nostril. Neither had made any further mention of each other’s whereabouts at the time of the fire, though it was very much on each other’s mind. Colna had made no inquiry as to how Neal had escaped from the house, but when Neal asked her point blank whether she had locked the padlock on leaving, she had replied, “No, of course not.” Neal spent the evening in his room, and Colna had come by only to remind him of church the following morning. When Neal woke the next morning and appeared at his mother’s door for church, she told him she had woken early and had gone to the first mass. It was obvious from her dark and haggard appearance that she had not slept at all. “Neal, you go to mass by yourself. I met an old friend at church earlier. She wants me to come see her at her house this morning,” Colna told him. He felt a little awkward about appearing at mass in a small town where his new face would be obvious to everyone in the church and might even disrupt the service. But nonetheless he agreed to walk the few blocks to the church by himself and allow her to go visiting. After the strange events of yesterday, he thought, maybe it was best to spend the day by himself. In the evening they would be in the plane together returning home, and if there was to be any conversation about the fire, it could be then. Colna’s real errand was much different than what she had told her son. She had taken the car, had stopped at a hardware store, and then gone south from Morrisville again along the same dirt road as the day before. In fact, she had completely retraced her steps to the graveyard. There she removed a new shovel from the car and began to slowly dig the soil under the stone marked “Andrew”. Her exertions were slow and laborious, for her muscles had atrophied under the ravages of rheumatism. Her goal was fortunately not far from the surface—a tiny casket. She cradled it, sobbed and apologized over and over, and then cleaned it with her sore hands before placing it reverently in the

trunk of the car. Neal had been attending mass all the while and feeling that even the officiating priest was startled to see the new face of a young man sitting alone in a pew. Neal had not gotten out of the church before the priest had made his way to the front. “I’m always cheered to see a new face in the church. I’m Father O’Lann,” the priest said, approaching Neal with great heartfulness, “I talked with your mother earlier this morning. I’ve heard about the fire. Quite a show, huh?” Neal found himself wary of succumbing to the priest’s cheerfully solicitous banter, but saw an opportunity to satisfy a pricking curiosity. “The grave site near the house that burned, is that only family graves?” he inquired. “Yes, and strange it is, don’t you think, that they lie out there in a wheat field. The family should have moved the graves to the churchyard a long time ago.” A wry smile then came over the priest, “I heard the graveyard got scorched as well. What a shame. Your grandmother always insisted on not being cremated, and now it’s happened.” Both men smiled at the irreverent joke, but they had scarcely time to get in a laugh before Neal was interjecting another question. “Father, who is the ‘Andrew’ buried there?” The priest, still jovial from the reverberations of own joke, answered, “I’m surprised you don’t know. Your mother never mentioned him? He was a stillborn child—died in birth—quite a pity. Your mother was very depressed afterward and grieved a long time. She may have blamed herself. But God, in his mercy, must have pitied her, because a little over a year later he gave her twin boys to replace the one she lost.” A solemnity came over the priest suddenly, and he looked squarely at the young man. “She was always very sensitive on the subject, and I advise you not to bring it up. But I’m glad you know now,” he said, a smile returning to his face, “God gave you an older brother.” Neal was not sure how to respond, but his mother’s graveside words, “Others will never take your place,” became suddenly clearer to him. CHAPTER 9

During Colna’s Morrisville trip, Robanna was quite leery of remaining in the house with the son whom Colna described as “mentally ill”, and Robanna kept a wary eye on the telephone in case he perpetrated an “emergency”. Patrick, for his part, seemed to give her little heed, and when in the house would remain in his spacious room on the third floor. Perhaps as a symptom of his all-too-apparent mania, Patrick was highly gregarious, and would often walk to the bus stop and go downtown to meet friends or to play basketball at the YMCA for hours on end. While his mother was gone, however, he began entertaining women on the third floor. Some would stay for a short time, some the entire night. That was something Colna would have never tolerated, but Robanna felt powerless to object. Patrick had obviously inherited the sexual voraciousness of his father, but fortunately for him he had not produced a string of progeny as a record of his devotion to sex. The exact nature of Patrick’s mental illness was not clear to Robanna, but his incessant talking and his ignorance of standard behavior made her feel there was indeed something mentally wrong. Colna had told her that a group of state psychologists had declared him incapable of supporting himself—and in any case, he seemed little interested in anything more than pursuing an endless teenage summer, playing basketball all day and hanging out with like-minded young men until late in the evenings. Colna treated him as if he were incapable of assuming any responsibilities and trusted him only to carry her baggage and do yard work, when she could manage to find him at home. Robanna noticed that Patrick’s nightly trysts started on the day Colna left for Morrisville. Her first clue that a date was about to arrive was the sound of water hitting the walls of Patrick’s shower on the third floor. Minutes after the shower stopped, the front door bell would ring, and Patrick, oozing cologne, would come bounding down the stairs to greet his new assignation. Occasionally this scenario would repeat itself a couple times in one night, and it wasn’t long before Robanna, witnessing it all from the living room couch, became disgusted with his insatiability. On the fourth night Robanna was sitting in the living room

watching television as usual, and heard the customary sound of a shower running on the third floor. For some reason Patrick’s timing had been poor, and the doorbell rang before the shower had stopped running. Robanna’s first thought was to call up the stairs to Patrick to answer the door, but, sorely tired of his routine, she decided to open the door and greet his new date herself. At the door stood what looked like little more than a high school freshman. The girl asked for “Jaguar”. “You mean Patrick?” Robanna asked. “Yes . . . ah, I guess,” was the girl’s sheepish reply. As the shower was still running upstairs, Robanna invited the girl into the living room, set her in an armchair, and sized up the girl’s utter youth. While the girl smiled gamely in obvious discomfort, Robanna’s indignity swelled. Patrick’s luring to the house one woman after another—until Robanna felt she were living in a whorehouse—was bad enough, but inviting an underage girl was too much. Robanna felt sorry for the girl too, and could not understand how she could allow herself to be lured to a man’s home at her age. Robanna was eager to find out the girl’s real age. “Are you a college student?” “No, I . . . ah, haven’t committed myself,” the girl replied evasively. “So you’re still at home, huh?” “Yes.” “Do you go out to bars and clubs often?” “Oh no, never.” “Have you ever been to a dance club?” “No, I’m not into that kind of thing.” “Oh, I see. What kind of work do you do?” “Well, I’m job hunting right now. The girl’s answers did nothing to allay Robanna’s suspicions that she was underage, and she was determined to continue the interrogation despite the girl’s obvious apprehensiveness. The sudden appearance of Patrick, hair still wet from the shower, saved the girl any further embarrassment, and she appeared very much relieved when he came into the room. Patrick’s manly good looks obviously pleased the girl, and she

rose quickly from her seat and riveted her attention on him, as if Robanna were not even in the room. When Robanna saw how willful the girl was, Robanna began to think that perhaps it was not Patrick but the girl who had arranged this risky liaison. “Patrick, could I talk with you a minute,” Robanna said, approaching him and grasping his shoulder. Patrick had already sensed the girl’s eagerness and could not bear the thought of the home health worker interposing herself and scaring away his catch. “Let’s go upstairs,” he said to the girl, who was by now almost clinging to his belt. “Patrick, I must talk to you,” Robanna insisted. “Oh go back to your T.V. I’ll talk to you later about whatever it is,” he said, moving his shoulder out of Robanna’s grasp and putting his hands on his new friend’s hips and guiding her to the stairs. Robanna’s self-righteousness had been challenged and she reared herself up for a confrontation. “How old are you?” she said gruffly and insistently to the girl as she blocked the stairs with her large girth. “Eighteen.” “Let me see your I.D.” Patrick stood speechless in fury. “I don’t have my I.D.,” the girl replied insolently. Patrick had by now reluctantly resigned himself to Robanna’s inspecting his date, for as much as he would love to escort the girl to his room, if she were underage he would now risk knowingly consorting with a minor. “I’ve gotta go,” the girl said finally, “This is getting weird.” And with that she hurried to the door and walked quickly to her car—a big and stately vehicle obviously borrowed from a parent. Patrick made no effort to persuade her to stop. But after she had gone he erupted in anger, telling Robanna to mind her own business and threatening her were she to try something like that again. “You want to go to jail, Patrick?” Robanna shouted. The two then yelled and threatened until both were exhausted. After his initial feeling of outrage had subsided Patrick was prepared to admit that Robanna had saved him from the perils of statutory rape. His good nature finally prevailed, and he

mumbled “Thank you . . . I guess I’m just bad seed. I can’t trust myself sometimes.” “Where did you meet her?” asked Robanna, still wondering about where Patrick had met so many women. “On the Internet.” “The Internet! I didn’t know you had a computer,” she replied, startled. Somehow she had seen him as too mentally handicapped to use a computer. “Where, in your room?” “In my study.” “A study—you!” she scoffed. Patrick quickly answered her cynicism with a challenge to go up to the third floor to see, and suppressing her dignity, Robanna agreed, though in climbing the stairs she couldn’t help but think of the many Internet harlots who had preceded her up those stairs in recent days. Patrick had the three rooms on the top floor to himself, and one of them he had indeed made into a study. Robanna found a room filled with computer equipment and bookshelves of computer software and programming manuals. “This is yours?” she said disbelieving. “So this is the mentally retarded son,” she thought to herself, amazed at how much she had underestimated him. Patrick took great delight in hearing her gasp in astonishment. He pridefully showed her the lewd web page he had designed for himself and talked with her about the friends he regularly conversed with online. Robanna pretended to shield her eyes but could not hide her enthusiasm for his computer hobby, and there soon developed a rapport between them. Whatever her sincerity, however, Robanna was quick to see that the growing warmth in their conversation presented an opportunity to satisfy her curiosities about his mother. “You have a nice place here—lots of room to yourself—a nice big house. Your mother must have had some money before. How did she lose it?” Robanna interposed abruptly. Patrick was beginning to feel comfortable with the home health worker but he remained poignantly aware of his mother’s stern interdiction of any discussion of the family finances. Nonetheless he decided to offer his new admirer a token tidbit of information —the meaning of which would doubtless never occur to her.

“She hasn’t a penny . . . IN HER OWN NAME,” he said, and, with that, feigned ignorance to all her further questions of a similar vein. CHAPTER 10 Neal and his mother had exchanged only polite conversation on the plane. Neal dared not mention the events of the fire for fear of bringing into the open the appalling and frightful suggestion that his mother’s selfish recklessness in locking him in the house had almost brought about his death. He was afraid that were he to bring up the subject, she would be obstinately unapologetic—and that would confirm his feelings that she was in fact uncaring or at worst aggressively hostile. Since he had done nothing that would warrant anything malicious from her, it did seem truly impossible that she could have locked the door, anyway. Yet, as he lay in bed in his apartment during the night of his return from Morrisville, he could not sleep for thoughts that, without devoted parents, he would be left an emotional orphan with no ultimate source of support to fall back upon in the last resort. Neal arrived at the lab exhausted, but nonetheless had planned a full day for himself and his lab assistant. He would try to sneak in the one last experimental session with one of the cats. Sarzolian had told him their project was complete, but Neal wanted to run one more experimental session to confirm his data. Sarzolian would not approve of that, but Neal would keep his lab door closed, and Sarzolian, who was extremely busy anyway, would never be the wiser. His lab assistant had already arrived and was tidying up the lab. She was cheerful as usual, and Neal felt relieved to hear her call out a friendly hello. The assistant naturally wanted to know the details of Neal’s recent trip. Neal was loath to describe particulars of the house burning, but since that was the dramatic high point of the trip, he could not resist describing it. The assistant was very touched by his recounting of Colna on her knees in front of the grave of her stillborn. After some pause, however, Neal told the eagerly listening woman about his suspicion that his mother had in fact

deliberately locked him in the house. The reaction Neal’s suspicion raised in the assistant was totally unexpected. Her sympathy vanished and immediately an almost ferocious look of disgust took hold of her. “How could you say such a terrible thing about your mother? You are an awful son.” Neal was taken aback by the woman’s stridency, and fatigued and irritable, became antagonistic. “You don’t know my mother.” “I know she fed you and took care of you when you were sick.” Well, actually, when I was sick she would usually tell me I could stay home in bed but that she wasn’t going to cancel her social plans to stay home.” “You’re exaggerating. There are no mothers like that. She gave you life. You should be grateful and never suggest anything negative about her.” The assistant then began reciting a long list of the traits of an ideal mother. “She soothed you when you were upset. She listened to your ideas and talked with you about them. She protected you from danger. She trained you in the lessons you needed to succeed. She encouraged you to learn. She gave you values. She supported your goals . . .” The assistant expressed her convictions so passionately and with such a sense of affront that Neal began to feel that perhaps he was being ungrateful to suggest anything uncomplimentary about his mother. Indeed, he recognized in his own mother all the traits on the assistant’s list. That he could not deny. However, what he recalled more distinctly was her negation of so many of those traits: her discouraging, her laxness, her derision and aloofness, her agitating and enraging, her confusing and withholding—her neglect and her wrath. “You’re right,” Neal confessed, “I guess I shouldn’t say anything negative about my mother. . . . Your mother’s lucky to have such a devoted daughter.” “I’m the one who’s lucky—to have a mother. I will never pay off my debt to her,” she said sharply and turned quickly away indignantly. The conversation had turned rather sour, and Neal was anxious to turn the conversation to work-related matters. “Could you help

me set up the cat from last week for one more round of tests? I think we can finish that this morning.” “Neal, the cats all died the day you left for vacation,” the assistant said peremptorily, as if still annoyed. Neal suddenly felt as powerless and vulnerable as if sentenced to death. He had left for a week, and when he returned he was no longer in control of even his own lab. “But you were finished with the project anyway, so you didn’t need them, right?” she said sympathetically, seeing how upset he had become and pitying him. “I wanted to do one more experiment. I wasn’t finished with them!” he yelled, “What happened!?” “Well the animal attendant found them dead in the cages when she went to carry them downstairs to the central vivarium. She put the bodies in the freezer, so you could examine them if you want, but since the project is over . . . ah, we’re using rats in Sarzolian’s next project, anyway.” “Okay . . . thanks,” he muttered, and then hurriedly left the lab, going immediately to the central vivarium in the basement of the medical complex. The lab assistant was horrified when moments later he returned with their frozen corpses in thick plastic bags. “Neal, why don’t you just forget the cats. It was probably a quick spreading bug of some kind—what does it matter?” “We’ll see,” he said, and put the bags in a sink to thaw. Neal moved to his desk and sat there mute. “Sarzolian had the cats destroyed.” The thought coursed through his mind until he become fixated on it. As much as he tried to push the idea aside, as ludicrous as it was, it came back the more forcefully. There was little he could do about his paranoid delusions but to allow himself the silly exercise of having the cats’ blood tested. The scenario of Sarzolian ordering his lab animals “sacrificed” with secobarbital—after ordering him to take a week off—played irresistibly on his mind. As he stared into the confines of his lab, Neal realized his childhood fantasy of controlling his own destiny as an adult had not yet happened, and may never happen at the university. If not for Sarzolian’s constant intervention, then for the intervention of the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation or the medical school dean or

whoever might step in to micro-manage his career. All the same, he had to consider himself fortunate to have received his position as an assistant research professor at the university. How did he get the position, anyway? Was it talent or luck? Of course it was mostly luck. He had had the right credentials at the right time and applied at the right place. Maybe he had been selected almost at random. His first bit of luck got him the position. What kind of luck would keep him at the university? Perhaps self-promotion, but more likely the right mental disposition—to tolerate the ever present controls. In the afternoon, participants in Sarzolian’s new grant project met in Sarzolian’s main lab. Neal’s suspicions lingered, and throughout the meeting he could think of nothing but confronting Sarzolian about the death of his cats. Sarzolian seemed very surprised when Neal approached him about the subject and through his expression of astonishment quite convinced Neal he had not even known about the cats’ deaths. “I don’t even use drugs to sacrifice my lab animals—too expensive for use on rats. We use a guillotine. You didn’t find the cats decapitated, did you?” he said with a smirk. Sarzolian then dismissed Neal’s worries with an expression Neal had gotten tired of hearing, “Just forget the cats, Neal. That is over.” Upon returning to his lab Neal found his assistant waiting to upbraid him. “I can’t believe you mentioned those cats to Sarzolian. He told you before that the project is over. It sounded almost like you were accusing him of killing them. Neal, Sarzolian deserves more respect from you. He’s given you your position. He’s gotten you published several times. Don’t be so ungrateful!” If his assistant were not so likable and sincere, Neal would have shut his mind to her constant allusions to his ingratitude— first toward his mother—now toward the P.I. Neal was beginning to suspect himself of being too obsessed with his own goals and too paranoid to even feel gratitude. He was only able to stem the rising feelings of guilt and even self-loathing by picking up the phone and dialing his mother. “Mom, I’m coming to take you out for coffee,” he said to the astonished Colna. “Are you sure,” Colna replied, reluctantly, “I have to go to the

bank but will be back at 4:00.” “Okay, I’ll be waiting for you at home,” he said sweetly. Overhearing the conversation, the lab assistant smiled at Neal with encouraging approval. Before leaving, Neal decided not to leave the lab that day without completely ridding himself of any suspicions regarding the death of his lab animals, and so dialed the pathology laboratory. “This is Neal Mackart. Do you have blood test results on my cats? Did you find any drugs—or infection?” he asked. “Yes, secobarbital,” was the reply. The lab assistant was still smiling as Neal was leaving the room. He turned to her before leaving. “I’m asking you to tell me the truth. Who killed the cats with secobarbital? Was it Sarzolian’s idea?” The assistant was too surprised to answer and she merely looked at him with long, silent pity, until in frustration he merely walked out the door. CHAPTER 11 Upon her return from Morrisville Colna had noticed that a decided rapport between Patrick and her home health worker had occurred in her absence. That afternoon Colna had called for a taxi and was preparing to leave for the bank. She could now hear the two of them talking and laughing and otherwise enjoying far too much conviviality in the kitchen—almost if they had suddenly become lovers. Colna guffawed aloud at the thought of any degrading amours between the two of them, especially considering Robanna’s huge size. “He’s a horny bastard,” she thought to herself, “but thank god he doesn’t have to settle for the likes of her.” Colna burst into the kitchen with a vigorous push to the door, which had the desired effect of creating a pause in the hilarities. “What are you two doing in here?” “She’s giving me some cooking lessons,” Patrick said, the echoes of the prior merriment still radiating from his face. “Well, you should learn a trade of some kind,” Colna said with disgusted gravity. “Maybe you could send me to cooking school,” he replied.

“You can earn your own money and send yourself to school. I can’t just throw money around at my age.” “Then what were you doing spending my inheritance money taking a trip to Morrisville,” he retorted gamely. Colna angrily reached into her oversized purse, pulled out a well-stuffed leather satchel and, walking to the sink, began cramming money into the garbage disposal. Before Patrick could stop her she had flicked the switch and shredded the bills to mulch. “This is what I’d rather do with the money than leave any to you or your brother. Earn your own!” she said, taking in with satisfaction the look of horror created on her son’s face. Robanna, especially, was riveted by this display and tried almost desperately to see the denominations of the bills Colna was stuffing into the disposal. Her eyes had been eager and quick, but it was only after Colna had dramatically stomped out of the room that she realized that what she had seen were not dollars at all, but pesos. “What’s she doing with pesos?” she asked Patrick. Patrick seemed caught off guard by the question, and stopped himself before answering. “I don’t know.” Robanna wondered to herself with a harrumph, “Is she stashing her dough in Mexico?” Neal had arrived about that time, and had missed his mother by a few minutes. Patrick had started on a manic disquisition on his mother’s various abuses. “I’d like to see her without any of her money—snivelingly grateful to us for every penny we might give her. Better yet, I’d like to have her mountain of gold myself, without having to deal with her. Well maybe we’d keep her around to maintain her government benefits. It’d be nice to put her in a big bird cage, and make her sign checks over to me. Every week, if she’d be good, I let her out and walk around and fluff up her feathers a little, and then make her clean out her cage. Or better than that, I’d give her a drug to paralyze her before she woke up in the morning, and then put her on some kind of intravenous feeder, or maybe I would have her stuffed so I could just prop her in the window so the neighbors would think she was still around.”

Robanna had turned away, and heading for the television, was scarcely listening. Her blatant show of inattention was no deterrent to him though, and Patrick continued without pause, “That sounds pretty awful for a son to say, huh, Robanna? You seem like a decent woman, and you’re thinking to yourself, “He’s pretty scary.” Well come on, who wouldn’t be at least a little happy to see a relative—even one you really like—kick the bucket and leave you a little dough, huh? Admit it? I remember once when I was a child my grandmother was at the airport going home, and she was buying insurance, and we kids kept encouraging her to buy more, because we could see the payout would be huge for each dollar of insurance she bought. And she didn’t seem too happy about how eager we were, and I know she was imagining us hoping the plane would crash so we could cash in. And you know, she was right. When the plane took off, we were on the observation deck screaming ‘Crash! Crash, baby, crash!’” Neal came into the living room where Robanna had just turned on the television. Patrick was still talking, “. . . and if I had children, I’d share what I had with them, after all, I would owe them something for the joy they gave me and for forcing them to obey me like slaves . . .” “What’s he talking about,” Neal asked Robanna, while Patrick continued to prattle in the background. “Oh, your mother tried to make him mad by putting a bunch of money down the garbage disposal after he talked about inheriting money from her.” Robanna turned off the television and looked at Neal in exasperation. “Why do you take that kind of abuse from her?” “She’s our mother. We owe her respect, regardless,” Neal answered defensively. “Well, she doesn’t treat you like her sons.” Robanna hesitated for a moment, then continued, “I think she must be on some kind of drug. Nobody’s that horrible— naturally. Maybe it’s her rheumatoid medicine. It could be anything—she’s got a huge hoard of drugs in her bedroom. “What do you mean ‘huge hoard’?” “Hundreds of bottles of drugs.” Neal’s curiosity was now quite aroused, for he hadn’t known

his mother was so medicated. Robanna offered to lead him to the hoard—and leaving Patrick downstairs—they went up to his mother’s room. Just as Robanna had said, in a cupboard Neal found hundreds of bottles of prescription and herbal medications—prescriptions written by tens of different doctors—plus a variety of applicators: syringes, droppers, enema bottles and medicated bandages—even an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. As he examined the labels he was shocked at the enormous variety of medications. But after a time he came to realize that most of them were psychoactive drugs—sedatives, stimulants of various degrees—amphetamines, caffeine, theobromine, ephedrine— anti-psychotics, hypnotics and for her rheumatism—steroids, anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants. Suddenly Neal snatched up a nearly empty bottle from the cupboard, and read the label carefully. “Secobarbital,” he said aloud in surprise. This vial is from my lab!” The connection between his mother’s tidbits for the cats and this mostly empty vial became instantly clear to him, but he had hardly a chance to allow the horror of it to fully engulf him before he heard his mother’s voice in the entry hall. She was in a fury and was saying something about a new manager at the bank so she couldn’t make a deposit. Neal and Robanna looked at each other in a startled panic and began shoving bottles back into the cupboard, as they heard her dragging herself slowly up the stairs. There was no way for them to leave the old woman’s bedroom without her seeing them from the top of the stairs. “Put your arms around me,” Robanna whispered loudly, “It’s our only chance of distracting her.” Neal hesitated but when he heard his mother’s footsteps approaching in the hall, he obeyed, and it was face to face with their arms around each other that Colna discovered them. Standing in the open doorway, the old woman was so struck by the sight of her son, the Ph.D., a university research scientist, with his arms around the plain and rotund home health worker, that the fact that she had caught them in her bedroom hardly seemed to occur to her.

The pair appeared to be startled by her presence and quickly unlatched to receive her rebuke. “No wonder you never talk about any romances, Neal, if this is your taste. Really . . . I can’t believe what I’m seeing. As always, Neal, you disappoint me,” she said in disgust, contorting her face until it resembled a piece of rotting fruit. The pair prepared to make a quick exit from the room, and bowed their heads in mock sheepishness. But just as quickly as the incident had begun, Colna’s expression had suddenly turned to nonplussed, and she lifted her hand to stop them. “I’m going to the house in Mexico next week, and I’m not taking anyone. Robanna, if you don’t mind Neal’s advances then you two can do whatever while I’m gone, otherwise, with he and his brother around, I’d barricade myself in my room if I were you. . . . Anyway, I’ve arranged for a job for Patrick through a handicapped program so he’ll be away during the day at least. . . . Now the two of you, get out of my bedroom. Why you picked this room for your dalliance, I can only imagine with revulsion!” CHAPTER 12 In many ways both the inmates and lower level employees at the Tuscana Elder Care Resort were indistinguishable. Although younger than the paying residents, the lower staff also had handicaps that prevented them from living alone. They had been recruited from the ranks of the disabled by an organization seductively named “Work Dignifies the Disabled”. When visitors questioned the wisdom of forcing some of the mentally or physically handicapped to work in such a depressing environment, “Work Dignifies the Disabled” would make the rejoinder that “not everyone with a handicap can be supported by the state anymore”, and that seeming truism would usually preempt any further objections. Elders in wheelchairs might find themselves served by a younger attendant who was also bound to a wheelchair, a hearing impaired old man by a young man born without hearing, or an old woman with Alzheimer’s by a young woman with Down Syndrome.

The fact that state psychologists had pronounced Patrick unfit for employment because of his mania and immature delusions, allowed him to enter the program. Although in his middle thirties, his mother had convinced him to take the position as a sort of summer job, so he could have some spending money while playing basketball all winter. Of course managing such a collection of staff and inmates would be a nightmare for a normal person, but the Tuscana’s owner always found a tireless and compulsive micro-manager for whom barking ceaseless petty orders at staff and residents alike was an ego-fed nirvana. Patrick’s mania made him naturally gregarious, and he was welcomed by many residents as a rare, lively spark in what was otherwise a stupefying environment focused on pain and mortality. He was an enthusiastic organizer of parlor games at the Tuscana, although once he had organized a group, he was loath to leave them on their own and would have to be shushed away by the manager. “Patrick, why are you having them kick that bucket back and forth—is this supposed to be some kind of game? We have a professional to plan the games. Stick to your job,” Becky, the manager, said with hushed severity, “Go get the dishes and do any cleanup in Suite K.” At the first sign of Patrick’s usual long-winded excuse for playing longer, Becky raised her hand and pointed a finger in the direction of the suite in which he was to serve. Inside Suite K a husband and wife had just arrived to pay a weekly visit to a demented woman who was the mother to one of them. Their older model car looked somewhat incongruous in the Tuscana’s parking lot, among the lavish and carefully tended foliage, the tile-lined walkways and ornate building facades— decked in heavy terracotta window surrounds, with roofline architraves, and painted a warm though sedate burnt orange—in keeping with its Italianate scheme. When the mother, now a Tuscana inmate, was still fully in possession of her marbles, she had invested the family fortune in a lifetime non-transferable lease on a suite of rooms at the Tuscana, which she could occupy upon reaching 75 until her death. Of course some purchasers of such leases never reached

the eligibility age, and therein lay the profit to its investors. The mother had unfortunately begun to lose her faculties at just the age at which she became eligible for her suite, which was coincidentally a good thing for her children, who were thus secure in knowing she would be cared for and die in just the manner she had wanted: in dignity and splendor, in case any of her social friends and society rivals were still alive to envy the respectability of her last days. Of course, not so comforting to the children is that their parents’ entire estate—begun in the fortunate years after the war when most of the world lie economically prostrate and Americans were without competition in the world marketplace— was in this way conveyed to the Tuscana’s proprietors. But it would have been selfish and unseemly for them to have complained about their mother’s decision to invest in a respectable death at the Tuscana. As Patrick knocked and entered, the startled inmate of Suite K, dressed in a long, youthful, pleated dress pulled tightly at the waste, and a yellow cashmere cardigan with sleeves pulled nonchalantly over the wrists, confronted him, “What are you doing in my house? I haven’t invited you!” Patrick had been trained in the magic phrases that would reassure the demented woman. “I’m just one of the catering staff, ma’am.” “Well, all right then, but can’t you be a little less conspicuous while I’m entertaining.” Patrick picked up the dishes and placed them in a battered tub on a trolley. The woman turned to her guests. “Don’t tell my husband I’m having this luncheon. He thinks I’m spending the whole day doing laundry and baking bread—just like his mother used to do. But with my Kelvinator washer and dryer and Swanson’s supermarket . . .,” she cupped her hand to her face and whispered, “. . . I really don’t have that much to do.” “Couldn’t you go to work and help pay some of the family’s bills?” her son asked her snidely. Seeing that her husband was merely goading his sick mother into continuing with her demented nonsense, the wife scolded him, “That’s cruel to lead her on like that.” The husband waived his wife’s comments away with his hand,

and looked eagerly to his mother for her response. “Go to work!?” the demented woman announced in a tone of arch-indignity, “Everyone would think my husband couldn’t earn enough if they saw he had a wife who worked. And besides . . . I’ve got to take care of the children.” Her son continued with his cynical interrogation, while his wife looked away in disgust, “But I hardly ever see you with your kids,” he said with mock earnestness. “Well, . . .” she paused with a moment’s guilt that was quickly overcome with an easy rationalization, “we have institutions for that . . . schools, churches, boys’ and girls’ clubs. Children ought to be out socializing. It builds character. And besides, with so much new knowledge around, how could I be expected to teach my children anything!?” The demented woman looked for a break in the conversation, and so barked at Patrick. “Caterer, don’t you see my guests’ drinks are empty. Can’t you keep the glasses filled, for god’s sake?” Patrick looked with amusement at the empty hands of the husband and wife. Pulling an empty glass from the tub, he handed it to the wife, who promptly put it down. “This is getting ridiculous,” the wife said with exasperation. Patrick decided to join the conversation. “I wouldn’t mind living here myself. ‘Tuscana’—where did they get that name, anyway. Sounds kind of southern.” Patrick then assumed an exaggerated, old fashioned southern accent. ”‘Oh, yeah, she was quite a beauty, the old plantation house—yep! called her ‘Tuscana’” The husband and wife looked at each other in amazement that the aide would somehow join the conversation with such nonsense, but there was no stopping him since he met no resistance. “I know what you’re thinking, ‘This pathetic low class peon ought to just do his job and shut up.’ We’ll maybe you’re right. But my mother’s got a fortune tucked away, and if she doesn’t spend it all on a place like this—maybe I’ll be spending my last days here, myself.” The husband found himself lured into condescending to join the aide’s train of thought. “Well, my mother’s already spent her last dime on this place. I could have bought a small business with

what she spent on this place. And look at her! She thinks she’s back in her 1950’s tract home,” the husband interjected. “. . . Keep the libido alive and keep the brain alive, that’s what I think,” Patrick was continuing. "I’m youthful and that’s why I won’t lose my marbles.” The demented woman interrupted. “Young man, please just serve the guests. Don’t try to engage them in a lot of chit chat. Don’t they train you caterers?!” Patrick closed his mouth, but silently continued his monologue and waited for another opportunity to let his disorganized thoughts pour out. The husband now saw a chance to return to his cynical banter with his mother. “I hear you get invitations to all the women’s clubs. But don’t you wish you could spend more time at home. You must be very busy at home.” “I’ve got machines to do the housework, thank god. And that’s all that’s expected of me. I’d die of boredom if I stayed at home.” “ . . . But your children . . .” “My clubs do charity work. We’re important to the community! I’m sure the children understand that.” The wife was now becoming very impatient. “Stop needling her. I can see she’s getting defensive. You’re going to upset her in a minute.” “Don’t worry,” the husband replied, “She’s in a dream world. She loves it when people play along with her.” “You’re not playing with her. You’re just trying to get her to say, in so many words, that she is a selfish pig for spending all the family money on this place.” “Well, if she doesn’t like the conversation, she can just change the subject.” His wife, sat down in a chair with a resigned thump, and looked out at the landscaping, while he husband continued his sententious conversation, unchecked. “Your husband seems very successful. I hope he’s sharing everything with you!” “Oh yes! Of course I have to earn it with a little feminine charm—and for god’s sake I certainly earn it by putting up with him! I let him make all the decisions,” she said with a coy wink. The demented woman smiled with a wry charm that belied her decrepit mental state.

Patrick could no longer stand silent, and so tried to insinuate himself into the conversation with a gratuitous question, “Sir, do you play sports?” “I don’t have time—why?” “If I lived here—I’d insist on more sports. I would have a basketball court set up. You’re thinking I’m crazy, and maybe I am—I mean the state psychologist put that on my record—after talking to me for only 4 minutes. I think he only gave me four minutes to prove my sanity because he was in a hurry to go to lunch. I could smell food cooking at the cafeteria during our interview, and I could tell he could smell it too, because he kept raising his head and kind of sniffing the air—you know—like a dog would do. Look at these old people around here, hardly able to get out of a chair. They need to loosen their muscles with a little basketball that’s all. If I sit around for a long time, I get stiff too.” “Don’t you have some other work to do,” the man’s wife called out at Patrick from her chair. “Keep her glass full! She shouldn’t have to beg you like that!” the demented woman barked. Oblivious to Patrick’s manic outpourings, the husband had one more barb to stick into his mentally dimmed and unsuspecting mother. “You and your husband are quite successful—financially I mean.” The mother nodded appreciatively. “Have you set up a trust for your children or anything?” “With times so good—why would we need to set up a trust? They can earn their own money. If someone can’t succeed by themselves in this day and age—they’d have to be a real loser— whom no one could help!” “She’s hopeless. She never has believed that her generation was merely lucky—not for one minute. She obviously had a rationale for everything she did. No wonder she doesn’t feel any guilt about not sharing. When she sees me drive up in a 10-yearold car, all she can think to say is, ‘Isn’t it time you got a new car?’” Patrick was still prattling on with his vision for the Tuscana. He was directing his conversation at the wife who was the only one seeming to pay any attention to him. She would occasionally look up at him in vexation. “And to keep their libido’s active, I’d

hire good looking young women to bathe in the swimming pool. The old guys could look but not touch. They’d have to work out their desires on their fellow old ladies. . . .” There was a knock, and the door to the room opened suddenly. Becky, the manager, stood with a stern expression in the doorway. “Patrick, are you still in here? All you should be doing is picking up the dishes. I could hear you talking even out in the hall. Please leave these people alone.” “We’re going now, anyway,” the wife said summarily, as she came to her feet quickly. Becky took Patrick to her office and fired him. “Patrick, you just spend too much time socializing and not enough time doing work. I’ve warned you repeatedly, and now I’m giving up.” “You mean I’m not retarded enough to be exploited, huh?” “I don’t think you’re retarded, but obviously no one has ever trained you to survive in the work world. Didn’t anybody give you values or teach you restraint? You seem like the type that somebody has always mocked or held at a distance. That’s made you too aggressive about getting attention. Whatever it is, you should call your family now to come to get you.” “Well, Becky, you’re right, and I don’t blame you for firing me. I’m angry at my mother for putting me up for this job.” Patrick’s volubility had once again been ignited, and Becky consoled herself with the thought that this would be the last day she would have to listen to his prattle. “The phone is on my desk, Patrick, go ahead and call your home. I will go get your check,” Becky called behind as she hurried from the room. CHAPTER 13 Neal had found, to his disbelief, the evidence that indicted his mother in the death of his lab animals. Though convinced of her guilt, he agonized over the question of why she had done it. She had never especially supported his intellectual interests, seeing them as unmanly and insular. She had been afraid that he would appear as a freak of sorts to her social friends, as indeed he may have. His mother would have much preferred him to have grown up as a child-athlete, like his twin, and highly sociable—so as to

provide her with opportunities to meet other parents and increase her social circle. She never met anybody through his intellectual hobbies. She was aggressive, but why so malicious as to try to sabotage his research? He debated whether to confront her, but knew she would become a tower of deceitful rage and indignation, and more than that, would use the opportunity to question again his mental solvency. “Perhaps,” he meekly rationalized to himself, “I will not confront her . . . only because of the debt I owe as her child.” That rosy thought rang falsely in his ears, but served as an adequate excuse for inaction. For the time being, he would busy himself with Sarzolian’s new research project, and try to keep the cracks in his mental structure from undermining his career. CHAPTER 14 “I will certainly miss having the baby with me in Mexico,” Colna sighed to Robanna as the old woman held the nervous infant in her lap. “Wish you’d trust me to take the thing with me.” The infant lay stiff and lifeless in the old woman’s arms, with a pronounced look of dread on its face that had become more pronounced as it had grown. “Mrs. Mack, I hate to say it, but I think you’re overhandling the baby. Your putting her in and out of her crib all day is exhausting her. You never let her sleep.” Colna angrily swept the child from her lap onto the couch, and got to her feet. “Put your baby away,” she said haughtily, “And clean the bathrooms upstairs, including the third floor. Patrick’s working now—he doesn’t have time to do the work you’re being paid to do. And when you’re finished, report to me for more tasks.” The old woman then dragged herself stiffly toward the kitchen. Robanna reached for her baby on the couch, who was now crying plaintively. Considering Colna’s poor mood, Robanna thought she ought to feed the baby some of the breast pump milk from the refrigerator so as to save time. Robanna did not like to breast feed the child all the time and so used a breast pump to

store milk, which she then kept in a container in the refrigerator. Fearing Colna would bark some further humiliating orders at her, Robanna gingerly opened the swinging door into the kitchen from the dining room. She peered through the narrow opening to see if Colna was still in the kitchen. Indeed she was. Robanna watched as the old woman lifted the container of breast milk to her mouth, and drank with considerable thirst. The old woman then refilled the container with cow’s milk, and wiping her mouth, exited the kitchen via the back hall. “That sick old vulture,” Robanna thought, “No wonder the baby seems weak lately.” Robanna was not one to quit a job out of indignation and selfpity even under the worst sort of abuse. She would stay on and exact whatever revenge an abusive employer might deserve. Her immediate thought was to dope the milk with some medications from Colna’s own drug hoard. She would have to be careful not to kill the old woman, but just give her an overdose to frighten her. Robanna nursed her baby and discarded the cow’s milk from the baby’s milk container, and then, struggling to do the bending and kneeling required, cleaned the bathrooms. Making best use of the tasks imposed on her, while cleaning her employer’s bathroom, she went into the old woman’s bedroom and took a handful of pills from a full vial in the drug hoard. Later she ground them into a powder, using a rolling pin and a plastic bag in the kitchen. That evening, after Colna had retired, she used the breast pump to fill the baby’s milk container, and mixed in the medication. She had picked a medication at random, and unbeknownst to her had doped the milk with a large dose of prednisone—an immunosuppressant corticosteroid that Colna took occasionally in small doses to combat especially bad flares of rheumatism. Colna had awoken early and had taken a generous swig from the baby’s milk container. She had noticed an odd taste to the milk and had carped to herself about what kind of ethnic food Robanna must have eaten to give it such a flavor. When she came into the kitchen later that morning, Robanna had duly noted the substitution of cow’s milk for her own in the

container because of the now noticeable changes in color and level, but to her disappointment, noticed no ill-effects on her employer. If anything, Colna seemed in a radiant mood. Colna had many things to do before leaving for Mexico, but flitted through her errands like a bird on a breeze, even humming to herself and, while shopping, acting coquettishly with perplexed store personnel—like a young girl. She was ravenous, too, and ate a huge lunch. Most noticeably, Colna’s joints no longer ached and returned to a flexibility she hadn’t enjoyed in years. It was as if she had found the elixir of youth. “I haven’t felt so alive since I was pregnant the last time,” she thought to herself. The effects were the results of the corticosteroids, which commonly gives those taking them a miraculous feeling of wellbeing. But, as always, joy presents its bill all too soon, and if taken regularly in large doses, the steroids exact destruction of the heart, liver and lungs as a price for their miracle. Disappointed to find Colna suffering not at all, Robanna would have tried administering a different drug cocktail to Colna in the baby’s milk container, again the following night, except that there was no opportunity to get into the drug cabinet, as Colna had remained in her bedroom packing for her trip. But suddenly Robanna found herself presented with a new opportunity for revenge. Colna had swept into the living room with uncommon litheness and good humor, and turning off the television in front of Robanna, announced, “I’ve decided I want you and the baby in Mexico with me. I’ll need you there. We’ll fly out tomorrow. You’ll like it there. You can do your usual nothing under the palm trees.” CHAPTER 15 There were in fact no palms in Crespo, Mexico, the hillside community 60 miles south of Mexico City to which Colna regularly retired. But the pine trees that covered the slopes lent the air a delightful fragrance, forming a mist that seemed to separate the highlands from the tawdry peasant villages of the valleys. As Mexico City had spread outward and the Acapulco road

was brought up to modern standards, the area’s fine qualities had been discovered by the rich and powerful of the capital, and extravagant villas had begun appearing among the pines. American retirees, who had no need to make regular excursions to Mexico City and who didn’t care about the quality of the Acapulco road were actually the first to build big homes in the hills of Crespo. They had leased the land on renewable 50year terms, from a cooperative of peasant farmers who had been granted the property in the land reforms of the 1930’s. The co-op had little use for the slopes and was quite delighted that the Americans would make an offer for them. Some Americans, like Colna’s husband, had been lucky enough to invest in large amounts of the property, and when the Acapulco road was modernized, enjoyed a windfall in value appreciation. When selling the property, Colna, her husband, and others had been happy to accept huge payments in pesos, the origin of which was not very pristine, from bureaucrats in Mexico City. The transfer of monies, much of it not recorded for tax reasons, required the Mackarts and the other Americans involved, to carry suitcases of pesos with their luggage on returning to the U.S., and then to find some complicit bank manager to exchange the pesos for dollars without making a full disclosure. Colna had been ferrying her windfall in cash across the border in small amounts for years, and as she got older had found that her advanced years put her almost beyond suspicion at customs. The American community at Crespo had originally constructed a large central villa for use as a community center, but as they tended to improve their own homes, building their own pools and big kitchens for example, the need for the community center diminished, and it was eventually put on the market—whereupon Colna had purchased the lease and converted it into an extravagant house in order to guarantee her position as the doyen of the expatriate society. The house had one feature that made it irresistible to Colna—its own thermal hot spring pool—and Colna loved to soak her rheumatism-ravaged body in the hot mineral waters. Colna considered herself and others like her as shrewd investors and not merely as lucky opportunists, and so begrudged

sharing any of the proceeds in any way that might reward those who had not “earned” it. For that reason, Colna did all of the hiring and firing of her Mexican staff through a local manager, so that the hirees would feel they were employed by the manager, whose living standard was barely above their own, rather than by the rich American. “They should feel lucky we’ve created jobs for them,” was Colna’s stock reply when Americans visiting her expressed surprise at her household’s low wages. Although she lived at her Mexican house as much as six months of the year, a month here and a month there, she had told her children that she was a renter, and she had never given them any indication of the true extent of her holdings there. Patrick, through his proximity to Colna, had learned the vague outlines of her Mexican assets, but kept that knowledge to himself. Colna let it be known to her children that they were welcome to visit only for brief periods every year—the better to keep their prying— inheritance-greedy—minds from gauging her estate. When she resided in Mexico she rarely called them but instead limited her contact with them to phone calls on holidays and birthdays. A month after arriving in Mexico, with Robanna and her baby in tow, Colna made a special call to Neal’s university laboratory. His assistant answered the phone. Colna, seated calmly at her bedroom desk and dressed sedately for church, spoke into the phone. “When are you going to stop mistreating animals, huh? Well, aren’t you going to answer? Huh . . . ? We’re not going to put up with it anymore. We have a gift for you from the animals. There’s a bomb for you in your lab now. Good luck.” Colna struggled up from her seat and was soon in her beautifully maintained black Seville, heading down the narrow asphalt road to the church in the town of Brenares in the valley below. Her driver, Pedro, would wait for her in an alley to the side of the church and then drive her back up the hill without so much as a glance around at the shabby village. The village of Brenares existed for no special reason except perhaps to administer to the souls and extract taxes from the Indian farmers who had long cultivated corn, fruits and vegetables in the rich volcanic soil of the valley between the pine-covered hills. Since the town was near the Acapulco road, some locals had been making pots, baskets and weavings for the

Mexico City bound tourists whom they could lure to the town’s open air market. What they could not sell to tourists, they would unload for virtually nothing to rabid wholesalers from the big tourist shops of Mexico City, who would sweep into the market and offer to buy everything for a pittance per item. Vendors, tired of sitting in the summer heat all day, would lose resolve and succumb to the wholesaler’s ready cash. The Spanish conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortez, had once built a palace for himself not far away, using materials from an Indian temple, and from the Cortez “court” Jesuits had fanned out to create church congregations from among the natives scattered there around. Brenares had none of the outdoor cafes, cobbled squares or public fountains that might have made it interesting to tourists. After 350 years Brenares had grown no larger than the number of families necessary to plant and harvest the surrounding lands, and the only structure of any consequence in the village remained the Jesuit’s original church. The volcanism that had created hot springs in the surrounding hills also produced occasional earthquakes, and the church had suffered repeatedly over the years. But repeatedly patched, it remained standing. The church itself was a simple single nave affair after the Jesuit style, built of the local dark and ugly volcanic stone. The interior had been plastered at one point, and some architectural decorations in the form of pilasters and niches had been painted onto the plaster. Its facade was equally drab—a dark monolith of rough stone awaiting a covering of dressed masonry, which the village had not been able to afford. Colna would have never considered buying anything at Brenares, except the labor of those young adults who had not yet fled to jobs in Cuernavaca or Mexico City. To buy supplies, Colna and other residents of the hills of Crespo took the 20 minute trip to Cuernavaca, the central city of the State of Morales. Despite its unpretentiousness, Colna did not hesitate to attend mass at the church in Brenares, and rather enjoyed appearing there almost as an apparition at the morning mass every day. Colna’s formal religiosity owed much to the model set by her mother—who had attended daily mass out on the prairie almost

every day of her life with an almost zombie-like obsessionality. What Colna contemplated during the services is hard to guess, but at the least she was attempting to make a pact with God by which she traded prayers and ritual in church for credit toward the afterlife and perhaps toward a little remission of her painful rheumatism here on earth. God, she imagined, should be very agreeable to her style of devotion. Colna’s neighbors were also impressed, though not without a touch of cynicism, by her seeming piety. She drew a hard and fast line between giving to God and giving to the church, however, and when the altar boy pushed the hand-woven reed collection basket into her aisle on a pole, she donated only a few coins. “I support my parish in the U.S.,” was the reason she used to justify her stinginess. Colna had never learned Spanish, and had nothing but a head nod for the priest, despite his attempts to introduce himself. From the staff at her house, however, the priest had learned a great deal about her, and from the reports of her abusive gruffness and parsimony, wished she had learned enough Spanish to avail herself of the forgiveness of the confessional. It would be wholly incorrect to say that Colna was a miser though, for there were certain expenses upon which she would never stint. Those were any expenses having to do with maintaining her social position in the American enclave in Crespo. Upon that objective she would heap enough money to rebuild the village church many times over. When establishing and preserving her image as a prosperous member of the community, there could be no such thing as waste. To have not spent money on a large, showy car, on a home big enough for a bishop, and on a large staff of servants, would have amounted to snubbing and degrading her community. It would amount to saying to her American neighbors, “Your admiration is not worth fighting for.” Had she not entertained them in the large marblefloored reception rooms of her house, her neighbors might fear that she was allowing some parasitic individuals, such as lazy children, or unworthy public charities, to leach her honest money. With her money spent on public display, at least they could rest assured that no one disreputable benefited from it.

CHAPTER 16 Neal’s lab assistant held up the phone and motioned frantically for Neal to come put his ear to the receiver. On the other end, Colna was making her bomb threat. Neal recognized the voice immediately, and when Colna had slammed down the receiver, he stood in stupefied silence. “Neal, I thought the animal rights people had agreed to a moratorium on harassing our department. She says there’s a bomb in the lab.” “Has our door been unlocked when we were out?” Neal replied stonily. “No.” “Well then, don’t worry. I used to get that kind of call all the time. Of course the one cruel thing about those calls is that they never come on Friday afternoon—when everybody would gladly evacuate. . . . Anyway, I recognize the voice.” “So, the animal people are breaking the moratorium?” “No, this woman doesn’t really love animals, she just hates me personally.” “Why?” “Well, she wants my research to fail, I guess. She doesn’t want me to succeed in life.” “If you know who she is, why don’t you just call the police?” “It’s not that easy. You see, she’s in Mexico.” “What!? That is bizarre . . . Well, I still think you should call the police.” “No, I think I’ll take care of this myself.” The lab assistant looked at Neal with perplexed amazement. “Well, I hope you explain it to me some day.” “Anyway, I’m going to take the rest of the day off. I may be in late tomorrow. If anybody asks for me, tell them I’m out sick.” “Yeah,” the lab assistant said with resignation, “while I’m blown to shreds by the bomb.” Neal drove recklessly fast to his apartment and then went immediately to the airport. From St. Louis Airport no flights went directly to Mexico City, so after changing planes in Houston, he could arrive in Mexico City at 10:45 in the evening, at the earliest. It would be after midnight before he would get to

Crespo. CHAPTER 17 Whatever the charms the Mexican house may have had for Colna, Robanna found life there quite dull, and had to content herself with whatever English-language television programming she could raise through Mexican satellite television. She would never have been allowed to join Colna’s social activities, nor would she have wanted to. She did begrudge Colna chasing her away from the poolside in the afternoons on the chance that Colna might have guests, when she was enjoying the warm southern sun and lush pine scent. Robanna was sustained, though, by an abiding curiosity about what form Colna assets took in Mexico. That Colna had a stash of money and was not by any means living off her welfare benefits was laughably apparent from the moment she, Colna and the baby were met in Mexico City in the chauffeured Seville for the drive south. Yet Colna never gave up the pretense that she was renting the place and claimed that the car and staff came with it. But Colna seemed to treat the place very much as her own. Colna also seemed to be on quite good terms with some of the Mexico City big-wigs who had homes in Crespo. Those characters had a certain roughness that suggested new and maybe not entirely legitimate money. Colna’s house manager, though somewhat bilingual, would not talk about Mrs. Mackart’s finances—and had been well-primed by Colna herself to avoid such questions. So, Robanna had to rely on the meager bits of information she could acquire by simply being in the right place at the right time. Her baby had become more robust since moving to Mexico. On her guard now, Robanna had been nursing her child entirely at her own breast, and had brought along the breast pump only for eventualities. Of course Colna was plainly aware of the absence of fresh “milk” in the refrigerator. “I see you’re breast-feeding your baby now—just like a Mexican peasant woman. I’m surprised you’ve taken to the local culture so fast, Robanna. Just stay in your room when you’re suckling—even if I’m away—in case somebody comes by,” was Colna’s caustic observation. The

baby had also spent more time in Robanna’s arms than otherwise, partly because Colna was more preoccupied and had less time to grab the baby, and because Robanna did not trust the local staff. Occasionally Colna would burst into the house, and not finding the baby as usual in a crib by the television, would hunt her down in Robanna’s room where Robanna would have taken her for nursing or changing. “Have you got the baby in there?” Colna would shout. “Yes, I’m nursing,” would be Robanna’s reply. “How come that thing’s always nursing? What have you got in there, a child or a calf!? It’s going to be as big as you are pretty soon if you’re not careful,” Colna would then say in exasperation. The exhilaration Colna had enjoyed from the breast milk doped with prednisone had begun to wear off, and she began suffering a severe rebound of her rheumatic symptoms. Her knees and shoulder were now so stiff and sore in the mornings that she would lie awake for hours fearing the pain upon trying to get out of bed. Her gait had become almost a shuffle, and she her arms had almost lost their strength so that she could barely move even a toothbrush. Even turning the handle on a door took perseverance. As the day wore on, however, Colna would usually gain flexibility, so that by dinner time she could move about without embarrassing herself as a cripple before her social acquaintances. Some days Colna could persuade herself to get out of bed only through the self-imposed obligation to attend morning mass. Her driver would help her shuffle into the last row of chairs at the back of the nave, and there she would sit out the service, without even attempting to kneel. During the service, especially in the winter months, she would sustain herself with the thought of going immediately to the mineral hot spring pool upon arriving home, where the water would be nearly warm enough to cook an egg. There she could eat breakfast, brought to her on a tray from the kitchen, while the warmth eased the pain and brought a modicum of suppleness back to her limbs. One morning Colna had gone to church as usual and one of the housemaids had taken the opportunity to clean Colna’s room. She had dusted the fixtures and tabletops, but for the large polished wood crucifix above the bed, she dared not commit the

sacrilege of using the dirty feather duster, and instead she got a special clean soft cloth and stood carefully on the bed so she could remove the crucifix from the wall. As she reached around the base, at the feet of Christ, she suddenly felt a tremendous sting. The pain was so great she fell back on the bed, screaming. As she held up her hand in agony she saw a scorpion scurrying away across the bed. In a rage of tormenting pain, she followed the insect as it hurried across the floor and stomped with her foot with an enormous thud. The insect had evaded her, however, and had gone across the tile floor and under a door in the boudoir. Fortunately she had not been bitten by a lethal species, but nonetheless received an agonizing bite. Her cry had brought the entire household to the bedroom, including Robanna whose bedroom was nearby. The housekeeper recited a Spanish proverb while holding the girl’s hand, “The Devil’s favorite place to hide is behind the cross.” The girl pointed to the boudoir, and so it was there that the house manager started her hunt for the scorpion. The house manager had asked one of the women in the room for a shoe, and with it raised tensely in her hand, she had proceeded into the boudoir. In her boredom, Robanna found all this excitement to be quite a draw, but because she could not understand Spanish, had little idea of what was occurring. When the house manager used her keys to open a locked closet in the boudoir, Robanna was close behind, gazing over the woman’s shoulder. Others in the room were standing cautiously back. What Robanna saw as the door opened was no mere closet, however, but apparently a small chapel devoted to the Madonna and Child, for there were small brilliant hued mosaics of the sacred infant and mother set into tiled walls on all three sides of the closet. Light filtered into the room through two thin sheets of alabaster. On the far side was a virtual altar in creme-colored marble. Strangely incongruous, though, a framed pair of baby socks stood propped atop the altar —the baby booties and children’s clothing and toys she had seen at Colna’s U.S. home. Robanna’s startled reaction consisted of two parts: one, “What a sick woman! Why would she deify a dead baby!” and the other, “So, she owns this place—just as I thought.”

As Robanna stood gazing into the room, the house manager was busy looking into corners and cracks for signs of the scorpion. Aware of the hunt in progress on the floor, the creature had crawled up the wall, until with a crash Robanna’s fist reduced it to writhing mush. “You are a brave one, Robanna,” the manager said in surprise, and quickly retreated to the bathroom to get something to clean up the mess. “You must never tell Senora Mackart that you have seen this place,” she implored. Robanna, looking with disgust at the insect’s remains on her palm, nodded her head. CHAPTER 18 Patrick had been online all evening, as usual, when he heard the telephone ring. Thinking it may be another potential assignation, he quickly snatched up the phone and answered in a smooth, sonorous voice. His look of anticipation turned to one of impatience upon hearing the familiar voice on the other end. “Huh, it’s you, Robanna, what are you calling about? Checking up on me?” “Your mother told me she was renting this property, right?” “Yes.” “You know she owns this place, don’t you?” she said accusatively. “What are you asking, Robanna?” “What ALL does she own down here, anyway?” Patrick, still angry at his mother for sending him to work at the Tuscana, relaxed his filial loyalty for a moment. “She’s rich you know—but everything’s in a Mexican trust—it’s all in pesos. She only gets the money in dribs and drabs whenever she’s down there . . . Tell her I told you this, and you’ll DIE, Robanna,” he said matter-of-factly. “Why does she trouble getting the welfare money in the U.S. then?” Robanna asked. “That’s just to give the IRS the impression that she has an income from within the U.S., so she can mix in the Mexican money without creating suspicion.” “What a crafty woman. That’s more than I gave her credit for.” Having gotten the information she wanted, Robanna quickly

ended the conversation with a few pleasantries about the house’s setting. “The old woman’s using one stream of cash to cover another stream of cash,” Robanna found herself thinking irresistibly. There ought to be some way of diverting some of the stream.” Colna’s stiffness and pain continued unabated, and she began spending more and more time in the hot springs pool. The heat of the pool, however, limited the amount of time she could spend there, and she was frequently trundling back and forth between social visits and soakings in the pool. To watch her health relapse so suddenly had depressed her and made her desperate to recapture the vigor she had experienced during her last few days in the U.S. She tried to relieve the pain with even greater consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. She avoided the temptation to increase her dose of anti-rheumatoidal medicine, however, as her doctor had frightened her with predictions of severe organ damage at high doses. It was a sultry night in late spring, and Colna had just returned from a cocktail party to welcome one of the American couples who had returned to Crespo after spending the winter and spring in the more balmy Cancun. Colna had had several cocktails, and was more unsteady than ever as her driver helped her into the house. To her disgust, she found Robanna sprawled across the television room couch like an overstuffed rag doll, fast asleep with the television blaring a Spanish language program. Her baby daughter, also fast asleep despite the noise, lay in a crib next to her. “The pigs,” Colna said to herself. “Pedro,” she called out into the hall to the retreating driver, “Help me to my room, I’m going to change for the hot spring.” Pedro tried his best to dissuade her from entering the hot water in her obviously inebriated condition, but the alcohol had made the old woman more aggressive and headstrong than usual. He had insisted on standing by while she soaked, but at the pool, she noticed his frightened eyes glaring at her unsteady body, and she refused to take off her robe. “What the hell are you gaping at,” she snapped, “No, you’re not going to get to see me half nude. Get out of here.” And she waived him off. Pedro decided to wait in the television room, which had French doors leading to the patio and pool, while she bathed. Suddenly

he heard her cry out, “Pedro, roll the baby out here. It needs some fresh air.” Pedro did so obediently, gently pushing the crib so as not to wake the sleeping child. It was a wonderful night to be outside, and Pedro envied the old woman as she relaxed with her head resting back against the rim of the bubbling pool, with eyes looking up at the sky full of stars. The driver had become engrossed in the television program, and jumped to his feet with a start when he realized he had left the old woman in the hot water for over 20 minutes. When he arrived at the hot spring bath, to his horror, he saw Colna pulling the infant out of the water. The child’s skin had turned a dark red, and it seemed lifeless. “I thought it’d like a dip. I guess it got too hot. Better leave it nude on the patio to cool down,” Colna said with irritation as Pedro approached. Pedro could see no life in the child, however, and despite his crude attempt to administer resuscitation, the child was clearly beyond reviving. Death was officially attributed to hyperthermia, and the examining doctor had brusquely announced in Spanish to those assembled that the baby had been cooked to death. Robanna blamed herself for allowing the infant to share the company of such an inhuman woman, and resolved immediately to neutralize her so that she could not practice her evil on someone else. In the days before the funeral, she had tried not to show the full extent of her grief, and tried to express gratitude when Colna offered to compensate her, in pesos, for the accident. Her grief and self-incrimination were unrelenting however and she became withdrawn and sullen. After a few days Colna had already grown tired of Robanna’s moodiness, and though Colna should have been the last person in the world to tell the mourning mother to stop grieving, Colna could not contain herself when she saw Robanna sitting inanimately in a dark corner of the patio. “I lost a child, too, Robanna. You need to get over it.” Robanna remained silent. Colna’s patience had finally worn out, and she shuffled over to where the grieving woman was sitting motionless. “Have another baby! There are lots more where that came from,” and on saying that she lifted Robanna’s skirt, “. . . and here’s the mold for making more!”

“Get away from me before I throw you in the hot spring myself,” the infuriated young woman yelled. Colna quickly shuffled backward, and turning said over her shoulder, “If you want to leave after the funeral, I will gladly buy you a ticket, in addition to the money I’ve already promised you.” Colna then limped away leaving Robanna to soak up the gloom of the patio shadows. Robanna’s revenge came quickly, even before she had interred the infant. The infant’s tiny casket stood ceremoniously in the center of the village church with its lid tightly closed. Colna seemed to be much affected by the death and funeral, and wore an expression of sincere dejection during the ceremony. Both she and Robanna had shed tears before the ceremony was over, and in a communion of sympathy, Robanna had led the old woman to the casket for one final look before it was lifted away for burial. Robanna helped the crippled woman out of her seat and, holding her with a hand gripping her shoulder, had brought her to the tiny wooden box. Colna felt honored by the respect Robanna was paying to her and was highly grateful for this gesture of forgiveness. Robanna lifted the lid to give the woman one last view of the infant who had cheered and comforted her in her rheumatoid distress. As the old woman gazed into the coffin however, a look of almost diabolical rage came over her face, and only by putting her knobby hand over her mouth and eyes, was she able to conceal its contortions from those gathered in the church. Robanna was unable, even through her fresh tears, to repress a smirk, for inside the coffin, her infant’s corpse was dressed in the booties and baby clothes from the shrine in Colna’s boudoir. Colna immediately left the church and refused to attend the burial. Instead she had gone immediately to her house to inspect the sacrilegious pilferage of the shrine to her stillborn. Colna had already decided to have Robanna’s child’s casket disinterred as soon as she could get the hideous Robanna out of Mexico. In the meantime, she would have to do something to punish the woman’s sacrilege. Colna was not mollified when she found a packet under her bedroom door that evening containing the booties and other clothing that had dressed Robanna’s dead infant in church. And several glasses of alcohol could not soothe

her rage. Amongst her pharmacopoeia, the old woman found a syringe. Loading it with barbiturate, she approached Robanna’s room. From outside she could hear her talking in excited tones—very unlike a mother who had just buried her infant daughter. Colna’s timing could not have been more fortunate. Robanna was obviously on the telephone, which she had pulled into her room from the hall. When Colna heard the name of her son, Patrick, in the conversation, she trained her hearing to the conversation on the other side of the door. “Don’t try to discourage me, Patrick, I know you’ve thought of keeping her as an income COW yourself. She’s perfect—almost an invalid already. Leave the rich cow to me.” Colna returned to her room and waited for Robanna to return the phone to the hall table. After a short while, Robanna’s door opened, and there was an audible plunk as she put the telephone back on the hall table. Sensing her opportunity, Colna then shuffled anxiously into the hall. The old woman had irreverently chosen a rosary as a prop to distract the young woman, and carried it strung loosely between her gnarled fingers. Robanna warily admitted Colna to her room. She could see that Colna had been praying, perhaps even contritely, because the old woman was carrying a rosary. “I’m so . . . sorry,” Colna said, raising her hand to her face as if to instinctively wipe away a tear. As she raised her hand, however, she let the rosary drop. The holy string of beads coiled onto the carpet almost noiselessly. Colna feigned great consternation at the sacrilege of dropping the holy beads, and continued to fret until Robanna, who was also eager to deceive with a show of solicitousness, bent to pick them up. With Robanna bent over and distracted, Colna hurriedly shot the syringe into the fat woman’s enormous buttocks. Robanna had begun to call out in pain, but slumped to the floor in a semi-conscious state before she could get a sound from her throat. Colna worked slowly and agonizingly to lift the drugged woman to a chair, all the while asking her what had happened. She then used clothing and belts she found in the closet to tie

Robanna to the chair. Robanna was vaguely aware of the old woman moving around the room, but had become too doped to remember the events leading to her present loss of consciousness. The sting of the needle remained in the mind however—but as her consciousness was not under her control, the events of the several days before flooded into her mind and she came to imagine that she had been a victim of a scorpion bite, and reasoned that the old woman was frantically attempting to locate the creature before it could bite again. Colna continued to move wildly about the room and at last found in a drawer what she had in fact been searching for. “There,” she said triumphantly as she pulled the breast pump out of a drawer. Robanna had not nursed for a couple days, and her blouse seemed to burst open as Colna undid the buttons. The drugged woman, strapped to the chair, could vaguely feel the chill of the pump as the old woman clamped it to her breast. “We’ll see who the COW is now,” Colna said as she pumped milk through the tube to her own mouth. Colna, in her frenzy to enjoy the elixir of fresh mother’s milk, had carelessly failed to account for the almost instantaneous contamination of the milk with the barbiturate she had just administered, and as she squirted the warm milk into her mouth, she was in fact drugging herself. The traces of barbiturate in the milk coupled with the alcohol in her system made her wildly intoxicated, and, abandoning her victim, Colna returned in a delirium to her bedroom. Neal had arrived in Mexico City that evening and hired a car to take him to Brenares. When he arrived at the Mackart house in Crespo it was late, and all the staff had left for the evening, except the driver, Pedro, who lived above the garage. Much to his dismay, Robanna had apparently also gone to bed, and Neal was forced to rouse Pedro in an attempt to get into the house. The house was dark and ghastly silent. He found his mother’s bedroom alight, but saw no trace of her. As he opened the door onto the patio the smell of minerals mixed with pine wafted heavily on the night air. Seeing no sign of her, he decided to return to her room, to look for some indication of where she might have gone at that very late hour. It was then that he heard

muffled sounds coming from the boudoir. Pulling open a door, he stood unbelieving before Colna’s hidden shrine. Colna, with her back to him, was frantically trying to open the lid to a tiny weathered coffin with her bare hands. “If that bitch has opened this casket, I’m going to kill . . . I’ll inject her with everything I’ve got.” “Is all this for Andrew?” Neal said. Colna looked around wildly. At the sight of her son, she yelled in fury, “Don’t you EVER mention his name. You are unworthy of mentioning his name!” “Why?” “Because you’re nothing!” “And why am I nothing?” “Because you will never replace my Andrew—my first born— and ONLY son.” Colna pushed the coffin behind her and came forward with ferocious vigor to prevent Neal from profaning the shrine any further. Her arms hit him with such force that he was knocked against the shelves on the other side of the boudoir. Before he had a chance to straighten up and recover from the blow, Colna had closed the door to the shrine behind her. “You always thought of yourself as the first born, didn’t you. You took great pride in your place in the birth order. You profited from Andrew’s death! You and your brother, the first born males—bah —gloating to yourselves. If Andrew had survived he would have made you look pathetic. He would have been a real man I could have been proud of. Don’t pretend to replace my Andrew—you are NOTHING!” “But I am your son, . . . your flesh and blood.” “You’re not a son. You’re a cheap substitute for my real son.” “Who is your REAL son?—certainly not a child who was born dead!” Neal would have liked to have struck the old woman down for her taunts, but filial duty stayed his hand. “Why try to hurt me— to wreck my career? How could you be so evil?” he yelled, his voice seething in anger. Colna’s eyes flashed, and her stare pierced the space the air between them. “I AM evil, don’t you get it? I’m a child killer. Didn’t you see it, Andrew’s little coffin? I killed him at birth!” “He was stillborn—how can you blame yourself?”

“I KILLED HIM! He would have been born alive if I had done everything right. There was something I did—something in what I ate, in the way I sat, in the way I slept that killed him. The doctor suggested a caesarean. I said no. I was afraid I’d become sterile. And I killed him before he could even breathe his first breath of air. I am damned to be an infertile witch—I kill my own children!” Colna looked away momentarily as if to strengthen herself. Her expression now took on fresh resolve, “Now get out of here, get out! Pedro will drive you to Cuernavaca.” Colna looked frantically around her until she found the syringe where she had left it on her bed table. She grabbed it and pointed it at Neal. “Get out!” “Whom should I pity more, myself or her?” he thought, finding to his amazement that his rage had evaporated. The smell of alcohol was strong on her breath, and she apparently had been using the syringe to inject some drug. Neal decided to leave the house and to return again the following day, when she would be less delirious. Neal had barely left the bedroom before Colna was on the phone, “Pedro, drive Neal to the Hotel Villa Bejar in Cuernavaca. I don’t want him to stay here tonight.” The old woman then began tearing at her clothes. “I’ve got to soak in the hot spring. I have to have some relief.” CHAPTER 19 Two servants grabbed Colna by the arms and pulled her from the spa early the next morning. Neal regretted later having waited in Cuernavaca for her to sober up and wondered whether she had had her stroke in the hot water or on the deck after she had been pulled out. The drug and alcohol had rendered her almost unconscious in the water, and by the time she had been discovered, she had suffered a disastrous brain hemorrhage. The servants had noticed that after she had been out of the water for a several minutes, her body had seemed to shrink as if drained of whatever human vitality it may have contained. Her breasts, lying shriveled and flat against her sunken chest, seemed to have never been capable of nursing a child, the servants said among themselves.

Robanna had recovered after sleeping soundly in drugged unconsciousness through the night, and had been greeted with news pleasant enough to satisfy her wildest dreams: the old woman was now paralyzed and bedridden—a potential cash cow of unearned income. Robanna had then reconsidered her departure, and would now happily stay to minister to the incapacitated old woman and collect the woman’s money. After a sleepless night in which his mother’s rejection played over and over in his mind, Neal abandoned his mother to her fate and returned to the U.S., leaving Robanna to care for her in any manner she pleased. Robanna had decided not to call a physician, and for the first couple weeks directed Colna’s perfunctory treatment herself. A short time later she moved Colna to one of the smaller bedrooms in the house. Colna could neither move her arms, nor speak, but from the guttural sounds she made seemed infuriated by the change of room. Sensing that Colna was desperate to say something, Robanna condescended to speak for her. “It’s your turn to be mothered now. I’m going to take good care of you. You like that idea, don’t you? I knew you would! I’m not going to tell anyone in the U.S. for the time being. Neal and Patrick are not going to tell anyone either. We want you to get better first. You agree, don’t you? I thought you would! I’ve discovered the trust you set up for yourself in Mexico City—the one that sends you a bale of pesos every month. Don’t worry, the trust is going to keep sending you pesos. Patrick and I will keep the money for you. We’re raising the wages of your staff. They said they wouldn’t tell anyone about your stroke. Is that okay? Good! The priest was here. He will be saying novenas for you. In return, a lot of your money is going to pay for a facade for the church in Brenares. You like that, huh? I knew you would! Patrick sends his best. He’s going to keep your secrets and your government benefits. He wants you to recover completely before returning to the U.S. That’s a good idea, isn’t it, mom? That’s going to be a long, long time from now, though, huh, mom? And Andrew’s coffin . . . Neal took that with him. He’s going to send it to Father O’Lann in Morrisville for reburial in the church graveyard. You’re delighted? Of course you are! We all are!

CHAPTER 20 Winning the grand prize in a game of chance, such as in the game of life, requires a big win at the start. That provides the wherewithal to stay in the game and ultimately beat the odds. In life there are many who continue to take great risks, even though they’ve never won big and will never beat the odds. Ultimately, when losses force them out of the game, they are totally ruined— unable to make any further investments, and not even capable of winning one of life’s many tiny prizes. “Have I been lucky in life,” Neal asked himself as he sat facing Sarzolian on his return from Mexico, “. . . or have I just won an untenable grip on a minor prize?” Fate had not dealt him a good hand in giving him the woman Colna Mackart as a mother—that was now obvious. Her personality, the events of her life, and the distorting effect of the loss of her first child had made of her the anti-mother, the woman who, far from nurturing her children, seeks instead to destroy them. “In the end,” Neal thought, “perhaps the schools that passed me along with good grades—maybe they were an adequate substitute for a loving mother.” Neal had merely to reflect on his disappointment with his current academic position—constricted as it was by Sarzolian’s fatuous, career-oriented goals—to see that institutions would never nurture his spirit. He had finally weaned himself from the idea that Colna Mackart could ever be a true mother to him. But the need for a nurturing figure would remain with him. How was he to fill the void? “I guess I deceived myself when I considered myself lucky in life,” he concluded to himself, “As a good student, I thought I would have a satisfying career—and growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, society’s material prospects seemed unbounded. I knew my mother wasn’t the greatest, but I would have never thought of her as a threat. Anyway, I always assumed every woman would naturally be motherly to her children—that would be every woman’s instinct—wouldn’t it?”

Neal felt overwhelmed by feelings of resignation. Sarzolian had been talking to him but had now paused because of the deep sadness weighing down his young colleague’s face. He sensed Neal’s thoughts had drifted away to a disturbing, personal subject. “I don’t know why,” Neal continued to ponder, “but I had always wanted to win the grand prize in life—a professorship at a great research institution, a great discovery—fame, power. I was foolish not to realize I had never really had the wherewithal. I hadn’t had the initial good fortunate of a good mother—and without that, how could I have dreamed of beating the odds?” “Neal, what are you thinking about?” Sarzolian asked, “Are you listening?” “I’m sorry, Dr. Sarzolian,” Neal said, realizing he had been ignoring the P.I., “I was just thinking how sorry I was to have suggested I distrusted your research methods. I just want to let you know that my job here is the greatest thing that’s happened to me.” Although flattered Sarzolian was quite perplexed about what might have triggered Neal to interject such a thing. “I wonder what’s happened to him? Thank God he’s changed his attitude.”

Analysis of Two Cuckoos
CHAPTER 1 – HOOK The short novel opens with a “hook” chapter, designed to quickly and securely grab reader’s interest. This chapter has four chief objectives: (1) to stimulate the reader to engage aggressively with the author; (2) to convince reader that the novel will provide useful survival information; (3) to stimulate reader to construct a werschema; and (4) show antag has exhausted her coping mechanisms (this sets up her later transfer of aggression to emcair). Pricking curiosity about the topic is an optional objective. The chapter opens with a display of latent power, the doctor admonishing the nurse. But that minor conflict is put into shadow by the appearance of Colna—highly motivated to achieve a bizarre need—that is to have another

child at an advanced age. The doctor is sufficiently aggressive to dispatch her peremptorily. The author plunges the reader into the midst of a highly-charged dramatic situation. Many of the situa elements are presented as loose threads. There are a couple conflicts, and the reader is left uncertain as to which one might be the dominant conflict of the novel. Readers tolerate a certain amount of ambiguity in order to expedite a story and so do not make immediate demands for clarification. Plunging into the middle of an event requires quick orienting from the reader, but it also saves the reader from a boring, long-winded exposition. This leaves reader dangling, however, with no ability to create a werschema during the chapter. Throughout a novel, the author challenges the reader to orient himself quickly to adaction. In every chapter, the conrelact between author and reader will be played out. Reader is conscious that author must play by the constraints of human communication and a common understanding of human experience. One might assume that the author has all the power in the novel, but the reader always has the option of abandoning the novel and so can keep author from exercising arbitrary power excessively. Author knows he must provide reader a certain amount information or risk being tossed aside. The clever reader has opportunities to second-guess the author, and so the author is also challenged to stay one step ahead. Of course, the author usually has the advantage, since he controls the flow of information. A dull author is predictable, and a clever reader can construct a werschema that accurately predicts the outcome of conflicts or sees through the “surprises” with which the dull author may try to waylay the reader. ¶ 1. TEXT “You’re lucky you ordered that uterine laparoscopy, doctor. It’s amazing she’s had any children at all. The uterus walls, they’re chewed up with scars.” “She must have had chronic streptococcus infections her whole life. Which patient was ANALYSIS Narrator uses his power of dropping into a scene—to make reader scramble to figure out what might be going on. Reader probably enjoys the challenge to his orienting skills. Reader’s attention is focused on Colna.

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that?” “She was the one who complained to you that the doll in the waiting room was a child and not an infant.” “Oh yeah, the one who said something like, ‘Well, this is a baby-making clinic, isn’t it?’ I’ve never seen anyone in such bad physical shape come in for artificial insemination. She’s way too old anyway. Marguerite, you should never have let her in the door—at her age . . . 55—if that’s her real age. She looks 68.” “Well, I didn’t reject her, because you told me not to be judgmental.” The nurse had raised her voice now, and had taken on the bitter tone of one too often accused after merely obeying orders. The doctor looked past her to be sure the door was shut completely and then said loudly, “I didn’t tell you not to use professional good sense. I said you shouldn’t scrutinize people’s motives too closely. I didn’t say you should ignore their physical health!” “You’re the doctor. How did I know what she was like inside? She seemed strong enough.” The doctor put his open hand to his face. “What about

The load of ambiguous information is getting heavy now, so reader will demand a broader look at the situation. Reader senses a conflict here, and so begins to construct a werschema. But the major participants in the conflict are not identified—are they doctor versus nurse, or doctor versus the old woman?

Author misleads reader into sensing the conflict participants are doctor versus nurse. Author encourages reader’s sympathy with nurse—and reader wisets her empowerment.

Doctor shows complete and almost abusive control.

Reader’s wiset for nurse’s empowerment fulfilled—as nurse becomes more self-assertive Author flouts reader’s wiset.

her hands. Didn’t you see the crooked joints? She’s obviously ridden with rheumatism.” 9. Marguerite stood silently while the doctor shook the hand, waiting for her reaction. The nurse merely sat down limply, making no retort. After a moment she said plaintively, “Well, the first thing that occurred to me was that her motives were very weird. What does she want with another child anyway? She’s already had six, plus that stillborn. And one of her children is a retarded son who’s still living with her— and she’s a widow.” 10 The doctor sat listening with . a dismissive air, as the nurse continued, “She says she hasn’t any money but she could use government benefits if you called the procedure ‘gynecological treatment’.” 11 In disgust the doctor . pretended to occupy himself with assembling the folders on his desk, and said in a low voice, “What kind of scam is she running anyway? She’s got an address in an expensive neighborhood. If she’s that poor, what’s she doing trying to get pregnant anyway?”

Doctor versus nurse conflict has been defused. It was just a red herring conflict, used to generate interest. Reader will now have to scramble to adjust his werschema since, by the volume of information just given, the old woman is probably going to be a major character. Reader will need more information about the woman’s needs, motives and power resources.

The old woman has the rash power of the insane. Reader will ask: Does the doctor have the power to defend himself?

Author portrays doctor as aggressive and sceptical, and obviously he won’t have trouble defending himself. Yet the old woman has the power of a criminal mind. Reader will sympathize with doctor and nurse, and feel a threat from the old woman that he will want to relieve with more information. Reader would like to have a showdown between the old woman and doctor to reveal who is more powerful. (But the author never

12 Shoving a folder toward the . nurse, he lifted his head and gazed directly at her, “I don’t want her to step foot in this clinic again. She’s dangerous —the kind you never want as a patient. Marguerite, I want you to go to the waiting room and bring Mrs. Mackart into a consultation room. Write up a prescription for penicillin for the streptococcus—then tell her to see another gynecologist for follow-up. Tell her I cannot see her again, and another pregnancy would be out of the question. . ..” Nurse obeys silently, without 13 The nurse stood to leave. resistance. . 14 “ . . . And don’t tell any other . woman that sick—physically and morally—we can help her get pregnant.” Saying that, the doctor grabbed another patient chart from a stack on his desk, and engrossed himself in it. 15 Mrs. Colna Mackart and her . son, Patrick, were sitting alone in the waiting room. His psychological abnormality was evident from the manic way he would repeatedly stand up and walk around the room, peering at pictures on the wall and shuffling noisily

provides any such showdown). The old woman would have to be extremely aggressive to successfully challenge the doctor.

The doctor has laid down the gauntlet

Reader will now be quite anxious to resolve the ambiguities about Colna’s motives. She is obviously cynical.

through the stacks of magazines on the end tables. In his rummaging through the magazines he found a tabloid article recounting a popular actress’s fickle decision to have an abortion—after having been artificially inseminated at a fertility clinic. Patrick had tastelessly told his mother about the article, and she had angrily rebuked him—though, as the nurse entered the waiting room, a faint smirk had begun to register on her face. 16 Colna Mackart’s wrinkled . skin and thinning hair gave her a post-menopausal look, but her firm jaw and active, steel-blue eyes gave her appearance an undeniable vigorousness. The prompt, though somewhat stiff, manner in which she rose from the couch as the nurse entered the waiting room, reassured the nurse that her initial impression of the woman’s robustness had been well justified. The kindly manner in which Mrs. Mackart asked her son to wait while she saw the doctor, also belied the perfidy in which doctor had cast her. In fact, Mrs. Mackart had seemed so gentle and honest that the nurse could not muster the

Author adds physical force to Colna’s powers. He ambiguates her nature, though—kind or perfidious? Reader is vulnerable to nurse’s point of view because of earlier sympathy for her.

courage to tell her of the doctor’s rejection, but she merely gave the gentle lady the penicillin prescription and told her they would have more examination results for her later. 17 Colna seemed quite . surprised at hearing of the streptococcus infection, though upon hearing of it she became suddenly quite pensive, and it was a moment before she responded. “As a girl, I remember having ear infections all the time. I would cry all night because of the pain. Eventually the pain would go away. I think my mother thought it was a normal part of childhood to have such infections, so she never took me to a doctor. You know, I’m not the type who complains or goes to the doctor about every little thing.” 18 A suggestion of pity now . entered the nurse’s perception of the woman, and she reflexively put her hand on Colna’s shoulder. “Well, there’s no need now to suffer from that kind of illness and pain.” 19 As if waiting for such a . prompt, however, Colna asked the nurse to add some strong pain relievers and

Author challenges reader’s inclination to see Colna as an antag (that is, as a negative and destructive force).

Reader will wonder whether Colna is truly pitiable or merely duping the nurse.

Author deepens reader’s frustration over Colna’s character. Reader will be desperate to know her true motives.

tranquilizers, whose generic medical names she pronounced effortlessly, to the penicillin the doctor had already prescribed. The nurse winced at the woman’s seeming opportunism, but nonetheless assured her that the doctor would call a pharmacy with the prescriptions—though she knew she might have to endure another confrontation with the doctor to get them. 20 Having made that . concession, the nurse was anxious to discourage the patient’s hopes of insemination as much as possible, and so gave an exaggerated account of the potential cost of an insemination, and told her the clinic would not accept Medicaid or Medicare or whatever from her. 21 Colna had set her jaw all the . more firmly upon hearing this and had raised her head determinedly. As she accompanied Mrs. Mackart, who was walking with stiff dignity out of the consultation room, the nurse was left puzzled by thoughts of the woman’s true motives in seeking a pregnancy—a puzzlement made all the more trenchant by the pity she felt

Reader will also wonder whether the conflict between nurse and doctor will be revived or be merely a temporary conflict not central to the novel.

The nurse is not intimidated by Colna (and has no reason to be, despite doctor’s warnings)

Colna probably will not give up. Author further ambiguates whether she is the antag. Reader will be quite keen to follow her activities on the suspicion that she is the antag.

for the woman. 22 After the woman and her . son had left, the nurse began straightening up the waiting room, as if to rid herself of the feelings of confusion. She stacked the magazines that the son had left strewn around, and adjusted the sofa cushions. As she laid a loose cushion in the corner of one of the sofas, however, she noticed a toy hand protruding from between the cushions. Instinctively, she looked toward the reception desk for the plastic doll that normally stood on display in the waiting room. It was gone, and this hand then obviously belonged to it. She pulled the doll out, and straightened its dress. Who had stuffed it between the cushions, she wondered—as if to hide it?

Author adds the doll-in-cushion mystery just to aggravate the reader’s uncertainties. It’s a faux symbol. On the face of it, the doll seems like a symbol, but reader has little clue as to what the symbol may reference. The doll-in-cushion may point to an aggressive son, who will pose a threat and needs to be scrutinized. Reader will set aside an energy reserve for that vigilance.

CHAPTER 2 – IDENTIFY KERUNDS Chapter 2 will give reader strong clues as to which characters are the kerunds and describe some aspects of the situa. Because of the novelty of the circumstances and the characters, reader will be able to only partially construct a werschema for the situa. Colna does not respect her son and is keen to extract as much as she can from him financially, simply based on his feelings of filial obligation. In her brazen imposition of herself on him she runs into a bit of a problem with a lab animal to which she is drawn by curiosity. [Following the narrative, the reader gets the idea that Colna has pity and affection for the animal, but in terms of the true meaning of the action, the cat is a symbol of witchcraft, and it is to witchcraft that Colna is attracted.] The lab animal is

her first atrocity. Once in contact with her son she realizes that he has a substantial career in ascendance, and she becomes alarmed. At that moment she decides to sabotage him at his workplace. She conceives a plan at that time but does not execute it. Her son does not sense his mother’s ill-will and has no idea of the damage she has already caused, which she conceals. He realizes that she has not been a very devoted mother, but he represses that thought, encouraged by his assistant’s exaggerated notions of filial duty. Neal is not content with his life. He feels powerless and feels like he is being kept in check by his work situation. He realizes that his career is dependent on cooperation with those whose methods he does not agree with. For now there is nothing he can do but endure it. However he will eventually be overwhelmed by this frustration and act out. Fortunately for him, he does not suffer any harm on that score because of the patience of his employer. He does show signs at this point of being rather paranoid, and this will be exacerbated later by the aggressive actions of his own mother. In the actual narrative, reader does not see that Neal’s dislike of his job will become so intense as to threaten his livelihood later. And reader does not realize that the mother’s hatred is so intense that she would like to destroy her son’s career. Reader has no idea that she is planning sabotage. In this second chapter, author will widen the focus on the situa. His goal will be identifying the emcair and antag as elements in the situa. Author will use an aura of threat to stimulate the reader to create a werschema as quickly as possible. But author will leave the situa incomplete so as to maintain control, to prick reader’s desire to complete a werschema, and to make reader impatient and thus less critical. Author will show antag and emcair’s power potentials. Antag will be powerful, in control; emcair, weak and unaware. In this chapter, the antag’s actions aggravate emcair’s dilemma at his job and thwarts its proper resolution. Antag does author’s bidding in creating threat and misinformation. However antag’s action during the chapter ultimately provides a clue as to the true nature of the emasis. Colna establishes herself as a likely antag—this time in a power situation where she has much more control—parent-child. (Her miserly obsession with government benefits is a red-herring motivation.) The power relationship between mother and son is paralleled by a red herring conflict

[to be resolved in the practication] between Neal and his boss. We have a savage display of the power of Colna’s aggressive determination and her cunning. Emcair is shown as discontent but powerless versus the antag and the anterreg. The reader enters chapter 2 quite hungry for information with which he can begin to construct a werschema for the principal conflict. The author does not provide a bridge between the first two chapters, which forces the reader to begin constructing a werschema anew. The reader is somewhat compensated for author’s high degree of arrogance by a high degree of drama. The reader would be quite put off and annoyed if the author did not provide a good suggestion as to who the kerunds are by the time reader has finished the second chapter. The author does this by providing a quite elaborate description of the character Neal’s needs. He does not reveal much about Colna’s needs, but given her large dramatic role, it becomes obvious that she is going to be a kerund. The author however introduces a red herring conflict with the principal investigator to stymy the reader’s werschema, that is, by presenting a secondary conflict. In chapter 2 author has established Colna as a powerful figure; however author has not made her into an adversary. In chapter 2 if there is an obvious antag, it seems to be the principal investigator. But he is ultimately shown to be nothing more than an anterreg. The chapter ends with a sort of quizzical irony. After the narrator’s long disquisition about the selfishness of Neal’s mother’s generation, Neal states his sense of duty toward his mother. Most readers will be uncomfortable with this. Although they may agree about filial duty, Colna’s actions cast that duty very much into doubt. The ending of chapter 2 gives a strong indication of the predominating conflict of the novel, that is, between Colna’s selfishness and Neal’s inability to revise his schema regarding duty toward parents in light of information glaringly presented to him about his own mother. 1. Cats make excellent animals for research. The sparks of animation that enliven their normally sedate lives come Failure to identify the novel’s main characters immediately will aggravate reader—increase his infarvation. Also this diversion into a long exposition will tax reader’s

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only in short bursts. The long periods cats remain at rest give them ample opportunity to recover from experimental procedures. Neal Mackart, the oldest of Colna Mackart’s three sons, valued the contributions of such “volunteer” felines, and though they were his experimental subjects, he treated them as if they were Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess. A particularly sleek and beautiful black cat lay harnessed to a table in his lab that morning. It had unfortunately decided to abandon its normal languor and vault into one of its few but regular periods of frenzy. Neal feared that the tight bindings may be agitating the beautiful creature, and so loosened them, except at the head, where the animal had electrodes implanted through an incision in the skull. Above the neck, the feline’s head was immobilized by a securely fitting metal and leather armature. Neal and the cat were engaged in a search for the chemical stimulants that control animal memory. The cat would be doped with medication and the electrodes

attention, which will be preoccupied with building a werschema.

Reader will take account of Neal’s status in case he must be included in the werschema.

Reader may be inclined to wiset success for Neal.

Author empowers Neal, showing Neal is inventive.

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would record the resultant changes in activity of cells in certain areas of the brain. Neal had invented a means of delivering the drug directly to certain cell groups through a unique pipette. He had also created models for reading the electrical output of cells in such a way that the data was far more intelligible to researchers than had been possible previously. This particular animal, in whom he had invested nearly a month of work, was the last animal of his recent research project, and he had given it the very ordinary human name “Sue Clark” in his data log. This would be the last data session, and he had already laid out a bottle of secobarbital with which to terminally sedate the animal after the lab session. The animal was a laboratory animal and not a pet, and Neal restrained any selfish desire he might have to create an emotional attachment to the animal. Reader will sense an oncoming The cat was continuing to struggle impatiently however. adaction and will try to create as full Neal wished he hadn’t started a werschema as possible. the tests before his lab assistant had arrived. She could have helped restrain the animal and help it to settle

down. 6. Just then the lab telephone rang, startling both researcher and animal. Neal happily left the fidgeting creature and walked over to the phone. 7. “Your mother is here at the department office,” the caller was saying, “She can’t remember where your lab is. Could you come and get her?” 8. Neal hesitated. He had already strapped in the cat and though he had not administered the neurochemical or begun the tests, he could see that the animal was becoming uncomfortable and he was eager to get back to the table to soothe it. 9. “Neal,” the voice prompted, “Neal, your mother’s here. Don’t forget your filial duty— drop everything so she doesn’t have to wait.” 10 Neal’s mother had decided . to drop in unannounced at quite an awkward time. But Neal had been trying to interest her in his work at the lab for some time and was delighted to hear that she had finally taken the initiative to come. Even though her timing was not good, he would certainly enjoy a shot of

Reader will brace for start of adaction/complication.

Reader feels discomfort at the mother’s interruption of the experiment.

Author ratchets up the tension between the competing needs of cat and mother.

First mention of the startema. Reader will recognize the [social] validity of the startema and concur with it.

Author reinforces startema by stating its archetype: mother as nurturer.

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emotional support. His quick rise at the university had been fortunate —of that he was daily aware— but it had come at the price of ill-concealed envy and sabotage among his colleagues. As a student, Neal had imagined a far more collegial atmosphere would prevail in the huge block of university medical labs. Once he entered the fray, he realized that the competition for funding had turned researchers into back-bitters or worse, into spies, pirates and marauders, as much interested in denigrating each others’ work as in promoting their own. Neal often asked himself how it was he had risen and survived. What was it that had built up his character? His mother had disappointed him many times before by refusing his pleas to come look at his work or even to talk about what he was doing. It would be wonderful, he thought, if his mother were in a generous mood and could offer some encouragement today. Looking over at the cat, which had stopped moving but was alertly surveying its harness, undoubtedly

Neal has talent and power. But author intimates future threats to his power. Author also plants a red herring motive for the future killing of Neal’s cats.

Reader thinks he will have a good chance to size up Neal’s power. But author leaves this rhetorical question unanswered. Startema: mothers always nurture their children. Neal is dissatisfied with the reification of his mother archetype. His mother does not fulfill the mother archetype well. But by no means has he given up on her.

There is a foreboding of trouble from the cat.

scheming to free itself if possible, Neal looked at his watch and quickly stepped out of the lab into the bright, block long corridor outside. 15 Neal hurried along the . empty hall toward the departmental office until a voice called out in the commanding tone of a summons. Vikus Sarzolian had stuck his graying head into the hall, a gesture which could not be merely acknowledged with a casual greeting. Sarzolian was the “P.I.”—principal investigator —on Neal’s National Science Foundation grant, and would control all publications of Neal’s data. Sarzolian was something more valuable to a young scientist than the most original hypothesis: he was a darling of the federal science funding community—and as such was a mother lode of grant monies. 16 Sarzolian had developed a . methodology for doing science that enabled him to create seemingly unique results on a regular basis, on time, and within budget. His method consisted merely of buying the most advanced and recent scientific equipment and allowing it to make his discoveries for him.

The pocal Sarzolian is introduced. He has far greater power than Neal.

Sarzolian is unscrupulous—and is portrayed as a possible antag.

For example, he freely admitted to confidants that his only role in the scientific enterprise was to act as a consumer of scientific equipment. Sarzolian had never disappointed the federal funders and was a grant magnet. The money allowed him to attract the most promising of young researchers, like Mackart, especially ones that were machine-savvy—abreast of the latest products of instrument makers. 17 Mackart’s work had been a . disappointment to Sarzolian— not that Mackart hadn’t produced valuable knowledge, but he spent too much time inventing theories and formulas and not enough time using the expensive equipment. Machart, as an unmarried young man, seemed to forget that the other members of the team had families to support, houses to pay for, and pensions to fund. Sarzolian had frequently to prompt him with the motto “No data—no moola.” 18 Sarzolian had been . particularly impatient with Neal’s most recent work, and the principal investigator’s voice summoning him from

Neal is more scrupulous than Sarzolian. That bodes a power conflict for which Neal is poorly armed. Author gives an appealing rationale for Sarzolian’s actions, which dampens any sympathy the reader might feel for Neal.

Reader steels himself for an adaction and tries to predict as much as possible—but does not know enough about either character—so will be particularly alert to their various advantages.

the hall was to the young researcher the most unwelcoming of sounds, as if it were the midnight knock of the Inquisition. 19 As Neal stopped and turned . to face Sarzolian, he had already clasped his hands together in supplication, to beg to be allowed to postpone the P.I.’s summons, while he retrieved his mother. But Sarzolian had the first word, “Come in a minute,” and Neal could do nothing but obey. 20 Colna Mackart had stood in . the departmental office for as long as her patience allowed, about 5 minutes, and then without a word had turned out into the hall and began walking in the direction she had recalled from her prior visit to the lab some years ago. Though she passed through a nondescript hall lined with identical doorways, some open, some closed, some emitting the odor of medical solvents, some the smell of preservatives, some of warm tissue samples under the heat of electrodes, her instinct served her well, and guided her to the area containing her son’s lab. She stood in the hall for a moment and cocked her head as if waiting for some sort of

Sarzolian exacts the first sacrifice from Neal.

Colna has almost psychic powers, is headstrong and impatient. Those are perhaps vulnerabilities, perhaps strengths.

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telepathy to guide her into the correct lab. Seemingly cued to her search, the cat in Neal’s laboratory issued a faint meow that turned Colna’s head in the direction of the lab. “He said he worked with cats,” Colna mumbled to herself. That was justification enough for her to brazenly peer into the lab from which she had heard the sound. “Neal,” she called out, as she stepped in further. In a corner, curtained from the rest of the lab, Colna saw the cat still strapped to the laboratory table. It cast a wearied expression in Colna’s direction, as if to suggest, “What are you doing here? Can’t you see we’re busy?” Colna had never shown any affection for animals, but if any creature might claim her affection it would probably be something like the one before her—a cat with short, rough fur, as dark as a moonless night. “What are they doing to you, poor kitty,” Colna said as she recognized the cat’s head was clamped into it armature as surely as a spindle on a lathe. Colna put a finger to the cat’s forehead as if to stroke it, but the animal, not used to such

Colna’s brazenness will undoubtedly create a stir that will be rich with information about the kerunds.

Author will surprise reader with this conjunction of cat and Colna.

Black cat—the witch’s companion. The association between that symbol and Colna may not be obvious now.

Reader feels some sympathy for the animal and thus wisets its liberation.

treatment, bared its teeth and began struggling fiercely in its restraints. Colna went quickly to work unbolting the metal armature around the cat’s head. In her efforts to loosen the cat’s restraints she was much helped by the animal itself who was now moving its head vigorously from side to side. 25 In a great force of agitation . the cat managed to not only free its head, but also to extract a paw from the sack in which its body had been secured, and with both teeth and nails tore violently at Colna’s hand, slicing and digging at the fingers until tendons, already halfdestroyed by rheumatism, lay exposed on several knuckles. 26 Colna suppressed a scream, . and bringing her other hand over the screws of the armature, began tightening it back around the cat’s head. The maddened cat swung its hand to attack the fresh hand as it had the other, but such was the feverish motion with which Colna tightened the armature, that the cat’s head was soon immobilized. Colna’s fingers ached with the pain of rheumatism and from the use of too much force on such wasted muscles and

The liberation becomes a tragedy— and reader’s wish is thwarted. Reader will be keen to see how adeptly Colna can respond.

Colna is able to deal savagely even with attacks of other evil creatures. Reader will be drained by the concentration evoked by the high drama. This scenario is highly unbelievable, but reader will accept it because Colna has already been cast as a virtual lunatic.

joints, but such was her frenzy that she continued to tighten the armature even after the animal had been restrained, until the animal’s tiny skull had been garroted to near the breaking point. Colna then grabbed the animal’s neck and squeezed out what life remained. 27 Such had been the . suddenness of the attack that Colna’s wounds had only just begun to bleed. Her eyes, inflamed now more in rage than with terror, combed the laboratory for a bandage. A first-aid kit mounted prominently by the door soon caught her desperate glance, and she ripped it open with a fury. She heavily bandaged her damaged hand. In an instant, on turning to leave the lab, she had apparently had one of those realizations that she was going to get away clear and in a moment of sordid glee had looked on the counters for any medication she might take with her. Seeing several vials of secobarbital, she had scooped them into her purse. Moments later Colna presented herself in the hall, just in time to see her son come wandering down from the departmental office,

Reader may feel privileged at possessing information unknown to Neal—and will use his insider’s knowledge to predict outcome of an encounter between Neal and his mother. Reader will relish discovering whether, when Neal discovers the cat’s death, he will make the association between the death and his mother.

confused as to her whereabouts. 28 Colna had, in the breath of a . spark, assumed a pitiable and bewildered composure and appeared to be wandering lost in the hallway. Her injured knuckles she had painfully turned into her palm so they were little visible. Neal’s relief at seeing the figure of his mother in the hallway, close to his lab, showed visibly in a broad smile as he quickened his step to meet her. 29 “Give your mother a kiss,” . she greeted him, pulling her mouth to one side to expose a cheek heavily made up to cover the heavy wrinkles that had stolen over her complexion. Her face was as redolent of scented emulsions and powder as the labs were of chemicals. 30 “Mother, I want you to see . my work,” he said joyously. 31 “Well, I’m a bit tired. I just . returned from the doctor’s,” she replied. 32 Neal was barely able to . register his disappointment before the thought of his lab animal claimed him. He would quickly release the cat and return it to its cage in the vivarium, he thought to himself, and then could give

Reader should be starting to tergathize Neal, since the reader will want to have the surrogate experience of dealing with a unique, powerful character like Colna.

Colna insists on Neal’s filial duty. Her makeup is a minor symbol for her falsity.

Neal tests Colna’s sense of motherly duty. Reader discovers Colna feels no motherly duty and takes care of her own interests. Reader’s tension heightened.

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himself fully to his mother. Leaving her in the hall, Neal dashed into his lab. The shock of seeing the dead cat upon the laboratory table seemed to suck the air from his lungs, and he was left momentarily unable to inhale. The horror of the spectacle on the table, as gruesome as it was, paled in his mind before the thoughts that came rushing on him of the dire consequences for his research of that animal’s death. At first, he assumed the animal had strangled itself on the apparatus, but then he noticed that the armature holding the head was fastened to the crushing point. He would never have done that himself. Obviously someone had done this maliciously, but for what reason . . . cruelty, sabotage? He had never heard of such an act in a university lab, where researchers were always so punctilious about following animal treatment protocols. Neal stood gaping at the scene before him when he heard his mother’s falsely plaintive voice from the hall, “Neal, have you forgotten me?” There was nothing to be

Reader will be keen to know what effect his discovery will have on Neal.

Neal will be empowered by a motivation to find the perpetrator.

Colna mocks Neal—flaunting her superior power.

Author infarves reader by

done at the moment other than release the dead cat from the harness, and to cover it until he could call the vivarium to dispose of it. He certainly wouldn’t need to inject the secobarbital now. 37 Having drawn the curtain . around the surgical station containing the dead cat, Neal, still in a state of extreme alarm, drew his mother into the lab, apologizing that he had had a phone call. 38 “Don’t be rude to your . mother, Neal. I told you I had just been to the doctor,” she said sternly, “Anyway, Neal, I want to ask you for some help with a gynecological procedure I need. Could you give me some financial help . . . $15,000?” She then dropped her head as if into a sling of pitiable resignation. 39 “Mother, why do you need . so much? Are you having an operation?” 40 “Oh, Neal, please don’t ask . me to give you the details— it’s gynecological.” 41 “I’m not that squeamish, . mother. I’m a biologist.” 42 “It would be vulgar to talk . about your mother’s body— especially that area. Save your mother some dignity,

withholding emcair’s thoughts.

Colna now is feeling trepidation, since her wound must be obvious. Tension is high, and reader is feeling stress.

Colna is brave and manipulative beyond measure. Reader will be extremely keen to gauge Neal’s reaction to his mother’s wound—but author will infarv him.

¶¶39-41 A little bit of dramatic riposte showing how little power Neal has to extract information from Colna. Reader will probably make the correct connection at this point between the “operation” and Colna’s attempt to buy insemination. Neal is not completely complacent, and offers a rational reply to Colna’s appeal to her right to dignity. Colna, as ever, is keen to use her maternal status to preserve her power.

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Neal. Yes, I’m having an operation.” In his flustered state of mind, Neal was eager to simply eliminate any further decisions that day. “Okay, mother, send me your bills. Whatever’s left after Medicare. Are you feeling okay?” “No, in fact I’m not,” she said sharply, “I’ve got your twin brother in a cab waiting. I have to go—before he does something weird.” The expression “taxi waiting” had visibly soured her son’s expression, and Colna was quick to add, “I’m using free taxi vouchers, don’t worry.” Just then the meowing of a cat became audible in the hall, and Colna stiffened in alarm. “What’s that?” she asked agitatedly. Neal walked over a few paces behind his mother and pushed open a door that had been only partially closed. Colna turned her head and followed him with her eyes. “This is the floor’s vivarium. It’s were we keep animals we’re working on each day.” Colna took a few steps and peered into the semidarkened room, and made but a single remark, “Smells like cats in there.”

Neal’s habit is to ignore problems. Reader may wiset that he take a more confrontational style.

Neal does have some influence over Colna.

Reader is eager for Colna to reveal her atrocity.

48 Colna began to move . toward the elevator, but as she turned, the large presence of Dr. Sarzolian seemed to block the hall in front of her. 49 “This must be your mother, . Neal,” he said. 50 Colna smiled sweetly and . gazed with an affected pride at her son. 51 Dr. Sarzolian’s suddenly . became effusive, and after cheerful introductions, he added, “I have some very good news for your son, Mrs. Mackart. I know you will be proud to hear it. This will mean a big boost for his career.” 52 The cheerful look Colna had . assumed seemed to leak from her face. Neal stood expectantly, and Sarzolian teasingly withheld his announcement. “Our nicotine receptor grant has just been funded by the National Institutes of Health!” 53 “Oh mother, this is a huge . grant. We’ll have money for all our experiments,” Neal said excitedly. 54 He looked eagerly into his . mother’s face for congratulations but instead saw an expression of pain that the woman was trying to Colna pretends to uphold the startema (“mothers will always nurture their children”), which she has been flouting. The anterreg Sarzolian also embraces the startema.

Author gives a clue as to Colna’s real attitude.

Colna attempts to dampen Neal’s empowerment. Reader may be aware now that Neal and mother are in conflict.

mask. “That’s wonderful . . . but your brother . . . ,” she replied, as she turned her head in the direction of the elevators. 55 In a moment both the P.I. . and mother had left— Sarzolian returning to his lab to contact other colleagues with the news of his new funding, and Colna going immediately to the adjacent university hospital to have her recent wounds stitched. Neal returned to the scene of the morning’s horror. Fortunately the day’s good news would make telling Sarzolian of the loss of his lab animal less dire. Nonetheless Sarzolian had never liked Neal’s style of experimentation, in which Neal used the same animal for months—carefully attempting to prove hypotheses. Sarzolian much preferred to use an animal briefly and then sacrifice it so the brain tissues could be analyzed using some of the sophisticated laboratory apparatus at his disposal. Neal’s laborious method of acquiring data was too slow. This recent disaster with the cat would fully vindicate Sarzolian’s prejudices. Author dodges the foremost dramatic 56 Sitting on a lab stool, with issue—that is the sabotage of Neal’s . the dead animal lying in the

curtained space on the other side of the room, Neal found to his surprise his thoughts turning to his mother and her demand for money. His first thought, strangely, was of the taxi cab waiting for her. How could she use taxi vouchers? How did she qualify herself for government assistance? His father had seemingly left her good investments. In her old age she had become incurably restless and loved to travel—spending $20,000 a trip on exotic cruises to places like Vladivostok or the Yangtze gorges. But certainly, he thought, she couldn’t have spent everything. 57 His parents belonged to that . small but supremely lucky generation who began earning money immediately after World War II, and whose assets, bid up in value by the huge generation of children that followed them, would produce investment incomes greater than even their children’s working salaries. Colna and her husband, despite his big income, had raised their large family on a shoestring, passing off their miserliness as good husbandry. Their large family had been a ready excuse to effect the most draconian

experiment. Neal’s introspection is a setup for author’s disquisition (on the ubertheme of “government handouts to the elderly”) in the next paragraph. The recent drama has heightened reader’s alertness, and author will take advantage of that to insert his comments on the ubertheme.

¶¶57-60 Author’s ubertheme disquisition. Colna becomes a symbol of her generation.

household economies, and frugality became a sport rather than a necessity for the parents. 58 After their children had left . home, Colna and her husband could deny themselves nothing, and justified their lavish living standard as a reward for a life of hard work —fatuously ignorant of the predominant role that luck had played in their prosperity. So convinced had Colna herself become that her generation’s success was hard-earned, she felt no compunction in availing herself of the ample government-funded benefits available to her generation at retirement—to be paid for by their children. The philosophy of self-reliance that she and her husband had used as an excuse not to share their good fortune with their children, Colna conveniently put aside when it came to taking monies from wellfunded and politically popular government programs for the elderly. It was often that upon seeing a middle-age man at a grocery store or shopping mall in the middle of the day, Colna would unconsciously snarl, “Why aren’t you at work, earning my social

security money?” 59 Perhaps her generation had . been too much affected by post-war commercial advertisements or the glamorous lives of pulp fiction characters, which recklessly promised everyone an endless bounty of commercial goods. Colna could never say no to tokens of a lifestyle that had hitherto been reserved for individuals at the peak of society—such things as large automobiles lavish enough for an ambassador, vacations and restaurant meals erstwhile reserved for capitalist barons, and so on. In order to preserve her incomeproducing assets, Colna would not hesitate to ask her children for financial support, and tried to cast herself as the impoverished senior of her own parent’s generation. 60 Colna would never allow . herself to die without plenty of assets. Her dignity demanded that she have an estate in her elder years, and not pass away like her own mother, with a measly set of assets that cried out lower middle class. 61 Had he known the true state Author plants a justification for Neal’s ignorance of Colna’s ruse. . of his mother’s ample financial resources, Neal

would not have so readily consented to her demand for money. But he had never made inquiries into her finances because she had trained him well to believe in a duty to his parents. 62 By the time that his musing . about his mother’s sudden medical needs had run its course, Neal was left with one thought—his unquestionable duty to his mother.

Author restates the startema, which he has already impugned by casting such a negative pall over a whole generation of parents. Neal is not privy to author’s musings; they are for the reader. Despite his suspicions, Neal is not about the give up on the startema. Average readers, for whom the startema has strong sociallysanctioned appeal, will congratulate him—even if it means disregarding some of the evidence, dramatic and expository, already provided.

CHAPTER 3 – DISPLAY OF ANTAG’S POWER In chapter 3 author provides reader a close scrutiny of Colna’s abusive and contemptuous nature. Reader also gets further insights into Colna’s obsession with infants, despite her obvious detestation of children. By the end of the chapter, however, reader will not comprehend the cause of Colna’s unmotherly attitude. The reader does not know why the antag is obsessed with infants, and so is not really able to complete that part of the werschema. In many ways it seems like the antag is merely exercising a whim. It is not clear how deep her desire goes, though it is very deep indeed as the action will eventually show. The drama in this chapter shows that the antag is unable to get her way, though she is in a very dominant position. Colna is an object of reader’s spite, and reader will already be hoping she will lose power. The antag is upset because of the injury she suffered in the previous chapter and is extremely abusive. The chapter opens with Colna asserting her dominance over kerflat Patrick and the rest of the kerflat household. She then becomes despotically aggressive toward the child Miguel and her home health worker. She is also carrying on her obsession with having children and she hits upon the idea of having her health care worker become pregnant. She even offers up her own son as the father— something without any regard for decency or civility. This is too much for the health care worker, who quits. Chapter 3 undoubtedly surprises the reader at the beginning because it

picks up with Colna rather than the emcair, who had been the focus of the prior chapter. There is nothing much for the reader to do here but sit back and absorb the horrifying ogre that the author creates in the form of Colna Mackart. The author’s challenge is to make the woman, as awful as she is, believable. To do that, he puts her in adaction that is itself believable. He supplements the adaction with an exposition about the generally callous treatment of children of Colna’s generation. The reader will feel uneasy that the topic of children has come back after its distastefully peculiar treatment in the first chapter. The reader will sense that the novel is in the horror genre, and if he does not like horror stories, he will quit reading at that point. 1. Colna continued to occupy the family home her husband had bought when their children were still at home. Her husband had been concerned that he appear prosperous, and had bought that fine-looking house, though he had furnished it sparsely, if not crudely, while his children remained at home. “You even lost your license from all your drinking,” Colna was saying testily, as she and her son, Patrick, entered the house. “You could have driven me, and I wouldn’t have had to use up all my taxi vouchers. What a waste.” “Well, I was sick then,” Patrick was replying limply, “I couldn’t help myself.” “Too bad you couldn’t get a job, and pay me back for the car you smashed up,” was Colna’s final word on the Provide information about the circumstances at Colna’s home. Characterize it as a place not friendly to children.

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The short adaction regarding alcoholism is simply a hook—that is, to capture reader’s attention.

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Reader is left without the ability to make a moral judgment, since Patrick casts himself rather pathetically. The paragraph shows Patrick as a very weak character, vulnerable to the force of Colna. Reader feels some pity for Colna, who is saddled with such a loser.

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subject. A young Hispanic woman appeared in the entry as Colna was hurrying to the living room and to the comforts of the couch. The woman was trailed sheepishly by her four-year-old son. “Mrs. Mackart, you had three calls while you were out. One from your doctor’s office and two from your daughters.” “Two daughters?! What do they think this is, Mother’s Day,” Colna snapped. I really am the old woman in the shoe —with so many children, she didn’t know what to do. My husband—sex was his only real pleasure outside work. The son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t wear a condom. There was no way he was going to deny himself one moment of sensation. The result—six children! And I hadn’t even recovered from a pregnancy before he started in again, and during my periods too. . . . The doctor’s office? Give me the number,” she said, thrusting her injured hand toward the Hispanic woman. Almost instantly Colna withdrew the hand, realizing the heavy bandages would arouse questions. She quickly substituted her other

Expository setup for what follows.

Setup for paragraph 7.

Minor confrontation. Author deems the kerflat Teresa’s power characteristics not worth describing. Reader will sense that she has no role to play in a power conflict or in the exposition of thema. The paragraph shows Colna’s callousness and her unmotherliness; however it also shows her as a victim of her husband’s insatiable lust. The waiving of the hand at the end of the paragraph is a dramatic hook. Reader will want to know what Teresa’s reaction will be to seeing the injured hand. However at the end of the paragraph the author abruptly thwarts reader’s curiosity.

hand, but too late. The woman had already seen the huge bandage. Colna could see from her look of surprise that an inquiry was imminent. But Colna had so well trained the woman that by merely waiving her hand in a dismissive fashion she was able to preempt any satisfying of the woman’s curiosity. 8. Teresa was a home health worker provided by the state because Colna had qualified as “restricted in self-care capability”, unable to perform the “activities of daily living” without assistance. Teresa was the latest in a long string of such workers whose tenure with Colna never lasted more than several months. 9. Colna took the telephone number and quickly dialed the doctor’s office. 10 Steeled by distance from . Mrs. Mackart, the nurse finally raised sufficient courage to tell the old woman of the doctor’s rejection. But by way of consolation the nurse informed her that the doctor had okayed a two-week prescription of the sedative she had requested. 11 “Mrs. Mackart,” the nurse . counseled, “at your age, you risk possible miscarriage or another stillbirth.”

Exposition on the situation underlying the adaction between the health care worker and Colna. Author characterizes Colna’s benefits in a very technical fashion as a setup to the author’s future derision of these benefits—especially in the way Colna manipulates them.

Expository setup for paragraph 10.

This is a highly dramatic situation. Colna’s reaction is withheld until the middle of the confrontation to add tension.

12 The word “stillbirth” Colna . felt like a vicious wound and her immediate reflex was to defend herself savagely, “I had five children after the death—didn’t I more than make up for it—doesn’t that satisfy you that I’m fertile,” she said with a voice whose initial furor was quickly smothered by self-pity. Colna could in no way be consoled. “I’ll just find someone else, then,” she yelled into the phone angrily and slammed it down. 13 She promptly lit a cigarette . and made it obvious to the adults who were standing in the room that no one dare approach her in her present mood. The child, however, seeing her discomfiture, instinctively and naively climbed onto the couch, and with his small hand patted her on the shoulder. “Mrs. Mack, don’t be unhappy. You look scary when you’re mad.” 14 But far from being soothed . by this tender and innocent gesture, Colna turned her head to the child and blew a strong stream of smoke in his face. “Get this horrible nuisance away from me! Patrick, take him over and play some kind of game with him on the other side of the

Again the reader is encouraged to have mixed feelings toward Colna— contempt and pity. Reader will expect Colna to come up with something outrageous. Reader sees Colna dealing with yet another issue having to do with procreation. At the end there is a possible segue. “I’ll just find somebody else”, she says. This is to setup the reader’s curiosity as to her further actions.

Sets up a situation in which the reader is allowed to see whether Colna is really as vicious as already portrayed. Her cruel response to the tender actions of small child shows her true colors.

room.” 15 Colna felt no affection for . Miguel, but found him tolerable to the extent that she could put him to use running petty errands for her, such as getting the mail, finding her cigarettes or reading glasses, and so on. Miguel was generally quite cooperative about being run about the house in that way, but if interrupted in the middle of play, would naturally find such demands irksome. Even more irksome would be her insistence that he remain nearby in case a whim for something seized her. Had he been older, she undoubtedly would have made him into a virtual domestic worker, giving him a list of the most disagreeable household chores—cleaning dishes and the bathrooms, etc. His young age fortunately saved him from such drudgery. 16 In the face of Colna’s . authority, Miguel could hardly say no when Colna interrupted his play, though he would make futile complaints to his mother. 17 “She’s letting you stay here . for free,” his mother would reply, “You should be grateful.”

Narrator gives insight into Colna’s attitude toward infants as distinguished from children. Colna is shown to be very abusive in her attitude toward children. Her maltreatment of the child is of course metaphor for her entire generation and their abusive attitude toward children—a substantiation of the ubertheme. If the ubertheme is believable, as the author thinks it is, then linking Colna to the ubertheme makes her actions more believable.

Shows the child as not entirely accepting his victimhood but trying to escape it in some way, that is, through complaints to the mother.

This paragraph promises to be a segue but is not picked up later. It also ambiguates the motivation for Colna’s cruel actions, i.e., it gives some justification for making a slave out of the child.

18 At times Colna would amuse . herself spitefully at the child’s expense. In doing this she was but following a long adult tradition of using children as objects of derision. Miguel’s childlike primitiveness, his good-natured but incomplete attempts to learn, his elementary grammar or his mimicking adults would all be cause for an enjoyable guffaw. The child was easy to tease, and Colna relished falsely accusing him of things, and then watching him vehemently but inarticulately, try to defend himself. 19 Apart from the petty labor . and amusement, Colna could barely tolerate the child and made clear to him that he had no rights in the household. He did not have the right to seek her attention or take up her time, and Colna would berate Teresa if she found her serving the same food to her son as to Colna herself. “Children don’t like steak” or “Children don’t like pizza. You should be feeding him hotdogs,” she would tell Teresa. 20 Miguel, though naïve, was . acutely aware of his low status. But he contented himself, like most children, with the idea that once in

Here Colna as a metaphor for her whole generation is made explicit by the narrator. It also shows the narrator’s sympathy with children.

Further evidence of Colna’s tyrannical treatment of children.

Narrator shows the dangerous social consequences of Colna’s attitude toward children.

adulthood, he himself would be in the position to exploit others. 21 Teresa quickly rescued her . son from the couch, and carried him promptly to the other side of the room. He was still wiping the smoke from his eyes as she set him down. Colna, for her part, assumed an arch-dignity and unapologetically said, “Civil, but strange—that’s how to treat children. That was my motto for dealing with my own children.” 22 In her concern for her son, . Teresa was oblivious to the comments of the old woman. Teresa would have gladly left Mrs. Mackart’s service long before because of the woman’s harassment of her young son, but her current job was the only one she could find that would allow her to bring her young child with her to work. 23 Colna studied intently the . woman’s form as she raised herself up from her son. She drew a heavy breath of tobacco, and as she spoke the smoke drifted out of her mouth in spiky swirls. “Teresa, do I see a little bit of a stomach there? You’re not pregnant are you?” With her bandaged hand she clawed

Reader will sense a setup for an adaction. There is an explicit statement from Colna about her attitude toward children, “Civil but strange.”

We see reasons here for lack of followup on the confrontation hinted at in ¶ 21. Yes, there are people desperate enough to endure ogres like Colna.

Just when Teresa has silently diffused the situation by taking away her son, the object of Colna’s momentary spite, Colna begins another confrontation. The paragraph begins with some diabolical imagery: the spiky swirls of tobacco. The reader will be horrified when the subject of pregnancy comes out of Colna’s mouth again. He will wonder what

her motive could possibly be. An astute reader will guess that Colna has a demented obsession with babies. The last sentence is a bait that puts off the confrontation until the next paragraph. There is the ironic image of Colna’s injured hand beckoning to the woman who she thinks is pregnant. Tension building. Teresa is a pure 24 As the young woman . approached closer and closer, victim, with no power. Colna’s injured hand continued to beckon insistently. Colna had coaxed the woman within a foot of the couch when suddenly, with the bandaged hand, she stroked the young woman’s stomach. Instinctively Teresa pulled back and began wiping her stomach, as if to clear it of the woman’s touch. 25 “You’re pregnant, aren’t . you? That is wonderful.” 26 Teresa moved back in . disgust at the old woman’s strange glee. “I am not pregnant. I’ve been putting on weight lately.” 27 “Well,” Colna replied, . “that’s too bad. It would have been nice to have an infant around here again.” 28 Surprised, Teresa rejoined, . “But I thought you didn’t like children—you said they should be seen and not heard —and usually not ever seen.” 29 “You have quite the memory Teresa has been finally provoked into confronting Colna.

the air, beckoning the young woman in her direction. Teresa had not heard her but could see plainly the woman motioning for her to approach.

Author now makes explicit Colna’s attitudes toward children versus infants.

Reader will wonder. “Why is Colna

for quotes, Teresa. I like babies. It’s just a shame they have to grow up.” Colna paused for a minute and then said, “I enjoyed my pregnancies too, except the twins—especially when I discovered I was pregnant again so soon after . . . Well, if nothing else, the pregnancies seemed to cure my rheumatism. What a relief that was. I would know I was pregnant because all of a sudden I’d become limber as a goose—the joint pain—all gone.” 30 Teresa stood listening, but . too amazed at what she was hearing to even respond. 31 On the other side of the . room, Patrick had been too preoccupied to listen to his mother’s ramblings. As if to catch his attention, Colna raised her voice further. “And the twins—when I discovered I was pregnant with twins . . . I asked myself, what am I, some kind of animal—having a multiple birth—a litter, and you, Patrick,” she said as loud as she could without shouting, “As the second born of twins, I guess you’re the runt of the litter!” 32 On seeing Patrick look . painfully away, Colna laughed in a short, self-satisfied

obsessed with babies?” Reader gets a confirmation that she differentiates between children and babies. Then there is a tease—something about twins. Why does she distinguish twins from her other pregnancies? Then author plants a relationship between her rheumatism and pregnancy. This all explains her preference for babies.

The kerflat Teresa confirms what the reader feels, that is, the natural horror. We get a new insight into Colna’s animosity toward twins. Her callousness and viciousness is confirmed yet again.

¶¶32-43 Colna’s witch-like insensitivity on the topic of infants seems to have no bounds.

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staccato. Looking at the young woman before her, Colna said in a tone that wrapped command inside suggestion, “You should get pregnant again, Teresa.” “Miguel,” she shouted at the woman’s son, “You’d like a little sister wouldn’t you?” The child looked too uncertain of the reply expected to answer and looked fearfully to his mother for a suggestion. “I’m not even married now, Mrs. Mack,” Teresa said plaintively. She had tolerated as much as civilly possible, and, murmuring to herself, she called the child to her and hurried from the room. Patrick too had gotten up, but Colna had not given up as yet, and called out to him before he could leave the room. “Sit down Patrick. Let me suggest something to you.” Obediently he sat in an overstuffed chair next to her, and began one of his usual manic monologues, this one about what working in a hospital would be like, croaking through a throat hoarsened by his often incessant talking. Colna, never much want to

We see the confrontation now shifting to another set of duelists, that is, between Colna and her son.

We get some idea of the origins of

give him any feedback in any situation, made no attempt to respond to the topic of his monologue and instead interjected, “Have you ever thought of asking Teresa for a date?” 40 “But you told me to stay . away from her.”

his mental illness in Colna’s treatment of him.

In this and the following paragraph, the reader will have some suspicion as to Colna’s intent (encouraging her son to father a child) but will want to see confirmation of that. The author begins to provide information, but slowly. Reader sees Colna sacrificing her prior moral scruples to advance her immediate objective, that is, getting another infant in the house.

41 “I told you to stop grabbing . her like some kind of animal. She doesn’t like that kind of thing, and I don’t blame her, especially in front of her son. But maybe she wouldn’t mind a date. I think you two would make a good couple.” 42 Colna knew her son to be . sex-driven like his father, and she had long dreaded he would commit some sort of incident with a home health worker that might have gotten her into trouble. But today Patrick seemed strangely reluctant to follow her abrupt encouragement of an affair with the health worker. 43 “I think she finds you . attractive,” Colna added, “You never know how far you could

The narrator confirms the ironic nature of Colna’s request, that is, wantonly violating her moral scruples to get another baby in the house.

get with her if you approached her like a gentleman instead of a pig. You have to be seductive, not pretending to reach around her just to rub your elbows in her chest, and that sort of gross thing.” 44 “Well, I used to find her . attractive, especially when I was drinking, but now that I’ve backed off . . . I respect her now as a person. She’s very honest . . .” Patrick then launched himself into a further monologue on the essential dignity of man, which Colna was loath to endure. Getting to her feet as pain coursed through her rheumatic knees, she peremptorily announced her need for a nap. Patrick remained talking until she had left the room. 45 Colna was in fact exhausted . from the morning’s traumas, and in her condition would be expected to welcome a rest in her bedroom, but once in her room, she placed her purse on the bed and began hunting for the bottles she had taken from her son’s lab. 46 “Secobarbital,” she read to . herself. 47 Having suffered from the . chronic pain of rheumatism,

Patrick’s character now appears more respectable than the author previously represented.

Reader will wish to know now the relevancy of Colna’s grabbing the secobarbital at the lab.

Author fulfills reader’s wish.

Colna had developed a fair acquaintance with medications, herbs and salves of all sorts. This one, she vaguely recollected as an old-fashioned sedative. She might find it a useful addition to the huge collection of medications she had been amassing, in case the rheumatism really became too much to bear and she needed to give herself a maximum overdose. 48 In a drawer in her bedside . table Colna kept a drug reference, and she reached to pull open the drawer, but as she touched the handle Teresa knocked on the door, and then let herself in. 49 “Teresa, don’t ever just . open the door like that,” Colna said crossly, “I could be dressing.” Colna could see however from the stern, emotionless gaze on the young woman’s face that something strange was happening. Teresa then announced she was walking out. Thereupon, taking her son and her luggage, she left the house and waited at the roadside for a relative to pick her up. Colna feigned indignity, but in actuality saw in the young woman’s departure a new opportunity.

The drug collection will be an important weapon for use on her opponents later, so the author plants a rational for it here.

Reader steels himself for a major confrontation.

Colna expects another triumph, that is, an apology from Teresa. Reader is set up to wonder what kind of incivility Colna will now foist on her poor victim. Reader expects Colna to register defeat but is surprised again by her resiliency, confirming that she is a very powerful character. In fear of ever having to deal with such a person as Colna, reader will be anxious to know how she operates.

50 Colna unlocked the tambour . writing desk that stood near the window in her room and withdrew a neatly written list of government agency telephone numbers. She had soon dialed a number and was saying with a practiced weakness and decrepitude of voice, “This is Mrs. Mackart. My home health worker has just quit. I’m almost helpless without home care . . . I’m desperate for someone. I’ll gladly accept even a woman with a new baby. They could even live here.”

Sets up future scenes. It shows Colna’s enormous resources of power, especially since she’s easily able to extract sympathy based on her age.

CHAPTER 4 – PRESENTING THE AVEDRAM Chapter 4 will introduce the first real threat to the antag’s power: the avedram (Robanna). Robanna is a pocal, i.e., a powerful kerflat. Because she is merely a kerflat, the reader is privy to almost none of her motivations, other than her aggressive self-aggrandizement. In chapter 4 the antag has hitherto been unassailable despite her awfulness and her brutal treatment of people, but in this chapter she encounters the avedram who is unscrupulous, opportunistic and has a self-aggrandizing curiosity. In their first showdown, antag confronts avedram’s air of superiority (about welfare fraud). Antag ultimately dominates because of the control her money gives her. The reader witnesses for the first time the antag actually resorting to the defensive. She is vulnerable now that the avedram has uncovered one of her secrets (the shrine to Andrew). The author gives a further clue to what motivates Colna’s aggressive dislike of the emcair, when Colna cynically describes herself as a martyr for having given birth to twins. The chapter consists of a list of the antag’s criminal fraud against the government; a verbal bragging match between antag and avedram; a cynical and half-hearted attempt by the antag to get pity by casting herself in front of the avedram as a martyr in regard to her twins; and lastly, a

confrontation between the antag and avedram in which the antag attempts to control the avedram’s curiosity, that is her snooping around the house. The author’s inculcation tools consist of withholding information about Colna’s motivation for fraud, the true nature of her dislike of her twins, and the contents of the “secret” closet. Author also withholds clues about whether Colna’s benefits fraud will contribute to the denu. Though an avedram, Robanna appears in a guise that the reader would not expect. If anything, the avedram seems more of conspirator with Colna than an avenger. In the chapter, author has not focused very much on the emcair because the author wants to show the antag’s power and malevolence and develop reader’s hostility toward her. The emcair himself is not an aggressive character and so the reader’s hopes of vanquishing the antag will lie in another opponent, namely the avedram, and in the power of reader’s own wiset. Because author has baited the reader’s spite for Colna, reader will be prone to embrace the emcair regardless of how pathetically weak he is. In the novel, the emcair is not intended to be an aggressive, clever hero. The emcair’s predominant function is to raise reader’s own aggression. The reader craves the antag’s vanquishment because through the emcair, reader imagines himself as target of the antag. The author loads chapter 4 with one of his uberthemes: condemning exploitation of government hand-outs. The reader is more apt to be uncritical in the early chapters, and so early chapters present a good opportunity to introduce the author’s personal opinions. 1. Teresa and her son were gone. “Had she been my daughter,” Colna thought wistfully, “she wouldn’t have been able to just pack up and leave like that. Children are convenient in that sense— they can be ordered about, made to do petty chores, even beaten, with no recourse.” Teresa had been industrious and quietly obedient, which considering that the government paid for her services, was an exceptional Reader’s attention is at a high point at the beginning of the chapter, so author uses the opportunity to insert this ubertheme point about the low status of children.

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A plant that explains Colna’s accepting Robanna without caution. Reader now knows that author is fully conscious of Colna’s evil nature —but author makes no judgement,

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boon. Teresa had been conscientiousness too, but that had a downside that Colna found highly vexing: Teresa had been overly moralistic and thus resistant to the kind of uses Colna would have liked to have put her to. Teresa wouldn’t use Colna’s food stamps, for example, unless Colna went to the cashier personally. Teresa always looked mutely disapproving when Colna took one of her expensive vacations, while collecting benefits intended for the indigent. Colna would have much preferred someone who saw eye-to-eye with her on the subject of getting the most out of the system— someone a little crooked. In Colna’s mind, she, Colna, had had six children and well deserved every benefit she got. Teresa’s self-help moralism was a disrespectful and mean-spirited begrudging of Colna’s due rewards for the hard work of being a 50’s and 60’s coffee klatching mother. Two weeks had passed since Teresa stormed out. To Colna’s delight, there was once again the sound of an infant in the house. Colna sat grasping the newborn to her breast as if she herself had

presenting himself as dispassionate.

Colna rationalizes her entitlement to benefits. Author does not agree. He scoffs at the notion of women of Colna’s generation being hard working, mockingly putting the disparaging term “coffee klatching” into Colna’s own mouth.

Reader will begrudge Colna getting what she wants too easily, but will be intrigued nonetheless. Reader will be getting impatient with the infant line and want to understand its meaning.

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just given birth. She congratulated herself on finding a replacement for Teresa who had come with an extraordinarily desirable asset: a newborn child. While most clients of the inhome health service would have shunned any woman with a newborn, Colna could not have been more effusive in admitting the woman to her home. The new woman, who had the somewhat artificialsounding name of Robanna, was in her early twenties, but her corpulent body and her unemotive face gave her the air of a much older woman. Colna discovered that her new in-home worker was utterly lazy and a shirker, and Colna had had to order Patrick do some of the chores that the woman had been sent to do. But the woman’s attitude was excellent—at least on the score of getting all possible public benefits. Colna even found Robanna looking on admiringly as Colna ordered up services from government agencies and from her children. Infants are very tactile creatures, and because one is able to hold the infant’s entire body, its feelings and thoughts become readily

Reader will be anxious to see if the new worker can stand up to Colna. Reader will be hyper-alert to any opportunity to judge the new worker’s power resources.

The new woman seems powerless, which is a contrivance author uses to keep Colna’s guard down. Reader’s hope for an opponent for Colna is dashed.

Colna has no rapport with infants. In fact she has an illsalubriuous effect. Robanna too is cold-hearted about her child. Thus far Colna has complete control over the situation. Reader senses that author plans to use

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apparent from its body tension and movements. In Colna’s arms Robanna’s child would become rigid—except for a slight and constant shuddering—which no amount of cuddling would alleviate. All the same, Colna prided herself on having an almost magical ability to silence any crying fit merely by picking up the child. At those times, however, the child’s breathing would become short and its normally caramel-colored skin would pale to almost a beige. Colna would never hold the child long, and preferred to pick the child out of its cradle as the mood struck her—at all hours of the day—regardless of whether the child was sleeping or awake. Robanna took little notice of the child’s unease in Colna’s arms and was grateful to be freed from the burden of attending to the infant. The infant had a revivifying effect on Colna that was truly astounding to watch. While Colna would reach into the cradle with every rheumatic joint stiff, inflamed and aching, minutes later she would return the baby with joints limber and pain-free. Even the deep, almost scar-

Colna’s ill-effect on children to motivate some future adaction. Reader will feel uncomfortable at author’s grip on his curiosity, but will surrender control in hopes of outguessing the author later.

The child is a symbol of life-force, which Colna hopes to appropriate. Reader is sceptical about the revivifying effects of the child, but surrenders to author for the sake of continuing the action.

like wrinkles of her face seemed to unfurrow under the infant’s influence. 9. Colna had just reached stiffly for the baby when a strong odor of frying meat reached her. Robanna was cooking another greasy meal, with all the attendant smells. 10 “You want a hamburger, . Mrs. Mack?” Robanna bellowed from the kitchen. 11 “Just cook for yourself, and . keep the kitchen door closed,” Colna replied, “I don’t need you for cooking—I have all my dinners delivered from the senior center.” 12 Robanna came from the . kitchen holding a spatula glistening with grease. Colna waived her hand dismissively, and repeated, “Just cook for yourself. . . . There are food stamps in one of the kitchen drawers—buy yourself what you like.” 13 “Keep ‘em, I’ve got my . own,” Robanna sniffed and returned to the kitchen. 14 Shortly afterward, she . reappeared having sated herself with her usual buffet of fried foods. She was still thinking about the food stamps and was marveling at how a woman in such a nice home could have a kitchen

The action has suddenly become very graphic. Reader’s attention now throttles up as he senses adaction.

¶¶12-34 Robanna has asserted herself for the first time. The following ripostes serve as author’s cynical and humorous disparagement of government hand-outs, but do show the criminal minds of the two women: their joy at getting something free. Reader will realize that he will need to make a major place for Robanna in a werschema, since she shows herself as powerful.

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drawer full of food stamps. “So you’re a stamp collector, too, Mrs. Mack. You’re living in quite a palace for a welfare queen.” Such impertinence was only bearable because Robanna had come with an infant, and so Colna withheld a rebuke. In fact, on hearing the remark she felt rather relieved that Robanna was comfortable joking about such subjects openly. “I’m just an impoverished, abused senior—and handicapped,” Colna replied with bitterness so insincere as to sound almost wry. Robanna’s facial expression, heavy with satiety, suddenly lightened. “Who’s abusing you?” she challenged, sceptically. “My son. He was taking my social security money for booze. And of course I reported him. Now I’m officially an abused elder and no longer able to rely on my family. That’s how I got a home worker . . . like you. I’ve got Patrick under control, but now, thank god, I’ve earned life-long in-house assistance, and if you’re smart, you’ll stay here and live off my benefits.” Colna’s condescending tone registered rather offensively,

Colna obviously retains Robanna simply for the joy of power one gets from gouging the government and having servants to boss around.

and Robanna assumed a haughty tone of her own. “You have a decent life here, but if you really want gourmet government benefits you’ve gotta have a baby.” 21 Colna was not about to be . outdone on the subject of benefits by a scrounging unwed mother. “Patrick’s my baby.” 22 “But he told me he’s . supporting you!” 23 “Bah! Of course I put some . things in a trust for him, except the house—officially anyway—how else would I be eligible for public assistance?” 24 Colna stood sharply to her . feet and then stuffed the pale, rigid baby unceremoniously into its cradle. “Robanna, you say you have to have a baby to get benefits. You’re wrong about that. You’ve got to have a house. The government pays for my heat, bought me new insulated windows. They give me a big property tax discount. They even bought a share of my house and on a reverse mortgage will pay me every month for the rest of my life—and I’m going to live forever! The state pays me Section 8 rent money for Patrick—and I don’t even own

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the whole place.” Robanna was obviously not getting the better of the bragging match and so pretended to be unimpressed. “You must have sold the house to them pretty cheap— because . . . you don’t really seem to be rolling in dough!” With such a remark, Robanna had now struck a vital nerve, and with great umbrage Colna lifted her head and glared into Robanna’s dark eyes, “Don’t think you’re seeing even a fraction of what I’ve got!” Robanna stood silent for a moment, sensing the conversation had degenerated into a confrontation. Colna moved to the couch and lit a cigarette while Robanna stood waiting to politely allow the old woman the last word. Colna had regained her temper, and now regretting having alluded to any hidden assets, and so felt obligated to divert the conversation back to its former level of banter. “And of course,” Colna said, trying to inject a jocular tone into her voice, “the state is helping pay for my life insurance—so I don’t lose it after my husband paid on it all those years.”

Intimation of a mystery concerning money that reader will have to wait to see unfold. Reader expects a revelation that will require a major revision of the werschema. No such revelation is immediately forthcoming, however—and so reader has held his breath for nothing.

29 Robanna took up the . challenge once again, and pointed to her eyeglasses. “I got the eye exam from Medicaid, the money for deluxe frames from Aid to Families with Dependent Children.” 30 “Nothing,” Colna replied, “I . got an eye exam from Medicare, lenses paid for by supplemental security income and a free ride through dial-aride, with a stop at the senior center for a free meal. 31 “Senior center for lunch!” . Robanna rejoined, “I used my money from the state emergency cash program to take a cab to a proper restaurant for lunch.” Robanna was grinning now, as she was getting the best of her adversary. Colna seems like a fraud, but does 32 Stung by the last remark, indeed have some disability. Reader . Colna displayed her gnarled will be intrigued by the deformity. fingers. “Well goody for you, but I’m afraid you don’t have half the benefits available to me. I’m severely crippled.” Colna’s hand, with its red and purple scar from her visit to her son’s lab, had just barely healed, and its large and reddened joints, finger bones projecting at odd angles, some to the left, some to the right, some turned inward, looked as if it had been

broken by a mallet. Colna thrust her hands up in front of her face. Robanna was at once struck by the contrast between the gnarled fingers and the adornments on them: the exquisitely mounted jade ring and matching bracelet, and the impeccably lacquered nails. She could see the hands were deformed, but didn’t know whether to believe the old woman about being handicapped. 33 “But you don’t seem so . crippled,” Robanna remarked bravely and matter-of-factly, “I mean, you can feed and dress yourself. You’re not what they call ‘functionally-impaired’.” 34 “Don’t get technical about . what is or isn’t crippled, Robanna. You’re lucky I take care of myself and you don’t have the kind of smelly decrepit old lady that you’re really supposed to be taking care of.” With that, Colna laid herself across the couch and called out mockingly in a weak voice, “Turn me over, now—turn me! Oh, and nurse, I pooped my dress again.” With that, Colna felt she had had the last word, and, slowly and painfully raising herself from the couch, reached again into the cradle for the infant, who by now had fallen

asleep despite the two women’s loud bragging match. 35 Robanna made no attempt . at a reply, and so Colna became gracious, “You got a good deal here . . . because I love having a baby around the house,” she said as she fell back onto the couch with the baby on her lap. The infant at once stiffened as the old woman nuzzled it with her wrinkled face. “In fact, next week you won’t have to do anything here at all. I’m going to the Midwest for several days. When I’m gone, just relax. I’m not taking Patrick though, so he’s going to be around here. I’ll tell him not to bother you, and if you’re smart you won’t let him charm you into anything. Sorry to leave him here, but I just couldn’t stand traveling with him. What a horror—the idea of being stuck up in an airplane with him—having to listen to his constant babbling and nonsense. I’m a saint just for letting him live here.” 36 Robanna was somewhat . taken aback by this sudden announcement, and could hardly believe she was being trusted to stay in the woman’s home after only a couple weeks of employment. She

Reader realizes that the recent adaction will not be significant in terms of a werschema, yet will now face another possible adaction, for which another werschema will be required. The mention of the trip is a segue out of the adaction.

Robanna is showing her aggression. Reader will have to increase Robanna’s power quotient in his werschema.

37 .

38 .

39 .

40 .

had to suppress a feeling of malicious delight at the news. “Here, take your baby, and call a cab,” Colna ordered, “I need to visit the other twin— who is only a little less of a nuisance than Patrick. I’ve got something I want to give him.” Colna walked stiffly to the front hall and reached for a purse lying on the table there. Meanwhile Robanna stood eyeing the room for the television remote control and impatiently waiting for her patron’s departure. But having made mention of the twins, Colna could not stop herself from launching into what Robanna had already learned would be a standard diatribe. “Can you imagine giving birth to twins—like some kind of sow with a litter? I like babies . . . but one at a time, please . . . like a human.” Then as an afterthought, Colna mumbled, “unwelcome usurpers”. Robanna had spotted the remote control, lying on the coffee table, and gazed politely with glassy eyes toward Colna, while the old woman continued her tirade. “My mother’s first words on the phone when they were

Colna flaunts her authority.

Twins are obviously important to the situa, but are only mentioned tangentially here. The reader will feel irked to be infarved about the true importance of twins.

Author plants an ambiguous tag line that will obviously be important. Reader feels teased by the tag line but will hope to figure it out before author puts down his cards.

Reader now feels triumph in having figured out Colna’s story from clues —though the tag here is a pretty heavy-handed clue. Notice the underlying minor conflict between Robanna’s desire to turn on the T.V. and Colna’s diatribe, which the author adds to enliven the scene.

born were ‘Ewww, are they identical?’ And I told her, ‘No they’re not. Would you like the pick of the litter?’” Colna laughed the self-pitying cackle that always accompanied that anecdote. “At least they had each other when growing up because I wasn’t in any mood for any more children at that point— when I was so sorrowful. I used to lock them together in a room all day, so they wouldn’t bother me—or remind me of what I had lost, and what they could never replace.” 41 “You mean Andrew?” .

Robanna has strong curiosity. Reader will be especially alert to further clues that Robanna might uncover. Author tantalizes reader who is quite 42 “You’ve been snooping in . that bedroom,” the old woman keen for further confirmation of his hypothesis that Colna has been left a said, eyes flaming fiercely, loser in a contest with her twin sons. “How did you get into that “Unwelcome usurpers”, she says. closet anyway—I lock it.” Robanna has begun to be the threat to Colna that the reader has wished for —especially since Robanna seems to be digging out the reasons for Colna’s weird baby worship and her animosity toward her twins. 43 “Well, you told me to clean . everything. The door wasn’t locked.” 44 “Since when do you do any . cleaning?! Well, stay out of there—don’t ever go in there

again.” 45 The cab driver was honking. . “Go tell him I’ll be right out,” Colna said, waiving Robanna to the door. 46 Colna hobbled immediately . up the stairs to the second floor. “How could I have left that door unlocked—what a fool I am—or maybe that bitch jimmied the lock,” she said to herself as she pulled open the door to a walk-in closet in one of the unused bedrooms. The room contained three small period-style tables inlaid in precious woods and obviously of some value. Light shown somberly from a shallow alabaster bowl suspended by ornate wires from the ceiling. On the center table was a gilded frame containing a pair of baby socks with the name “Andrew” embroidered on them. On the other tables were toys and baby clothes, some still in their original boxes—a rattle, a colored mobile, tiny mittens, a hat— among other things. 47 To her great relief, nothing . seemed to have been touched. “Andrew, I’m so sorry your peace has been disturbed. I didn’t take proper care. I didn’t give you the respect you deserve. But

Andrew is Colna’s dead and beatified child, obviously.

Reader is now teased with another question—how did Andrew die? Reader will take up the challenge of that puzzle.

believe me I am devoted to you. You will always be first in my heart. No one has replaced you! I won’t let them take advantage of your death —I won’t.” 48 “Mrs. Mack, the cab says he An exit tool. . can’t wait,” Robanna called up the stairs. 49 “All right, all right. I’m . coming,” Colna said as she reverently closed the closet and carefully checked the lock. CHAPTER 5 – TERGATHY WITH EMCAIR To this point in the novel, the antag has received most of the author’s attention. That is only to be expected since in any novel the antag is the indispensible star of the show. Naturally, readers are very keen to experience conflict with a persistent opponent like a novel antag—and will want to see the antag in action a great deal. In Chapter 5 the emcair finally receives the author’s focus. Author’s uses emcair's underdog status in a conflict with the anterreg, his boss, to induce tergathy with emcair. Author reiterates the startema in the chapter. Author shows that Neal’s real needs are based on a nurturing archetype, which the true startema (“All mothers will nurture their children”) is supposed to fulfill. Reader will question how emcair could reaffirm the startema, when it is based on a mother like Colna. Neal, beset by inner conflicts, is desperate for some kind of emotional support. He rejects a social invitation from his lab assistant, and then feels even more isolated. The thought occurs to him that maybe he should try harder to form an emotional bond with his family, in particular, with his mother. He is encouraged by the good rapport his lab assistant has with her family. Neal has to face the demands from his boss for quick results, and is very abrasive in a confrontation with him. Only the boss’s self-control and practical nature save Neal’s career.

In this chapter reader hopes that Neal will have the power to suppress Colna’s maliciousness. Such hopes are dashed by Neal’s blind attachment to the startema. Author forces reader to devise werschema for a conflict with the anterreg— a conflict with no definite conclusion. The anterreg does not oppose emcair as an antag would, so reader is left without any clear expectations of what course the conflict between the emcair and the anterreg will take. As the chapter ends, the reader will have forebodings of Neal’s peril in relying on the startema—considering that his reified “nurturer” is Colna Mackart. 1. The death of his important animal subject two weeks earlier left Neal indecisive and paranoid. He considered terminating the experimental phase of his research and publishing the existing data, but in the end, he was unable to shake feelings that without data from one more animal his hypothesis would not be confirmed. He dared not discuss the cat’s death with anyone, lest he be accused of having abused the creature. He had been slow to begin work with a new animal, however, and had spent the prior two weeks in a stupor, looking blankly at his data, and mulling his future as a researcher. The prior week Sarzolian had come to the lab to insist Neal stop experimenting and put his data into publishable form “Okay, let’s see the data The chapter begins with adaction inside Neal’s mind as he continues to try to assert himself in a hostile environment.

2.

Reader is a bit disappointed to see that the character obviously meant as the emcair is so inert.

3.

Reader senses Neal is more aggressive than the prior paragraph suggests. Reader senses adaction, and prepares a werschema.

4.

5.

6.

7.

—one more week Neal”, he had said. Nonetheless, Neal had arranged to do experiments with one more cat. In dread of being discovered with the animal by Sarzolian, Neal had kept his lab door locked, much to the vexation of his lab assistant. The meowing of a cat interrupted his thoughts, and Neal turned to see that his assistant had brought the new animal for the afternoon’s work. The animal was still in its traveling case. It was an adult calico with a small nose and ears, giving it an almost sweet, juvenile appearance. Neal felt an overwhelming urge to pet it, but it was his rule never to allow himself to make pets of his research subjects. The cat kept meowing plaintively nonetheless, and the urge to befriend the creature was becoming almost wrenching. “The thing would probably just bite my hand,” Neal told himself, “It’s not a pet. It’s meowing because it wants out of the cage. . . . Ha, don’t we all! “Some pet owners would have me tortured, my skull opened with a can opener and knitting needles inserted in my brain. But what is pet

Exposition setting up the next paragraph. Author plays off reader’s heightened attention (sensing adaction), in order to inculcate author’s opinion on animal experiments. Reader feels some sympathy for the cat.

Reader’s sympathy is addressed. The author is setting up a debunking of the sympathy that one might feel for a laboratory animal. Also, Neal feels a conflict about befriending lab animals. Obviously he is kindhearted by nature.

¶¶6-8 Author decries the hypocrisy of pet owners who object to animal experiments.

ownership, really, but animal torture. What animal wouldn’t run away to the forest if given a real choice?” 8. The cat had given up and had curled up quietly in the cage. Neal was becoming angry now at thoughts of how animal activists had villainized researchers. “Isn’t it really a Munchausen situation with pets? People keep animals captive, cooped up in apartments and houses alone all day, until the animals become completely neurotic, and then the pet owners ‘save’ their pets with love,” he thought, scoffing so loud that even the cat was momentarily roused. 9. There was the sound of a key in the lock, and Neal watched as his lab assistant let herself in. 10 “Should I get the cat ready,” . she asked, smiling warmly as she noticed Neal. 11 “Sarzolian asked me to . come to his lab, so I will be gone for a little while. Let’s leave it in the cage for now.” 12 “Neal, you still busy . Saturday? Are you sure you don’t want to join us at the pool?” 13 “Yes, I’m sorry,” was Neal’s . terse reply.

Lab assistant’s entrance allows Neal to exit his conflicted musings.

¶¶12-17 Neal’s social timidity is revealed. This and the following soliloquy are setups for putting an onus on Colna for maltreating her twins.

14 The assistant nodded and . busied herself with work on the other side of the lab. 15 “I must be very lonely,” Neal . thought, “I feel awful to turn her down. But I just can’t go to a party with a lot of people I don’t know. I’ve got to stop isolating myself, but I just can’t motivate myself to meet people. Maybe I’m paranoid. Could be genetic. Do I have any relatives with the same problem? Can’t think of any. 16 “My assistant, she’s got her . family. What a great mother she has—always calling her— interested in everything she does, encouraging, affectionate, soothing. She even helps her meet people. She’s Chinese . . . maybe that’s the reason . . . but that can’t be it.” 17 He thought then that . perhaps if he had a similar rapport with his own mother he could alleviate his own loneliness, and strengthen his resolve to start a social life. He and his mother had never been close. Who was to blame for that? Was it her, himself, or . . . ?” 18 The lab assistant stopped . working long enough to turn toward Neal. He was doing nothing but sitting and thinking, and she was a bit

The emcair’s sad self-reflections will stimulate reader’s tergathy. Readers vicariously endure human problems and threats so as to learn from the experiences. Readers are naturally drawn to characters who are under duress.

Restatement of the startema, i.e., a mother will always support her child.

Neal confirms the startema explicitly. This also becomes a setup for the next chapter where he accompanies his mother to her Midwestern hometown. He can’t understand why the startema does not work for him— and is too timid to blame his mother. He has entered the first stage of malschema: he doubts the validity of his startema, but is in denial. A segue to the next action

quizzical how lately he could spend so much time staring into space. “Neal, don’t you have a meeting with Sarzolian,” she felt obliged to remind him. 19 “Thanks, I guess I was . trying to put it out of my mind,” he said, hurriedly gathering folders from a disorganized pile in front of him. 20 Vikus Sarzolian had the . admirable trait of showing in his manner the full character of his mood when dealing with subordinates and colleagues. By merely looking in his face they knew instantly how to approach him. As Neal entered Sarzolian’s lab, he found Sarzolian wearing a lab coat and busy examining magnifications of cell section photographs on a computer screen. As Sarzolian looked up, his expression turned at once, severe and uncompromising. “I hope you have the data for me today and a summary. I’d like to send off a paper next week.” 21 Although he had fully . expected to be confronted, Neal was terrified by Sarzolian’s bluntness. “Well, I can give you a progress report on that. I mean I’m almost finished. I feel I

Neal is under extreme pressure to resolve his conflict regarding the data. This scene starts with high tension, and reader must assemble a werschema for the conflict between Neal and Sarzolian. Reader senses that the conflict with Sarzolian will be the novel’s emasis, since the author gives it all the trappings of a true schema crisis. But in fact, Sarzolian is merely an anterreg and the crisis is simply a red herring. Colna’s threat to the emcair is the real emasis of the novel, as reader will eventually discover.

Neal attempts to deal with the conflict by trying to get more time for its resolution. One of his traits is procrastination.

haven’t quite proven my hypothesis and need one more test.” 22 “Hypothesis! What are you . worrying about that for? I’m the P.I. I’ll do the final analysis. Just give me your data,” Sarzolian demanded, standing up in exasperation, and reaching for the folders Neal carried. 23 Desperate to mollify the P.I., . Neal tried to explain his situation, and hoped for pity. “I lost a lab animal that I had invested a lot of time on, a couple weeks ago. I’ve had to start recreating the data with a new animal.” 24 Sarzolian was outraged. “I . need only enough data to publish. You always give me too much! You understand?! No more experimenting. Just give me what you’ve got right now,” the P.I. said, grabbing the folders from Neal’s hands. With his open palm over his brow, Sarzolian sat scanning the data and ignoring this young protege. As he scanned the carefully prepared charts, his bluster devolved considerably and was replaced by a certain eagerness. He was obviously relieved to see that Neal’s data was well presented, and could be used without further

The pressure intensifies on Neal. Obviously, Sarzolian wields much greater power. The effect of this confrontation is probably tergathy with Neal because he is facing a powerful opponent (a situation every reader wants to practice).

compiling. He gathered the folders and dropped them with a satisfied and conclusive thump onto the desk. 25 Sarzolian, at heart more . business manager than intellectual, and for that reason a proven survivor in scientific research, felt he was losing control of his young colleague. Neal would have to revise his work philosophy if he were to stay on. A short diatribe was much in order. 26 Sarzolian directed Neal to a Sarzolian’s motives seem rational and his advice, quite practical. . lab stool and then began. “Live animals are a nuisance, and the way you do research, using the same animal week after week—it’s no wonder you produce only a trickle of data. All your effort is tied into a few animals. Then if they die, you’re screwed,” he said, looking at Neal knowingly. “Do one or two procedures on the animal, and then start analyzing. We’ve got great machines for that—reams of data and analysis: algorithms, models, matrices.” Sarzolian looked at Neal with the sceptical hope that he was changing the young researcher’s viewpoint. But by the severity of his tone, the P.I. conveyed no doubt that he intended to be obeyed in

any case. 27 Neal’s first reaction was . relief that the cat’s death had meant nothing to the P.I., but then an obsessive dread crept back into his mind that, without data from one more animal, he could not securely confirm his test hypothesis. The stress of work, worries about his research, the loneliness, all had worn down Neal’s reserve. He began to feel Sarzolian’s remarks were nothing less than a savage and philistine attack on good scientific practice. His mind raced as he justified to himself his practices. “Sarzolian would have me inject something into an animal, give it one task to do, then slice it up to be examined cell by cell under a million dollar microscope. Merely recording the physiochemical makeup of an animal at the cellular level is empty knowledge—not leading to a usable theory. To create a theory you have to observe how the organism’s functions over time, not just record visual changes to anatomy. To create a theory you have to have first a hypothesis about the function of anatomy—a teleological basis—otherwise you just

Shows Neal is poorly equipped to deal with the crisis. Author inserts an opinion about proper scientific method.

28 .

29 .

30 . 31 .

have indigestible volumes of data with no idea how to synthesize it into something meaningful.” Neal had worked himself into a state of agitated selfrighteousness—and a manic daring seized him. Neal held his neck rigid and spoke directly to Sarzolian. “You’ve been squinting down a microscope too long, Dr. Sarzolian. You’ll never get the big picture that way. I want more out of my science than just a lot of pretty snapshots of cell parts.” The effrontery of such a remark, to a widely-published senior researcher and the man who provided all of Neal’s research monies, was beyond reckless. Neal realized immediately the suicidal character of his daring and forced from himself a plaintive “sorry” as Sarzolian stood unbelieving at what he had heard. “You’re entitled to your opinion, Neal, but mind whom you’re talking to.” Such a mild rebuke in the circumstance could only have come from one like Sarzolian, able to exercise supreme selfrestraint in sacrifice to a higher goal. Sarzolian’s business-like focus on the

Neal loses control of himself and engages a much stronger opponent. Reader will be very keen to see the pocal Sarzolian’s reaction, especially since he is much more powerful than the emcair. Reader’s tergathy with Neal will be increased by the foolishness of Neal’s attack.

The narrator sets out in a practical way the repercussion of Neal’s foolish self-assertion against a much stronger opponent.

Sarzolian does not exercise his power —because he is an anterreg, though reader does not know that for certain.

32 .

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34 . 35 .

real goal of his research, maintaining careers for everyone, might save Neal’s career, despite his illconsidered and mean-spirited outburst. Neal felt entirely unprotected at the moment. There was no one to hold him back from the selfish impulsive that drove him to act out his paranoia—no one to comfort him in his folly. Neal wanted to withdraw, as usual. Sarzolian, for his part, wanted the impertinent young researcher out of his sight for a while. “You’re finally finished with this study. Thanks for the data. Why don’t you take a week off. I mean it. Take a week off, Neal. We’ll start work on the next project when you return.” Neal was too ashamed to demur and merely nodded assent, “I will, thank you.” Sarzolian turned sharply away, and Neal realized he had been dismissed. With a few clicks of a mouse Sarzolian pulled up on a large computer screen a dazzling million-colored cell section, with hues of almost expressionistic vividness. With a second click he was able to project a simulated

Neal is now afraid of himself, seeing that he has lost control and is overwhelmed by the circumstances. His impulse is to run away. Reader sees Neal’s need for a nurturing archetype. This paragraph is a setup for next encounter with Colna. The crisis ends for the moment on a rather dramatic note.

Narrator makes Sarzolian look a bit foolish and so confirms Neal’s deprecating remarks about modern scientific method.

three dimensional view of the same section. What had been a dreary, monochrome laboratory was suddenly illuminated with a kaleidoscope. The distinguished researcher sat staring into the screen as if mesmerized. CHAPTER 6 – ANTAG’S POWER ASCENDANCY Emcair unwittingly suffers sabotage by the antag. If emcair had known that the startema had become invalid, he might have correctly interpreted Colna’s actions as malicious. But because of emcair’s naivete or state of denial, antag will gain considerable power and severely weaken the emcair. Like the emcair, the average reader, adhering to the startema, will not realize that antag has sabotaged emcair. As shown in the previous chapter, the emcair is desperate for the touch of a nurturing hand and has decided that only by embracing the startema whole-heartedly can he get the emotional support he needs. The chapter sets up the false expectation that Neal is somehow going to resolve his need for more gregariousness by warming his relationship with his mother. However the chapter is a plant for the emasis that will occur in the following chapter. The reader will later realize that author has deceived him about Colna’s action in this chapter. The reader may feel a bit demeaned because after all there were some clues that Colna’s motive may not have been all that solicitous. That will make the reader more determined than ever to second guess the author next time. As the chapter opens reader sees that emcair has retained sense enough not to lose all power, that is, to lose his job. In the second conflict the antag is disrupting the emcair’s work at his lab, and he takes her to task for that. She is unabashed however and offers a somewhat reasonable excuse which mollifies emcair. Lastly the antag and the emcair have a conflict over the emcair’s attempt to redefine their relationship, that is, to increase the positive emotional bond between mother and son. This is a highly respectable ambition for a son, and the antag must make concessions to him. She does place conditions, designed to keep him at a distance.

Author leaves reader with few clues as to the future of emcair’s conflict with the anterreg. The lab assistant, the kerflat character who is a mouthpiece for the startema, tries to resolve the conflict, but reader does not know whether she has any power or not. In emcair’s confrontation with the antag in the vivarium, of course the reader has no idea what Colna’s true motives are. The narration gives no hint. There is something strange however about her sudden kindliness that seems to be out of character with her cruelty as evinced in the previous chapter, so some readers will distrust the sympathetic portrait of her in this chapter. The last conflict, about going to the Midwest, is merely a setup for the action in the next chapter. 1. Neal returned immediately to his lab and cancelled the afternoon’s research. “Sarzolian says this project is finished, so I guess we won’t need to do any more tests with this animal after all,” he said pointing at the caged cat. “Should I give it the secobarbital then,” the assistant asked. “No, I’m still going to run some more tests, just for my own interest,” Neal replied. “But Sarzolian said . . . “ “Yeah, don’t worry. He wants me to take a week off. I blew up at him. I think I’m being banished.” The assistant seemed to be interested in all the details of Neal’s confrontation, but whether, despite her apparent sincerity, she sympathized A segue from the previous chapter, showing the conflict with the anterreg is now in abeyance.

2.

An action setup

3.

Shows that Neal has some integrity, and will continue to be aggressive about his own academic interests. An echo of the prior conflict, reminding reader of the pocal Sarzolian’s power. Shows that Neal recognizes the anterreg’s power.

4. 5.

6.

Shows that Neal is somewhat isolated in his heroic monomania. Reader will tergathize with emcair on that score.

7.

8.

with Neal’s indignation at being told to change his research methods, Neal could not tell. Like the rest, she would probably do whatever it took to please Sarzolian and get her paycheck. “I’ll take the cat to the vivarium,” he said lifting the traveling case to the top of a stool. The cat was sound asleep with its face toward the mesh in front, and for once Neal could not resist the temptation to poke a finger through the mesh and rub the animal’s head. Quick reflexes allowed him to retract it in time, as the cat, startled suddenly, opened its serried mouth to bite him. “Was it solicitous affection that made me touch it—or was it selfishness,” Neal asked himself. He had awoken the cat, and the cat, itself, seemed none too pleased about it. “Mind whom you’re trying to bite,” he scolded his feline colleague. As Neal crossed the hall and opened the vivarium door he noticed at once that all of the lights were on, and so he looked to see who else might be there. This had been a day of shocks, but he suddenly felt an unreal astonishment as if doubting his own

Author’s exposition about the treatment of animals as pets— introducing the idea of human selfishness as a motive for pet ownership. The minor adaction is meant to maintain reader’s interest.

Colna enters Neal’s territory, emboldened by her earlier visit.

consciousness. Oblivious to the fact that he was holding a heavy cat case, he rushed over to where his mother was pushing food through the bars of a cage. The cat inside was unhesitantly eating everything put before it. 9. “What are you doing,” Neal Neal in his role as manager of this said in a deep monotone filled particular lab asserts his power. This is the last thing he needs now—his with admonition. mother interfering with his work. This is the antag’s deceptive 10 The remaining crumbs of . food fell from Colna’s hand as rejoinder. It is somewhat ambiguous. she pulled her arms back in a The reader does not know exactly what she is doing. Reader will panic. “I felt sorry for the probably not suspect Colna’s perfidy, kitties. I brought them some and instead will be misdirected into treats.” imagining a kinder side of her. 11 Neal noticed her hand . trembling as she pushed down a bag that was sticking up from her purse. His shock and upset suddenly faded into sympathy. He had never known his mother to be fond of animals. This was a side of her he hadn’t seen before— kindly, solicitous, nurturing. He smiled approvingly and said in a politely admonishing tone, “Mother, these are scientific research animals. They are not pets. You shouldn’t add anything to their diet. You could affect the outcome of the tests.” 12 Colna seemed to be . accepting the scolding, Neal is taken in by his mother’s ruse because he is reutilizing the startema. To reinforce reader’s tergathy with emcair, author has emcair mimic reader’s own reaction.

Neal becomes more brazen with his mother than usual.

bowing her head. Witnessing that, Neal felt emboldened. “You’re not doing the animals any favor. It’s just selfish to try to use food to get affection. These animals serve a far more noble purpose than supplying lonely humans with affection. If you want a pet you can have one at home.” 13 Colna was becoming a little . irritated at the lecture, but was still a bit shaken and unable to muster a defense. Neal could see no point in belaboring his mother. Her intentions had been good and she had been sufficiently chastised. “Why don’t we take a trip together,” he suggested tenderly. 14 Colna could hardly have . been more surprised at such an invitation, coming from her son, with whom she had never been close. Her first thought was to reject the idea as too unexpected and awkward. “I’ve already got a trip planned for next week.” 15 “Where’re you going?” . 16 . 17 . “Back to Morrisville.”

Narration continues author’s opinions about the treatment of lab animals

As he does throughout this novel, the author mixes narrator and character viewpoints, so that reader is not sure what is opinion and what is fact.

The author explains away the improbability of them going on a trip together.

¶¶15-17Setup for the action

“Are you going alone?”

18 “Yes. I have some personal . business there.” 19 . “You’re not taking Patrick?”

20 “No, of course not—the . jackass.” 21 Neal wanted badly to break . the ice between himself and his mother and begged her to consider going together. 22 “I’m just going to see my . family’s homestead out in some tiny town on the Nebraska prairie. I’m sure you’d be bored to death.” 23 “I’ve always wanted to see . it,” he said with marked enthusiasm. 24 Colna could now see her . trip becoming quite disagreeable, in the company of someone she was so little fond of as her son. But somehow she felt it would be unmotherly to say no, and rationalized to herself that she could put him to work carrying luggage and driving her around. Maybe he would even pay for the whole trip. 25 “Okay, Neal. Why don’t you . come along. That would be nice. But I told you I had some personal business to take care of, so you must be

Shows Colna in her true colors and casts some doubt on the success of a trip together. Shows Neal’s motivation for continuing to try to persuade Colna to take the trip: to find in her the nurturing mother he needs. Colna tries to dissuade him.

Author rationalizes Colna’s seeming change of character. Reader finds a new side of Colna’s personality: she somehow feels bound by motherly duty. This may be a moment of weakness. She is tantalized by the prospect of getting some money out of him.

prepared to entertain yourself and let me mind my affairs privately.” 26 Neal readily agreed, and . looked forward to the chance to put their relationship on a good footing. 27 After he had put his cat into . its vivarium cage, Neal turned to extinguish some of the lights. Colna then mischievously reached into her purse and pulled out a tidbit for the cat her son had just put into a cage. She had just dropped it into the cat’s cage and had not yet retracted her hand before he son turned around. With her hand outstretched on the cage, Neal noticed the red scar that now had healed. The thought of his mother’s surgery then came to the fore of his mind, and he suddenly felt guilty for not asking her about it. “Mother, when is your gynecological procedure? Is it soon?” 28 “Never mind,” she replied, . almost bewildered at the question, “I discovered I don’t need it after all.” She looked away as if not wanting to be questioned further.

Shows Neal’s naiveté about his mother. She is obviously willful but his concern about her health causes him to overlook that. Neal’s natural concern for mother enhances reader’s tergathy with him.

Author gives resolution to Colna’s whim for artificial insemination. Of course the reader reflects that Colna now has a baby in the house so may not need it. When Colna says she no longer needs the gynecological procedures, perhaps she has turned to the idea of destroying at least one of the twins, instead. This shows that she wavers between trying to compensate for the loss of the dead

infant Andrew whom she venerates and punishing her twins on whom she projects her guilt. A witch, the antimother, is a person who projects her guilt and finds victims to sacrifice as a way of propitiating it. CHAPTER 7 – EMASIS In this chapter the emcair faces the critical need for schema change. Instead of finding a nurturer in the person of the antag, he finds a malicious adversary. Antag shows her power to abuse emcair with impunity. While emcair is empowered by the knowledge that his mother is actively hostile, he is not strong enough to diminish her power by confronting her. His weakness about confronting her is the emasis of the novel. The knowledge he gains about the secret stillborn child will also be potentially empowering, though emcair dare not reveal what he knows to antag lest she retaliate savagely. Though this chapter is a dramatic fulcrum of the novel, author also tries to add non-dramatic interest, through a change of setting. The antag feels threatened by the emcair’s insistence upon remaining with her while she plays out her homage to her stillborn. She is quite anxious to safeguard knowledge of her cult. She is torn between trying to shield information about her cult and at the same time not making the emcair suspicious and even more invasive. One of her tactics to weaken the emcair is to be very insulting, emasculating, in order to make him compliant. However the emcair is a little more resolute than she hoped. She must give into the reasonableness of his arguments. In the second adaction, reader finds that the antag has locked the door to the house. The emcair reacts to this attempt at containment by using his intelligence to escape. This leads to an opportunity for him to gain a great deal of information about antag’s cult by observing her at a distance, unknown to her. His desire for vengeance is mollified by the scene he witnesses, and his desire for vengeance becomes pity. In the third adaction the antag takes advantage of the opportunity created by the fire to put emcair in peril (by refusing to tell the fireman that she has locked her son in the now burning building). However, as the reader knows, that malicious act has had no result because the emcair had the luck to escape earlier.

The chapter ends with the emcair empowered by two sets of knowledge. One hints at the existence and nature of the stillborn cult, and the second, at his mother’s potentially lethal malice, which he had not suspected before. He now needs to guard himself against her. The antag, for her part, knows that her true motives are now suspect. However, she does not realize the full extent to which her secret has been revealed, and so is vulnerable on that score. The reader will feel he has garnered a great deal of information through this chapter, which gives a much clearer sense of the true meaning of the adaction in prior chapters. The emasis of the novel has now become clear to the reader: the struggle between mother and son. As to the ultimate outcome of this conflict, however, the chapter does not provide any information, and the reader is left hanging, craving information to create a werschema in anticipation of further adaction. The reader will become especially impatient about Neal’s lack of nerve and his failure to adequately size-up the threat posed by Colna. Reader will want to see how the conflict is to be resolved, and will want both antag and emcair to be very active so as to provide as much information as possible. 1. Morrisville, Nebraska, is a fly-speck prairie town so uninviting of even a moment’s notice that not one descendant of the original late 19th century settlers can be found among its present inhabitants. Although two railroads cross the center of town, neither has a station in town nor makes any stops. That a dusty town of 800 inhabitants could continue to exist at all almost defies belief, but its few stores, repair shops, schools and churches serve a collection of family farmers, who continue to make a decent living from the deep and well-watered Reader will start the chapter wondering how any kind of rapport could be created between the meanspirited Colna and the son whom she holds in little regard. The setting will augur failure in that it is a place that kept people from developing as they clung to the past. The point of this paragraph is to cast Colna’s native environment as insalubrious.

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prairie soil. Colna’s family had originally come to Morrisville after floating around small towns in the Midwest for decades, to take advantage of the speculative boom in wheat during the late 1800’s, not as farmers but as money lenders to the speculators. When the speculative bubble burst in the horrendous west Nebraska dust bowl of 1925, farmers found themselves with huge loans and tiny crops of wheat that 15 years previously would have been like gold but were now almost worthless. The big family house above the lake, the empty family bank and the family hotel in town stood as the sole tokens of the former boom in Morrisville. The endless and featureless prairie exercises little hold on the human soul, and so when Colna’s family remained in Morrisville for a generation, even after they had lost their money, people wondered had the family itself lost its spirit. The once proud family had latched onto political patronage jobs as a way of surviving, and Colna’s father had been postmaster until the Democrats came to power,

¶¶2-6 Setup for paragraph 7. Narrator’s describes environmental factor that could have created Colna’s distorted personality, the “dark force”. By chapter 7 the reader is undoubtedly curious about what Colna will be doing in that little town that she hates so much and was so glad to leave.

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and then had worked as a rural mail deliverer until collapsing of heart failure under the load of a sack of mail. Colna despised her parents for not fleeing the scene of their fall from majesty. But all the same, the family lingered in Morrisville, hanging on in the ill-repaired remains of their big house. As soon as she was old enough, Colna left for Omaha and set her sights on a strange-acting man whose one asset was his medical degree and promises of future income. Her mother hung on in Morrisville, abandoning the family house by the lake to the elements and moving into what had been the manager’s apartment at the now decrepit family hotel, where she ended her days, polishing the few silver table ornaments remaining to her and making sure the hotel’s foyer had a change of fly strip every fortnight. Motivation for Colna’s greed and for Though she had left the display of status. town as a young woman, there remained in Colna a dark force that would never be allowed in a more civilized environment—a force she imbibed from the poisons and toxins of the isolated dank

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earth of the prairie. The force feed the roots of bitterness that came from too much isolation and nurtured a parasitic craving for social stimulation. Unfortunately, her mother had surrendered herself to those toxins and sustained herself in bitter envy of the outside world until her death. The family hotel, though 60 years old, still functioned as such, though only the five rooms on the second floor were let out. Its basement had become a chicken hatchery, and the ground floor housed a couple permanent residents. Its wood frame, under the influence of hot summers and parching steam heat in winter, had become shriveled and brittle, and cracked and creaked with every vibration, whether from footfalls inside or passing cars on the two lane highway outside. Since there was nothing remotely worth seeing in the town, Colna conceived that Neal would spend the day in his hotel room, reading whatever books he might have brought with him. However, in the hot morning sun his room had become an oven, and the dry air and desiccated wood seemed to

The hotel is a symbol of utter decay and abandonment. The author does not use a great many overt symbols in the novel because adaction is a far better engine to inculcate the thema in a short time. Some literary critics believe that a novel achieves its reality only through symbolic transference. But the theory we follow here is one of inculcation of schema change by skanomy, wiset and back-causation, in which reader abandons his old schema for that of author and accepts that schema change as a real experience, because he believes his own hopes affected the novel’s outcome. The paragraph sets up the following action by giving Neal a motivation for going with Colna to the house.

draw the moisture from him like talcum powder. 10 Colna had gone by Neal’s . room after breakfast to take her leave of him for the day. “Of course you brought things to study here in your room,” Colna had said. 11 Neal was unhappy about the . prospect of staying cooped up in the overheated room and asked his mother to let him go with her. Colna was incensed that Neal would not give her the privacy he had promised. She could not restrain the urge to strike out malevolently, “I thought you liked isolation. You don’t have a wife, you don’t date, no friends. You should be used to it. I always knew there was something mentally wrong with you. I was hoping it was just a maturity problem, but I can see it’s not going to go away.” 12 Colna looked away as if . unconcerned about the effect of her remark. The meanspiritedness of her remark echoed about the room, and when Neal refused to respond, his opprobrium weighed on her until she could utter something conciliatory. “All right, come with me, but I will have to leave you behind for a little

Colna brings up, herself, one of the self-doubts that keeps Neal from acting. Reader will pity the emcair. Reader’s desire to find some way of overcoming Colna’s impunity will become fervid. Reader will wiset an opportunity to weaken her.

Shows that Neal is not completely helpless and has some power. It also provides a rational for Colna’s agreement to Neal’s request, and sets up the later confrontation.

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while. If you can’t handle that, then don’t come.” “Mother, I can entertain myself without any problem. I just don’t want to be stuck in this overheated room all day.” Neal helped his mother into their rental car. “I want to see some familiar place,” Colna said. Heeding her directions, Neal This quite graphic description of the setting is designed to goad reader’s drove south of town on the curiosity. highway until all buildings had left the horizon, and then drove west on a dirt road. Suddenly a slight ridge appeared before them, and as they drove forward, the shore of small lake came into view. On the opposite shore, overlooking the lake, stood the once proud hulk of a wood frame house, its many gables still projecting a handsome outline against the sky, even though its paint had long ago flaked away. Golden wheat, nearing harvest, stood high around the house, and there was no visible sign of even a driveway, the ground having been plowed almost to the rotting treads of its porch steps. Only a few large trees marked the former presence of a yard. “That’s the family house. You want to look around?” Colna said, matter-of-factly.

17 “This is a very pretty . setting. I can’t believe nobody lives here anymore,” Neal said, delighted at the prospect of exploring such a gloomy ruin, especially since it was part of the family history that his mother had told him little about. 18 “I still own the house, can . you believe it?” Colna told him, as they waded through wheat to reach the porch. The house stood before them a giant with three floors, and despite its wood construction it seemed to have stoutly resisted the elements, even with windows intact. Colna reached into her purse and withdrew a set of keys, one of which, after some struggling, opened a padlock on the front door. 19 The scene inside showed . that although the exterior walls had remained intact, the roof had disintegrated badly and seepage and rot had destroyed wall surfaces and ceilings inside, leaving everything a mottled brown. Hunks of fallen plaster littered the discolored floorboards. 20 The house was certainly big, . but Neal could sense why it had been allowed to go to waste: it was as crudely built

Overloading reader with inessential graphic details may impair his werschema-forming. But the reader will not suffer that long and will hope for adaction.

as a barn. At the time it was built, skilled craftsmen could not be lured to the Nebraska prairie, and so the house’s details showed carpentry of a primitive level—unmitered joints, uneven windows—a great deal of catalogpurchased decorative detail— wood moldings and machine carved pilasters. The kitchen and bathrooms were dingy, undecorated areas with elementary fixtures. 21 Neal insisted on looking at . every room, despite the rising heat from the summer sun and the strong odors of wood rot inside. After a short time, however, Colna told him to keep looking on his own, that she had a private errand to run and would return for him in an hour. Neal imagined himself touring through the house and then reading outside on the porch—where he could get some air. He happily agreed to having the house to himself, and gave no heed when he heard the front door close behind his departing mother. 22 Neal peered out one of the . dusty living room windows as his mother drove on the dirt road a short distance up the ridge behind the house and then pulled to a stop. He

Sets up his later panic—suffocating in the house.

While Neal’s thoughts lead the reader to expect something sweetly sentimental, Colna’s true destination is much more macabre.

could discern the figure of his mother as she left the car and then disappeared on the other side of the ridge. He was naturally quite curious about what she might be looking at on the other side. Was it perhaps a favorite childhood play spot or the distant home of a childhood friend? Neal abandoned his curiosity for the moment and returned to exploring the house. By the time he reached the third floor, however, the sun had climbed high in the sky and the heat inside the shuttered house, coupled with the smell of rot and mildew, had began to make him nauseous. He looked forward to reaching the fresh air of the porch. 23 The front door, which he . naturally assumed would be unlocked, would not open however. After some vigorous pulling that loosened the door slightly out of its jamb, Neal realized that the padlock outside was the only thing holding the door closed. His mother had locked him in. Neal’s thoughts turned strangely to memories from childhood of being locked in a room with his twin brother, so that they couldn’t bother his mother. 24 At once he began to feel

Reader will be unprepared for this act of aggression, since the chapter, by its graphic nature, had not augured any adaction. Reader will have to scrabble now to set up a werschema to prepare himself for the adaction.

Neal’s character weakness prevents

guilt at having forced his mother to take him along. She obviously was very worried that he would follow her. But as the heat intensified in the moldering house, he began to resent being locked in. It had been more than an hour and the car remained parked on the ridge. 25 Neal had tried to open a . window on the ground floor but found them all nailed shut. In desperation to escape the suffocating heat, he made his way to the basement, where at last he found a small service door, probably a coal chute, that had been bolted from the inside but not nailed shut. After several shoves, the wood came out of the jamb and he was free to lift himself up into the field of wheat. 26 By that point he had . become enraged by his mother’s failure to return on time, and by the torture of being locked inside. He could feel his rational sense being hopelessly submerged by anger. With wheat burrs scratching through his shirt at his arms and chest, Neal made his way to the dirt road and began climbing the ridge to the car. 27 As he looked over the ridge,

him from clearly seeing the situation, i.e., that Colna had maliciously locked him in. Reader will find Neal’s passivity vexatious and will wiset increased aggression.

Wiset in ¶ 24 fulfilled.

Reader realizes that Colna’s

Neal at once chided himself for not guessing the reason for his mother’s trip out into the wheat field. As he looked from the top of the ridge he could see, a short distance down the slope, his mother kneeling amongst gravestones in a small, illtended plot. Immediately before her was a grave marker smaller than the others. His mother was making an apostrophe aloud, and Neal, very curious to hear, squatted down among the shafts of wheat. A breeze of warm air rising out the depression below gave him some help in discerning her words. Neal knew it was not his mother’s habit to be sentimental, and found this sight to be quite a revelation. 28 “. . . should have had the . section . . . Could have saved you . . . but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to have any more children . . .” His mother was pleading cryptically. “You will always be my first . . . others will never take your place.” 29 What he heard made little . sense to him and he wished he had been closer to hear everything, but in the noisy dry grass, to move closer would be impossible.

adulation of her previous child is even greater than could be imagined. Reader will wonder why she would not want to share the experience with her surviving son. Again reader finds himself confounded because narrator gives a very sentimental portrait of Colna, who reader has previously learned is heinous.

This apology to the dead child is cryptic, but the reader will perhaps understand. Reader will not be able to predict what adaction this might lead to, but all the same, reader will be quite satisfied to get this confirmation of his earlier suspicions: that Colna is obsessed with an earlier stillbirth. Confirms Neal’s ignorance of the main situation, that is, of the mother’s clinging to the memory of the stillborn. Reader will be quite eager to get more information but will be vexed

30 After a few moments he . could hear nothing further and so elevated his head. His mother had raised herself, in some pain, and had moved over to the railing of a fence surrounding the small plot. There she sat somewhat unsanctimoniously smoking a cigarette, her obsequies apparently over. Then in a perfunctory gesture, she rubbed the cigarette out on the railing beside her and threw the butt into the wheat, away from the graves. She had apparently made a poor effort at extinguishing it, for the brush into which it had landed began to smolder almost immediately. Her joints stiff and painful with rheumatism, Colna raised herself slowly, and before she had straightened herself completely she had noticed the smoldering brush. She made a rather poor effort at stamping out the incipient fire, and if anything her fruitless motions merely aerated the smoldering area until it had ignited in flame. 31 Neal had not yet seen a . flame or smoke and was not aware of the reason for Colna’s precipitous flight

by having to rely on the narrator parceling out the data in bits. Because of the level of physical threat, reader’s attention will be elevated.

This is purely expository and has no symbolic meaning. It does help concentrate attention on the graveyard, which will be the focus of the next paragraph.

from the graveyard. He crouched low in the wheat as she hurried stiff-legged up the dirt road next to him, heading for her car. By the time the car had pulled away from the ridge, flame and smoke had become obvious, and as he smelled smoke Neal jumped to his feet. The fast traveling fire, whipped by the breeze, engulfed the graveyard and then swept up the hill toward him in an ever widening arc. 32 Neal hurried to the road as . the flame roared past with a heat so tremendous he examined his clothing to be certain the fabric had not caught fire. His skin stung for minutes, but his flesh had fortunately not burned. The speed of the fire had been such that when he finally thought of turning back to look at the graveyard, the ground around it showed little sign of flame but had been so completely charred as to appear doused in black ink. The remaining stubble showed only the barest of smolder, but everywhere the air stank with the acrid smell of burned grass. 33 Neal’s curiosity . overwhelmed his judgment and drew him to the small graveyard, in particular to the

Highly graphic exposition. It shifts to Neal’s perspective in the end.

Reader will be delighted at Neal’s boldness.

place where his mother had been kneeling moments earlier. The small headstone had suffered little in the fire, apart from a dark sooting. Neal squinted his eyes against the blowing gray ash, and tried to rub away the dark soot from the stone’s carving. The stone was remarkably hot and Neal pulled away a burned finger with a yelp. With some effort, however, he was able to discern the one word engraved on the tombstone, “Andrew.” The stone curiously showed no dates. 34 Other stones in the yard . bore familiar family names. There was his grandmother’s grave, and his greatgrandfather, the banker, among others. Reader will hypothesize here whether 35 Neal began to return to the Colna will make an effort to save her . ridge top and could see a son. great pall of smoke coming from the other side. There was however, the sound of shouting voices and of machinery. The fire had crested the ridge and captured a great prize on the down slope: the dry hulk of the abandoned family mansion, which now exhaled flames in great gasps. 36 The high column of dark . smoke from the prairie fire

had quickly roused the fire brigade in Morrisville, and it had already arrived on the scene. Men were hurrying to stretch hose to the lake where water could be pumped, and others were throwing dirt on flames that were now creeping along the ridge against the breeze. 37 The house itself had . obviously been given up for lost and a small crew could be seen preparing to hose down whatever ruins remained after the flames had had their way with the structure. Neal noticed his mother’s car alongside a fire truck, and as he approached could see a fire fighter talking with his mother on the dirt road, a safe distance from the building. “Is there anyone inside, ma’am?” the fireman was asking her excitedly. After hesitating, Colna replied, “No . . . it’s been abandoned for years.” 38 Colna’s face showed almost . a relief at the destruction occurring before her—much to the perplexity and distaste of the firefighter. As her son came into view, however, a look of alarm seemed to finally come over her, and it was only by completely repressing her feelings, that

The novel’s emasis. Neal will have to find the power and strength to nullify Colna. This graphic scene culminates in Colna’s denial that anyone was in the house, which is quite shocking. Reader will feel quite foolish for having believed Colna had any goodness at all; and will have to face the contradictory nature of the startema and the reality of Colna as a mother.

she was able to sigh in mock relief and say curtly to him, “I knew you’d be safe.” 39 “Where did you go, . mother?” Neal asked, as if nothing had happened.

Reader will be very vexed at Neal’s failure to confront his mother regarding the locking-in. Perhaps reader will sense that Neal understands everything now, and is holding his cards close to his chest.

40 “Oh to see some relatives’ . graves. Sometimes you simply have to be alone for grave visits.” 41 Neal nodded. . 42 “I don’t know what started . this fire—perhaps it was a car backfire,” she announced. 43 Mother and son then turned . their attention to the fire before them and barely looked at each other until the flames had been put out.

The chapter ends without resolving the adaction regarding the locking of the door and Colna’s denial that anyone was in the building. Reader will now be keen to see a confrontation between mother and son regarding the locking-in. Reader hopes Neal is now empowered for a confrontation.

CHAPTER 8 – EMCAIR’S EMPOWERMENT Chapter 8 will empower both reader and emcair with information about antag’s motivations. Author will frustrate reader’s hopes that emcair will act on that information. The antag is now on the defensive, sheltering and concealing the corpse of her stillborn. She is acting quite paranoid and exaggerates the threat to her object of worship. The emcair has a serendipitous encounter with a priest who identifies the corpse. The narrative provides no information about Colna’s motivation for digging up the corpse. There is a suggestion that she wants to protect it in some way. Some

readers will not understand the relationship of this corpse to Colna, however most will assume that it was her stillborn. The more assiduous readers will connect the dots and understand that Colna’s hostility to her twins is related to her devotion to the stillborn. In his conversation with the priest the emcair has been highly empowered with information; however the chapter ends without his acting on it. So the reader will be left in suspense, unable to complete a werschema for a confrontation between emcair and antag. 1. Neal and Colna had watched the last of the house collapse late in the afternoon and then had returned to the hotel to cleanse themselves of the soot. Neal noticed a trail of soot below each nostril. Neither had made any further mention of each other’s whereabouts at the time of the fire, though it was very much on each other’s mind. Colna had made no inquiry as to how Neal had escaped from the house, but when Neal asked her point blank whether she had locked the padlock on leaving, she had replied, “No, of course not.” Neal spent the evening in his room, and Colna had come by only to remind him of church the following morning. When Neal woke the next morning and appeared at his mother’s door for church, she told him she had woken early and had gone to the first mass. It was obvious from her Reader begins the chapter expecting to see a conflict about Colna’s attempted murder, but the narrator dispatches that by saying simply that nothing was said—leaving the reader disappointed and hungry for a resolution. Reader will feel author is toying with him. Neal will seem weak. He does attempt to link the mother to the locking in, but she denies it. Neal timidly does not challenge Colna’s denial of locking the padlock.

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This paragraph is intended to squash reader’s hope for any further adaction that day.

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Shows that Colna is highly agitated by her son’s lucky escape and his near accidental death. Reader will be speculating whether she tastes blood and will follow up with something lethal soon.

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dark and haggard appearance that she had not slept at all. “Neal, you go to mass by yourself. I met an old friend at church earlier. She wants me to come see her at her house this morning,” Colna told him. He felt a little awkward about appearing at mass in a small town where his new face would be obvious to everyone in the church and might even disrupt the service. But nonetheless he agreed to walk the few blocks to the church by himself and allow her to go visiting. After the strange events of yesterday, he thought, maybe it was best to spend the day by himself. In the evening they would be in the plane together returning home, and if there was to be any conversation about the fire, it could be then. Colna’s real errand was much different than what she had told her son. She had taken the car, had stopped at a hardware store, and then gone south from Morrisville again along the same dirt road as the day before. In fact, she had completely retraced her steps to the graveyard. There she removed a new shovel from the car and began to slowly dig the soil

Sets up the later action of Colna going to the graveyard.

Sets up action in which the priest acts as the source of revelation about the twin. The paragraph also shows Neal’s vacillation about further confronting his mother. Reader in desperation will start wiseting an opportunity for Neal to confront Colna.

Shows the enormous lengths that Colna will go to in her obsession with preserving the relic of her stillborn— her devotion to it. Reader will feel uncomfortable because of the duplicity of this scene: Colna’s honest, motherly grief— coupled with her sick obsession (which reader knows has led to a paranoid savagery).

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under the stone marked “Andrew”. Her exertions were slow and laborious, for her muscles had atrophied under the ravages of rheumatism. Her goal was fortunately not far from the surface—a tiny casket. She cradled it, sobbed and apologized over and over, and then cleaned it with her sore hands before placing it reverently in the trunk of the car. Neal had been attending mass all the while and feeling that even the officiating priest was startled to see the new face of a young man sitting alone in a pew. Neal had not gotten out of the church before the priest had made his way to the front. “I’m always cheered to see a new face in the church. I’m Father O’Lann,” the priest said, approaching Neal with great heartfulness, “I talked with your mother earlier this morning. I’ve heard about the fire. Quite a show, huh?” Neal found himself wary of succumbing to the priest’s cheerfully solicitous banter, but saw an opportunity to satisfy a pricking curiosity. “The grave site near the house that burned, is that only family graves?” he inquired.

Sets up a slight drama of Neal feeling uncomfortable in the church. This sets up ¶ 8.

¶¶9-14 Sets up the revelation about the stillborn.

10 “Yes, and strange it is, don’t . you think, that they lie out there in a wheat field. The family should have moved the graves to the churchyard a long time ago.” 11 A wry smile then came over . the priest, “I heard the graveyard got scorched as well. What a shame. Your grandmother always insisted on not being cremated, and now it’s happened.” 12 Both men smiled at the . irreverent joke, but they had scarcely time to get in a laugh before Neal was interjecting another question. “Father, who is the ‘Andrew’ buried there?” 13 The priest, still jovial from . the reverberations of own joke, answered, “I’m surprised you don’t know. Your mother never mentioned him? He was a stillborn child —died in birth—quite a pity. Your mother was very depressed afterward and grieved a long time. She may have blamed herself. But God, in his mercy, must have pitied her, because a little over a year later he gave her twin boys to replace the one she lost.” 14 A solemnity came over the . priest suddenly, and he looked squarely at the young

The priest puts a very positive spin on the twins’ birth—so different from Colna’s interpretation. An explicit confirmation of previous plants and ambiguous information. Reader may feel empowered by having anticipated this information.

man. “She was always very sensitive on the subject, and I advise you not to bring it up. But I’m glad you know now,” he said, a smile returning to his face, “God gave you an older brother.” 15 Neal was not sure how to . respond, but his mother’s graveside words, “Others will never take your place,” became suddenly clearer to him.

Neal now understands a major part of the puzzle. Neal has not yet tied the mother’s obsessive devotion with the stillborn to any active hostility on her part. Author does not give reader any clue as to the further resolution of the main conflict. Will Neal reason with his mother and help her get over her obsession? Or will he simply abandon any hope of getting motherly solicitude from her—and seek something comparable elsewhere?

CHAPTER 9 – EMPOWERING AVEDRAM The chapter creates reasons for a rapport between Robanna and Patrick—a means of empowering Robanna by giving her an insider ally. Shows Patrick’s own spite and greed toward Colna, which avedram could later use as a weapon against the antag. The chapter’s adaction is between the avedram and the kerflat Patrick. The chapter also reveals a clearer picture of the ongoing conflict between Patrick and the antag. The avedram has two objections to Patrick’s behavior. One is on the basis of decency; the other is rubbing it in her face—not giving her respect. This conflict is not completely resolved. It ends simply with a display of amicability. Reader sees that Patrick is not as retarded as Colna might make out. That is, he is capable of using a computer. So, reader has to revise his power assessment of that character. Reader also sees that Patrick is enraged with Colna and has hostility toward her, which is also a form of power.

The reader may miss the dramatic meaning of this adaction, which is to draw up an alliance between the two opponents of the antag, specifically to give the avedram an ally. It is likely that the reader does not have sufficient information yet to identify Robanna as the avedram. Regarding the conflict between Patrick and the antag: reader does not know at this point how much Colna is aware of Patrick’s hostility, and whether she has taken any precautions. Reader does know that Patrick has confidential information about her, but from what he says reader knows that Colna has effectively silenced him on this. 1. During Colna’s Morrisville trip, Robanna was quite leery of remaining in the house with the son whom Colna described as “mentally ill”, and Robanna kept a wary eye on the telephone in case he perpetrated an “emergency”. Patrick, for his part, seemed to give her little heed, and when in the house would remain in his spacious room on the third floor. Perhaps as a symptom of his all-too-apparent mania, Patrick was highly gregarious, and would often walk to the bus stop and go downtown to meet friends or to play basketball at the YMCA for hours on end. While his mother was gone, however, he began entertaining women on the third floor. Some would stay for a short time, some the entire night. That was something Colna would have never tolerated, but Robanna felt powerless to object. Patrick had obviously inherited the sexual Sets up reader’s anticipation of possible adaction.

2.

The tension is somewhat eased.

3.

Tension is raised again as the reader realizes that Patrick is somewhat out of control

4.

5.

6.

7.

voraciousness of his father, but fortunately for him he had not produced a string of progeny as a record of his devotion to sex. The exact nature of Patrick’s mental illness was not clear to Robanna, but his incessant talking and his ignorance of standard behavior made her feel there was indeed something mentally wrong. Colna had told her that a group of state psychologists had declared him incapable of supporting himself—and in any case, he seemed little interested in anything more than pursuing an endless teenage summer, playing basketball all day and hanging out with like-minded young men until late in the evenings. Colna treated him as if he were incapable of assuming any responsibilities and trusted him only to carry her baggage and do yard work, when she could manage to find him at home. Robanna noticed that Patrick’s nightly trysts started on the day Colna left for Morrisville. Her first clue that a date was about to arrive was the sound of water hitting the walls of Patrick’s shower on the third floor. Minutes after

Gives a rationale for Patrick’s behavior.

Possibly Colna’s indifferent treatment has caused his immaturity, so Colna may be responsible for his “mental illness”.

Sets up an adaction.

the shower stopped, the front door bell would ring, and Patrick, oozing cologne, would come bounding down the stairs to greet his new assignation. Occasionally this scenario would repeat itself a couple times in one night, and it wasn’t long before Robanna, witnessing it all from the living room couch, became disgusted with his insatiability. 8. On the fourth night Robanna was sitting in the living room watching television as usual, and heard the customary sound of a shower running on the third floor. For some reason Patrick’s timing had been poor, and the doorbell rang before the shower had stopped running. 9. Robanna’s first thought was to call up the stairs to Patrick to answer the door, but, sorely tired of his routine, she decided to open the door and greet his new date herself. 10 At the door stood what . looked like little more than a high school freshman. The girl asked for “Jaguar”. 11 “You mean Patrick?” . Robanna asked. 12 “Yes . . . ah, I guess,” was . the girl’s sheepish reply.

Reader tergathizes with Robanna—in sympathy with her indignity and because of her dynamic approach.

Shows Robanna asserting some power in the conflict.

¶¶10-36 Adaction between Robanna and the girl visitor.

13 As the shower was still . running upstairs, Robanna invited the girl into the living room, set her in an armchair, and sized up the girl’s utter youth. While the girl smiled gamely in obvious discomfort, Robanna’s indignity swelled. Patrick’s luring to the house one woman after another— until Robanna felt she were living in a whorehouse—was bad enough, but inviting an underage girl was too much. Robanna felt sorry for the girl too, and could not understand how she could allow herself to be lured to a man’s home at her age. Reader will enjoy this adaction, but it 14 Robanna was eager to find is peripheral to the main adaction . out the girl’s real age. between Robanna and Patrick. 15 “Are you a college . student?” 16 “No, I . . . ah, haven’t . committed myself,” the girl replied evasively. 17 “So you’re still at home, . huh?” 18 . “Yes.”

19 “Do you go out to bars and . clubs often?” 20 . “Oh no, never.”

21 “Have you ever been to a . dance club?” 22 “No, I’m not into that kind of . thing.” 23 “Oh, I see. What kind of . work do you do?” 24 “Well, I’m job hunting right . now. The girl’s answers did nothing to allay Robanna’s suspicions that she was underage, and she was determined to continue the interrogation despite the girl’s obvious apprehensiveness. 25 The sudden appearance of . Patrick, hair still wet from the shower, saved the girl any further embarrassment, and she appeared very much relieved when he came into the room. Patrick’s manly good looks obviously pleased the girl, and she rose quickly from her seat and riveted her attention on him, as if Robanna were not even in the room. 26 When Robanna saw how . willful the girl was, Robanna began to think that perhaps it was not Patrick but the girl who had arranged this risky liaison. “Patrick, could I talk with you a minute,” Robanna said, approaching him and

grasping his shoulder. 27 Patrick had already sensed . the girl’s eagerness and could not bear the thought of the home health worker interposing herself and scaring away his catch. “Let’s go upstairs,” he said to the girl, who was by now almost clinging to his belt. 28 “Patrick, I must talk to you,” . Robanna insisted. 29 “Oh go back to your T.V. I’ll . talk to you later about whatever it is,” he said, moving his shoulder out of Robanna’s grasp and putting his hands on his new friend’s hips and guiding her to the stairs. Robanna’s selfrighteousness had been challenged and she reared herself up for a confrontation. 30 “How old are you?” she said . gruffly and insistently to the girl as she blocked the stairs with her large girth. 31 “Eighteen.” . 32 . “Let me see your I.D.”

33 Patrick stood speechless in . fury. 34 “I don’t have my I.D.,” the . girl replied insolently.

35 Patrick had by now . reluctantly resigned himself to Robanna’s inspecting his date, for as much as he would love to escort the girl to his room, if she were underage he would now risk knowingly consorting with a minor. 36 “I’ve gotta go,” the girl said . finally, “This is getting weird.” And with that she hurried to the door and walked quickly to her car—a big and stately vehicle obviously borrowed from a parent. Patrick made no effort to persuade her to stop. But after she had gone he erupted in anger, telling Robanna to mind her own business and threatening her were she to try something like that again. 37 “You want to go to jail, . Patrick?” Robanna shouted. The two then yelled and threatened until both were exhausted. 38 After his initial feeling of . outrage had subsided Patrick was prepared to admit that Robanna had saved him from the perils of statutory rape. His good nature finally prevailed, and he mumbled “Thank you . . . I guess I’m just bad seed. I can’t trust myself sometimes.” 39 “Where did you meet her?”

¶¶39-46Shows that the mother’s characterization as hopelessly retarded is somewhat unfair and also sets up a basis for a rapport between Robanna and Patrick.

Reader senses Robanna is an apt stalwart to pin one’s hopes upon.

asked Robanna, still wondering about where Patrick had met so many women. 40 “On the Internet.” . 41 “The Internet! I didn’t know . you had a computer,” she replied, startled. Somehow she had seen him as too mentally handicapped to use a computer. “Where, in your room?” 42 “In my study.” . 43 “A study—you!” she . scoffed. 44 Patrick quickly answered . her cynicism with a challenge to go up to the third floor to see, and suppressing her dignity, Robanna agreed, though in climbing the stairs she couldn’t help but think of the many Internet harlots who had preceded her up those stairs in recent days. 45 Patrick had the three rooms . on the top floor to himself, and one of them he had indeed made into a study. Robanna found a room filled with computer equipment and bookshelves of computer software and programming manuals. “This is yours?” she

said disbelieving. 46 “So this is the mentally . retarded son,” she thought to herself, amazed at how much she had underestimated him. Patrick took great delight in hearing her gasp in astonishment. He pridefully showed her the lewd web page he had designed for himself and talked with her about the friends he regularly conversed with online. Robanna pretended to shield her eyes but could not hide her enthusiasm for his computer hobby, and there soon developed a rapport between them. 47 Whatever her sincerity, . however, Robanna was quick to see that the growing warmth in their conversation presented an opportunity to satisfy her curiosities about his mother. 48 “You have a nice place here . —lots of room to yourself—a nice big house. Your mother must have had some money before. How did she lose it?” Robanna interposed abruptly. 49 Patrick was beginning to . feel comfortable with the home health worker but he remained poignantly aware of his mother’s stern interdiction of any discussion of the

Robanna shows her assiduity in taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about Colna. Her curiosity may give her an edge on Colna. Reader will be grateful for Robanna’s curiosity, and feel warmly towards her as if she were an ally.

Set up as a tease—just a small amount of information. This will of course be a key to a later realization by the avedram. Reader will take up the gauntlet of

family finances. Nonetheless he decided to offer his new admirer a token tidbit of information—the meaning of which would doubtless never occur to her. “She hasn’t a penny . . . IN HER OWN NAME,” he said, and, with that, feigned ignorance to all her further questions of a similar vein.

this clue—and begin hypothesizing immediately—attuned to any further clues.

CHAPTER 10 – RED HERRING CRISIS Neal is intimidated by Colna. If he confronted her she might confirm his worst fear: that she hates him. The unexplained death of his lab animals fuels Neal’s paranoia at the job, and he again confronts anterreg. He is rebuffed entirely. Neal’s anger has no object. In his frustration he becomes susceptible to the iteration of the startema by his lab assistant. The hope of getting consolation from his mother again rears its absurd head. Reader will expect a conflict where it really does not happen, not overtly, anyway, regarding the lock-in and the fire. The conflict is allowed to simmer without coming to a head. The emcair by his failure to confront the mother shows his weakness. The question is whether he will get the strength to confront her. The emcair’s attempt to refute the startema, by telling about how Colna had endangered him in the Midwest, provokes the lab assistant, who is a frequent mouthpiece for the startema, into vociferously restating the startema. By this point her argument may not seem credible to the reader. But the emcair is rather weak and for the time being submits to the lab assistant’s argument. He is also further enervated by an internal conflict between his personal goals and his need for a career. The emcair faces a threat from an unknown opponent at his laboratory, whom he suspects is the anterreg. When he finds that his cats are dead he is nerved to confront the anterreg, though he shows no such courage with his mother. The anterreg dismisses his challenge summarily, leaving him to brood about the possible unknown antag. The brooding turns to rage when

he discovers that the animals had been killed with a common drug used for that purpose in laboratories. Reader previously received almost no information about the antag’s thoughts over the locking in and fire. Colna gives no hints as to what her future intentions are, and the emcair is left more or less powerless and speechless, unable to confront her. So reader gets no resolution on that score. Likewise, in the next adaction, with the lab assistant, the emcair submits without a struggle. The reader expects Neal to voice reservations about the startema, but he allows the assistant’s strident iteration of the startema to silence him. In his conflict with the anterreg emcair is not well-empowered so cannot force a resolution or change in the status quo. The perpetrator of the sabotage remains a mystery to the reader. On the matter of managing his career, reader will feel tergathy with Neal. But since Neal’s concern about his career is a red herring conflict, author cuts the conflict short without a resolution. 1. Neal and his mother had exchanged only polite conversation on the plane. Neal dared not mention the events of the fire for fear of bringing into the open the appalling and frightful suggestion that his mother’s selfish recklessness in locking him in the house had almost brought about his death. He was afraid that were he to bring up the subject, she would be obstinately unapologetic—and that would confirm his feelings that she was in fact uncaring or at worst aggressively hostile. Since he had done nothing that would warrant anything malicious from her, it did Reader will be exasperated at Neal’s timidity in not confronting his mother’s selfishness and cruelty regarding the fire—since that just puts off the resolution of the main conflict. Reader will hurry on his reading to get to a resolution. Reader is eager for a showdown.

2.

We find Neal a procrastinator with many excuses not to act. He is afraid of his realization that the startema is wrong.

3.

Shows the naivete that will keep Neal from creating a new schema. He is afraid of losing his parents, despite

seem truly impossible that she could have locked the door, anyway. Yet, as he lay in bed in his apartment during the night of his return from Morrisville, he could not sleep for thoughts that, without devoted parents, he would be left an emotional orphan with no ultimate source of support to fall back upon in the last resort. 4. Neal arrived at the lab exhausted, but nonetheless had planned a full day for himself and his lab assistant. He would try to sneak in the one last experimental session with one of the cats. Sarzolian had told him their project was complete, but Neal wanted to run one more experimental session to confirm his data. Sarzolian would not approve of that, but Neal would keep his lab door closed, and Sarzolian, who was extremely busy anyway, would never be the wiser. His lab assistant had already arrived and was tidying up the lab. She was cheerful as usual, and Neal felt relieved to hear her call out a friendly hello. The assistant naturally wanted to know the details of Neal’s recent trip. Neal was

Colna’s perfidy. That shows that he is aching to satisfy the nurturer archetype, for which his startema is inadequate. Neal cannot bear the idea of not having a reified archetype of a mother—even if he has to settle for the likes of Colna. Reader will continue to be frustrated that author does not present Neal any alternatives to his own mother for the nurturer archetype. Author slaps down reader’s hope of getting a quick resolution to the conflict between Colna and Neal—as he shifts scenes. The action in this paragraph simply sets up the later crisis of discovering that the cats had been poisoned.

5.

6.

Reader earlier sympathized with the assistant about the correctness of the startema. Reader has since learned to doubt the startema and will now be

loath to describe particulars of the house burning, but since that was the dramatic high point of the trip, he could not resist describing it. The assistant was very touched by his recounting of Colna on her knees in front of the grave of her stillborn. After some pause, however, Neal told the eagerly listening woman about his suspicion that his mother had in fact deliberately locked him in the house. 7. The reaction Neal’s suspicion raised in the assistant was totally unexpected. Her sympathy vanished and immediately an almost ferocious look of disgust took hold of her. “How could you say such a terrible thing about your mother? You are an awful son.” 8. Neal was taken aback by the woman’s stridency, and fatigued and irritable, became antagonistic. “You don’t know my mother.” 9. “I know she fed you and took care of you when you were sick.” 10 Well, actually, when I was . sick she would usually tell me I could stay home in bed but that she wasn’t going to cancel her social plans to stay

quite interested in how the assistant, the erstwhile oracle of the startema, will react to Neal’s account of Colna’s actions in the Midwest.

¶¶7-12 Restate the startema. Reader will still feel some loyalty to the startema despite the fact that Colna’s actions contradict it.

home.” 11 “You’re exaggerating. There . are no mothers like that. She gave you life. You should be grateful and never suggest anything negative about her.” 12 The assistant then began . reciting a long list of the traits of an ideal mother. “She soothed you when you were upset. She listened to your ideas and talked with you about them. She protected you from danger. She trained you in the lessons you needed to succeed. She encouraged you to learn. She gave you values. She supported your goals . . .” 13 The assistant expressed her . convictions so passionately and with such a sense of affront that Neal began to feel that perhaps he was being ungrateful to suggest anything uncomplimentary about his mother. Indeed, he recognized in his own mother all the traits on the assistant’s list. That he could not deny. However, what he recalled more distinctly was her negation of so many of those traits: her discouraging, her laxness, her derision and aloofness, her agitating and enraging, her confusing and withholding—her neglect and her wrath.

Reader will find assistant’s arguments quite compelling.

Shows Neal is beginning to doubt the startema, at least as reified in the form of Colna. Reader will again find Colna hard to reconcile with the assistant’s restatement of the startema.

14 “You’re right,” Neal . confessed, “I guess I shouldn’t say anything negative about my mother. . . . Your mother’s lucky to have such a devoted daughter.” 15 “I’m the one who’s lucky— . to have a mother. I will never pay off my debt to her,” she said sharply and turned quickly away indignantly. 16 The conversation had . turned rather sour, and Neal was anxious to turn the conversation to work-related matters. “Could you help me set up the cat from last week for one more round of tests? I think we can finish that this morning.” 17 “Neal, the cats all died the . day you left for vacation,” the assistant said peremptorily, as if still annoyed.

¶¶14-15 Is simply a reiteration of the startema

Reader may conceive a rational aversion to the assistant’s dogmatic iteration of duty to parents.

Crisis begins regarding cats’ deaths. Reader will immediately begin hypothesizing a cause for the cats’ deaths. If reader is clever, he will link Colna. Attendant’s blase attitude regarding the cats’ deaths sets off Neal’s paranoia about loss of control. He has obviously been primed to feel some kind of threat.

18 Neal suddenly felt as . powerless and vulnerable as if sentenced to death. He had left for a week, and when he returned he was no longer in control of even his own lab. 19 “But you were finished with . the project anyway, so you didn’t need them, right?” she said sympathetically, seeing how upset he had become and pitying him. 20 “I wanted to do one more

21 .

22 .

23 .

24 .

experiment. I wasn’t finished with them!” he yelled, “What happened!?” “Well the animal attendant found them dead in the cages when she went to carry them downstairs to the central vivarium. She put the bodies in the freezer, so you could examine them if you want, but since the project is over . . . ah, we’re using rats in Sarzolian’s next project, anyway.” “Okay . . . thanks,” he muttered, and then hurriedly left the lab, going immediately to the central vivarium in the basement of the medical complex. The lab assistant was horrified when moments later he returned with their frozen corpses in thick plastic bags. “Neal, why don’t you just forget the cats. It was probably a quick spreading bug of some kind—what does it matter?” “We’ll see,” he said, and put the bags in a sink to thaw.

Assistant’s monotone reiteration of duty will rankle reader.

Reader will be pleased to see Neal acting decisively for once.

25 Neal moved to his desk and . sat there mute. “Sarzolian had the cats destroyed.” The thought coursed through his mind until he become fixated on it. As much as he tried to push the idea aside, as

For Neal, the cats’ deaths epitomize a larger crisis about his control over his life. As the practication will show, however, Neal’s desire to control his life—and not be reliant on others—is an unrealistic ambition considering his lack of early familial support.

ludicrous as it was, it came back the more forcefully. There was little he could do about his paranoid delusions but to allow himself the silly exercise of having the cats’ blood tested. The scenario of Sarzolian ordering his lab animals “sacrificed” with secobarbital—after ordering him to take a week off— played irresistibly on his mind. As he stared into the confines of his lab, Neal realized his childhood fantasy of controlling his own destiny as an adult had not yet happened, and may never happen at the university. If not for Sarzolian’s constant intervention, then for the intervention of the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation or the medical school dean or whoever might step in to micro-manage his career. 26 All the same, he had to . consider himself fortunate to have received his position as an assistant research professor at the university. How did he get the position, anyway? Was it talent or luck? Of course it was mostly luck. He had had the right credentials at the right time and applied at the right place. Maybe he had been selected

Neal’s explanation seems plausible— and author plants this to forestall reader linking Colna to the event. Now the reader will have to fashion a werschema for a confrontation between Sarzolian and Neal.

The paragraph contains an explicit statement of the practical course for him in his present situation: tolerating controls. This is of course the lesson applied in the novel’s practication.

27 .

28 .

29 .

30 .

almost at random. His first bit of luck got him the position. What kind of luck would keep him at the university? Perhaps self-promotion, but more likely the right mental disposition—to tolerate the ever present controls. In the afternoon, participants in Sarzolian’s new grant project met in Sarzolian’s main lab. Neal’s suspicions lingered, and throughout the meeting he could think of nothing but confronting Sarzolian about the death of his cats. Sarzolian seemed very surprised when Neal approached him about the subject and through his expression of astonishment quite convinced Neal he had not even known about the cats’ deaths. “I don’t even use drugs to sacrifice my lab animals—too expensive for use on rats. We use a guillotine. You didn’t find the cats decapitated, did you?” he said with a smirk. Sarzolian then dismissed Neal’s worries with an expression Neal had gotten tired of hearing, “Just forget the cats, Neal. That is over.” Upon returning to his lab Neal found his assistant waiting to upbraid him. “I

Author elevates reader’s attention level with the promise of adaction.

Reader is now faced with the prospect of a prolonged mystery— and must gird himself for attempting to solve it. Reader may feel some irritation at the author for putting another hurdle in the way of his understanding the situa, so this may further reader’s resolve to find a resolution.

Assistant repeats the idea of respect for those in power. This sets up ¶ 31. Assistant’s harping on duty will grate

can’t believe you mentioned those cats to Sarzolian. He told you before that the project is over. It sounded almost like you were accusing him of killing them. Neal, Sarzolian deserves more respect from you. He’s given you your position. He’s gotten you published several times. Don’t be so ungrateful!” 31 If his assistant were not so . likable and sincere, Neal would have shut his mind to her constant allusions to his ingratitude—first toward his mother—now toward the P.I. Neal was beginning to suspect himself of being too obsessed with his own goals and too paranoid to even feel gratitude. He was only able to stem the rising feelings of guilt and even self-loathing by picking up the phone and dialing his mother. “Mom, I’m coming to take you out for coffee,” he said to the astonished Colna. 32 “Are you sure,” Colna . replied, reluctantly, “I have to go to the bank but will be back at 4:00.” 33 “Okay, I’ll be waiting for you . at home,” he said sweetly. 34 Overhearing the . conversation, the lab assistant smiled at Neal with

on reader—and impugn her as an oracle. Assistant instills guilt, which motivates Neal’s visit to his mother’s house.

Neal seeks another rapprochement with his mother. That is motivated somewhat by guilty feel regarding his lack of gratitude toward his parents and those in power. Neal still very vulnerable to iterations of the startema. Reader will be discouraged by Neal’s susceptibility to the now tiresome oracle. Reader will hope for Neal’s confrontation with his mother instead.

¶¶32-33 Sets up the confrontation of the next chapter.

encouraging approval. 35 Before leaving, Neal decided . not to leave the lab that day without completely ridding himself of any suspicions regarding the death of his lab animals, and so dialed the pathology laboratory. “This is Neal Mackart. Do you have blood test results on my cats? Did you find any drugs—or infection?” he asked. 36 “Yes, secobarbital,” was the Reader will be shocked. . reply. 37 The lab assistant was still . smiling as Neal was leaving the room. He turned to her before leaving. “I’m asking you to tell me the truth. Who killed the cats with secobarbital? Was it Sarzolian’s idea?” 38 The assistant was too . surprised to answer and she merely looked at him with long, silent pity, until in frustration he merely walked out the door. CHAPTER 11 – REALIZATION Author gives emcair the knowledge (but not the initiative) necessary for resolution of the emasis—i.e., emcair accepts thema. The emcair will be motivated to act but cannot as yet direct his aggression toward antag [that will require the intervention of the reader’s wiset]. Reader will see with relief the emcair’s Realization and will be keener than ever to see a confrontation with the antag. But again, author withholds a resolving confrontation. At just the point when the reader senses a The Sarzolian-as-antag hypothesis is back on. Reader will begin to feel exhausted by the question of whether Sarzolian is an antag, and by necessity of keeping a werschema for him in consciousness.

Reader will feel that the assistant, the standard-bearer of the startema, is an obstruction to truth—and will wish Neal’s independence of her constant pronouncements.

resolution to the conflict is possible, the author introduces an entirely new setting—Colna’s Mexican life. Reader will find the setting intriguing enough to temporarily suspend demands for a resolution. Reader may object to Patrick’s diatribe as culturally offensive, but the author seduces reader into allowing it, by putting it in Patrick’s manic mouth so it becomes almost comical. Chapter 11 begins with another scene of Colna abusing one of her sons, the kerflat Patrick. Reader witnesses the fierceness of her nasty temper and her flair for the histrionic. Patrick submits to her dominance and abuse, but vents his spleen to the avedram after Colna has left the house. The avedram is empowered by Patrick when she realizes that he could be easily co-opted in a conspiracy to garner the antag’s money. Finally there is highly dramatic adaction filled with suspense and tension, when Neal realizes that the perpetrator of the sabotage in his lab is none other than his mother, the antag, and when Colna catches her son in her room. Author defuses a confrontation in Colna’s bedroom allowing Colna to disdainfully censure her son, in the almost laughably savage manner that reader has come to expect from her. The Avedram has begun to play her part as the avenger of Colna. Reader will even more consider her as an ally. 1. Upon her return from Morrisville Colna had noticed that a decided rapport between Patrick and her home health worker had occurred in her absence. That afternoon Colna had called for a taxi and was preparing to leave for the bank. She could now hear the two of them talking and laughing and otherwise enjoying far too much conviviality in the kitchen— almost if they had suddenly become lovers. Colna guffawed aloud at the thought The reader will expect to see Colna launch into something aggressive again. The reader has probably come to relish Colna’s uncivilized tone and her viciousness, which she is able to exercise with impunity. Reader’s expectation is confirmed as narrator displays Colna’s aggressive condemnation.

2.

of any degrading amours between the two of them, especially considering Robanna’s huge size. “He’s a horny bastard,” she thought to herself, “but thank god he doesn’t have to settle for the likes of her.” 3. Colna burst into the kitchen with a vigorous push to the door, which had the desired effect of creating a pause in the hilarities. 4. “What are you two doing in here?” 5. “She’s giving me some cooking lessons,” Patrick said, the echoes of the prior merriment still radiating from his face. 6. “Well, you should learn a trade of some kind,” Colna said with disgusted gravity. 7. “Maybe you could send me to cooking school,” he replied. 8. “You can earn your own money and send yourself to school. I can’t just throw money around at my age.” 9. “Then what were you doing spending my inheritance money taking a trip to Morrisville,” he retorted gamely. 10 Colna angrily reached into . her oversized purse, pulled out a well-stuffed leather satchel and, walking to the

An adaction begins.

sink, began cramming money into the garbage disposal. Before Patrick could stop her she had flicked the switch and shredded the bills to mulch. 11 “This is what I’d rather do . with the money than leave any to you or your brother. Earn your own!” she said, taking in with satisfaction the look of horror created on her son’s face. 12 Robanna, especially, was . riveted by this display and tried almost desperately to see the denominations of the bills Colna was stuffing into the disposal. Her eyes had been eager and quick, but it was only after Colna had dramatically stomped out of the room that she realized that what she had seen were not dollars at all, but pesos. 13 “What’s she doing with . pesos?” she asked Patrick.

Sets up for change of setting to Mexico. The truth about the Mexican setting is that author inserts it simply to provide variety. Reader may hope this change of locale will provide a bounty of new data.

¶¶13-16 are a tease that will prime the reader’s curiosity for the next chapter. It undoubtedly catches the reader off guard because up until that point there was no suggestion of Colna’s currency dealings.

14 Patrick seemed caught off . guard by the question, and stopped himself before answering. 15 “I don’t know.” . 16 Robanna wondered to . herself with a harrumph, “Is she stashing her dough in

Reader will be frustrated at not getting an answer to the tease. Reader will heroicize Robanna for providing an answer.

Mexico?” 17 Neal had arrived about that . time, and had missed his mother by a few minutes. Patrick had started on a manic disquisition on his mother’s various abuses. “I’d like to see her without any of her money—snivelingly grateful to us for every penny we might give her. Better yet, I’d like to have her mountain of gold myself, without having to deal with her. Well maybe we’d keep her around to maintain her government benefits. It’d be nice to put her in a big bird cage, and make her sign checks over to me. Every week, if she’d be good, I let her out and walk around and fluff up her feathers a little, and then make her clean out her cage. Or better than that, I’d give her a drug to paralyze her before she woke up in the morning, and then put her on some kind of intravenous feeder, or maybe I would have her stuffed so I could just prop her in the window so the neighbors would think she was still around.” 18 Robanna had turned away, . and heading for the television, was scarcely listening. Her blatant show of inattention was no deterrent to him

Author intends this paragraph mainly as a trifling amusement. It does, however, provide a plant for Patrick’s callous treatment of Colna at the end of the novel. Although he does not have a plan for her, he would like her money and knows that having her around is still important because of her government benefits.

though, and Patrick continued without pause, “That sounds pretty awful for a son to say, huh, Robanna? You seem like a decent woman, and you’re thinking to yourself, “He’s pretty scary.” Well come on, who wouldn’t be at least a little happy to see a relative— even one you really like—kick the bucket and leave you a little dough, huh? Admit it? I remember once when I was a child my grandmother was at the airport going home, and she was buying insurance, and we kids kept encouraging her to buy more, because we could see the payout would be huge for each dollar of insurance she bought. And she didn’t seem too happy about how eager we were, and I know she was imagining us hoping the plane would crash so we could cash in. And you know, she was right. When the plane took off, we were on the observation deck screaming ‘Crash! Crash, baby, crash!’” 19 Neal came into the living . room where Robanna had just turned on the television. Patrick was still talking, “. . . and if I had children, I’d share what I had with them, after all, I would owe them something for the joy they gave me and

for forcing them to obey me like slaves . . .” 20 “What’s he talking about,” . Neal asked Robanna, while Patrick continued to prattle in the background. 21 “Oh, your mother tried to . make him mad by putting a bunch of money down the garbage disposal after he talked about inheriting money from her.” Robanna turned off the television and looked at Neal in exasperation. “Why do you take that kind of abuse from her?” 22 “She’s our mother. We owe . her respect, regardless,” Neal answered defensively. 23 “Well, she doesn’t treat you . like her sons.” 24 Robanna hesitated for a . moment, then continued, “I think she must be on some kind of drug. Nobody’s that horrible—naturally. Maybe it’s her rheumatoid medicine. It could be anything—she’s got a huge hoard of drugs in her bedroom. 25 “What do you mean ‘huge . hoard’?” 26 “Hundreds of bottles of . drugs.” 27 Neal’s curiosity was now . quite aroused, for he hadn’t

Sets up a reiteration of the startema in the next paragraph.

Reiteration of the startema, which now sounds somewhat hollow to the reader. Robanna begins to become the voice of reason. Sets up the revelation of the drug hoard

¶¶25-29 set up the realization in paragraph 30.

known his mother was so medicated. 28 Robanna offered to lead him . to the hoard—and leaving Patrick downstairs—they went up to his mother’s room.

Reader will encourage Robanna to take such initiatives in order to empower the emcair. Reader will feel the same adrenal response as the emcair and Robanna. Author adds the rather ridiculous “mortar and pestle” just to show reader that author has now so entrapped reader’s curiosity, that author can inject absurdities at will without despoiling the suspension of disbelief.

29 Just as Robanna had said, . in a cupboard Neal found hundreds of bottles of prescription and herbal medications—prescriptions written by tens of different doctors—plus a variety of applicators: syringes, droppers, enema bottles and medicated bandages—even an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. As he examined the labels he was shocked at the enormous variety of medications. But after a time he came to realize that most of them were psychoactive drugs—sedatives, stimulants of various degrees— amphetamines, caffeine, theobromine, ephedrine— anti-psychotics, hypnotics and for her rheumatism— steroids, anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants. Suddenly Neal snatched up a nearly empty bottle from the cupboard, and read the label carefully. 30 “Secobarbital,” he said . aloud in surprise. This vial is

Neal is now in a perfect position to confront Colna. He has reached the

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from my lab!” The connection between his mother’s tidbits for the cats and this mostly empty vial became instantly clear to him, but he had hardly a chance to allow the horror of it to fully engulf him before he heard his mother’s voice in the entry hall. She was in a fury and was saying something about a new manager at the bank so she couldn’t make a deposit. Neal and Robanna looked at each other in a startled panic and began shoving bottles back into the cupboard, as they heard her dragging herself slowly up the stairs. There was no way for them to leave the old woman’s bedroom without her seeing them from the top of the stairs. “Put your arms around me,” Robanna whispered loudly, “It’s our only chance of distracting her.” Neal hesitated but when he heard his mother’s footsteps approaching in the hall, he obeyed, and it was face to face with their arms around each other that Colna discovered them. Standing in the open doorway, the old woman was so struck by the sight of her son, the Ph.D., a university

Realization.

As quickly as Neal becomes incensed and motivated to avenge himself, Colna appears in an overarching aggressive mood. Thus reader’s hope for revenge will be squelched. Reader will tergathize with the emcair and avedram’s panic.

As a pocal, Robanna has the nerves to take charge.

research scientist, with his arms around the plain and rotund home health worker, that the fact that she had caught them in her bedroom hardly seemed to occur to her. 36 The pair appeared to be . startled by her presence and quickly unlatched to receive her rebuke. 37 “No wonder you never talk . about any romances, Neal, if this is your taste. Really . . . I can’t believe what I’m seeing. As always, Neal, you disappoint me,” she said in disgust, contorting her face until it resembled a piece of rotting fruit. 38 The pair prepared to make . a quick exit from the room, and bowed their heads in mock sheepishness. But just as quickly as the incident had begun, Colna’s expression had suddenly turned to nonplussed, and she lifted her hand to stop them. “I’m going to the house in Mexico next week, and I’m not taking anyone. Robanna, if you don’t mind Neal’s advances then you two can do whatever while I’m gone, otherwise, with he and his brother around, I’d barricade myself in my room if I were you. . . . Anyway, I’ve arranged for a

Colna remains, unassailably, a tower of distain. The author again deprives reader the opportunity to see Neal confront his mother about her malicious aggression.

This paragraph shows Colna preoccupied with her trip to Mexico, and that helps to divert her from too many serious inquiries as to why they might have been in her room, notably any rummaging around.

job for Patrick through a handicapped program so he’ll be away during the day at least. . . . Now the two of you, get out of my bedroom. Why you picked this room for your dalliance, I can only imagine with revulsion!” CHAPTER 12 – ILLUSTRATING THE UBERTHEME The author devotes a chapter to a comical illustration of the novel’s ubertheme: the selfishness of the post-World War II generation. The chapter also gives the kerflat Patrick a further grievance against his mother, for having forced him to take the job. In chapter 12 the adaction is essentially between the author and the reader. The author at this point has become quite bold about imposing his uberthemes. The reader’s interest will be primed by this point in the novel, and author takes advantage of that to insert an ubertheme at length. Here it is put in the form of a comic interlude, and the action does not contribute to the inculcation (though the ubertheme is really a subset of the thema, i.e., it deals with the same theme of duty of parents to children and vice versa). The adaction takes place at the Tuscana elder home. As elsewhere the narrator changes his point of view from sympathetic to unsympathetic from technical to intimate. That makes it quite difficult for the reader to judge the validity of the information. 1. In many ways both the inmates and lower level employees at the Tuscana Elder Care Resort were indistinguishable. Although younger than the paying residents, the lower staff also had handicaps that prevented them from living alone. They had been recruited from the ranks of the disabled by an organization seductively ¶¶1-53 are intended as a comedic intermezzo, but are also heavily laden with an ubertheme of the selfishness of the American generation that came into maturity immediately after WW2. Reader will suffer author’s diatribe about the WW2 generation because of its entertainment value, because he is sufficiently interested in the adaction, and because his attention has been generally primed by the

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adaction thus far in the novel. named “Work Dignifies the Disabled”. When visitors questioned the wisdom of forcing some of the mentally or physically handicapped to work in such a depressing environment, “Work Dignifies the Disabled” would make the rejoinder that “not everyone with a handicap can be supported by the state anymore”, and that seeming truism would usually preempt any further objections. Elders in wheelchairs might find themselves served by a younger attendant who was also bound to a wheelchair, a hearing impaired old man by a young man born without hearing, or an old woman with Alzheimer’s by a young woman with Down Syndrome. The fact that state psychologists had pronounced Patrick unfit for employment because of his mania and immature delusions, allowed him to enter the program. Although in his middle thirties, his mother had convinced him to take the position as a sort of summer job, so he could have some spending money while playing basketball all winter. Of course managing such a collection of staff and

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inmates would be a nightmare for a normal person, but the Tuscana’s owner always found a tireless and compulsive micro-manager for whom barking ceaseless petty orders at staff and residents alike was an ego-fed nirvana. Patrick’s mania made him naturally gregarious, and he was welcomed by many residents as a rare, lively spark in what was otherwise a stupefying environment focused on pain and mortality. He was an enthusiastic organizer of parlor games at the Tuscana, although once he had organized a group, he was loath to leave them on their own and would have to be shushed away by the manager. “Patrick, why are you having them kick that bucket back and forth—is this supposed to be some kind of game? We have a professional to plan the games. Stick to your job,” Becky, the manager, said with hushed severity, “Go get the dishes and do any cleanup in Suite K.” At the first sign of Patrick’s usual long-winded excuse for playing longer,

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Becky raised her hand and pointed a finger in the direction of the suite in which he was to serve. Inside Suite K a husband and wife had just arrived to pay a weekly visit to a demented woman who was the mother to one of them. Their older model car looked somewhat incongruous in the Tuscana’s parking lot, among the lavish and carefully tended foliage, the tile-lined walkways and ornate building facades—decked in heavy terracotta window surrounds, with roofline architraves, and painted a warm though sedate burnt orange—in keeping with its Italianate scheme. When the mother, now a Tuscana inmate, was still fully in possession of her marbles, she had invested the family fortune in a lifetime nontransferable lease on a suite of rooms at the Tuscana, which she could occupy upon reaching 75 until her death. Of course some purchasers of such leases never reached the eligibility age, and therein lay the profit to its investors. The mother had unfortunately begun to lose her faculties at just the age at which she became eligible for her suite, which was coincidentally a

good thing for her children, who were thus secure in knowing she would be cared for and die in just the manner she had wanted: in dignity and splendor, in case any of her social friends and society rivals were still alive to envy the respectability of her last days. 10 Of course, not so . comforting to the children is that their parents’ entire estate—begun in the fortunate years after the war when most of the world lie economically prostrate and Americans were without competition in the world marketplace—was in this way conveyed to the Tuscana’s proprietors. But it would have been selfish and unseemly for them to have complained about their mother’s decision to invest in a respectable death at the Tuscana. 11 As Patrick knocked and . entered, the startled inmate of Suite K, dressed in a long, youthful, pleated dress pulled tightly at the waste, and a yellow cashmere cardigan with sleeves pulled nonchalantly over the wrists, confronted him, “What are you doing in my house? I haven’t invited you!” 12 Patrick had been trained in

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the magic phrases that would reassure the demented woman. “I’m just one of the catering staff, ma’am.” “Well, all right then, but can’t you be a little less conspicuous while I’m entertaining.” Patrick picked up the dishes and placed them in a battered tub on a trolley. The woman turned to her guests. “Don’t tell my husband I’m having this luncheon. He thinks I’m spending the whole day doing laundry and baking bread—just like his mother used to do. But with my Kelvinator washer and dryer and Swanson’s supermarket . . .,” she cupped her hand to her face and whispered, “. . . I really don’t have that much to do.” “Couldn’t you go to work and help pay some of the family’s bills?” her son asked her snidely. Seeing that her husband was merely goading his sick mother into continuing with her demented nonsense, the wife scolded him, “That’s cruel to lead her on like that.” The husband waived his wife’s comments away with his hand, and looked eagerly to his mother for her response.

18 “Go to work!?” the . demented woman announced in a tone of arch-indignity, “Everyone would think my husband couldn’t earn enough if they saw he had a wife who worked. And besides . . . I’ve got to take care of the children.” 19 Her son continued with his . cynical interrogation, while his wife looked away in disgust, “But I hardly ever see you with your kids,” he said with mock earnestness. 20 “Well, . . .” she paused . with a moment’s guilt that was quickly overcome with an easy rationalization “we have institutions for that . . . schools, churches, boys’ and girls’ clubs. Children ought to be out socializing. It builds character. And besides, with so much new knowledge around, how could I be expected to teach my children anything!?” The demented woman looked for a break in the conversation, and so barked at Patrick. “Caterer, don’t you see my guests’ drinks are empty. Can’t you keep the glasses filled, for god’s sake?” 21 Patrick looked with . amusement at the empty hands of the husband and wife. Pulling an empty glass

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from the tub, he handed it to the wife, who promptly put it down. “This is getting ridiculous,” the wife said with exasperation. Patrick decided to join the conversation. “I wouldn’t mind living here myself. ‘Tuscana’—where did they get that name, anyway? Sounds kind of southern.” Patrick then assumed an exaggerated, old fashioned southern accent. ”‘Oh, yeah, she was quite a beauty, the old plantation house—yep! called her ‘Tuscana’”. The husband and wife looked at each other in amazement that the aide would somehow join the conversation with such nonsense, but there was no stopping him since he met no resistance. “I know what you’re thinking, ‘This pathetic low class peon ought to just do his job and shut up.’ We’ll maybe you’re right. But my mother’s got a fortune tucked away, and if she doesn’t spend it all on a place like this —maybe I’ll be spending my last days here, myself.” The husband found himself lured into condescending to join the

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aide’s train of thought. “Well, my mother’s already spent her last dime on this place. I could have bought a small business with what she spent on this place. And look at her! She thinks she’s back in her 1950’s tract home,” the husband interjected. “. . . Keep the libido alive and keep the brain alive, that’s what I think,” Patrick was continuing. "I’m youthful and that’s why I won’t lose my marbles.” The demented woman interrupted. “Young man, please just serve the guests. Don’t try to engage them in a lot of chit chat. Don’t they train you caterers?!” Patrick closed his mouth, but silently continued his monologue and waited for another opportunity to let his disorganized thoughts pour out. The husband now saw a chance to return to his cynical banter with his mother. “I hear you get invitations to all the women’s clubs. But don’t you wish you could spend more time at home? You must be very busy at home.” “I’ve got machines to do the housework, thank god. And that’s all that’s expected of me. I’d die of boredom if I

stayed at home.” 30 “ . . . But your children . . .” . 31 “My clubs do charity work. . We’re important to the community! I’m sure the children understand that.” 32 The wife was now . becoming very impatient. “Stop needling her. I can see she’s getting defensive. You’re going to upset her in a minute.” 33 “Don’t worry,” the . husband replied, “She’s in a dream world. She loves it when people play along with her.” 34 “You’re not playing with . her. You’re just trying to get her to say, in so many words, that she is a selfish pig for spending all the family money on this place.” 35 “Well, if she doesn’t like . the conversation, she can just change the subject.” 36 His wife, sat down in a . chair with a resigned thump, and looked out at the landscaping, while he husband continued his sententious conversation, unchecked. 37 “Your husband seems . very successful. I hope he’s sharing everything with you!” 38 “Oh yes! Of course I have . to earn it with a little feminine

charm—and for god’s sake I certainly earn it by putting up with him! I let him make all the decisions,” she said with a coy wink. The demented woman smiled with a wry charm that belied her decrepit mental state. 39 Patrick could no longer . stand silent, and so tried to insinuate himself into the conversation with a gratuitous question, “Sir, do you play sports?” 40 “I don’t have time—why?” . 41 “If I lived here—I’d insist . on more sports. I would have a basketball court set up. You’re thinking I’m crazy, and maybe I am—I mean the state psychologist put that on my record—after talking to me for only 4 minutes. I think he only gave me four minutes to prove my sanity because he was in a hurry to go to lunch. I could smell food cooking at the cafeteria during our interview, and I could tell he could smell it too, because he kept raising his head and kind of sniffing the air—you know —like a dog would do. Look at these old people around here, hardly able to get out of a chair. They need to loosen their muscles with a little

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basketball that’s all. If I sit around for a long time, I get stiff too.” “Don’t you have some other work to do,” the man’s wife called out at Patrick from her chair. “Keep her glass full! She shouldn’t have to beg you like that!” the demented woman barked. Oblivious to Patrick’s manic outpourings, the husband had one more barb to stick into his mentally dimmed and unsuspecting mother. “You and your husband are quite successful —financially I mean.” The mother nodded appreciatively. “Have you set up a trust for your children or anything?” “With times so good—why would we need to set up a trust? They can earn their own money. If someone can’t succeed by themselves in this day and age—they’d have to be a real loser—whom no one could help!” “She’s hopeless. She never has believed that her generation was merely lucky —not for one minute. She obviously had a rationale for everything she did. No wonder she doesn’t feel any guilt about not sharing. When

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she sees me drive up in a 10year-old car, all she can think to say is, ‘Isn’t it time you got a new car?’” Patrick was still prattling on with his vision for the Tuscana. He was directing his conversation at the wife who was the only one seeming to pay any attention to him. She would occasionally look up at him in vexation. “And to keep their libido’s active, I’d hire good looking young women to bathe in the swimming pool. The old guys could look but not touch. They’d have to work out their desires on their fellow old ladies. . . .” There was a knock, and the door to the room opened suddenly. Becky, the manager, stood with a stern expression in the doorway. “Patrick, are you still in here? All you should be doing is picking up the dishes. I could hear you talking even out in the hall. Please leave these people alone.” “We’re going now, anyway,” the wife said summarily, as she came to her feet quickly. Becky took Patrick to her office and fired him. “Patrick, you just spend too much time socializing and not enough time doing work. I’ve warned

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you repeatedly, and now I’m giving up.” “You mean I’m not retarded enough to be exploited, huh?” “I don’t think you’re retarded, but obviously no one has ever trained you to survive in the work world. Didn’t anybody give you values or teach you restraint? You seem like the type that somebody has always mocked or held at a distance. That’s made you too aggressive about getting attention. Whatever it is, you should call your family now to come to get you.” “Well, Becky, you’re right, and I don’t blame you for firing me. I’m angry at my mother for putting me up for this job.” Patrick’s volubility had once again been ignited, and Becky consoled herself with the thought that this would be the last day she would have to listen to his prattle. “The phone is on my desk, Patrick, go ahead and call your home. I will go get your check,” Becky called behind as she hurried from the room. CHAPTER 13 – MALSCHEMA Author shows in this chapter emcair’s inertness. Author does that to frustrate the reader’s desire to see the emasis resolved.

In this short chapter the emcair has realized who his antag is and the scale of her aggression, and yet he is unable to marshal the guts to confront her directly. He is in a malschema state of intimidation and denial. He has no sources of advice or models. The reader’s question, “What does it take to get the emcair motivated?” is unanswered here. In fact, if Colna is to be confronted, the avedram will have to do it for him, which is of course the avedram’s role. 1. Neal had found, to his disbelief, the evidence that indicted his mother in the death of his lab animals. Though convinced of her guilt, he agonized over the question of why she had done it. She had never especially supported his intellectual interests, seeing them as unmanly and insular. She had been afraid that he would appear as a freak of sorts to her social friends, as indeed he may have. His mother would have much preferred him to have grown up as a child-athlete, like his twin, and highly sociable—so as to provide her with opportunities to meet other parents and increase her social circle. She never met anybody through his intellectual hobbies. She was aggressive, but why so malicious as to try to sabotage his research? He debated whether to confront her, but knew she would become a tower of deceitful Neal finds an excuse not to act on the new schema (thema) that his realization has presented. He uses the startema, which he consciously knows now to be false, as an excuse for inaction. He is also intimidated by Colna and is afraid that she would use the opportunity of a confrontation to attack him viciously. In other words, he does not feel powerful enough to confront her yet. Reader will be impatient about the narrator’s rationalizing Neal’s inaction.

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Neal underestimates his mother’s determination to do malice. Reader now will be desperately wiseting a more aggressive stance from Neal.

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rage and indignation, and more than that, would use the opportunity to question again his mental solvency. “Perhaps,” he meekly rationalized to himself, “I will not confront her . . . only because of the debt I owe as her child.” That rosy thought rang falsely in his ears, but served as an adequate excuse for inaction. A further rationale for not further For the time being, he traumatizing himself by confronting would busy himself with Colna. Sarzolian’s new research project, and try to keep the cracks in his mental structure from undermining his career. CHAPTER 14 – FURTHER EMPOWERING AVEDRAM Chapter 14 will reveal avedram as a serious threat to antag’s power. But author will save antag from avedram’s aggressiveness, for the time being. The chapter will set up an opportunity for avedram to get intimate information about antag (by accompanying her to her secret Mexican villa). Author deals reader quite a shock with the breast milk drinking incident. In his surprise and horror, reader will probably be too stunned to submit the incident to a test of probability—and focus instead on wiseting antag’s downfall. Author tantalizes reader with the prospect of Colna’s destruction by poisoning, but then flouts that hope. Reader is left with the consolation that avedram is now actively hostile toward antag and is bold and aggressive. The chapter begins with Colna asserting her privileges over the infant. After being rebuffed in her attempts to defend the child from Colna’s abuses, avedram learns that Colna has also been depriving the child of nutrients, that is, by drinking the stored milk. The drudgerous cleaning work that Colna forces on Robanna, gives Robanna an opportunity to steal some of Colna’s drugs for use in sickening

her. That drastic action does not seem to affect the antag at all. Instead it seems to fortify her. The drug does have one downside for the antag, and that is it makes her lower her guard and become generous and expansive. As a result, she invites the avedram to accompany her to Mexico and thereby risks further empowering the avedram with new information about her secrets. 1. “I will certainly miss having the baby with me in Mexico,” Colna sighed to Robanna as the old woman held the nervous infant in her lap. “Wish you’d trust me to take the thing with me.” The infant lay stiff and lifeless in the old woman’s arms, with a pronounced look of dread on its face that had become more pronounced as it had grown. “Mrs. Mack, I hate to say it, but I think you’re overhandling the baby. Your putting her in and out of her crib all day is exhausting her. You never let her sleep.” Colna angrily swept the child from her lap onto the couch, and got to her feet. “Put your baby away,” she said haughtily, “And clean the bathrooms upstairs, including the third floor. Patrick’s working now—he doesn’t have time to do the work you’re being paid to do. And when you’re finished, report to me for more tasks.” The old woman then dragged herself Reader now sees, with frustration, that any resolution of the realization will be withheld and that his wiset of a swift conclusion is now of no avail. Adaction seems in the offing regarding the child, but that does not develop.

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Colna, as per her character, acts savagely and impunitively. Reader will assume that the adaction is over, and so relax his guard.

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stiffly toward the kitchen. Robanna reached for her baby on the couch, who was now crying plaintively. Considering Colna’s poor mood, Robanna thought she ought to feed the baby some of the breast pump milk from the refrigerator so as to save time. Robanna did not like to breast feed the child all the time and so used a breast pump to store milk, which she then kept in a container in the refrigerator. Fearing Colna would bark some further humiliating orders at her, Robanna gingerly opened the swinging door into the kitchen from the dining room. She peered through the narrow opening to see if Colna was still in the kitchen. Indeed she was. Robanna watched as the old woman lifted the container of breast milk to her mouth, and drank with considerable thirst. The old woman then refilled the container with cow’s milk, and wiping her mouth, exited the kitchen via the back hall. “That sick old vulture,” Robanna thought, “No wonder the baby seems weak lately.” Robanna was not one to quit a job out of indignation and self-pity even under the

Paragraph sets up the next adaction, that is, drinking breast milk.

The adaction initiates a covert confrontation regarding the milk. Reader will be totally unprepared for author’s sudden escalation of tension. Reader will be shocked in one sense, but also intrigued to witness such a bizarre character as Colna. Robanna’s reaction is strong, which will surprise the reader, who had expected that Robanna would let Colna’s outrageous behavior pass. Robanna is less tolerant than the reader imagined. Her aggressiveness will force reader to change his

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worst sort of abuse. She would stay on and exact whatever revenge an abusive employer might deserve. Her immediate thought was to dope the milk with some medications from Colna’s own drug hoard. She would have to be careful not to kill the old woman, but just give her an overdose to frighten her. 9. Robanna nursed her baby and discarded the cow’s milk from the baby’s milk container, and then, struggling to do the bending and kneeling required, cleaned the bathrooms. 10 Making best use of the . tasks imposed on her, while cleaning her employer’s bathroom, she went into the old woman’s bedroom and took a handful of pills from a full vial in the drug hoard. Later she ground them into a powder, using a rolling pin and a plastic bag in the kitchen. 11 That evening, after Colna . had retired, she used the breast pump to fill the baby’s milk container, and mixed in the medication. She had picked a medication at random, and unbeknownst to her had doped the milk with a large dose of prednisone—an

werschema in anticipation of adaction between avedram and antag.

Setup for paragraph 10.

Exposition with the narrator’s interpretation.

immunosuppressant corticosteroid that Colna took occasionally in small doses to combat especially bad flares of rheumatism. 12 Colna had awoken early and . had taken a generous swig from the baby’s milk container. She had noticed an odd taste to the milk and had carped to herself about what kind of ethnic food Robanna must have eaten to give it such a flavor. When she came into the kitchen later that morning, Robanna had duly noted the substitution of cow’s milk for her own in the container because of the now noticeable changes in color and level, but to her disappointment, noticed no ill-effects on her employer. If anything, Colna seemed in a radiant mood. 13 Colna had many things to . do before leaving for Mexico, but flitted through her errands like a bird on a breeze, even humming to herself and, while shopping, acting coquettishly with perplexed store personnel—like a young girl. She was ravenous, too, and ate a huge lunch. Most noticeably, Colna’s joints no longer ached and returned to a flexibility she hadn’t

Reader will be extremely eager to see the result of the drugging.

Author denies reader the satisfaction of seeing Colna punished.

The reader will enjoy a great deal of amusement at the apparent change in Colna, that is, how easy it was for Robanna to exercise some power over Colna. The reader cannot begrudge Colna’s luck in getting relief from rheumatism, except to the extent of the immoral means she employed.

enjoyed in years. It was as if she had found the elixir of youth. “I haven’t felt so alive since I was pregnant the last time,” she thought to herself. 14 The effects were the results . of the corticosteroids, which commonly gives those taking them a miraculous feeling of well-being. But, as always, joy presents its bill all too soon, and if taken regularly in large doses, the steroids exact destruction of the heart, liver and lungs as a price for their miracle. 15 Disappointed to find Colna . suffering not at all, Robanna would have tried administering a different drug cocktail to Colna in the baby’s milk container, again the following night, except that there was no opportunity to get into the drug cabinet, as Colna had remained in her bedroom packing for her trip. But suddenly Robanna found herself presented with a new opportunity for revenge. Colna had swept into the living room with uncommon litheness and good humor, and turning off the television in front of Robanna, announced, “I’ve decided I want you and the baby in Mexico with me. I’ll need you there. We’ll fly out tomorrow.

Narrator’s explanation of the effects of the drugs

Author again rescues Colna by creating a diversion: the Mexican trip. Reader will eagerly await the resolution of the adaction. A segue to the next chapter in Mexico. Colna, as per character, delivers her message with an ounce of aggression by turning off the T.V. The reader may subconsciously understand that the reason that Colna wants Robanna and baby to go to Mexico is Colna would like another shot of the mother’s milk.

You’ll like it there. You can do your usual nothing under the palm trees.” CHAPTER 15 – SKANOMY/WISET In this chapter, antag will attack emcair once again—by making a phone threat to his lab. By the end of the chapter, antag will become entirely repugnant and yet seem invulnerable. The emcair and avedram apparently have no power to overcome her. Reader will be exhausted by the interminable need to construct werschema for new adactions to anticipate the outcome of confrontations between mother and son. The author will have created an ambiguous and information-starved environment in which reader is unable to successfully construct werschema. Reader has reached a state of skanomy, in which he gives up on attempts at further werschema formation, becomes susceptible to author’s suggestions, and will use primitive forms of reasoning that the author can manipulate to inculcate his thema. Author is obviously ready to give Colna unrestricted license to abuse her son. In desperation to see antag vanquished, reader fervently wisets antag’s defeat. Author begins the chapter with a contrast between the affluent overseas American villas and the local Mexican town. This contrast is really a metaphor for the affluent arrogance of the World War II generation. Author then continues to villainize Colna by showing her distain for her employees, the locals and her children, and her greedy complicity with money launderers. Her display of religious devotion seems to be merely self-serving and devoid of charity. Even though ensconced in her Mexican villa, Colna continues to harass Neal, using the telephone to send a bomb threat to his laboratory. Author postpones Neal’s reaction with an exposition of Colna as a typical “ugly American”. The chapter ends with the narrator cynically rationalizing the ostentation of the American colony and its distain for charity. 1. There were in fact no palms An exposition of the Mexican setting. in Crespo, Mexico, the hillside community 60 miles south of Mexico City to which Colna

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regularly retired. But the pine trees that covered the slopes lent the air a delightful fragrance, forming a mist that seemed to separate the highlands from the tawdry peasant villages of the valleys. As Mexico City had spread outward and the Acapulco road was brought up to modern standards, the area’s fine qualities had been discovered by the rich and powerful of the capital, and extravagant villas had begun appearing among the pines. American retirees, who had no need to make regular excursions to Mexico City and who didn’t care about the quality of the Acapulco road were actually the first to build big homes in the hills of Crespo. They had leased the land on renewable 50-year terms, from a cooperative of peasant farmers who had been granted the property in the land reforms of the 1930’s. The co-op had little use for the slopes and was quite delighted that the Americans would make an offer for them. Some Americans, like Colna’s husband, had been lucky enough to invest in large amounts of the property, and when the Acapulco road

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was modernized, enjoyed a windfall in value appreciation. When selling the property, Colna, her husband, and others had been happy to accept huge payments in pesos, the origin of which was not very pristine, from bureaucrats in Mexico City. The transfer of monies, much of it not recorded for tax reasons, required the Mackarts and the other Americans involved, to carry suitcases of pesos with their luggage on returning to the U.S., and then to find some complicit bank manager to exchange the pesos for dollars without making a full disclosure. Colna had been ferrying her windfall in cash across the border in small amounts for years, and as she got older had found that her advanced years put her almost beyond suspicion at customs. The American community at Crespo had originally constructed a large central villa for use as a community center, but as they tended to improve their own homes, building their own pools and big kitchens for example, the need for the community center diminished, and it was eventually put on the market

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—whereupon Colna had purchased the lease and converted it into an extravagant house in order to guarantee her position as the doyen of the expatriate society. The house had one feature that made it irresistible to Colna—its own thermal hot spring pool—and Colna loved to soak her rheumatism-ravaged body in the hot mineral waters. Colna considered herself and others like her as shrewd investors and not merely as lucky opportunists, and so begrudged sharing any of the proceeds in any way that might reward those who had not “earned” it. For that reason, Colna did all of the hiring and firing of her Mexican staff through a local manager, so that the hirees would feel they were employed by the manager, whose living standard was barely above their own, rather than by the rich American. “They should feel lucky we’ve created jobs for them,” was Colna’s stock reply when Americans visiting her expressed surprise at her household’s low wages. Although she lived at her Mexican house as much as six months of the year, a

Author stokes reader’s malice toward Colna. The keynote is her selfishness.

Plant to explain how her children, other than the twins, will be kept unaware of Colna’s paralysis in the

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month here and a month there, she had told her children that she was a renter, and she had never given them any indication of the true extent of her holdings there. Patrick, through his proximity to Colna, had learned the vague outlines of her Mexican assets but kept that knowledge to himself. Colna let it be known to her children that they were welcome to visit only for brief periods every year—the better to keep their prying—inheritancegreedy—minds from gauging her estate. When she resided in Mexico she rarely called them but instead limited her contact with them to phone calls on holidays and birthdays. A month after arriving in Mexico, with Robanna and her baby in tow, Colna made a special call to Neal’s university laboratory. His assistant answered the phone. Colna, seated calmly at her bedroom desk and dressed sedately for church, spoke into the phone. “When are you going to stop mistreating animals, huh? Well, aren’t you going to answer? Huh . . . ? We’re not going to put up with it anymore. We have a gift for

triumph.

Author does his best to show Colna’s utter villainy and falseness: she is dressed for church while doing her evil. Colna is obviously not giving up on attempts to sabotage her son’s career. Reader will have to adjust werschema to accommodate Colna’s relentless and fearless aggression.

you from the animals. There’s a bomb for you in your lab now. Good luck.” 10 Colna struggled up from her . seat and was soon in her beautifully maintained black Seville, heading down the narrow asphalt road to the church in the town of Brenares in the valley below. Her driver, Pedro, would wait for her in an alley to the side of the church and then drive her back up the hill without so much as a glance around at the shabby village. 11 The village of Brenares . existed for no special reason except perhaps to administer to the souls and extract taxes from the Indian farmers who had long cultivated corn, fruits and vegetables in the rich volcanic soil of the valley between the pine-covered hills. Since the town was near the Acapulco road, some locals had been making pots, baskets and weavings for the Mexico City bound tourists whom they could lure to the town’s open air market. What they could not sell to tourists, they would unload for virtually nothing to rabid wholesalers from the big tourist shops of Mexico City, who would sweep into the market and offer to buy

Shows the hypocrisy of Colna’s outward display of devotion, despite her cruelty. Reader will wonder why the author has not described the consequences of her phone threat immediately. Author’s aim is to tease the reader.

Another exposition of Colna’s usual distain for others.

everything for a pittance per item. Vendors, tired of sitting in the summer heat all day, would lose resolve and succumb to the wholesaler’s ready cash. 12 The Spanish conqueror of . Mexico, Hernan Cortez, had once built a palace for himself not far away, using materials from an Indian temple, and from the Cortez “court” Jesuits had fanned out to create church congregations from among the natives scattered there around. Provides a contrast to Colna’s 13 Brenares had none of the affluence. . outdoor cafes, cobbled squares or public fountains that might have made it interesting to tourists. After 350 years Brenares had grown no larger than the number of families necessary to plant and harvest the surrounding lands, and the only structure of any consequence in the village remained the Jesuit’s original church. The volcanism that had created hot springs in the surrounding hills also produced occasional earthquakes, and the church had suffered repeatedly over the years. But repeatedly patched, it remained standing. 14 The church itself was a . simple single nave affair after

the Jesuit style, built of the local dark and ugly volcanic stone. The interior had been plastered at one point, and some architectural decorations in the form of pilasters and niches had been painted onto the plaster. Its facade was equally drab—a dark monolith of rough stone awaiting a covering of dressed masonry, which the village had not been able to afford. 15 Colna would have never . considered buying anything at Brenares, except the labor of those young adults who had not yet fled to jobs in Cuernavaca or Mexico City. To buy supplies, Colna and other residents of the hills of Crespo took the 20 minute trip to Cuernavaca, the central city of the State of Morales. 16 Despite its . unpretentiousness, Colna did not hesitate to attend mass at the church in Brenares, and rather enjoyed appearing there almost as an apparition at the morning mass every day. Colna’s formal religiosity owed much to the model set by her mother—who had attended daily mass out on the prairie almost every day of her life with an almost zombie-like obsessionality.

Colna’s lack of charity.

Narrator does not have complete access to Colna’s thoughts—at least not in church. Shows Colna’s belief that by simply fulfilling rituals she would be found favorable in God’s eyes, regardless of her actions outside the church building.

What Colna contemplated during the services is hard to guess, but at the least she was attempting to make a pact with God by which she traded prayers and ritual in church for credit toward the afterlife and perhaps toward a little remission of her painful rheumatism here on earth. God, she imagined, should be very agreeable to her style of devotion. 17 Colna’s neighbors were also . impressed, though not without a touch of cynicism, by her seeming piety. She drew a hard and fast line between giving to God and giving to the church, however, and when the altar boy pushed the hand-woven reed collection basket into her aisle on a pole, she donated only a few coins. “I support my parish in the U.S.,” was the reason she used to justify her stinginess. 18 Colna had never learned . Spanish, and had nothing but a head nod for the priest, despite his attempts to introduce himself. From the staff at her house, however, the priest had learned a great deal about her, and from the reports of her abusive gruffness and parsimony, wished she had learned

Shows her lack of charity and also sets up the epilog in which she is forced to donate to the church.

A moral judgment on Colna, seen from the priest’s viewpoint.

enough Spanish to avail herself of the forgiveness of the confessional. 19 It would be wholly incorrect . to say that Colna was a miser though, for there were certain expenses upon which she would never stint. Those were any expenses having to do with maintaining her social position in the American enclave in Crespo. Upon that objective she would heap enough money to rebuild the village church many times over. When establishing and preserving her image as a prosperous member of the community, there could be no such thing as waste. To have not spent money on a large, showy car, on a home big enough for a bishop, and on a large staff of servants, would have amounted to snubbing and degrading her community. It would amount to saying to her American neighbors, “Your admiration is not worth fighting for.” Had she not entertained them in the large marble-floored reception rooms of her house, her neighbors might fear that she was allowing some parasitic individuals, such as lazy children, or unworthy public charities, to leach her honest money. With her

Shows her preoccupation with appearances. This is of course the author’s slap in the face of the ethic that dominated America of the 1950’s. This reinforces author’s ubertheme about the greed of Colna’s WWII generation.

money spent on public display, at least they could rest assured that no one disreputable benefited from it. CHAPTER 16 – SALVATION This short chapter focuses on emcair’s long-postponed action against the antag. Emcair has realized for a long time that the startema is inadequate. But only now has he put a new schema (the thema) into force in order to protect himself. He is motivated by the utter audacity of his mother’s most recent attack. Reader finally receives the promise of a reaction from the erstwhile passive emcair. But author has allowed Colna to escape threats before, and reader has no assurance that emcair can, alone, bring down the antag. Reader will intensify his wiseting of antag’s vanquishment, by hoping for emcair’s decisive action. Once Neal hears his mother’s voice on the phone, harassing with a bomb threat, he realizes she will not stop attacking until she has destroyed him. His survival instinct is finally activated. Narrator has him state this explicitly. He moves quickly to confront her. 1. Neal’s lab assistant held up the phone and motioned frantically for Neal to come put his ear to the receiver. On the other end, Colna was making her bomb threat. Neal recognized the voice immediately, and when Colna had slammed down the receiver, he stood in stupefied silence. “Neal, I thought the animal rights people had agreed to a moratorium on harassing our department. She says there’s a bomb in the lab.” Author has kept Neal’s potential to confront his mother unstated. Here author suggests that Neal may have the gumption—but does so ambiguously.

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¶¶2-15 As if in answer to reader’s exasperation, narrator finally gives a promise that Neal will do something to confront his mother. Reader witnesses in paragraph 9 his fully conscious statement of a realization.

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“Has our door been unlocked when we were out?” Neal replied stonily. “No.” “Well then, don’t worry. I used to get that kind of call all the time. Of course the one cruel thing about those calls is that they never come on Friday afternoon—when everybody would gladly evacuate. . . . Anyway, I recognize the voice.” “So, the animal people are breaking the moratorium?” His tone is resigned. “No, this woman doesn’t really love animals, she just hates me personally.” “Why?” Restatement of the realization

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“Well, she wants my research to fail, I guess. She doesn’t want me to succeed in life.” 10 “If you know who she is, . why don’t you just call the police?” 11 “It’s not that easy. You . see, she’s in Mexico.” 12 “What!? That is bizarre . . . . Well, I still think you should call the police.” 13 “No, I think I’ll take care of . this myself.” 14 The lab assistant looked at . Neal with perplexed amazement. “Well, I hope you

Ironically, it is the assistant who is now, unwittingly, urging Neal to punish his mother.

explain it to me some day.” 15 “Anyway, I’m going to take . the rest of the day off. I may be in late tomorrow. If anybody asks for me, tell them I’m out sick.” 16 “Yeah,” the lab assistant . said with resignation, “while I’m blown to shreds by the bomb.” 17 Neal drove recklessly fast . to his apartment and then went immediately to the airport. From St. Louis Airport no flights went directly to Mexico City, so after changing planes in Houston, he could arrive in Mexico City at 10:45 in the evening, at the earliest. It would be after midnight before he would get to Crespo.

Reader will expect to quickly experience a confrontation between Neal and Colna. Neal’s action promises adaction that will resolve the emasis.

CHAPTER 17 – GIVING AVEDRAM EVEN MORE POWER Chapter 17 will empower the avedram with information about the antag’s secret and illegal activities. Author will also empower avedram with the discovery of the sepulchre of the antag’s venerated stillborn. The chapter sets up antagonisms that will flare into a deadly struggle in the following chapter. Reader will have to suspend his hopes of seeing an immediate confrontation between emcair and antag, because the narrator has reversed time and shifted the scene to Mexico. Robanna does not appear as obsessed with revenge as before, which may disappoint the reader. However reader’s hopes may be sustained by Robanna’s zeal to empower herself with new information about Colna. As the novel approaches its denu, events are occurring more abruptly, with vague causes. Normally reader would be aggravated by events with elusive origins, such as the scorpion leading to the sepulchre—since that would hamper werschema formation. But in a state of skanomy, reader forsakes werschema formation and

passively observes strange events without the ordinary skepticism. The scene has changed to Colna’s Mexican villa. Robanna is shown to observe Colna’s life there, and deduce that there is something illegitimate about Colna’s finances. Robanna is protective of her child, which irritates Colna, who was used to drawing energy from the child’s infant vitality. Colna’s rheumatoid problems have flared up, since the effects of the drug in the mother’s milk have started to wear off, and Colna is convinced that she needs another dose of the milk to restore her health. One day while Colna is at church, the search for a scorpion in the house leads Robanna to discover the corpse of Colna’s stillborn and to realize that Colna has been hiding assets in Mexico. 1. Whatever the charms the Mexican house may have had for Colna, Robanna found life there quite dull, and had to content herself with whatever English-language television programming she could raise through Mexican satellite television. She would never have been allowed to join Colna’s social activities, nor would she have wanted to. She did begrudge Colna chasing her away from the poolside in the afternoons on the chance that Colna might have guests, when she was enjoying the warm southern sun and lush pine scent. Robanna was sustained, though, by an abiding curiosity about what form Colna assets took in Mexico. That Colna had a stash of money and was not by any means living off her welfare benefits was laughably Robanna is bored and will get into some kind of mischief. Narrator teasingly avoids continuing the adaction that was promised at the end of the last chapter. Reader is diverted to the conflict between Colna and Robanna.

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Reader finds that Robanna has the power of mischievous curiosity.

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apparent from the moment she, Colna and the baby were met in Mexico City in the chauffeured Seville for the drive south. Yet Colna never gave up the pretense that she was renting the place and claimed that the car and staff came with it. But Colna seemed to treat the place very much as her own. Colna also seemed to be on quite good terms with some of the Mexico City big-wigs who had homes in Crespo. Those characters had a certain roughness that suggested new and maybe not entirely legitimate money. Colna’s house manager, though somewhat bilingual, would not talk about Mrs. Mackart’s finances—and had been wellprimed by Colna herself to avoid such questions. So, Robanna had to rely on the meager bits of information she could acquire by simply being in the right place at the right time. Her baby had become more robust since moving to Mexico. On her guard now, Robanna had been nursing her child entirely at her own breast, and had brought along the breast pump only for eventualities. Of course Colna was plainly aware of the

Having reached the point of skanomy, reader will have given up on creating werschema and will be focusing on wiseting antag’s downfall. Colna’s craving for “milk” is a rather ludicrous device, but at this point reader’s thinking, under skanomy, is apt to be uncritical. Colna is now desperate to restore the

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absence of fresh “milk” in the fertility she has lost, and craves contact with the infant. refrigerator. “I see you’re breast-feeding your baby now —just like a Mexican peasant woman. I’m surprised you’ve taken to the local culture so fast, Robanna. Just stay in your room when you’re suckling—even if I’m away— in case somebody comes by,” was Colna’s caustic observation. The baby had also spent more time in Robanna’s arms than otherwise, partly because Colna was more preoccupied and had less time to grab the baby, and because Robanna did not trust the local staff. Occasionally Colna would burst into the house, and not finding the baby as usual in a crib by the television, would hunt her down in Robanna’s room where Robanna would have taken her for nursing or changing. “Have you got the baby in there?” Colna would shout. “Yes, I’m nursing,” would be Robanna’s reply. “How come that thing’s always nursing? What have you got in there, a child or a calf!? It’s going to be as big as you are pretty soon if you’re not careful,” Colna would then say in exasperation.

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The exhilaration Colna had enjoyed from the breast milk doped with prednisone had begun to wear off, and she began suffering a severe rebound of her rheumatic symptoms. Her knees and shoulder were now so stiff and sore in the mornings that she would lie awake for hours fearing the pain upon trying to get out of bed. Her gait had become almost a shuffle, and she her arms had almost lost their strength so that she could barely move even a toothbrush. Even turning the handle on a door took perseverance. As the day wore on, however, Colna would usually gain flexibility, so that by dinner time she could move about without embarrassing herself as a cripple before her social acquaintances. Some days Colna could persuade herself to get out of bed only through the self-imposed obligation to attend morning mass. Her driver would help her shuffle into the last row of chairs at the back of the nave, and there she would sit out the service, without even attempting to kneel. During the service, especially in the winter months, she would sustain herself with the

Because reader will sense Colna’s upcoming desperation, he will ready an adrenalin reserve to combat her inevitable aggression. Author makes plain here that antag is increasingly vulnerable to the akeel. The reader will feel a partial fulfillment of his wiset in Colna’s loss of physical vigor, but still prays for her total vanquishment.

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thought of going immediately to the mineral hot spring pool upon arriving home, where the water would be nearly warm enough to cook an egg. There she could eat breakfast, brought to her on a tray from the kitchen, while the warmth eased the pain and brought a modicum of suppleness back to her limbs. One morning Colna had gone to church as usual and one of the housemaids had taken the opportunity to clean Colna’s room. She had dusted the fixtures and tabletops, but for the large polished wood crucifix above the bed, she dared not commit the sacrilege of using the dirty feather duster, and instead she got a special clean soft cloth and stood carefully on the bed so she could remove the crucifix from the wall. As she reached around the base, at the feet of Christ, she suddenly felt a tremendous sting. The pain was so great she fell back on the bed, screaming. As she held up her hand in agony she saw a scorpion scurrying away across the bed. In a rage of tormenting pain, she followed the insect as it hurried across the floor and stomped with her foot with an enormous

¶7-9 Symbolic portrayal of Colna’s feigned religiosity, “The Devil’s favorite place to hide is behind the cross.” This provides a symbol of Colna as a [tool of the] devil and sets up the discovery of another of Colna’s shrines to her stillborn.

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thud. The insect had evaded her, however, and had gone across the tile floor and under a door in the boudoir. Fortunately she had not been bitten by a lethal species, but nonetheless received an agonizing bite. Her cry had brought the entire household to the bedroom, including Robanna whose bedroom was nearby. The housekeeper recited a Spanish proverb while holding the girl’s hand, “The Devil’s favorite place to hide is behind the cross.” The girl pointed to the boudoir, and so it was there that the house manager started her hunt for the scorpion. The house manager had asked one of the women in the room for a shoe, and with it raised tensely in her hand, she had proceeded into the boudoir. In her boredom, Robanna found all this excitement to be quite a draw, but because she could not understand Spanish, had little idea of what was occurring. When the house manager used her keys to open a locked closet in the boudoir, Robanna was close behind, gazing over the woman’s shoulder. Others in the room were standing cautiously back. What

Robanna saw as the door opened was no mere closet, however, but apparently a small chapel devoted to the Madonna and Child, for there were small brilliant hued mosaics of the sacred infant and mother set into tiled walls on all three sides of the closet. Light filtered into the room through two thin sheets of alabaster. On the far side was a virtual altar in cremecolored marble. Strangely incongruous, though, a framed pair of baby socks stood propped atop the altar —the baby booties and children’s clothing and toys she had seen at Colna’s U.S. home. 10 Robanna’s startled reaction . consisted of two parts: one, “What a sick woman! Why would she deify a dead baby!” and the other, “So, she owns this place—just as I thought.” 11 As Robanna stood gazing . into the room, the house manager was busy looking into corners and cracks for signs of the scorpion. Aware of the hunt in progress on the floor, the creature had crawled up the wall, until with a crash Robanna’s fist reduced it to writhing mush. “You are a brave one, Robanna,” the manager said

Robanna’s knowledge of Colna’s secrets increases and thus so does her power vis Colna.

This paragraph terminates the facilitating action, ending with the symbolic smashing of the “devil”, which is of course a premonition of the triumph.

in surprise, and quickly retreated to the bathroom to get something to clean up the mess. “You must never tell Senora Mackart that you have seen this place,” she implored. Robanna, looking with disgust at the insect’s remains on her palm, nodded her head. CHAPTER 18 – DENU In this highly important chapter, adaction will set up a resolution of the action in the following chapter. Author gives the emcair and avedram the resources to successfully confront antag, and underscores akeels to which antag is vulnerable. Both the emcair and avedram’s new powers and the akeels will enhance the credibility of antag’s sudden downfall. Author also intensifies his villainizing of antag so as to heighten reader’s antipathy toward antag. Reader will ferociously wiset antag’s vanquishment. The chapter marks the victory of the author in imposing his thema upon the reader. Author has designed every aspect of the short novel with that outcome in mind. This critical chapter requires impeccable design to bring to fruition the final inculcation of the thema. For maximum effect the author will try to hurry the conclusion of the novel at this point. The action will be very telescopic—very brief and fast-paced —with weighty consequences for the power balance among the characters. This rapid change in the power balance will discourage the reader from resuming any attempts at werschema formation, and perpetuate the state of skanomy that is already in place. Notice that in just the brief opening scene, describing Robanna on the telephone with Patrick, Robanna increases her power enormously through significant new information about Colna’s financial situation. The actions in the few days that follow the death of Robanna’s infant are described in a few paragraphs, with the action proceeding at an extraordinary pace to its violent end. Another device that the author uses to hurry the action to a conclusion is the akeel. Akeels are vulnerabilities planted much earlier in the novel and thus

not seen as wholly improbable when they bring down the antag in the end. Akeels are really the old “deux ex machina”, an expedient to end the action. If the reader’s mind is properly prepared, the reader will accept the author’s wanton use of akeels without complaint. By this point in the novel the reader detests the antag and is anxious to vanquish her. In this frame of mind, the reader would be willing to accept uncritically the use of devices like the akeel. (This is not to say that the author does not have to use some skill in planting the akeel to give them some measure of probability.) In this chapter Colna suffers from two akeels, one of them is rheumatism, which the author has mentioned on several occasions starting almost from the beginning of the novel, and the other is alcohol, which the author has introduced fairly late, in the prior chapter. Akeels help end the action, but the author’s primary artistic goal is to inculcate the thema into reader’s body of schemae. The reader undoubtedly has accepted the thema as a good solution to the emasis. The author has inculcated that thema through rational arguments, through symbolic transference and by the action of the novel thus far presented. The author’s task in this chapter 18 is to make reader believe that he has accepted the thema through his own real experience and that therefore the thema is applicable outside the novel. As the textbook has described, this mental process is achieved through encouraging the reader to attempt to affect the outcome of the novel by primitive forms of thinking (wiset and back-causation), and then to give reader feedback that will make him believe that his primitive reasoning has been successful. Thus the reader will believe, in his own primitive mind, that he has affected the outcome of the novel. Author will want the reader to believe that without reader’s intervention the antag cannot be vanquished. Author will vanquish the antag by a sudden and unique serendipitous event. Reader’s rational faculties will be further stunned by this, and lead him to think that only his wiset could have accomplished that event. To vanguish the antag, the author creates serendipitous opportunities to empower opponents of the antag or gives the antag some vulnerabilities that will be cataclysmic. Reader will identify himself as the author of those unlikely incidents. If the reader sees the author as the originator of these incidents, the reader will not take responsibility for the outcome and his experience will not feel real. The reader is less likely to think of them as author-derived if they are highly imaginative or improbable. That points to one of the weapons of the skillful author—his imagination—his ability to defy reader’s incredulity that anyone could have conceived of such

serendipitous incidents. The improbable incidents that I would point to in this chapter are the death of the child in the hot spring, Robanna’s incredible greed for Colna’s money, Colna’s enraging the grieving Robanna with hideous abuse, Robanna’s dishonoring the corpse of her own child in order to infuriate Colna, and of course Colna’s utterly obscene act of trying to extract mother’s milk, which contains a barbiturate that she herself injected. The author must stoke the reader’s desire to vanquish the antag in this chapter to a very high degree in order to stimulate wiset. He does that by truly villianizing the antag. In this chapter of course author makes Colna perpetrate outrageous crimes that are thoroughly evil, obscene and criminal. Author will of course have prepared the reader for the utter outrageousness of these action in the prior chapters by planting this villainy in the antag’s character, but the actions in this chapter will even exceed the reader’s imagination in terms of outrageousness and bizarreness. Why, it should be asked, would the reader attribute the serendipitous incidents to himself, to his own wiset, and not to the author’s desire to rapidly terminate the action? The answer is that the incidents defy ordinary imagination and thus could only be the product of something supernatural, such as the reader’s wiset. The creative author is no ordinary human, however, and a reader will usually underestimate author’s superhuman power of imagination. The reader, using primitive back-causal reasoning, is prone to believe that if he wishes for something and then it suddenly and improbably occurs, that he is its author—especially when author has worn down reader’s critical faculties. In chapter 18 the avedram is strongly motivated to empower herself through new information about the antag. The kerflat Patrick is amenable to helping her because of a grievance against the antag for sending him to work at a nursing home. The avedram reveals her cupiditous interest in the antag. Reader does not know whether this is for revenge or simply greed. Colna is combating her akeel, rheumatism. She is starting to lose the battle but is determined to find some elixir to help her prevail. That elixir is the child’s milk that she had been drinking. Reader finds also that she has a problem with alcohol, which will later become another akeel. She is under the influence of alcohol when she heaps abuse on her driver and strongheadedly goes to the mineral spring. She is still in need of the revitalizing rapport of the infant, but her poor

judgement leads catastrophically to the infant’s death. The relationship between the antag and the avedram becomes greatly intensified after the child’s death. However for the time being the avedram’s powers have been reduced by her grief, which prevent her from acting. The reader will attempt to introduce himself as an avenger, because of his desire for some retribution against the antag. Naturally the reader will use wiset as his tool. In this sense the reader has introduced himself as an extra character. Antag tries to take advantage of the avedram’s grief to reassert her dominance, using an insulting tone. The antag realizes quickly that despite her grief, the avedram is considerably empowered by her bitterness, and the antag becomes wary and offers to terminate their relationship in order to move the avedram a safe distance away. Of course the antag is prevented by public opinion from dismissing the avedram outright during this period of mourning. The avedram renders a horrible punishment upon the antag, by perpetrating an almost unbelievable outrage on both herself and the antag, that is, using Colna’s stillborn’s clothing in the coffin. The antag’s reaction is of course utter rage. That can be an empowering state; however in this case it is only febrile power since it leads to irrationality and risk-taking. The antag then prepares a savage physical attack on the avedram. [When the drama becomes physical like this, it becomes rather shallow and fastpaced, which suggests it is in a denu phase.] The antag’s rage is further fueled by her apprehension of the avedram’s conspiring with the kerflat Patrick to defraud her of her assets. In this regard, the avedram has been quite successful, that is, in making alliances with others from whom she can get good information about the antag. To physically attack the avedram, the antag uses the utmost of cunning and sacrilege to catch the avedram off guard. She then performs an utterly hideous action on avedram, that is, using the breast pump. The utter outrageousness of this action will further intensify the reader’s antagonism toward the antag, and stoke the reader’s desire to see retribution. It will also stun reader’s critical faculties. Reader pours curses upon the antag in hopes of vanquishing her. Ultimately, antag’s heedlessly irrational actions sacrifice her judgement and imperil her. She makes herself vulnerable to the deleterious effects of an akeel, i.e., the alcohol in her system. Chance leads emcair to encounter antag in her debilitated state. Emcair

confronts antag, who then savagely hurls invectives against him. The antag in her debilitated state is no longer able to conceal the stillborn cult from the son’s scrutiny and from any rational arguments he may have. The fury of her insults removes any reservations the emcair may have about his filial duty. Although he can see that she is a drug-induced delirium he abandons her to her fate. The reader’s desire for revenge is satisfied by Colna’s suffering destruction in the hot water just as did the child. The avedram is rewarded for the antag’s aggression by becoming the guardian of the antag’s assets. 1. Patrick had been online all evening, as usual, when he heard the telephone ring. Thinking it may be another potential assignation, he quickly snatched up the phone and answered in a smooth, sonorous voice. His look of anticipation turned to one of impatience upon hearing the familiar voice on the other end. “Huh, it’s you, Robanna, what are you calling about? Checking up on me?”

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Reader will see Robanna aggressively trying to empower herself by getting more information about Colna’s assets. Robanna’s knowledge could threaten Colna’s financial secrecy.

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“Your mother told me she was renting this property, right?” “Yes.” “You know she owns this place, don’t you?” she said accusatively. “What are you asking, Robanna?”

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“What ALL does she own down here, anyway?” Patrick, still angry at his mother for sending him to work at the Tuscana, relaxed his filial loyalty for a moment. “She’s rich you know—but everything’s in a Mexican trust—it’s all in pesos. She only gets the money in dribs and drabs whenever she’s down there . . . Tell her I told you this, and you’ll DIE, Robanna,” he said matter-offactly. “Why does she trouble getting the welfare money in the U.S. then?” Robanna asked. “That’s just to give the IRS the impression that she has an income from within the U.S., so she can mix in the Mexican money without creating suspicion.” “What a crafty woman. That’s more than I gave her credit for.” Having gotten the information she wanted, Robanna quickly ended the conversation with a few pleasantries about the house’s setting. “The old woman’s using one stream of cash to cover another stream of cash,” Robanna found herself thinking irresistibly. There

Provides a reason for Patrick to overcome his fear of Colna and to disclose some information.

Reader sees that Robanna is escalating her quest for power, and for the first time he realizes she covets Colna’s money.

ought to be some way of diverting some of the stream.” 14 Colna’s stiffness and pain . continued unabated, and she began spending more and more time in the hot springs pool. The heat of the pool, however, limited the amount of time she could spend there, and she was frequently trundling back and forth between social visits and soakings in the pool. To watch her health relapse so suddenly had depressed her and made her desperate to recapture the vigor she had experienced during her last few days in the U.S. She tried to relieve the pain with even greater consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. She avoided the temptation to increase her dose of antirheumatoid medicine, however, as her doctor had frightened her with predictions of severe organ damage at high doses. 15 It was a sultry night in late . spring, and Colna had just returned from a cocktail party to welcome one of the American couples who had returned to Crespo after spending the winter and spring in the more balmy Cancun. Colna had had several cocktails, and was

Colna is becoming physically weaker. Reader may anticipate a diminution of Colna’s powers. Author gives no clue of the upcoming provocations that will change Colna’s strength. This is the first mention of Colna’ reliance on alcohol. This will be a new akeel. Author devises an excuse to keep Colna suffering from her other akeel, rheumatism. Her suffering from the ailment provides a reason for her craving the “elixir” of mother’s milk, which in fact was nothing more than the same rheumatoid drugs her doctor had prescribed, doped in the milk.

¶¶15-20 Facilitating action designed to mark the last phase of the denu— the Triumph. Of course the “cooking” of the child is symbolic, which narrator makes explicit in paragraph 21. Robanna now has a conflict between her grief and her desire for revenge. Colna’s typical surly aggressiveness is beyond all decency and will incense the reader.

more unsteady than ever as her driver helped her into the house. To her disgust, she found Robanna sprawled across the television room couch like an overstuffed rag doll, fast asleep with the television blaring a Spanish language program. Her baby daughter, also fast asleep despite the noise, lay in a crib next to her. “The pigs,” Colna said to herself. 16 “Pedro,” she called out into . the hall to the retreating driver, “Help me to my room, I’m going to change for the hot spring.” 17 Pedro tried his best to . dissuade her from entering the hot water in her obviously inebriated condition, but the alcohol had made the old woman more aggressive and headstrong than usual. He had insisted on standing by while she soaked, but at the pool, she noticed his frightened eyes glaring at her unsteady body, and she refused to take off her robe. “What the hell are you gaping at,” she snapped, “No, you’re not going to get to see me half nude. Get out of here.” And she waived him off. 18 Pedro decided to wait in the . television room, which had French doors leading to the

The paragraph is a facilitating action. It sets up a witness for the following adaction. Reader may move viewpoint to Pedro during the adaction. Author uses a little humor to create calm before the storm—so as to increase the impact of the upcoming shock.

Facilitating action

patio and pool, while she bathed. Suddenly he heard her cry out, “Pedro, roll the baby out here. It needs some fresh air.” Pedro did so obediently, gently pushing the crib so as not to wake the sleeping child. It was a wonderful night to be outside, and Pedro envied the old woman as she relaxed with her head resting back against the rim of the bubbling pool, with eyes looking up at the sky full of stars. 19 The driver had become . engrossed in the television program, and jumped to his feet with a start when he realized he had left the old woman in the hot water for over 20 minutes. When he arrived at the hot spring bath, to his horror, he saw Colna pulling the infant out of the water. The child’s skin had turned a dark red, and it seemed lifeless. 20 “I thought it’d like a dip. I . guess it got too hot. Better leave it nude on the patio to cool down,” Colna said with irritation as Pedro approached. Pedro could see no life in the child, however, and despite his crude attempt to administer resuscitation, the child was clearly beyond reviving.

The chapter’s adaction will accelerate in pace and intensity at this point. Reader will have little time to be rationally critical—and will passively observe the action.

Reader’s pity for the child will produce a wiset for the child’s recovery and punishment of antag.

21 Death was officially . attributed to hyperthermia, and the examining doctor had brusquely announced in Spanish to those assembled that the baby had been cooked to death. 22 Robanna blamed herself for . allowing the infant to share the company of such an inhuman woman, and resolved immediately to neutralize her so that she could not practice her evil on someone else. In the days before the funeral, she had tried not to show the full extent of her grief, and tried to express gratitude when Colna offered to compensate her, in pesos, for the accident. Her grief and self-incrimination were unrelenting however and she became withdrawn and sullen. 23 After a few days Colna had . already grown tired of Robanna’s moodiness, and though Colna should have been the last person in the world to tell the mourning mother to stop grieving, Colna could not contain herself when she saw Robanna sitting inanimately in a dark corner of the patio. “I lost a child, too, Robanna. You need to get over it.” Robanna remained silent.

Symbol of the witch’s reputation for cooking children. Reader’s wiset is flaunted, which makes reader’s desire to intervene in the action even more aggressive. Robanna’s powers have been substantially reduced by her grief, and so she is hindered from acting. Although reader now wisets Robanna’s vindication, author withholds any suggestion that that is a possibility. That has the effect of increasing reader’s resolve to intervene.

We find Colna remorseless. The irony of Colna’s advice lends believability to the following scene. “Get over it” is quite ironic since Colna remains obsessed with her stillborn. Colna courts destruction here—by taunting a clever, aggressive and much aggrieved rival.

Colna’s patience had finally worn out, and she shuffled over to where the grieving woman was sitting motionless. “Have another baby! There are lots more where that came from,” and on saying that she lifted Robanna’s skirt, “. . . and here’s the mold for making more!” 24 “Get away from me before I . throw you in the hot spring myself,” the infuriated young woman yelled. 25 Colna quickly shuffled . backward, and turning said over her shoulder, “If you want to leave after the funeral, I will gladly buy you a ticket, in addition to the money I’ve already promised you.” Colna then limped away leaving Robanna to soak up the gloom of the patio shadows. 26 Robanna’s revenge came . quickly, even before she had interred the infant. The infant’s tiny casket stood ceremoniously in the center of the village church with its lid tightly closed. Colna seemed to be much affected by the death and funeral, and wore an expression of sincere dejection during the ceremony. Both she and Robanna had shed tears before the ceremony was

Robanna is totally incensed and is motivated even further for revenge.

Colna senses the increasing strength and determination of her opponent and wishes to end the contest. Colna seems to be backing away from further confrontations.

Robanna is enraged and moves quickly to exact her revenge. This paragraph is structured in such a way as to shock the reader, first leading reader to believe in reconciliation between the rivals, and then showing avedram’s revenge. The action will be credible because reader is passive and stunned and so foregoes rational scrutiny. Reader expects characters will do anything at this point. Reader’s chief reaction to the paragraph will be to exult at Colna’s humiliation.

over, and in a communion of sympathy, Robanna had led the old woman to the casket for one final look before it was lifted away for burial. Robanna helped the crippled woman out of her seat and, holding her with a hand gripping her shoulder, had brought her to the tiny wooden box. Colna felt honored by the respect Robanna was paying to her and was highly grateful for this gesture of forgiveness. Robanna lifted the lid to give the woman one last view of the infant who had cheered and comforted her in her rheumatoid distress. As the old woman gazed into the coffin however, a look of almost diabolical rage came over her face, and only by putting her knobby hand over her mouth and eyes, was she able to conceal its contortions from those gathered in the church. Robanna was unable, even through her fresh tears, to repress a smirk, for inside the coffin, her infant’s corpse was dressed in the booties and baby clothes from the shrine in Colna’s boudoir. 27 Colna immediately left the . church and refused to attend the burial. Instead she had gone immediately to her

The antag is becoming further vulnerable to the akeel alcohol. The alcohol will give author license for having Colna perform outrageous

house to inspect the sacrilegious pilferage of the shrine to her stillborn. Colna had already decided to have Robanna’s child’s casket disinterred as soon as she could get the hideous Robanna out of Mexico. In the meantime, she would have to do something to punish the woman’s sacrilege. Colna was not mollified when she found a packet under her bedroom door that evening containing the booties and other clothing that had dressed Robanna’s dead infant in church. And several glasses of alcohol could not soothe her rage. 28 Amongst her . pharmacopoeia, the old woman found a syringe. Loading it with barbiturate, she approached Robanna’s room. From outside she could hear her talking in excited tones—very unlike a mother who had just buried her infant daughter. Colna’s timing could not have been more fortunate. Robanna was obviously on the telephone, which she had pulled into her room from the hall. When Colna heard the name of her son, Patrick, in the conversation, she trained her hearing to the conversation on the other side of the door.

acts, subsequently.

We find Robanna more bent on revenge than on grieving. Reader sees a deadly confrontation in the offing and will be physically tensed as if personally threatened.

29 “Don’t try to discourage me, . Patrick, I know you’ve thought of keeping her as an income COW yourself. She’s perfect— almost an invalid already. Leave the rich cow to me.” 30 Colna returned to her room . and waited for Robanna to return the phone to the hall table.

The avedram’s greed motivates her to stay with Colna, and she has obviously conceived a plan to get the old woman’s money for herself. Reader will encourage her. The avedram and antag fight a battle to the finish, using the utmost of craft and aggression. Reader will hurriedly speculate about Colna’s next step. Colna is wellinformed about Robanna, so has the upper hand, allowing her to act quickly and fatally. Facilitating action

31 After a short while, . Robanna’s door opened, and there was an audible plunk as she put the telephone back on the hall table. The sacrilegious use of a sacred 32 Sensing her opportunity, . Colna then shuffled anxiously object as a decoy further stokes reader’s antipathy toward antag. into the hall. The old woman had irreverently chosen a rosary as a prop to distract the young woman, and carried it strung loosely between her gnarled fingers. 33 Robanna warily admitted . Colna to her room. She could see that Colna had been praying, perhaps even contritely, because the old woman was carrying a rosary. 34 “I’m so . . . sorry,” Colna . said, raising her hand to her face as if to instinctively wipe away a tear. As she raised her hand, however, she let the rosary drop. The holy string

of beads coiled onto the carpet almost noiselessly. 35 Colna feigned great . consternation at the sacrilege of dropping the holy beads, and continued to fret until Robanna, who was also eager to deceive with a show of solicitousness, bent to pick them up. With Robanna bent over and distracted, Colna hurriedly shot the syringe into the fat woman’s enormous buttocks. Robanna had begun to call out in pain, but slumped to the floor in a semi-conscious state before she could get a sound from her throat. 36 Colna worked slowly and . agonizingly to lift the drugged woman to a chair, all the while asking her what had happened. She then used clothing and belts she found in the closet to tie Robanna to the chair. Robanna was vaguely aware of the old woman moving around the room, but had become too doped to remember the events leading to her present loss of consciousness. The sting of the needle remained in the mind however—but as her consciousness was not under her control, the events of the several days before flooded into her mind and she

came to imagine that she had been a victim of a scorpion bite, and reasoned that the old woman was frantically attempting to locate the creature before it could bite again. 37 Colna continued to move . wildly about the room and at last found in a drawer what she had in fact been searching for. “There,” she said triumphantly as she pulled the breast pump out of a drawer. 38 Robanna had not nursed for . a couple days, and her blouse seemed to burst open as Colna undid the buttons. The drugged woman, strapped to the chair, could vaguely feel the chill of the pump as the old woman clamped it to her breast. “We’ll see who the COW is now,” Colna said as she pumped milk through the tube to her own mouth. 39 Colna, in her frenzy to enjoy . the elixir of fresh mother’s milk, had carelessly failed to account for the almost instantaneous contamination of the milk with the barbiturate she had just administered, and as she squirted the warm milk into her mouth, she was in fact drugging herself. The traces of barbiturate in the milk

This is the author’s victory over reader—a scene nigh unbelievable that, by inhibiting reader’s critical faculties and encouraging wiset, author compels the reader to believe. Reader is seething with aggression at Colna’s outrage.

Reader grasps at this hope that Colna has wounded herself.

coupled with the alcohol in her system made her wildly intoxicated, and, abandoning her victim, Colna returned in a delirium to her bedroom. 40 Neal had arrived in Mexico . City that evening and hired a car to take him to Brenares. When he arrived at the Mackart house in Crespo it was late, and all the staff had left for the evening, except the driver, Pedro, who lived above the garage. Much to his dismay, Robanna had apparently also gone to bed, and Neal was forced to rouse Pedro in an attempt to get into the house. 41 The house was dark and . ghastly silent. He found his mother’s bedroom alight, but saw no trace of her. As he opened the door onto the patio the smell of minerals mixed with pine wafted heavily on the night air. Seeing no sign of her, he decided to return to her room, to look for some indication of where she might have gone at that very late hour. It was then that he heard muffled sounds coming from the boudoir. Pulling open a door, he stood unbelieving before Colna’s hidden shrine. Colna, with her back to him, was frantically trying to open the lid to a tiny

Sets up a confrontation between Neal and his mother. The tension accumulated in previous scene is overwhelmingly—but reader must now prepare to intervene in a fresh confrontation: between mother and son.

Neal has steeled himself for a showdown. Colna is in a fervor of agitation.

weathered coffin with her bare hands. “If that bitch has opened this casket, I’m going to kill . . . I’ll inject her with everything I’ve got.” Emcair is finally motivated for a 42 “Is all this for Andrew?” showdown with antag, but reader . Neal said. knows that by merely confronting Colna, he cannot stop her aggression. 43 Colna looked around wildly. . At the sight of her son, she yelled in fury, “Don’t you EVER mention his name. You are unworthy of mentioning his name!” 44 “Why?” . 45 . 46 . “Because you’re nothing!”

“And why am I nothing?”

47 “Because you will never . replace my Andrew—my first born—and ONLY son.” Colna pushed the coffin behind her and came forward with ferocious vigor to prevent Neal from profaning the shrine any further. Her arms hit him with such force that he was knocked against the shelves on the other side of the boudoir. 48 Before he had a chance to . straighten up and recover from the blow, Colna had closed the door to the shrine

Reader will fear Neal’s physical peril and will pray for his escape.

¶¶48-55 Reader will believe that the antag is diabolically insane and must be destroyed.

behind her. “You always thought of yourself as the first born, didn’t you. You took great pride in your place in the birth order. You profited from Andrew’s death! You and your brother, the first born males—bah—gloating to yourselves. If Andrew had survived he would have made you look pathetic. He would have been a real man I could have been proud of. Don’t pretend to replace my Andrew —you are NOTHING!” 49 “But I am your son, . . . your . flesh and blood.” 50 “You're not a son. You’re a . cheap substitute for my real son.” 51 “Who is your REAL son?— . certainly not a child who was born dead!” 52 Neal would have liked to . have struck the old woman down for her taunts, but filial duty stayed his hand. “Why try to hurt me—to wreck my career? How could you be so evil?” he yelled, his voice seething in anger. 53 Colna’s eyes flashed, and . her stare pierced the space the air between them. “I AM evil, don’t you get it? I’m a child killer. Didn’t you see it, Andrew’s little coffin? I killed him at birth!”

Neal is so empowered by his anger that he actually contemplates physical action but does nothing because his sense of duty or native passivity overwhelms him.

This is the full explanation of the antag’s motives. This is a frightening admission. By revealing her motivation, Colna weakens her power.

54 “He was stillborn—how can . you blame yourself?” 55 “I KILLED HIM! He would . have been born alive if I had done everything right. There was something I did— something in what I ate, in the way I sat, in the way I slept that killed him. The doctor suggested a caesarean. I said no. I was afraid I’d become sterile. And I killed him before he could even breathe his first breath of air. I am damned to be an infertile witch—I kill my own children!” Colna looked away momentarily as if to strengthen herself. Her expression now took on fresh resolve, “Now get out of here, get out! Pedro will drive you to Cuernavaca.” Colna looked frantically around her until she found the syringe where she had left it on her bed table. She grabbed it and pointed it at Neal. “Get out!” 56 “Whom should I pity more, . myself or her?” he thought, finding to his amazement that his rage had evaporated. The smell of alcohol was strong on her breath, and she apparently had been using the syringe to inject some drug. Neal decided to leave the house and to return again the As usual, Colna allows no retort and thus the confrontation ends unresolved. Witches are persons who act out inner evil. They are motivated by a hope to transfer their guilt to others, because of paranoia, a weak sense of responsibility for their own evil, and extreme hormone-induced aggressive natures.

Adaction has not yet come to a halt. There still remains the problem of how to deal with antag in the future. The chapter ends on a note of hope that emcair may be able to deal with his mother on the following day. After all, he still has not confronted her about her attempts to destroy him. Emcair still feels affection for antag, though now it is merely pity. Reader

will feel no such pity, and will not trust emcair to deal antag a necessary final blow. Setup for antag’s self-destruction. 57 Neal had barely left the . bedroom before Colna was on The rheumatism akeel will provoke the phone, “Pedro, drive Neal her recklessness. to the Hotel Villa Bejar in Cuernavaca. I don’t want him to stay here tonight.” The old woman then began tearing at her clothes. “I’ve got to soak in the hot spring. I have to have some relief.” CHAPTER 19 – TRIUMPH In this highly important chapter, the author resolves the main action of the novel by destroying the antag’s power and rearing the avedram as the new power master. The emcair annihilates the antag by abandoning her to the avedram’s greed and vengefulness. In chapter 19, reader will congratulate the emcair on executing the coup de grace to the antag (by abandoning her to the avedram). As emcair’s telepathic [wiseting] motivator, reader believes he was instrumental in emcair’s using the thema to finally resolve the emasis. Reader also believes that his wiset has so cursed the antag as to make her an easy target for emcair. Reader thus shares in the triumph over the antag. Reader feels the success that comes only from real experience. He now embraces the thema as a permanent part of his everyday schema, and discards forever the discredited startema. Although not, herself, a model of morality, avedram receives from author a triumph of her own, as she flaunts her control of both Colna’s person and her money. Reader is gratified to see avedram rewarded for her help in subduing the antag. In the chapter, Colna’s vengefulness and drug-induced delirium trigger the poor judgement that leads to a stroke from overheating in the hot spring. Robanna immediately puts into force a plan to keep Colna a paralyzed hostage while she collects the woman’s income. Neal realizes that Colna was never a real mother to him, so abandons all sense of duty toward her and vengefully decides to abandon her to Robanna’s greed.

following day, when she would be less delirious.

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Two servants grabbed Colna by the arms and pulled her from the spa early the next morning. Neal regretted later having waited in Cuernavaca for her to sober up and wondered whether she had had her stroke in the hot water or on the deck after she had been pulled out. The drug and alcohol had rendered her almost unconscious in the water, and by the time she had been discovered, she had suffered a disastrous brain hemorrhage. The servants had noticed that after she had been out of the water for a several minutes, her body had seemed to shrink as if drained of whatever human vitality it may have contained. Her breasts, lying shriveled and flat against her sunken chest, seemed to have never been capable of nursing a child, the servants said among themselves. Robanna had recovered after sleeping soundly in drugged unconsciousness through the night, and had been greeted with news pleasant enough to satisfy her wildest dreams: the old woman was now paralyzed and bedridden—a potential cash cow of unearned

Colna is portrayed as a metaphor for a witch, i.e., with barren teats. Colna is miraculously annihilated.

Robanna’s triumph is complete.

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income. Robanna had then reconsidered her departure, and would now happily stay to minister to the incapacitated old woman and collect the woman’s money. After a sleepless night in which his mother’s rejection played over and over in his mind, Neal abandoned his mother to her fate and returned to the U.S., leaving Robanna to care for her in any manner she pleased. Robanna had decided not to call a physician, and for the first couple weeks directed Colna’s perfunctory treatment herself. A short time later she moved Colna to one of the smaller bedrooms in the house. Colna could neither move her arms, nor speak, but from the guttural sounds she made seemed infuriated by the change of room. Sensing that Colna was desperate to say something, Robanna condescended to speak for her. “It’s your turn to be mothered now. I’m going to take good care of you. You like that idea, don’t you? I knew you would! I’m not going to tell anyone in the U.S. for the time being. Neal and Patrick are not going to tell anyone either. We want

Neal’s triumph consists of successfully using the thema to liberate himself from Colna, the antimother. He is now free from her threats, but will still regret having to acknowledge that he is emotionally an orphan, with no hope of maternal affection. Reader will congratulate himself on having helped liberate emcair. Reader celebrates his wiset’s role in the thema’s ascendance, and takes up the thema as one of his permanent schema.

Colna’s victims get their revenge. Narrator mocks the startema by having avedram say to the paralyzed Colna, “It’s your turn to be mothered.”

you to get better first. You agree, don’t you? I thought you would! I’ve discovered the trust you set up for yourself in Mexico City—the one that sends you a bale of pesos every month. Don’t worry, the trust is going to keep sending you pesos. Patrick and I will keep the money for you. We’re raising the wages of your staff. They said they wouldn’t tell anyone about your stroke. Is that okay? Good! The priest was here. He will be saying novenas for you. In return, a lot of your money is going to pay for a facade for the church in Brenares. You like that, huh? I knew you would! Patrick sends his best. He’s going to keep your secrets and your government benefits. He wants you to recover completely before returning to the U.S. That’s a good idea, isn’t it, mom? That’s going to be a long, long time from now, though, huh, mom? And Andrew’s coffin . . . Neal took that with him. He’s going to send it to Father O’Lann in Morrisville for reburial in the church graveyard. You’re delighted? Of course you are! We all are! CHAPTER 20 – PRACTICATION

In chapter 20 the narrator states the practical lesson that emcair could learn from the thema. Emcair tries to avoid applying the thema to his other conflict, the one in his work life. He finally acknowledges that the thema can help predict his chances of succeeding in his great ambitions. Upon reflection, he becomes modest and practical, and accepts that in the absence of a nurturing mother, he may have been wounded for life. Neal wrestles with himself over the question of what his fate is in light of his new realization that he was unlucky as far as his mother was concerned. He realizes that he is not carrying a lucky hand in life and therefore should be modest in his goals. That then leads him to resign himself to the petty circumstances of academic life at the lower echelons, with hopes but not the certainty of success he had felt before. 1. Winning the grand prize in a game of chance, such as in the game of life, requires a big win at the start. That provides the wherewithal to stay in the game and ultimately beat the odds. In life there are many who continue to take great risks, even though they’ve never won big and will never beat the odds. Ultimately, when losses force them out of the game, they are totally ruined—unable to make any further investments, and not even capable of winning one of life’s many tiny prizes. This paragraph describes the practical playing out of the thema for Neal’s work situation, which is the value of knowing just how lucky you have been in life and keeping your aspirations within the bounds of your fate. It makes explicit that Neal’s mother was a case of very bad luck. Neal, ever the passive optimist, tries to find some source of good luck that may have mitigated the damage done by the mother. In the end, he realizes he has a handicap to bear that may prevent him from achieving the very high goals he had set for himself in life. The narrator implies that this novel’s thema is not positive—it is merely a negation of the startema. It is merely a caveat to the startema. If it were an alternative to the startema, for example it would suggest substitutes for reification of the nurturer archetype—a substitute for the mother. A thema that offers such a substitute has probably already been used in literature: a partisan of

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“Have I been lucky in life,” Neal asked himself as he sat facing Sarzolian on his return from Mexico, “. . . or have I just won an untenable grip on a minor prize?” Fate had not dealt him a good hand in giving him the woman Colna Mackart as a mother—that was now obvious. Her personality, the events of her life, and the distorting effect of the loss of her first child had made of her the anti-mother, the woman who, far from nurturing her children, seeks instead to destroy them. “In the end,” Neal thought, “perhaps the schools that passed me along with good grades—maybe they were an adequate substitute for a loving mother.” Neal had merely to reflect on his disappointment with his current academic position —constricted as it was by Sarzolian’s fatuous, careeroriented goals—to see that institutions would never nurture his spirit. He had finally weaned himself from the idea that Colna Mackart could ever be a true mother to him. But the

ancient Sparta or a totalitarian communist state would employ a thema that offers the State as an alternative to the mother as nurturer. Neal tries to shake off his naivete.

He has no reified nurturer archetype now.

Neal tries half-heartedly to find some substitute for a mother that could satisfy his need for a nurturer.

He admits there is no realistic substitute. His current life, he believes, will never give the support his spirit needs to self-actualize.

Neal has seen Colna self-destruct and is free from that threat, but is still without a functioning mother— unable to reify the nurturer archetype.

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need for a nurturing figure would remain with him. How was he to fill the void? “I guess I deceived myself when I considered myself lucky in life,” he concluded to himself, “As a good student, I thought I would have a satisfying career—and growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, society’s material prospects seemed unbounded. I knew my mother wasn’t the greatest, but I would have never thought of her as a threat. Anyway, I always assumed every woman would naturally be motherly to her children—that would be every woman’s instinct—wouldn’t it?” Neal felt overwhelmed by feelings of resignation. Sarzolian had been talking to him but had now paused because of the deep sadness weighing down his young colleague’s face. He sensed Neal’s thoughts had drifted away to a disturbing, personal subject. “I don’t know why,” Neal continued to ponder, “but I had always wanted to win the grand prize in life—a professorship at a great research institution, a great discovery—fame, power. I was foolish not to realize I

Neal chastises himself for his naivete. He had deluded himself in thinking that material prosperity alone would give him a satisfying life, even without maternal nurturing.

Neal does not know what the practical outcome of the thema will be. He has given up and feels he has no options.

Neal’s restates the chapter’s opening paragraph in terms of his own situation.

had never really had the wherewithal. I hadn’t had the initial good fortunate of a good mother—and without that, how could I have dreamed of beating the odds?” 10 “Neal, what are you thinking . about?” Sarzolian asked, “Are you listening?” 11 “I’m sorry, Dr. Sarzolian,” . Neal said, realizing he had been ignoring the P.I., “I was just thinking how sorry I was to have suggested I distrusted your research methods. I just want to let you know that my job here is the greatest thing that’s happened to me.” 12 Although flattered Sarzolian . was quite perplexed about what might have triggered Neal to interject such a thing. “I wonder what’s happened to him? Thank God he’s changed his attitude.”

Neal realizes that the status quo does not satisfy his ambitions, but is probably the best he could hope for. He openly capitulates to the pocal Sarzolian.

Neal has established a new, stable equilibrium.

Please send comments, questions or corrections to the class website: “sem1.[insert course number]shortnovel@yahoo.com”. However please do not send comments about the novel Two Cuckoos per se, e.g., about its subject matter or the author’s opinions, because the class instructor has no control over its content.

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