AN ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION OF FATE:
Turn, and Turn, and Turn Again
Notes: This should be assumed, but the political opinions expressed
herein belong to the characters. Likewise, the departmental politics
portrayed here don�t reflect actual divisions in the Berkeley
Department of Anthropology. As always, most of the Scott and Jean
manips were made by Puguita, but Khaki did the one of Jean and Scott
hugging. The Kenyon poem is "The Suitor." And Andraste gave me a
splendid Charles tidbit.
October 10, 2000, 2:21pm PDT...
bonedigger: Hello! Do you like my hat?
jeangrey: Yes, I like your hat. Of COURSE I like your hat!
bonedigger: No, no, no ... you�re supposed to say, "I do not like it.
I do not like that hat."
jeangrey: WHAT are you talking about?
bonedigger: GO DOG GO. Didn�t you read that book?
bonedigger: GO, DOG, GO ... as a kid.
jeangrey: OH! A kid�s book.
bonedigger: well, duh!
jeangrey: LOL! And aren�t you supposed to be in class?
bonedigger: nah -- I�m hanging around the computer lab. Bored.
jeangrey: Gee, thanks. I�m your cure for boredom?
bonedigger: more seriously -- how are you?
jeangrey: Fine, busy, as always
bonedigger: I don�t mean in general. It was four months ago today.
. . . .
jeangrey: I know. I'll manage.
bonedigger: call me, if you want just to talk. Whenever. Even 2am.
jeangrey: :-) You�re sweet.
bonedigger: I worry about you
jeangrey: I'm fine. I'll manage.
Sudden glare from the overhead light punctuated the little attic like
an exclamation point, and Jean blinked involuntarily. No room for
shadows here, no room for softness, for denials formed from the
failure to find a body. Everything was cast in sharp relief . . .
the untouched desk with its Sun station and papers strewn randomly
around it, three walls of shelves packed with books and more books
wedged in along the top -- it was a room that had been left in
mid-sentence, yet dust touched everything. The owner wasn't coming
back to finish the conversation.
*No body was ever recovered,* part of her mind whispered.
*It's been four months,* replied the other part, the rational part.
Time to move on. Betty was trying. That's why Jean was here.
"I think he'd want you and Henry to have first choice. Take whatever
you wish. I have lots of boxes." She pointed to a pile of cardboard
flats in one corner. "If you can't take them with you today, you can
just leave them in a corner with your name on top." Betty's voice
was as expressionless as her face; she stood to one side, her back
pressed up against a bookshelf like she might meld with it. "Don't
be shy. I'm just going to box up whatever books his students don't
want and sell them. I have no use for them. It's not even about the
Abruptly, her voice broke and she put the back of her hand up to her
mouth, swallowed, then went on. "I'm tired of carrying these around.
When we were students, every time we moved, there were more books
than furniture. So I want these gone before we move again." That
they were going to move again, Jean had heard secondhand, but she
couldn't blame Betty for wanting to leave. The first step was the
dismemberment of Bruce's library.
She felt like a cannibal.
"I'll put these to good use," she promised, avoiding 'thank you' or
'I really appreciate this,' as both sounded trite in the extreme, as
if the cost of the opportunity were meaningless.
"I know you will," Betty replied, glancing down at the hardwood
floor, then out the door, her hand back in front of her mouth. "Come
down when you're ready." And she disappeared.
For a long time, Jean drifted from shelf to shelf, checking this
title or that, or looking through heaps of journals. Some books she
had; many she didn't. But she touched none of them. She wasn't
ready yet to touch them. Instead, she sat down in the middle of the
floor and cried. Finally, with the sun going down, she rose up
again and began putting together boxes. As Betty had said, this was
what Bruce would have wanted. He'd always hated waste.
By the time she was done, she had six boxes. Warren came to help her
take them away. He carried them himself, though he could have called
for hired help. But this was a rite not to be profaned by the touch
of strangers, and Jean appreciated that Warren understood as much.
Afterwards, he took her out for ice cream, and let her borrow his
handkerchief when she wept again.
November 13, 2000, 6:37pm PST...
jeangrey: So you're going?
bonedigger: kinda gotta
bonedigger: they came to my party
jeangrey: That doesn't put you under an obligation, Scott.
bonedigger: didn't say it did. But Dad came to BERKELEY, Jean. My
father, the 'Nam vet.
bonedigger: he did it for me
bonedigger: you don't get it
jeangrey: No, sorry. I don't.
jeangrey: It upsets me, the way he treated you. You're his *son*.
But he didn't say a damn word to you for THREE YEARS?
jeangrey: And you owe him something? *Explain* that.
bonedigger: Yeah, it was 3 years. But I didn't talk to him, either.
Besides, it's just 4 days.
bonedigger: I'm sitting here watching the Jim Lehrer NewsHour. The
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Bush request to stop
the hand recounts in Florida. That's something. But I swear, this
election has been SUCH a load of Grade-A shit.
jeangrey: And thus, he changes the subject ... How many times have we
been over the election, Scott? It's BORING.
bonedigger: who we send to Washington is a hell of a lot more
important than where I'm going for Thanksgiving
bonedigger: I cannot BELIEVE we're about to put a SHRUB in the White
House. A yucca plant, no less. yuc, yuc, yuc....
jeangrey: Very funny.
bonedigger: why, thank you
jeangrey: You don't have to go, y'know. To San Diego.
bonedigger: yes, I do -- 4 days
jeangrey: You better call me.
bonedigger: I'm taking my laptop
1569 Maple Lane. Three and a half years before, Scott had walked out
the front teal door certain that he'd never walk back in -- the
perfect assurance of seventeen that foretold the future with insular
precision and a limited horizon. He wasn't so much older now but
he'd added, "I just don't know," to his vocabulary. It was drizzling
when he pulled his rental up behind the Cougar under the carport, and
climbed out of the driver's seat to fetch his computer and a suitcase
from the trunk. Then, head down and trying to shield his glasses, he
approached the side door rather than the front. He'd slide back into
family life from the borderland called clemency. It was a little
after two in the afternoon. He'd gotten up before dawn to make the
almost-eight-hour trip from Berkeley to Linda Vista, outside San
His mother was in the kitchen when he entered, working on the meal.
The place smelt of hot ham and sharp cranberries and onions for the
stuffing. Fluorescent light glared overhead on black and white
kitchen tiles, or black and pink to him now, but he remembered. How
strange, he thought, to see this house in dual tones, as peculiar as
it would be to see Westchester in color.
Kate Summers glanced around, then smiled -- and it was real, not
forced, not put on. She was happy to see him. Leaving the mixing
bowl of whatever she'd been making, she crossed to give him a hug.
"I'm glad you came."
He let her go. "Yeah, but is anyone else?"
Lips thin, she turned back to the array of bowls strung out along the
kitchen counter, their contents in various states of food
preparation,. "Don't start that, Michael."
Sighing, he flopped down in one of the kitchen chairs, setting his
bags in another. "Where is everybody?"
"Your father's in the den. Alex is upstairs, I think."
"Is anyone else coming to dinner?" It looked as if she were
preparing to feed a small army.
"No, I thought it'd be nice just to have just the four of us." She
turned on the water and began rinsing potatoes.
*And,* Scott added to himself, *with just the four of us, any
volcanic explosions'll be self-contained.*
But the eruption he expected didn't materialize. With the election
in vitriolic dispute, he'd assumed that politics would be the taboo
topic of the holiday. It wasn't, yet what his father had to say left
him open-mouthed with shock.
"It's money. Pure and simple," Chris Summers complained as he picked
up a pipe from the rack beside his armchair and set about packing it.
Kinnikinick. It smelled of red cedar and black tobacco, pungent,
and sharp like Scott's sight now. When he lit it, smoke curled up to
be caught in the light from the end table. It danced like visions.
"Oil money buys a lot, in Washington, including the Republican
nomination. You wait and see. The Bush baby'll go to the White
House, but what this damn country *needs* is a little *reform*. Not
that Gore's much better, but at least he's got two brain cells to rub
together -- and he can keep it in his pants."
Sitting on the old corduroy sofa -- chocolate brown that looked black
to him now -- Scott blinked, then blinked again. "Wait a minute.
You voted for Gore?"
"No, I voted against Bush. I'll be damned if I support that
Catholic-hating, coattail-riding rich Texas boy."
Ah. Scott understood finally. "You wanted John McCain."
"Course I did. He's a vet. And he's got common sense."
Scott smiled to himself and returned his attention to the ball game
on the TV. Last quarter, with the Patriots in purple versus the
Detroit Lions. The Patriots were winning.
November, 23, 2000, 9:34pm PST...
bonedigger: He voted for GORE
bonedigger: Dad -- he voted for Gore. Can you believe it?
jeangrey: I thought you said your father was a dyed-in-the-wool
bonedigger: yeah, but he's CATHOLIC, and Bush did that campaign
speech at Bob Jones University. Besides Dad likes McCain.
bonedigger: I found McCain campaign posters in the garage. Dad's
never campaigned for anybody before, but he's retired now.
jeangrey: Time on his hands.
bonedigger: no, not that ... he couldn't
jeangrey: Couldn't what? Campaign?
bonedigger: military personnel can't be listed as a sponsor for a
'partisan political club' even in a private capacity. So vote, yeah;
bonedigger: still -- I think hell just froze over
jeangrey: So it went okay?
bonedigger: yeah, we didn't have a major blow-up. That's pretty damn
bonedigger: now -- when are you coming out to visit me? Huh, huh?
jeangrey: Would you let up with that?
bonedigger: no, I won't. You need a vacation. Beach. No snow. San
Francisco trolleys. Hunky college boys....
jeangrey: LOL! Trying to lure me?
bonedigger: whatever it takes, babe
jeangrey: You're awful. I'll think about it. Are you coming back
bonedigger: of course
"I canNOT fucking believe this!" Scott had come slamming into the
apartment, angrier than EJ had seen him in a good long while.
"*God-fucking-damn!*" He threw his book bag halfway across the room
onto the couch, which skidded back an inch or two under the force of
EJ had been sitting at the kitchen table with three different books
spread out around him. Now, he stood up. "Whoa -- what gives, man?"
"They denied him tenure. Those good-for-nothing, arrogant, prissy
sons of bitches! They denied him fucking tenure! He's on his sixth
EJ blinked. "That totally sucks eggs. What's he gonna do?"
"I have no idea." Scott slumped down in an armchair. "He's
contracted through next year, if he wants to stay, but this place is
a dead-end to him now."
Walking over, EJ moved the book bag and sat down on the sofa, hands
clasped between his knees. "So what are *you* gonna do?"
"I don't know." Scott had become interested in archaeology in the
first place due to Fred Hand, and had applied to the anthropology
department so he could work with him on Classical Mesoamerican
technology. Without him there, Scott would become a graduate
stepchild. "I suppose I could do ethnoarchaeology and settlement.
But . . . ." He trailed off and shrugged. "I want to do technology
and Mesoamerica, dammit."
"I thought you were interested in the Mediterranean, too. Could you
do technology there?"
"It's a different department, believe it or not, and I can't just
jump from one to the other. Their application requirements are
stricter. Anthro's so flexible because it's diverse. But AHMA wants
an ancient language at the very least, and preferably an undergrad
major in a related discipline -- and I'm afraid math and *Italian*
just don't cut it."
Scott put his face in his hands for a moment -- careful of the
glasses -- then looked up again. "I am so screwed, man. But I'm not
half as screwed as Fred. *Why* am I even thinking about going into
academics? They're like a bunch of fucking sharks."
EJ didn't reply immediately as he had nothing useful to say, having
no interest in an academic career in the first place. Despite his
philosophical streak, he was a pragmatist who preferred the solidity
of a cutting board and a sharp knife. He kept people healthy and
well-fed -- concrete results. And he thought the same was true of
Scott. He doubted Summers would be happy in an academic career for
the rest of his life, but didn�t figure it his place to say so. "I
know you don't believe in fate, and neither do I, really. But
sometimes doors close because you're not meant to go through 'em. Or
maybe you just need to try it from a different angle."
"Maybe I do." Sighing, Scott got up from the chair. "I'm going to
call Jean, then finish working on that damn paper."
EJ watched his friend head to his bedroom, his telephone, and his
lady back in New York. Shaking his head, he returned to his own
study. Scott Summers talked to Jean Grey almost as often as EJ
talked to DeeDee, but EJ and Diane resided in the same town.
"Hey," Scott called back, dragging his suitcase across the tarmac to
where Warren waited by his plane. "I see you brought the Jetstar
Warren just grinned as he popped the cargo hold so Scott could store
his luggage. "Flip you for the pilot seat," he said.
Scott pulled out a quarter from his pocket and flicked it into the
Catching the coin, Scott slapped it on the back of his wrist and
lifted his hand.
Nineteen-thousand feet, somewhere over a rolling prairie of western
"You don't still have a thing for Jean, do you?"
"Jean. You call her a lot. I wondered if, you know, you still
carried a torch, even after Clarice."
Scott frowned and turned his head away a little, glaring out at the
patchwork quilt of winter-fallow fields pockmarked by silos and
homesteads like stitched embroidery. Good fences made good
neighbors. A wariness slipped down between them. "We're just
Warren nodded. A beat-pause, then Scott asked, "Why?"
"There's a party for New Years, at the house." The Worthington
estate on Long Island. Only Warren would call it 'the house.' "I
thought I'd ask Jean. Residency doesn't leave her much social life.
I wanted to get her out of the hospital, if she can get the night
Scott's frown deepened. "Yeah. It might be good for her to go to a
There was no snow this year. The lawn stretched crackled and brown,
but in the midst of the dead-dun of December, eight reindeer shone
pure white and a ninth had a red nose. Scott laughed upon seeing
them, and as soon as the car crawled up the drive, Jean was out the
front door, waving, dressed in a bright red coat. He waved back and
opened the door even as Warren took the car around the side drive
towards the garage. Centrifugal force tumbled Scott out on gravel
and grass, and Warren yelled, "You idiot!" The passenger door hung
open as the car slowed to a crawl, and Scott rolled to his feet,
running over to slam it shut. Then he trotted back across the lawn
towards Jean, enveloping her in a bear hug. "Merry Christmas!"
"Got tickets," she replied.
Baffled, he pulled back to look at her. "Tickets?"
"Plane tickets to Berkeley. I'm flying in on Saturday, February
tenth, and flying back on Sunday, February eighteenth. That was the
only time I could get off -- it's between my Ob-Gyn and ER rotations.
Is that okay?"
A merry Christmas indeed. He hugged her once more. "You bet." Then
his arm around her shoulders and hers around his waist, they headed
into the mansion. "I'll be in class, but we can work around that.
You've never been to California, have you?"
"Man, this is going to be such fun . . . ."
Continued directly in 14b....
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