outtake tre-quattro

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outtake tre-quattro

Messaggio  simona80 il Dom 13 Mar 2011, 17:53

at her lap.
―Mr. Molina asked Travis Jones a question about ‗To Kill a Mockingbird‘. When he couldn‘t answer it, Mr. Molina called on me.‖ she sounded defensive.
Esme nonchalantly helped herself to a cookie. ―What was the question?‖
―He wanted to know who inspired the character of Dill.‖
―And who was it?‖
―Truman Capote.‖
Esme smiled appreciatively. ―I didn‘t know that. Good for you.‖
―To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite books,‖ Bella explained quietly.
―It‘s a great book. But being well read is nothing to be ashamed of. You shouldn‘t have to hid what you know in order to make a boy feel good.‖
―Yeah. I know.‖ Bella placed her half-eaten cookie back on her plate and sighed.
―There will always be people who‘ll try and tear you down whenever you accomplish something. Even Mother Teresa had her detractors. Can you imagine? Christopher Hitchens called her a fraud!‖ Esme laughed mirthlessly. ―But you aren‘t responsible for them, you‘re only responsible for your self. And you can‘t let a silly boy keep you from shining brightly in school.‖ She hesitated for a moment. ―You‘ve probably heard the same thing from Renee.‖
―I haven‘t talked to her since I moved here.‖
Esme noticed the sad look on Bella‘s face and quickly patted her hand.
―I‘m sorry to hear that. I know it must be difficult moving to a new place and having to start at a high school where everyone has known each other since kindergarten. You should stay for dinner and spend some time with Alice and Jasper. I‘m making lasagna.‖
Bella seemed slightly incredulous, but Esme‘s find and genuine expression quickly dispelled her doubts.
―I‘d love to stay for dinner. Thank you.‖
―Good.‖ Esme pushed the plate of cookies in Bella‘s direction, encouraging her to take another.
Bella declined and returned to her already half-eaten cookie.
―Mr. Molina asked me what I knew about Truman Capote, in front of the entire class. I guess he was surprised that I‘d even heard of him since he isn‘t on the twelfth grade reading list.‖
Esme nodded, prompting her to continue.
Bella ran agitated fingers through her long, brown hair..
―I told him that I‘d read Other Voices, Other Rooms. Then we ended up in a discussion about the way Capote and Harper Lee portrayed children in their novels. Half the class was snickering.‖ Her cheeks coloured in embarrassment.
―How did you come to read Truman Capote?‖
―I spent a lot of time at the library when I lived in Phoenix. The librarian used to give me things to read. She liked southern literature; Truman Capote, Flannery O‘Connor, Walker Percy.‖ Bella offered this little tidbit as an explanation for why she was so well read at seventeen, but the true cause was to be found in the reason she had spent so much time at the library. A reason that had heretofore not been disclosed to Alice or Esme.
―It‘s wonderful to have that kind of encouragement. Wait until you go to college. There will be a whole new world of books and ideas waiting for you. You can study anything you want. You can study American literature.‖
Bella shifted on her chair uncomfortably. ―My dad doesn‘t have a lot of money. I‘m not sure I‘ll be able to go to college.‖
Esme was pensive for a moment.
―You could go part-time and take courses at night. You could attend a two-year college or take classes online and then transfer to the University of Washington. Your education is important. It‘s something no one will be able to take away from you. It‘s an investment in your self. And it‘s your ticket out of Forks.‖
―That‘s for sure,‖ Bella mumbled.
―If you‘re gifted academically, you should work hard in high school and apply for scholarships. Not everyone has that kind of talent. Alice doesn‘t like school at all. She enjoys the social aspects, but she‘d rather spend her time doing something else. Something creative.‖
―Alice has been really nice to me. So has Jasper.‖
―I‘m glad to hear that. I would expect nothing less, from either of them.
―Alice‘s older brother, Edward, won several scholarships to Dartmouth. When he graduated, he was able to go to Oxford and then to Harvard. But much of his education was financed by scholarships.‖
―You must be very proud of him.‖ Bella‘s cheeks flushed slightly.
Esme‘s face wore an expression of sadness, but the look was fleeting.
―Edward doesn‘t care for Forks. But he was popular with his teachers and very successful at high school. I‘d like you to meet him. He certainly shares your passion for reading. And he‘d be able to give you advice about apply for scholarships, where to go to college, etc.‖
Bella‘s cheeks turned even pinker at the generous invitation. She wanted to be able to put a voice and a personality to the photograph she had purloined from Alice‘s bulletin board. She wanted to know if he was as attractive as his picture. Certainly he was intelligent as well as beautiful.
―I‘d like that,‖ she said shyly.
~*~
September 2006
Katherine Picton and Edward Masen
Toronto, Canada
Katherine Picton sat on the edge of her double bed clutching an old black and white photograph.
Bad news travels swiftly, even swifter when there is the anticipation of suffering on the part of the recipient. Cruelty travels with wings, it seems, while love seems to move at a tortoise‘s pace. A drunken tortoise‘s pace.
Of course, she hadn‘t bothered to tell Katherine anything. No, Katherine had to find out through an email. An email from an acquaintance at Oxford had broken the sad news.
Katherine curled up on top of her bedspread and cried.
-x-x-x-x-
Professor Santos was pleased. Very pleased.
His department had recently hired a hot shot new professor from Harvard, successfully outbidding and out negotiating both Stanford and the University of Chicago. Despite what it had cost his budget in terms of salary and benefits, it was worth it. Edward A. C. Masen was already well respected on the heels of his first monograph on Dante and Beatrice. Give time, Santos had no doubt that Masen would be the next Katherine Picton.
With a definite spring in his step, Professor Santos walked into his office at the Centre for Medieval Studies in early September. He exchanged pleasantries with Mrs. Cope, his capable secretary, and poured himself a coffee. Then he placed his expensive briefcase on the chair and checked his mail.
He soon realized that he had a problem. A big one.
Professor Picton had written to him saying that her former mentor and dissertation advisor, Professor Hutton, was terminally ill in Oxford. Katherine wished desperately to be able to see him before he died.
But there were two obstacles. Despite the fact that she was retired, Professor Picton was teaching one last graduate seminar on Dante during the fall semester. And she was scheduled to deliver a series of public lectures on the sowers of community discord in Dante‘s Inferno and the evils of hate speech. Because of their subject matter, the recent legislation in the House of Commons on hate speech, these lectures had been widely promoted beyond the University of Toronto and were supposed to be televised on the CBC.
Professor Picton would not fail to keep her word and so she was determined at great personal cost to teach her seminar and to deliver her lectures. She would make a whirlwind trip to Oxford over the span a of a few days, attempt to say her goodbye, and then return. All she was asking for was the rescheduling of one seminar.
Professor Santos wished that he could provide her with an extended leave given the nature of her request and his deeply ingrained compassion. It was clear that Katherine was in very great distress. And given Professor Hutton‘s illness and the fact that he had been transferred to a hospice, it was more than likely that many of his friends and former students would wish to say their farewells. Katherine might need more than a few days in order to see him.
Only one person in his Department could help her and given the person‘s rather crusty demeanour, Professor Santos was uncertain that he would do so. But it was worth a try.
He walked out to Mrs. Cope‘s desk and asked her to schedule a meeting with Professor Masen as soon as possible.
-x-x-x-x-
Two days later, Edward Masen stood on the front steps of Professor Picton‘s house and knocked twice. His arrogance and pride were out of proportion to his age and experience, despite the fact that he had been considered a very bright star in his doctoral program at Harvard and had his pick of multiple attractive job offers. But Professor Picton was the leading Dante specialist in the world at that moment and even Edward‘s considerable ego was intimidated by her.
As soon as Professor Santos mentioned Katherine‘s predicament, Edward immediately volunteered to take over her responsibilities, and in so doing, had rejected any reduced teaching load or extra compensation. He was happy to help, he said, and would not take anything in return.
Professor Santos was so pleased with Edward, he promised him a future favour. Edward doubted that he would ever need it but was grateful just the same.
And that was how he found himself standing on her porch at seven o‘clock in the evening on a Thursday, carrying a very expensive bottle of port and nervously straightening his silk bow tie.
―Ah,‖ said Katherine, as she opened the door. ―Edward. Come in.‖
She appraised the young academic gleefully as he stood in her hallway wearing a tweed jacket and wool pants and peering at her somewhat worriedly through his tortoise shell spectacles.
―Thank you for coming.‖
―My pleasure, Professor Picton.‖ He handed her the bottle of port with a somewhat stiff bow.
She too the bottle gratefully and ushered him into her parlour before disappearing into the kitchen to fetch a plate of cheese, chutney and fruit.
―Shall I open the port or would you prefer something else?‖
Edward cast his eyes to a sideboard and regarded a rather expensive bottle of lagavulin. ―Scotch would be nice.‖
Katherine grinned. ―A man after my own heart. Scotch it is then.‖
Within a few minutes, the two academics were clinking their glasses and chewing amiably next to the fireplace. After some polite pleasantries, Katherine fixed him with a curious eye.
―What would prompt a first year Assistant Professor to teach an extra graduate seminar on short notice and to deliver a series of public lectures pro bono?‖
Edward took another sip of Scotch. ―A stipend is attached to the lectures.‖
Katherine dismissed his remark with a wave of her wrinkled hand. ―I‘ve seen the contract. It isn‘t much. I‘m glad for you to have it, but you can‘t be doing this for the money. It isn‘t worth it given the time it would take to prepare those lectures. One might as well be doing it for free.‖
Edward knew better than to shrug at such a distinguished person and so he remained silent and immobile.
―The lectures will take place at Hart House and will be moderated by Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire. Do you know him?‖
―Ah, no, I don‘t.‖
―He was the Commander of the United Nations Mission to Rwanda in the 1990s. He speaks widely on the propaganda of hate. He‘s charming and won‘t fault you for not knowing who he is. But you must do better.‖
―I will,‖ he promised, making a mental note to go to Robarts Library the next day in order to research the Commander‘s career. He justified the lacuna of Canadian history in his otherwise vast knowledge by the fact that he was a Renaissance specialist. He‘d never taken so much as a class in Canadian history even as an undergraduate, for he hadn‘t seen the need to do so.
(Parenthetically, it should be noted that Canadian Universities did not offer courses in the history of Edward Masen)
Katherine poured about another finger‘s worth of Scotch into his glass and then did the same with her own.
―Regardless of your reasons for helping me, I now owe you a debt.‖
―There‘s no debt. It‘s my pleasure to help, Professor Picton, and truly, it‘s good experience for me. you‘ve handed me an opportunity to further my career. Thank you.‖
―Codswallop. I‘ve handed you a hell of a lot of work. On short notice.‖
He flashed her a sheepish smile and she cocked her head to one side thoughtfully.
―I‘m not sure what Professor Santos told you, but it‘s quite possible I‘ll be gone for the entire semester. That means you‘ll have to teach my seminar in its entirety.‖
―That isn‘t a problem.‖
Katherine nodded and toyed with her glass as if she were considering something. At length she spoke.
―I‘m sure you know Professor Hutton by reputation. He was my advisor at Oxford. In those days, several of the professors refused to supervise female students. Oriel, his college, didn‘t admit women until 1985.‖
―Were you there when the Inklings were active?‖
Katherine smothered a smile. ―They ceased meeting in 1949, when I was eight years old.‖
Edward began stammering in embarrassment. ―I beg your pardon. I didn‘t mean – ah – that is to say – forgive me.‖
―The Inklings were larger than life and so I‘m not surprised you asked about them. So was old Hut, as we called my advisor. He was a friend of Jack Lewis and Professor Tolkien.‖ The smile quickly left her face. ―Old Hut has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He‘s very sick.‖
―I‘m so sorry,‖ said Edward. ―Please accept my sympathy.‖
―His wife always disliked me. when I arrive in Oxford, I‘m certain she‘ll bar me from paying my respects. A final vindication of sorts. That‘s why I expect to be away for the entire semester. It will probably take six weeks of showing up every day and groveling in order to convince her to give me five minutes with him. And given his illness, that might be too late.
―Who would be so cruel?‖
Katherine searched Edward‘s eyes and found him sincere. ―You ask this question after the Shoah? After the Rwandan genocide? Human beings can be incredibly cruel, in word and in deed. But I think you know this already, otherwise you wouldn‘t be able to deliver a lecture series on hate for the CBC.‖
Edward coughed self-consciously and adjusted his glasses.
―In the case of Old Hut I was the cruel one and I‘ve been paying for it lo these many years. Now it‘s Mrs. Hutton‘s opportunity to exact her revenge, with interest.‖
―I‘m sorry.‖
Katherine finished her Scotch in one swallow. ―Don‘t be. You‘ve given me my chance to make my peace, perhaps with both of them, before he dies. I will always be in your debt. But enough of me. tell me about your research. I‘m interested in know more about the up and coming scholar who has replaced me.‖
Edward placed his glass on a side table and leaned forward eagerly.
―My first book was on sexuality and love in Dante‘s Inferno…‖
-x-x-x-x-

simona80
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