Bloodline

Bloodline by Gerry Boyle Read Free Book Online

Book: Bloodline by Gerry Boyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gerry Boyle
Youth,’” he’d said. “Got killed in the trenches in 1918. He was twenty-five. When I was in high school, Miss Frost, my English teacher, made us memorize ten poems to graduate. That’s the only one I remember now.”
    â€œKind of a funny poem for a Marine,” I’d said.
    â€œNot really.” Clair had replied. “Not at all.”
    I found myself thinking about that as Maddy talked. She had called to confirm that I existed. With Dave Slocum involved, this probably was a prudent move. But I found that I’d rather be talking to Clair—that I had less patience for people like Maddy. Maybe I’d been in Maine, my Maine, too long, but she seemed cold and affected. Bright enough, but presumptuous. She seemed to see the kids in this story as pieces in some sort of sociological study. I didn’t get the feeling that she would be truly moved by their lives. Or fascinated by them. Or surprised by them.
    â€œSo it sounds like you have everything under control,” Maddy was saying. “Oh, I understand from Dave that you worked at the Times. Did you know Marla Manstein? She worked on the international desk?”
    â€œDoesn’t ring a bell, but it’s a big place,” I said. “And I only got as international as Queens.”
    â€œMarla and I went to Smith together,” Maddy said. “Her husband and my husband—now ex-husband, but that’s a long story—knew each other from Harvard. The business school.”
    â€œSmall world,” I said.
    â€œYes, it is,” she said brightly. “Even in Manhattan. I lived in New York for a couple of years after Columbia J-school. I must have read some of your stories in the Times .”
    â€œCould be.”
    I was working for Ad Age and then I met my husband, and then I divorced him and now here I am. In politically correct Amherst.”
    â€œA long way from the Upper East Side,” I said.
    â€œHow’d you know I lived on the East Side?” Maddy said.
    â€œI guessed,” I said.
    Would have put a hundred bucks on it, I thought.
    Maddy paused.
    â€œSo what brought you to northern Maine?” she said carefully. “I mean, Amherst is a long way from Manhattan. But northern Maine’s a real jump.”
    â€œWell, it’s not really north. It’s more South Central. Like LA. And that’s being generous.”
    â€œWhat does your wife think?”
    â€œI don’t have one.” I said. “I live alone on a dirt road in a house full of bats.”
    â€œYuck,” Maddy said.
    Ah, a nature lover.
    â€œActually, they’re quite fascinating,” I said. “Tremendous powers of flight. And carefree. You just empty the guano box once in a while.”
    â€œNo wonder you don’t have a wife,” she said.
    â€œNo wonder at all,” I said.
    I sat there at the table, finished my beer, and got another from the refrigerator. I drank half of that one.
    â€œNo wonder at all.”
    I felt like I’d just sat through an hour of therapy. Confront your feelings. Face the fact that you just didn’t fit in on the so-called fast track. Wonder if you fit in on any track. Consider what it is about women like Maddy that make you withdraw. She was pleasant, doing her best to make conversation. But she reminded me of other women, from other times, who had made me feel that ultimately I was just one more prop. The right career. The right clothes. The right restaurants. The right guy.
    â€œThis is Jack. He’s a reporter at the Times .”
    â€œOh, really. How exciting.”
    So women had come and gone, through no fault of their own, with a regularity that I had long ago decided was a sign of some sort of problem with me, not them. I was closer to some than others, but I always felt that the relationships were built on some sort of shifting sand, a shoal that would be eroded with each passing storm until a rift would appear in the

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