way down the hallway toward the elevator, Noah rushed after them, attempting to intercept Vera. “Dr. Barnett,” he called.
“Would you mind waiting a moment?” He paused until the others were out of earshot. “I … uh … wonder if …”
Vera, seeing at once what Noah was about, took the lead. “Dr. Chamberlin, would you have dinner with me some evening? I’d like to discuss with you the significance of this George fellow in Henry VI .”
Noah laughed heartily. “How about tonight? I know a pretty good steakhouse north of here on Lewis Road.”
“I think I know the place. The Cock and Bull, isn’t it? Yes, tonight would be fine. What time may I pick you up?”
“Oh, I’ll drive, after all …”
“Dr. Chamberlin, it was I who asked you to dinner,” Vera interjected.
Noah looked her in the eye. He acquiesced. “Okay, you drive. I live over on Agave Road, north of Las Posas, not far from the police station. Do you know where that is?”
“Yes, I think so. Okay, tonight then. Say, around seven?”
Noah wrote down his address and drew a simple map for Vera. She strolled out of the building, bemused. Who could have thought the day would turn out this way?
Vera eased into a dark booth opposite Noah. A single candle on one end of the resin-covered burl table cast ghostly shadows on his face.
Noah inhaled deeply. “There’s nothing like the aroma of charbroiled steaks!”
They ordered drinks from the almost invisible waitress. Vera raised her glass. “To George.” Noah smiled and touched his stemmed martini glass to Vera’s scotch. “I looked it up, you know,” Vera announced. “You were right. There is a George in Henry VI . The Duke of Clarence. He also appears in Richard III .”
“Ahhh, the Duke of Clarence. ‘Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair …’ George’s opening line in Henry VI . The third part of the play, to be precise.”
“I can’t believe it! The Duke of Clarence is a relatively minor character, and you know an obscure line like that? That’s incredible!”
Noah grinned sheepishly. “I looked it up too.” They laughed.
“Drinking on an empty stomach is going to knock me for a loop,” Noah remarked. “I think we’d better order.” He signaled the waitress, and they ordered steaks and a carafe of California cabernet.
Conversation was suspended as they cut into the steaks. Finally, Vera stated through a mouthful, “Shakespeare was a male chauvinist.”
Noah frowned. “Ah yes. Of course. Taming of the Shrew. That must be one of the most sexist plays ever written.”
“But,” continued Noah, “to be fair, you’ve got to consider Shakespeare’s many strong and sympathetic female characters, Lady Macbeth, Portia, and Cordelia, for example. You can make any case for or against Shakespeare. Many Jews believe he was anti-Semitic.”
Vera said nothing, but she looked into Noah’s eyes with growing respect.
Noah returned her gaze and asked, “Tell me, how did you happen to become a veterinarian?”
“I grew up on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley. I always liked animals. In fact, until I was about eighteen, I preferred them to people. So naturally, I wanted to be a vet. However, my parents were very conservative, very traditional. They didn’t even want me to go to college. I rebelled and broke with my family. But it’s okay now. We’re kind of in touch again. I majored in biology at Cal State Sacramento, got good grades, attended vet school at Davis. That’s about it.”
“How did you happen to come to Camarillo?”
“I started by interning with Dr. Graham Wu, a vet at Auburn, in the gold rush country, and then opened my own practice in Placerville. But I couldn’t make a go of it.”
Vera could see that Noah was an attentive listener. “Three years ago, I came across an ad from a vet here who wanted to retire and was looking for someone to take over his practice. So here I am.” Vera shrugged. “I share