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Evil Breeding

Evil Breeding

Titel: Evil Breeding
Autoren: Susan Conant
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entitled to go where I please when I please with whom I please. My life is the life of the mind! Nothing could be further from my thoughts than the opinions of people I may encounter on my journey.
    With Rowdy beside me in the improbable role of Miss Whitehead’s parrot, I marched straight along the asphalt and up to the gate through which we’d entered, where I was only slightly irked to discover that the scene I’d scripted for myself was already being enacted. Indeed, it was immediately clear that I was being radically upstaged by a Cambridge type who’d gotten there first. Unlike me, he was dressed for the part. His peculiar-looking binoculars were harnessed to his chest, he wore a funny-looking hat and a loose vest with dozens of bulging pockets, and he carried a device designed, as he was explaining to a cop at the gate, to enable birders to hear their quarry. Certainly he had a key! His defensive tone suggested that the cop had offensively mistaken a rara avis for a guttersnipe. Unlike me, the bona fide night birder was not accompanied by a dog. He was not, however, alone. Hanging back, embarrassed, I thought, by his companion’s arrogance, was, of all people, Artie Spicer, the leader of Rita’s birding group, the guy we’d had dinner with the night my house was broken into. As the costumed birder strutted before the cop, Artie and I made eye contact and exchanged wry little smiles. Artie carried what I guessed was some fancy kind of night-vision spotting scope, a contraption for seeing birds in the dark.
    Fearful that my lack of fluency in the language of birding would give me away, I picked my words carefully. “Hi, Artie,” I said as normally as possible. “Anything interesting tonight?” I was hoping he’d mention some avian species so that I could say I’d heard it, too. Before encountering the real birder, I'd intended, if challenged, to brag about detecting the call of a black-crowned night heron, only because it was the only bird name I'd been able to think of that had anything to do with night. I'd felt apprehensive. Maybe the creature never flew north of Florida. Maybe it was voiceless, a cousin of the mute swan. Maybe the guard or the cop at the gate would be a birder with a life list approaching a trillion and would instantly spot me for the liar I was.
    After taking down our three names and addresses, the cop waved the condescending birder through the gate. At Artie’s side, Rowdy and I followed. Nodding at Rowdy, the cop said, “Good idea. Birds or no birds, this is no place to go wandering around at night.”
    With a knowing nod and a conspiratorial smile, I replied, “Well, Cambridge is Cambridge!”
    The cop knew just what I meant. With a bob of his head in the direction of the costumed birder, he said, “Yup! A lot of odd ducks here, all right. A whole lot of odd ducks.”
    In Cambridge, attitude is everything.

Chapter Thirty
    JOCELYN MOTHERWAY ENDED UP in Mount Auburn. The other one: Mount Auburn Hospital. The two parallel universes—pardon me, venerable Cambridge institutions—are only a few blocks apart on Mount Auburn Street. Whether the proximity is depressing or convenient depends on your point of view. Jocelyn Motherway’s opinion on the matter was a bit difficult to decipher. She seemed less than overjoyed to be alive.
    She was only a little paler than usual, and her hospital gown wasn’t any dowdier than what she ordinarily wore. I found it satisfying, however, to see her propped up in a bed she hadn’t made, sipping orange juice poured and served by someone else. The basket of flowers I’d brought rested on a windowsill. The arrangement contained a great many daisies and tons of those thick, coarse, cheap ferns, but it was better than nothing, I guess. I couldn’t afford delphiniums.
    “It was kind of you,” Jocelyn told me lethargically. “People here are very kind. Someone washed my hair. And they haven’t thrown me out on the street. There’s nothing really wrong with me, you know. Most hospitals would’ve sent me home last night.”
    “You were in no shape to go home last night,” I said. “You were incoherent. You were heavily drugged.”
    “This is what Christina needed. This kind of care.” Jocelyn patted the neatly made bed. Tears spilled down her cheeks. “This is what she deserved.”
    “I’m sure you took good care of her. I’m sure you did your best.”
    ‘ ‘My best wasn’t good enough. Not that she was in physical
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