Friday, May 29, 2015
Pomp and Circumstance and Separating Accident from Murder
While "June grad" is every bit as traditional as "June bride," in fact, most spring college commencement ceremonies take place in May. But whether students receive their diploma in May or June, for those who've spent four years (or more) working toward graduation, the moment is bittersweet, a pause to reflect on years of studying hard and taking those first unsupervised steps toward independence, before gaining confidence and readying themselves to face the an exciting but uncertain future. We salute all the May and June grads in your families! May they make you--and themselves--very proud.
By Jessica Fletcher
(From "Murder, She Wrote" by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain)
It's been many years since I was a student on a college campus, but I have had occasion to return to academia the few times I've led undergraduate writing courses. (I'm not including my classes on criminology at Manhattan University, when I lived in New York City.) But none of those experiences, while stimulating, had quite the dramatic impact as when I taught at Schoolman College in Indiana. It was my first time living off-campus in a small town in the heartland of America, my first time as a "visiting professor," and my first time reaching a storm shelter just before a tornado touched down.
I'd seen a green sky before but nothing like this. The color was not the green you picture when you think of grass and trees. It wasn't mint green or hospital green or even olive green. It was more like the color of the ocean when it pushes into the bay and up the river, when the bottom is murky and an oar dipped in the water roils up the particles of silt into a muddy cloud. It was that color green.
Well, clearly, I survived although it was a close thing. Unfortunately, one of my fellow professors didn't. He had warned me of the impending storm and then he'd run off to meet a colleague. The colleague escaped harm but Professor Newmark was found under a file cabinet, face-down on top of his empty briefcase, in a building destroyed by the storm.
...I'd had a feeling that something wasn't right. Two men had braved a tornado, and one of them had died. What kept them in their places? What worry was greater than the need to take cover from the storm? And when it was upon them, why didn't they run? I'd heard the roar of the wind and felt its breath on my neck. Yet I'd made it to shelter in time. Why hadn't they?
And that briefcase. Where were its contents? Briefcases usually contain papers of one sort or another....Surely, if the tornado had emptied the briefcase, wouldn't there be at least a few papers left inside or around it?
No, something was wrong. And I wanted to know what it was.
(Majoring in Murder is number 19 of 43 in the "Murder, She Wrote" series.)
Here in New England tornadoes are rare, but hurricanes are not. Have you ever weathered a terrible storm?