The Mourning Parade - FIRST LOOK

The Mourning Parade

 

Chapter Three

 

Pages 31-33

 

 

 

“Welcome to the sanctuary,” he said, his British accent far more clipped than Andrew’s. “You here for the month or are you staying more permanently?” He gave her a tight-lipped smile, or at least she thought it was a smile. His eyes didn’t light up at all.   “Clean the dust out of your ears, Peter! We’re lucky to have Dr. DeAngelo with us. One of the brightest in equine surgery, she is. Not one of our university volunteers, though she certainly looks young enough, doesn’t she? A bright little brown bird!” Andrew reached over and wrapped an arm around her shoulders like a great uncle. “She trained in North Carolina. Fulbright scholar for North Carolina State out of Raleigh. One of the best programs in the States. I respect what they’ve done with their husbandry program. Great work. I suspect she’ll be a great help to us in the year she’s here. I’m quite excited about having her.”   “I’m surprised you didn’t say anything to me, Andrew. We usually discuss such things.” Hatcher’s words dripped icicles as brittle as his pale blue eyes.   Andrew’s grip tightened on Natalie’s shoulder. “We can talk about this another time.”   “Maybe we need to talk about it before Dr. DeAngelo—that’s the name isn’t it?—gets settled in.” He nailed Natalie with a penetrating stare that made her pull her chin back as if he’d slapped her face. “You wouldn’t have known that I know Dr. DeAngelo, unless you’d told me she was coming, Andrew, but since you didn’t bother saying anything, I’ll just tell you now.” He turned to Natalie. “Do you have any idea who I am, Doctor?”   Shit, should I? Natalie felt her cheeks redden. She should have done more research, she thought, but getting everything wrapped up in the past month had left her little time to do any kind of research at all. Closing the clinic, getting the house ready, packing for the trip. That was enough. She flipped through the business cards in her mind. Had she met him at a conference? Had he written a book or an article recently? Made a breakthrough of some sort? She came up blank.   “Obviously, you have no idea.” He drew himself up, straightened his shoulders, and huffed like a discontented Oxford professor. “Let me introduce myself. Peter Hatcher of Yorkshire. Trained at the Royal Veterinary College. Ring any bells?”Everyone had begun listening to the conversation. A small group had gathered. All silent.   Everyone had begun listening to the conversation. A small group had gathered. All silent.She shook her head, feeling absolutely clueless. “I’ve been to the Royal Vet, but that was many years ago when I was a Fulbrighter.”   She shook her head, feeling absolutely clueless. “I’ve been to the Royal Vet, but that was many years ago when I was a Fulbrighter.”“And after you came home and continued your surgical work, did you have any connections with the school?”   “And after you came home and continued your surgical work, did you have any connections with the school?”“Peter, is this really necessary?” Andrew forced a smile but placed a warning hand on Peter’s arm. Andrew glanced at the redness around Peter’s hairline and the accompanying beads of sweat. For some strange reason, the man appeared ready to lose control.   “Peter, is this really necessary?” Andrew forced a smile but placed a warning hand on Peter’s arm. Andrew glanced at the redness around Peter’s hairline and the accompanying beads of sweat. For some strange reason, the man appeared ready to lose control.“Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.” Natalie pushed harder to remember a Hatcher from the school, but she couldn’t place him. He was distinctive looking, tall with stringy muscles and a face quite sharp in its angles. She wouldn’t have forgotten him.   “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did.” Natalie pushed harder to remember a Hatcher from the school, but she couldn’t place him. He was distinctive looking, tall with stringy muscles and a face quite sharp in its angles. She wouldn’t have forgotten him.“And you were one of the final readers for dissertations, weren’t you? Never mind, you don’t have to answer. I can tell by your face that you’re starting to put two and two together. Listen closely, Andrew, because this is the kind of person you’ve just hired. I did my research work on formulating a cement we could inject into a horse’s broken leg. It worked. It did.” He pointed a finger into the air, as if to add an exclamation point to his comment. “We had plenty of studies to prove it, but when the dissertation got to Dr. DeAngelo, well, she became the fly in the ointment. She questioned everything we’d done. Every blessed report. Every statistic. Basically said we had not been able to validate our research and debunked my work completely.” He laughed sharply. If possible, his eyes hardened even more. He stared directly at her as he continued. “I had to start again from scratch! Different topic. New study. Hours and hours and hours of work. And years of my time. Years! And you know what was so damned ironic? The cement worked. She started using it—my cement—in her clinic a year after she read my dissertation. A year after! And did she ever give me one ounce of credit? She never admitted to the academics who credited her with the glue that it wasn’t her invention. This is the woman.” He pointed at her and looked at Andrew. “This is the cheat you’ve hired.”   “And you were one of the final readers for dissertations, weren’t you? Never mind, you don’t have to answer. I can tell by your face that you’re starting to put two and two together. Listen closely, Andrew, because this is the kind of person you’ve just hired. I did my research work on formulating a cement we could inject into a horse’s broken leg. It worked. It did.” He pointed a finger into the air, as if to add an exclamation point to his comment. “We had plenty of studies to prove it, but when the dissertation got to Dr. DeAngelo, well, she became the fly in the ointment. She questioned everything we’d done. Every blessed report. Every statistic. Basically said we had not been able to validate our research and debunked my work completely.” He laughed sharply. If possible, his eyes hardened even more. He stared directly at her as he continued. “I had to start again from scratch! Different topic. New study. Hours and hours and hours of work. And years of my time. Years! And you know what was so damned ironic? The cement worked. She started using it—my cement—in her clinic a year after she read my dissertation. A year after! And did she ever give me one ounce of credit? She never admitted to the academics who credited her with the glue that it wasn’t her invention. This is the woman.” He pointed at her and looked at Andrew. “This is the cheat you’ve hired.”  


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