My office has changed little since my grandfather's time. Even less since my father's. I have a small 5 x 7 inch frame of our present day family on the credenza behind the desk. The large, oak desk is both a barrier and a comfort to me. I also have a small 2 x3 inch photo of Kelly wearing her tutu. It is a candid picture I shot one day after ballet, I was enraptured by her beauty. In this view, she has a wild halo of curly, blond hair. Her torso is slightly longer than her legs, her toes are turned out in a perfect replica of first position. A heaviness forms at the center of my chest while I am holding Kelly's picture, gazing at it.
Then, she appears. She is at the window, then quickly ducks behind one of the long heavy drapes that graces the window. There is a knock at the door. The out-of-sequence quality to an action before a response can be off-putting. Clara, once no more than a clairvoyant parent of a ninth grader, has been my administrative assistant for four years. Her son is now studying biology at Skidmore. Clara has been a leveling, a calming, influence in the Head Mistress's office; right now, she is handing me a leather binder.
"Don't forget Nimmy Mendez remarried since the last Board meeting. Her name is Cristopherson now."
As always, I am grateful for her prods. I ask her, "Who did you say is coming late? George Tillman?"
"His flight was delayed into Hartford. He flew into Greene Airport outside of Providence, instead. I sent a car to get him. Our very own Carl Lattner was free; he took the Whately Prep mini-van to retrieve Mr. Tillman. I thought it would be what you wanted. "
I feel the corners of my mouth tug in the beginnings of a grin. Carl.
"Please ask Food Services to bring in the coffee and danish at 10:30 a.m.. Thanks, Clara." I touch
her elbow as I moved forward toward the door. I exhale, letting the words be carried on my breath,
"Watch out for her." Both of us glance toward Kelly. She is flipping through the pages of a coffee table art book.
I stride across campus with the confidence that comes from feeling like I own the place. Confidence is borne from truth. I am in the unique position of being the majority share owner of the property on which the school sits. From Swamp Road to Routes 5 & 10 to the farthest reaches of the playing fields that abut the back side of Chestnut Plain Road, I inherited a one quarter share from my father's estate. I bought out my sister's quarter and an eighth from my older brother. The school and the land it sits on are integrally related. The board meeting today is mostly routine. The most important topic is my proposal to promote Carl Lattner to Head of Buildings and Grounds Services. A bigger job than his father could have ever imagined. If everything goes as planned, Carl will be at the helm when we begin construction on the largest addition ever made to the Whately Prep campus; a new library. The former library is being revamped to house Languages and the Arts. The School House will be refurbished for Sciences and Mathematics and History. A priest named Ruy Lopez devised one of the best known opening plays in chess. First used in 1561, this same strategy is frequently used today. I wish Father Lopez could help me plot out my strategy concerning these major changes. This is going to be both convoluted and challenging when it is all said and done. I can't help but wonder what buried bones we may unearth.