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176 nenonene’s voice “You didn’t put out a cup for him,” General Nenonene said. Such an innocuous phrase, and so mildly uttered, but something in it—Tuuro heard it—suggested a moral judgment . The words sent the four men who accompanied the General, as well as Allyssa, all scurrying back to the kitchen. Not what Tuuro had expected. Not the Tuesday evening, not the helicopter in the crushed stone driveway, not the puddles of ice melting on the kitchen floor, not Nenonene. The General, wearing gray trousers and a white shirt with buttons and a collar, was the shortest man present. When he shook Tuuro’s hand he gave a quick nod. He did look like his pictures. But those pictures made him larger and more prepossessing, less like an ordinary man. Like a movie star they film on boxes, Tuuro thought. Tuuro glanced back into the dining room: six chairs with high laddered backs and needlepoint floral cushions, placed just so around the circular wooden table. “Thank you,” the General said, plucking the cup and saucer from Allyssa’s hand and turning back to the dining room, the men jostling behind him. Tuuro followed. “Some coffee?” the General asked Tuuro. His voice was very British, and not loud. The media did not do justice to his 177 nenonene’s voice voice. On the media, his voice could be bargained with. “Yes, sir, please,” Tuuro said. The General turned to the large round metal coffeepot sitting at one end of the sideboard. The General pushed the lever on the coffeepot, filled up Tuuro’s cup. His right hand hovered over a small pitcher. “Cream?” Above the sideboard was a painting of a wheat field, the frame of which had shed a ribbon of dust when Tuuro cleaned. “Black, please, sir.” Aunt Stella had told him to say sir and ma’am. As a way to elevate the discourse. The General handed Tuuro his saucer and cup of coffee, indicated a seat at the table, and sat down just as Tuuro did. The other four men sat down a second later. Allyssa, from the kitchen, shut the door. The General sat up very straight, his back off the back of the chair, his bland, smiling face replaced by a prideful self-possession, like the ruler of some obscure country who had made it through Cambridge with honors. “So, Mr. Simpkins,” he said, “we meet at last.” Tuuro hid a smile, because this sentence sounded so much like an actor. But he is an actor, Tuuro realized. The General glanced around the table. “Gentlemen, this is Tuuro Simpkins, who found and buried my grandchild.” A heavyset man with jowls and skin like rawhide gave a nod, as did a dark man in a military uniform with medals. A white man with nervous eyes and a blue shirt spotted with some foodstuff reached a hand across the table to Tuuro and said, “Matt Kellogg.” The fourth man, another white man, looked like a grizzled farmer; he wore a loosely knit sweater and eyed Tuuro without any acknowledgment, and it was in reproach for this, Tuuro realized, that General Nenonene dropped his head and said to Tuuro in a confidential voice, “Our sullen guest is Mr. Rafferty, of the Ohio Historical Society.” Allyssa had mentioned the Historical Society. Tuuro’s eyes slid over the General to Mr. Rafferty and back. The rawhide man smiled. The air was thick with promises and collusions. 178 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s Tuuro eyed the arm of Mr. Rafferty’s sloppily knit sweater. Could Nenonene trust a man like that? Then he caught himself : who was he to second-guess the General? “Now, Mr. Simpkins—may I call you Tuuro?”—Tuuro nodded —“Tuuro, I’m sure you wonder why we brought you here.” It took Tuuro, still wondering about Mr. Rafferty, a second to answer. What good would the Historical Society be to Nenonene ? In a practical sense, what could the Historical Society do? “You wish to speak to me about your grandson.” A muscle in the General’s jaw leapt. “I know about my grandson ,” he said. “My daughter-in-law’s brother, Cubby’s uncle, he killed my grandson. I know this. I understood this when I first heard of Cubby’s disappearance. This brother was what they call a pederast. I had warned my children, but...


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MARC Record
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