Wooden Spoons    A Novel


Chapter One

          Nostalgia and melancholy overcame him that afternoon. Looking beyond books and paper on his desk, the professor stared out a window into another Wisconsin winter. Months had passed since this last happened and it seemed the problem had been worked out. When he resumed a full schedule in December, it was with the confidence that he had moved beyond an embarrassing era along an otherwise stellar career path. Whatever insight he thought he had gained then was of no use now. Confidence was disappearing like sand sifting through a hole somewhere beneath him, and he was sinking.
          The pressure of a headache was building at his forehead, another of those peculiar headaches that had plagued him over the past year. Yet something was different this time. He was hearing a strange sound, a low-pitched murmur. At first it seemed to be a faint drumming inside his head, and then it became more of a vibration that seemed to emanate from somewhere outside his body.
          A sudden knock sounded on the office door to which he turned but did not respond. The professor saw hesitation behind frosted glass, heard shuffling feet, and then another knock. Still, he offered no response. He was done with science today. Waiting until the figure faded, he moved to the door, turned the lock and switched off lights. Returning to his chair, he rolled it to the back corner of the room, to an area where there were no bookcases or filing cabinets. With his back to the wall, he turned toward another window.
          He desperately wished to be at his home, in the study, but for now, this corner would serve his need. In another hour, people would leave the building and it would be dark. Until then, he could hide here. Behind the Biochemistry building were two enormous elm trees, as old as the University of Wisconsin itself. The professor stared through a web of branches into the pale afternoon sky. The weight of years gone by and the burden of love grown cold pressed down upon him.

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