Sunday, May 2, 2010

May 2

I lay awake all that night after my horrible conversation with Briggs trying to think about how I should proceed. I wanted to file a sexual misconduct complaint against him. But I knew that if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be able to work with Briggs any more. I probably won’t be able to do so after our confrontation anyway. And if I did file such a complaint, how was I going to word it without making a fool of myself? How could I prove the charge if they both denied it?

I slept much later into the next morning than usual, and only woke up then because the phone rang. It was Angie. “Jonathan,” she said, “I’ve got to talk to you right away! Can I come over there to your apartment now?”

“Of course,” I replied. “What’s wrong?”—as if I didn’t know!

“I’ll be there in ten minutes!” she said, and hung up.

I quickly got dressed and ate some breakfast. Soon thereafter, she arrived.

She came in looking grim and determined. Without any preliminaries, she said, “Barry came home last night yelling about how you had turned out to be a traitor and ordering me not to let you see any part of his new book before we send the galleys and the index to the publisher next week. What happened between you two yesterday?”

I didn’t really want to tell her what I had found out about Shivvy and Briggs being lovers, but she forestalled me. “I already know all about Barry and that so-called girlfriend of yours,” she said matter-of-factly. Considering how upset she had been that day she discovered Shivvy’s scrunchy and just suspected Briggs was cheating on her, I was surprised at how business-like she was being about it all now that she seemed to know for sure. “Just tell me what happened yesterday.”

I related to her my conversation first with Shivvy and then with Briggs—a task made much easier by being able to refer to my accounts of them in this diary.

Angie listened to me calmly. When I had finished, she said, “You are not going to file any sexual misconduct complaint against Barry. You’ll look like an idiot if you do.”

“Why do you say that?”

She then related to me what she found out last night. After denouncing me to her all through dinner, he went to his study and left her to clean up the kitchen (“as usual,” she noted). She had just picked up the kitchen phone to call me right at the point when someone else—a woman—was answering a phone call that Briggs was making from the study. Angie realized that the voice belonged to Shivvy, and so she decided to listen in.

Briggs, Angie recounted, started berating Shivvy for telling me about their affair. “`He’s going to file a sexual misconduct charge against me!’” he told her. “`This guy could really cause me a lot of problems, especially if the press gets hold of the story!’” He was practically hysterical, Angie said.

Shivvy, though, kept cool. She pretended to pout, asking Barry why either of them shouldn’t tell me, or the whole world, about their relationship. “`Are you ashamed of me, Barry dear?’” she asked sarcastically. Then she told him that she saw no reason why she shouldn’t admit that they had had sex “`right there in your office even’” if asked by anyone, including whatever office I filed my sexual misconduct complaint with.

This unnerved Briggs. He begged her not to do this, telling her that his career would be ruined if she did. Shivvy played with him a little more, saying how she had thought he loved her and would make any sacrifice for her. Briggs seemed just on the verge of breaking down altogether when Shivvy informed him that she hadn’t told anybody but me about them, and that she would completely deny that they had ever had sex, but only if: he gave her an “A” in the class she had with him now, he wrote extraordinarily positive letters of recommendation for her (“`which I’ll help you compose’”) when she applied to business schools in the fall, he permitted her to enroll in his graduate seminar this coming semester, and he gave her an “A” in that as well even though she would neither attend class nor do any assignments.

Briggs agreed to all her conditions. He seemed completely relieved. He even suggested that they spend another weekend together as they had this past one. “`Thanks, but no thanks!’” Shivvy had replied. She then warned him that if he didn’t comply with all of her conditions, she would file a sexual misconduct complaint against him herself and call me as a witness. He assured her that he’d keep his end of the bargain. He was still worried, though, about the possibility of me causing trouble for him. “`Jonathan can’t prove anything,’” Shivvy had responded, “`unless I cooperate. Just keep that in mind, Barry dear.’” Their conversation ended there.

I was stunned by this, as well as how calmly Angie related it to me. “What did you say to him afterward?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she responded.

“Why not?”

“It wasn’t news to me,” she said. “I knew that day I found the scrunchy in his office that he’d been cheating on me, but not with who. You were the one who let me know that. But with the way you insisted that nothing was going on between them, it was clear you couldn’t get yourself to put two and two together.

“Besides,” she added, “I already knew how attached you were to this silly notion that she would come running back to you after you had broken things off with her at the beginning of the semester because Barry said you had to. I didn’t want to be the one to shatter your illusions.”

There had, in fact, been doubt in mind about why Shivvy’s scrunchy was in Briggs’s office, considering the usual circumstances I remembered her taking it off last fall in my apartment. At the time, though, I had told Angie that I doubted anything was going on between Briggs and Shivvy in order to soothe Angie’s feelings. Now it was clear that she had only pretended to believe me in order to protect mine. What an amazing woman!

But all this was irrelevant now. “What you heard them say is outrageous!” I declared. “It goes way beyond sexual misconduct! Both of us have got to inform the university authorities!”

“No!” said Angie firmly. “I won’t do that.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Two reasons,” she responded. “First: it wouldn’t work. The two of them would deny it all. And second: I’m not hanging around long enough to do anything like that. I just want to get away from Barry and from this place. You should too, Jonathan. You have no future here. Barry’s going to see to that, no matter what you do.”

“But we can’t let them get away with this!” I insisted.

“Oh, I intend to fix him,” Angie said, “but in my own way.”

She then asked me if she could come and stay with me for a few days while she figured out what she was going to do next. She didn’t know anybody else she could stay with, and she really couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel even for a short while.
I told her that she was most welcome, and that I was flattered she would turn to me for help. “You can have the bed and I’ll sleep on the couch,” I told her.

She smiled and said we’d work all that out once she’d moved in.

“And when will that be?” I asked.

“Some time next week. I’m not exactly sure when. There’s something I have to take care of first.” She then asked me for the spare key to my apartment, saying that she’d move in when she could, maybe without even warning me. “Just as soon as I take care of something.”

I asked her what she was going to do, but she wouldn’t elaborate. “Thanks for taking me in, Jonathan,” she said as she got up to leave. She gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek.

“Oh, by the way,” she said, just before opening the door to the hallway. “Your name won’t be appearing in Barry’s acknowledgements after all. He had me delete it last night after he finished talking to Shivvy.”

I wasn’t surprised to hear this. Still, I felt sad. I had put a lot of work in on this book with Angie. Oh well.

Angie then admonished me not to say anything about her impending move or about Briggs and Shivvy. “Let me take care of him!” she insisted.

I promised her I would.

She shook her head sadly. “Don’t be surprised if Barry strikes back at you, Jonathan. You really scared him. You made him feel weak and vulnerable. He’ll never forgive you for that.”

“But I’m the one who’s been injured here…” I started to say.

“We both have!” she insisted. “But we’re not going to get anywhere by tattling on him and his little sweetheart.

“No matter what happens over the next few days,” she continued, “you keep your cool. Don’t say anything that he and that little girl will only deny and make you look like a cheap liar for having said! You might spoil all my plans!”

“Yes, Captain!” I assured her.

“Good boy!” she said. She gave me one more kiss on the cheek and left.

That was Wednesday morning. It’s Sunday evening now. I haven’t heard from Angie since then. Nor have I encountered Briggs since our blowup last Tuesday.

In fact nothing at all has happened. Still, I have the feeling that something is about to. I’ve noticed that people in the department stop talking when they see me. They don’t seem comfortable in my presence. I have the feeling that I have become the object of department gossip.

There’s only one more week of classes left, and then finals. The first year grad students should be hearing some time next week about whether we’ll be funded next fall. Before this past week, I hadn’t even thought to worry about this. Now, I’m feeling very anxious about it.

Despite these distractions, I’m trying to concentrate on finishing up my own work. In addition to everything else, I have to attend the honor code committee hearing for that African-American student tomorrow at 11:30. I feel sorry for him, but it’s a clear case. I wish he had just admitted his guilt, though, so I wouldn’t have to waste my time proving it. I’ve got more important things to deal with.

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