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Doctorate In Death
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Doctorate In Death
Anthropologists Dana Winfield and Travis Hitchcock are looking for something other than the missing link when a graduate student disappears. While the search goes on, both are confronted by unknown enemies, and find each other in a high desert climax.
[769 words]
Jeffrey Hansson
Jeffrey Hansson is an archaeologist, author and freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983. Since then, he has spent fifteen years as an anthropology professor in the University of Texas system and has worked with the Mescalero Apache Tribe of New Mexico. He has published dozens of professional papers, articles, book reviews, on-line magazine articles, and essays. He has been an occasional contributor to "letters to the editor" sections of the Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, El Paso Times, the Alamogordo Daily News and Albuquerque Journal.

[June 2006]
Artifact Of Deception (Novels) Archaeologist Edwin (Eddie) Moncrief leads a group of students into the remote canyonlands of Utah to test his theory about the disappearance of a lost civilization. But shortly after their arrival, t... [1,010 words] [Mystery]
Getting A Leg Up On Evolution (Essays) The theory of evolution continues to be a controversial subject. Yet, to those willing to understand it, evolution is a very simple concept and it occurs all around us in our daily lives. [1,965 words] [Nature]
Doctorate In Death
Jeffrey Hansson

	Dana Winfield peeked through the curtains into the night. Even with the yard lights on she couldn’t see much. Sheets of rain pelted the window. She wiped away the condensation that fogged the inside windowpane, squinting for a better look. Still nothing.
	“Corey, where are you?” Dana spoke as if talking to the rain. Wiping her wet hand against her blue jean-clad thigh, Dana looked at her watch, 10:30.  It had been over an hour since she’d  received the phone call from Corey Watson. There had been an edge to his voice; anxious, almost distraught. Dana recalled the conversation.
	“Dr. Winfield, I need to see you ASAP!” His words rushed out as if the phone would cut him off at any second.
	“Corey, you sound upset,” she remembered saying. “What’s wrong?”  Corey was a very mild, soft-spoken young man. She’d  never heard him speak this way before.
	“Too long to explain. Gotta’ see you. Can I come over there?” 
Dana wasn’t in the habit of letting male students come to her house solo. She never knew when a rumor might germinate. But his insistence was completely out of character, and the urgency in his voice compelled her to make an exception.
	“Uh, sure Corey. If it’s that important then swing by here.”
	“I’m on my way!” A loud click signaled the end of the call.
	As she watched trails of water snaking down the window, her mind began to work. What kind of urgency would take Corey out into this storm? A loud thunderclap boomed in the near distance as she chewed on this question. And why was he so late?  It was not like him to be late. Corey was one of the most punctual graduate students in the anthropology program at New Mexico Southern University. Las Cruces was not a big city. Even in this downpour it shouldn’t have taken him more than fifteen or twenty minutes to get from his apartment near campus to her house on the outskirts of town. Maybe he had car trouble. The more she thought about this theory, the more it made sense. That rust bucket of a Ford Ranger he drove was getting long in the tooth. Bad engine, bad tires, it was a typical heap for a poor graduate student. Then her theory melted like butter in a frying pan. It came to her like one of the loud thunderclaps that now surrounded her house. She let out a quick gasp. 
“The affair,” she softly mumbled through dry lips.  “Maybe he found out about the affair.” 
Turning, and walking quickly through the living room and into the kitchen, she opened the refrigerator door and extracted a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  Pouring a glass, she walked back into the living room and plopped down on the couch. As she sipped her wine she began to nervously tap her fingertips on the wooden end able. They made a loud clicking sound as well manicured nails struck polished hardwood. The low light of a lava lamp cast a subtle shadow on her hand.   No, it would not be good if Corey found out about the affair, she thought. She was sure that nobody else knew about it, and she wanted to keep it that way, at least until she was ready. If Corey found out it could ruin everything. As his doctoral advisor she had to be very careful how she handled this situation. 
Where was he? She continued to sip her wine, and wait. It seemed like she was checking her watch every other minute; 11:00, 11:15, 11:20. Still nothing. No knock on the door, no phone call, not even the sound of traffic on wet pavement. 
Draining the remainder of her wine, she got up and went back into the kitchen, and re-filled her glass. Then she hurried back to the living room. Retrieving a cigarette from the pack sitting on the end table, she lit up, drew in and deeply exhaled a long stream of smoke. She picked up her recent copy of Cosmopolitan and started flipping through the pages. Just as quickly she tossed it back onto the coffee table. Then, she walked over to the window and pushed the curtain aside. Staring out toward the street she could now see that her yard was visible. The storm had passed through. It left in its wake a light but steady downfall of raindrops that spattered a hodge-podge of puddles. 
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Though the storm had abated, the anxiety in Dana Winfield had not. It was building like an approaching thunder head.


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© 2005 Jeffrey Hansson
July 2006

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