Winter 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 1 FictionJanuary 1, 2005 |

Great Men and Famous Deeds

After my wife forgave me and the long week of questions ended with the resolve to put my mistake behind us, she asked a last—rhetorical, unanswerable. It struck me funny and I laughed, idiot laughter, helpless, an outburst sudden as a sneeze that left me wet-eyed, wheezing like the old man I’d become, and for a second time needing to account for myself. We were in the kitchen of the house we bought when we retired from our law practices and moved to the Eastern Shore. Outside, beyond the marsh grass, across the Chesapeake, the sun was going down. I wasn’t off the hook entirely but I’d been easing back into Eleanor’s bristly graces. Then, on her way to the pantry to see what we might have for supper, she cocked her head as if to consult her better sense. “What were,” she’d asked, “you thinking?” Two weeks before, we’d had a visit from her former colleague, a young woman named Anne whose specialty was medical malpractice. Apparently I’d made a pass at her

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Janet Peery's new novel is The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs, to be published in Fall 2017. Peery is the author of the story collection Alligator Dance, the novel The River Beyond the World, a finalist for the National Book Award, and a novella and stories titled What the Thunder Said, which won the Library of Virginia Prize for Fiction and the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West. She has been awarded the Whiting Writers Award, the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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