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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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The Deaf Way II Anthology: A Literary Collection by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers

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You don’t know Al very well, even though he’s the one who’s always there whenever George needs help with moving huge furniture around, or building the back porch, or painting all the walls upstairs in your new house. You’ve never sat down and talked with him as a person, not as someone who’s known your husband all his life. You like him, though, because he is clearly a good man, a citadel of reliability, and someone seeming incapable of dishonesty. Before you’d heard all of this about Al, you wouldn’t have used the word “seeming.”  Everyone, you thought, really liked him.

You bring up the story with George later that night.

“What tell you before?”  He explodes. “Not true! Not true!”

Nevertheless, you vow to keep an eye peeled for any telling detail.

5. Pretend to be Concerned in Front of the People Involved.

At a social party held for local alumni from the National Technical Institute of the Deaf—your husband George had earned his bachelor’s in Computer Science there through the Rochester Institute of Technology—you run into Al’s wife. You are pleasantly surprised to find that she doesn’t seem embittered at all. Betty comes up to you and asks how you are doing.

You share the latest on your babies. Eileen is now walking and climbing like crazy, and has to be fenced in no matter what. Robert is obsessed with eating asparagus, dipped in mayonnaise. Betty laughs at the image of your boy dipping and flipping the mayo all over the kitchen floor before eating the stalk.

Finally, you broach the subject. “How you?”

She doesn’t let on whether she knows that you probably know. “Fine a-l work tonight.”  Of course. He works the graveyard shift at a Microsoft factory, keeping an eye on its security. It’s a tough job because so many packages slip out in the back and end up getting sold on the streets of New York and elsewhere way below wholesale, and the guards often get the heat for it. You remember how Al had explained all of this to you one night, when you were all a great crowd who always got together every weekend to party. That was a long time before any babies were born.

She smiles and says nothing more.

You glance around the room, full of people whose faces you know, and most of whom you’ve gotten acquainted with here and there through various deaf social functions over the years. You turn to Betty. “Me sorry.”

Her face turns a little hard. “Gossip stupid.”

“Betty. Stories true?”

“Play dumb you?  Good.”

“Me-not-say-that.”

A mutual friend enters the room with her husband, and Betty is gone, waving hello. You turn and catch Michelle’s knowing glance; she’s married to one of George’s pals. Seems you weren’t the first to ask Betty tonight.