Chapter 10

Herbert Harley, Julian’s next-door neighbor, says he heard a car starting in front of the Englishes’ home at about ten o'clock at night. Deputy Coroner Moskowitz wishes the driver of the car would come forth, but, knowing that Lantenengo Street is a secluded part of town, he speculates that it could have been a necking couple. He declares it an open and shut case of suicide by carbon monoxide gas poisoning. According to his reconstruction of the facts, Julian fought with his wife, went home, got drunk, and committed suicide. The broken records in the house and the smashed clock in the car show evidence of his temporary state of insanity. His wife is said to have been the last person who saw him alive. The time elapsed between their encounter and Julian’s death must have been seven hours, as stated by Caroline’s mother. The death is confirmed by Julian’s father, who is Chief of Staff at the Gibbsville Hospital. According to Herbert, at ten-thirty a car started in Mr. English’s garage. He didn’t think anything of it at the time, because Mr. and Mrs. English were always coming and going. The Harleys and the Englishes weren’t close, because their social circles were different. Herbert says that the motor running next door for about thirty minutes gave him the idea that something was wrong, so he went next door and checked. After he realized that the car was indeed running and the garage was dark, Herbert decided to warn Julian that he had left his motor running. When he discovered that nobody was home, he ran back to the garage and opened the door. He found Julian inside the car and was able to carry him out and lay him down on the driveway. He checked for his heartbeat and pulse and gave him artificial respiration. He asked his wife to call Dr. English. According to Herbert, based on the position of the body, “Mr. English may have wanted to commit suicide when he first got in the car . . . had changed his mind just before becoming unconscious, but had not had the strength to get out of the car.” Dr. English doesn’t try to influence Dr. Moskowitz’s verdict and thinks Dr. Moskowitz enjoys arriving at this conclusion. Dr. English hadn’t invited Dr. Moskowitz to a dinner he had given to the County Medical Society on account of Dr. Moskowitz’s being Jewish. As he starts to grieve the death of his son, Dr. English thinks of what people will say: “they would see how the suicide strain had skipped one generation to come out in the next.”

Caroline feels that her grief is like being in a long dark tunnel. She hears the news through Dr. English, who comes to see her at Mrs. Walker’s house at one in the morning. Caroline accuses the doctor of not liking Julian and being responsible for his death. She calls him a “pompous old man.” When the doctor agrees to let Caroline see Julian’s body, Caroline remembers the promise they made to each other when they married: they would never look at each other’s dead bodies. Caroline doesn’t fall asleep until the morning. When she wakes up, she hears the noises of normal life going about its...

(The entire section is 1305 words.)