"So what are you saying?"
"I'm just saying it's possible, that's all. That Stalin wasn't Hitler. That he wrote things down."
"Quod volumus credimus libenter," intoned Adelman. "Which means--"
"I know what it means--"
"--which means, my dear Fluke, we always believe what we want to believe." Adelman patted Kelso's arm. "You don't want to hear this, do you? I'm sorry. I'll lie if you prefer it. I'll tell you he's the one guy in a million with a story like this who turns out not to be full of shit. I'll tell you he's going to lead you to Stalin's unpublished memoirs, that you'll rewrite history, millions of dollars will be yours, women will lie at your feet, Duberstein and Saunders will form a choir to sing your praises in the middle of Harvard Yard--"
"All right, Frank." Kelso leaned the back of his head against the wall. "You've made your point. I don't know. It's just--maybe you had to be there with him--" He pressed on, reluctant to admit defeat. "It's just it rings a bell with me somewhere. Does it ring a bell with you?"
"Oh sure. It rings a bell, okay. An alarm bell." Adelman pulled out an old pocket watch. "We ought to be getting back. D'you mind? Olga will be frantic." He put his arm around Kelso's shoulders and led him down the corridor. "In any case, there's nothing you can do. We're flying back to New York tomorrow. Let's talk when we get back, see if there's anything for you in the faculty. You were a great teacher."
"I was a lousy teacher."
"You were a great teacher until you were lured from the path of scholarship and rectitude by the cheap sirens of journalism and publicity. Hello, Olga."
"So here you are! The session is almost starting. Oh, Dr. Kelso--now, this is not so good--no smoking, thank you." She leaned over and removed the cigarette from his lips. She had a shiny face with plucked eyebrows and a very fine mustache, bleached white. She dropped the stub into the dregs of his coffee and took away his cup.
"Olga, Olga, why so bright?" groaned Kelso, putting his hand to his brow. The lecture hall exuded a tungsten glare.
"Television," said Olga, with pride. "They are making a program of us."
"Local?" Adelman was straightening his bow tie. "Network?"
"Satellite, Professor. International."
"Say, now, where are our seats?" whispered Adelman, shielding his eyes from the lights.
"Dr. Kelso? Any chance of a word, sir?" An American accent. Kelso turned to find a large young man he vaguely recognized.
"R. J. O'Brian," said the young man, holding out his hand. "Moscow correspondent, Satellite News System. We're doing a special report on the controversy--"
"I don't think so," said Kelso. "But Professor Adelman here--I'm sure he'd be delighted--"
At the prospect of a television interview, Adelman seemed physically to swell in size, like an inflating doll. "Well, as long as it's not in any official capacity . . ."
O'Brian ignored him. "You sure I can't tempt you?" he said to Kelso. "Nothing you want to say to the world? I read your book on the fall of communism. When was that? Three years ago?"
"Four," said Kelso.
"Actually, I believe it was five," said Adelman.
Actually, thought Kelso, it was nearer six. Dear God, where were all the years going? "No," he said. "Thanks all the same, but I'm keeping off television these days." He looked at Adelman. "It's a cheap siren, apparently."
"Later, please," hissed Olga. "Interviews are later. The director is talking. Please." Kelso felt her umbrella in his back again as she steered him into the hall. "Please. Please--"
Excerpted from Archangel by Robert Harris. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.
Blood at the Root
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