The Beginning of the End  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   September 1998

The Beginning of the End   

By Sinéad OBrien
Sinéad O'Brien is a former AJR editorial assistant.     

Related reading:
   » For Barnicle, One Controversy Too Many
   » Bitter Fruit
   » Semantics
   » Speeding Past Red Flags


SUSPICIONS ABOUT the veracity of the May 11 column excerpted below started the investigation that led to Patricia Smith's resignation:
Claire has heard the media furor about the ``cure" for the killer, about the mice who had what she has and now they don't. ``I'm not proud," she says.
``Right away I said, `Rub it on my skin, pop it to me in a pill, shoot me up with it.' If I could find a way to steal it, I would. Hell, if I could get my hands on it, I'd swallow the whole...mouse." Claire laughs, an ugly sound. She uses harsh language, new language for her. It's the only language she feels the ogre understands.
Nobody knows she has it yet. She's still a chubby 142 pounds, she still has her hair, and her eyes haven't sunk back into her head like the eyes of the people in those pictures she sees, those pictures that look like death no matter how perky the silk scarf, determined the smile, or well-crafted the makeup. Nobody but she and her doctor and her mother know the diagnosis.
None of her friends know that there is something false and foreign growing inside her, an ogre she imagines chomping away slowly at her heartbeat. No one has recoiled at those two syllables before drowning her in their damnable pity. Right now nobody knows that Claire has cancer.
Claire is her middle name. And she's glad nobody knows that either, especially if she's finally going to talk out loud about the ogre.

Return to Secrets And Lies part one

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