Let My People Go!

This evening being Passover, and me being an admitted anti-socialite Israelite who eschews any connection with organized religion–I find it necessary to search for my own unique way to celebrate. This year, the onset of this holiday, the celebration of the escape of the Jews from slavery in Egypt (whether this actually happened historically is another matter altogether) coincidentally coincided with the completion of an advanced draft of my next novel: “Let My People Go!

Let My People Go! is my first attempt to write primarily from the perspective of a female protagonist–something I had been warned against, and therefore absolutely had to try. It is also an attempt to combine serious literary fiction–of the Lab Lit genre–with a touch of mystery.

This is a story that I hope will resonate particularly well with graduate students, because it deals with a crisis between student and graduate adviser–a very common crisis over the proposed time frame for a student’s Ph.D. dissertation and final examination–and hence the title “Let My People Go!

Not wanting to spoil any of the story, I will leave off with my draft of the short prolog to “Let My People Go!

Prolog

9 a.m. Fri. Dec. 7, 2012

            Maya, Michael, Shelley and Mr. Robson sat huddled together in the courtroom at the defense table. As Defense Attorney Peters had predicted, the cautious judge had not been happy at the idea of having new evidence presented in his court at this late stage of the trial. However, he had agreed to meet with counsel for prosecution and defense at 8 a.m., to render a decision about the admissibility of the evidence.

“They’re back!”

Maya’s knees were shaking as she climbed to her feet. She kept her eyes firmly fixed on Michael’s back, hoping that he wouldn’t turn and see the tears flowing from her eyes. On her left, she could feel the presence of the old man beside her that she had dragged into the courtroom this morning. To her right, Shelley leaned over and put an arm around Maya’s sagging shoulders. “It’ll be okay, Maya, I just know it will,” she whispered.

The two lawyers, Prosecutor Ramsey, and Defense Attorney Peters entered the courtroom, followed slowly by Judge Allan Davis. They had just come from their unexpected and brief encounter in the judge’s chambers. Maya could not read Peters’ face. While the judge was busy shuffling his papers, she leaned over toward Peters. “Will he allow the new evidence?”

“He didn’t say,” whispered Peters. “He understood the circumstances, and I think he realizes that the evidence has direct bearing on the case. But judges hate last minute evidence.” He paused and took a deep breath. “If he’ll just allow us to present it to him in court now, I’m sure he’ll see fit to have us enlighten the jury about our new evidence, too.”

Judge Davis banged his gavel and cleared his throat. “As you know, I have met with counsel from the prosecution and the defense to evaluate a rather unusual request by the defense to submit new evidence.” He pointed toward Peters. “At this late stage of the trial. It is now incumbent upon me to make that decision.”

Shelley whispered again, “It’ll be okay, Maya. He’ll allow the new evidence on Michael’s behalf—I just know he will.”

But Maya wasn’t sure.

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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