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LIFE AFTER THE DECISION
Linda and David still live in Schenectady. They bought their handsome, low-ceilinged, blood-red house--built in 1720--just before the Unabomber was unveiled. Linda now wishes they could live outside the city, away from curiosity seekers who want to see the home of the Unabomber's brother. On the summer weekend I visited, most of their things were still in boxes. They had just returned from sabbatical and were soon heading out to a monthlong Buddhist seminar.
Linda, 49, and David, 50, have both gone gray since the 60 Minutes interview in which they pleaded that Ted's life be spared and announced they would take no money, reward or otherwise, generated by this case. Their marriage has grown stronger these past years, they both say, but when asked about Unabomber-induced tensions, Linda promptly ticks off items on her list. While she was the catalyst for capturing the Unabomber, for instance, most reporters wanted to speak only to David. "Then I get to feel envious," she says, "and David gets credit for turning in his brother, and I don't." She was also jealous of how some journalists, especially those young and female, regarded her husband, "gazing at him with puppy-dog eyes and hanging on every word." Did her philosophy students ever question her about the moral dimensions of her dilemma? "No, no, no. They come to me and say, 'Oh, your husband's so wonderful, you're so lucky to be married to such an ethical man.'" She sticks a finger down her throat and pretends to gag. David laughs uncomfortably. As she speaks, he listens, careful not to interrupt; when it is his turn, he seems to tread lightly.
I had expected, I must admit, a more united front. Only now do I realize their desire to turn Ted in may not have been unilateral: Linda was afraid of this man she had never met, while David loved at least a part of him. That their marriage could survive such pressure--even before the media wave--says a lot about it.
Alone, David is looser. He plays baseball in an over-30 league, and one morning he took me to his game. (He played first base and pitched, batting two for four.) Baseball, he says, is the one thing that allows him to forget the ordeal, if only for a few hours. On the drive home, he spoke passionately about his love of nature, literature and philosophy. Before long, though, his mind returned to the Unabomber. Soon after his brother's arrest, he says, "I had a depressive realization that I don't know if I'll ever really feel carefree again, ever come upon those moods where you just feel unalloyed delight and joy." Before his discovery that Ted was the Unabomber, he adds, "ethical questions weren't that important to me. I was more interested in trying to break through and find the transcendental. But now I have all kinds of questions about other things. I thought I knew the difference between right and wrong." Clearly, that difference has been forever muddied--for his decision to turn in the Unabomber was the right thing to do, as wrong as it feels to have imprisoned his brother.
And now comes Ted's book, charging that David's decision was in some part based on resentment. "I think he's wrong there," David says, while acknowledging that "there have been times when I felt some resentment of Ted" and that Ted sometimes made him "very angry."