[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 080
Chapter 16 (6 of 10): Investigation
“‘It is not bad, yes,’ he admits grudgingly.
“‘I thought you would like it,’ I say, and I’m beaming, absolutely beaming! Right? At last he is pleased.
“Well, guess again, if you can believe this one!
“‘But you should have earned at least one A plus,’ he scolds me.
“‘An A plus?’ The air is crushing my chest. I can scarcely get the words out.
“‘Of course. To make up for the A minus in the fall,’ he explains as if I’m somehow too dumb to understand the concept of a simple arithmetic average.
“I know if I talk, I’ll break down crying in front of my father. Or scream. Since I’ve sworn to myself that he will never see me broken by him, I hold my tongue.
“That summer – two years ago — was almost intolerable. My father didn’t want me to work but study and prepare for next fall instead.
“So here comes my sophomore year, right? Fall two-thousand-two. So now I’m busting my ass twice as a hard. I just gotta get and A+ in one of my course. I come home for Christmas, right? And we’re dancing the same old light fantastic with each other.
“‘Yes, it is true that you received an A plus. And that is quite good.’
“Now, I know my father almost better than myself, and all I feel is dread. Why? Because I know as sure as a bear shits in the wood that there’s this huge fucking ‘but’ hanging at the end of the last sentence.
“Are you guys ready for this?
“‘But it’s not quite good enough, is it?’ He reaffirms my faith in my ability to read him.
“‘Oh?’ is all I can safely squeeze out without going to pieces right there in front of him.
“‘How many credits was this course in English where you got the A plus.’
“‘Three.’ And then it suddenly dawns on me how I’ve failed once more, failed my father’s impossible expectations.
“‘And how many credits for the course with the A minus? The biology course?’
‘Four.’ I couldn’t look him in the eye.
“‘So you still do not have a four point, do you?’
“‘No.’ A quick mental calculation tells me of the forty-eight hours of credit I have so far, only one was in effect an A minus. It’s beyond dispute. I admit it.. “‘It must be just about a four point, though, isn’t it?’ I offer, hoping against hope.
“‘I believe not. It is only a …” he inspects the ceiling as he computes in his head, “… a three point nine nine four.’ He examines me, not unkindly. ‘I wonder if that will round up?’ he asks idly of the empty air.
“If I only had more courage! I would just walked the fuck away from him. Or driven back to campus? But where could I live? The dorms are closed till mid-January.
“So I’m trapped here at home for another miserable Christmas. As usual my father’s logic is unassailable.
“‘I can try to make it up in the spring,’ is the best I can do, but it sounds lame even to me. I’m in permanent catch-up mode.
“‘A good daughter would do just so,’ he says with finality, as if the necessary A plus is already an established part of my academic record and further discussion consequently superfluous. ‘I am of course thinking of the Admissions Committee at Harvard Medical School, as any responsible father would.’
“And he turns back to the Wall Street Journal.”
Up go her flailing hands and arms in utter resignation and the tears come coursing down. “I don’t even know why I bother anymore.” She blows her nose. “Now maybe you guys have some hint what my life is all about? I wish I had been the one in that picture. The dead girl.”
A new burst of crying, shoulders moving up and down in concert with big sobs.
Phoebe was shaking her head vigorously and got up from her seat. She went over and stood opposite Sheena. Squeezing her shoulders, she said in a grave voice, “I don’t want you ever to say that again.”
Sheena turned her face up to Phoebe, eyes still wet with tears. She sensed the seriousness in the detective’s voice.
“Never, ever again,” Phoebe underscored. “Do you understand me?”
Sheena nodded her head in agreement, but no words came out.
“I’ve been a homicide detective well over thirty years, and during those thirty odd years I think you can imagine the sorts of things I’ve run across. Not the nicest side of people. But one thing I never have come across was a parent who was happy over the death of a child.” She cupped Sheena’s chin. “Do you understand me?”
Sheena remained mute, but she understood. “It’s just that my father …”
“… and how would your mother like it if you were dead? Or your boyfriend?” Phoebe interrupted her.
Sheena started to bawl again. She shook her head.
“Listen to me, Sheena. Your father is hard on you. It certainly sounds that way. Do you think he does it because he hates you or loves you?”
“Loves me,” she answered meekly.
“I think so, too. He may seem impossible to you, but believe me when I tell you that there are many young women right in this city right now who would give a great deal to have a father, not to mention a father who was as concerned about his daughter and her future as your father is about you. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.”
Sheena appeared to reflect on this. Then she said, timidly, “I know.” She pulled out some more kleenex and blew her nose a couple of times. “I know in my heart that what you say is true. But it is so hard sometimes …”
“No more tears now,” Phoebe said, seeing Sheena’s eyes start to fill up and wishing to avert a new eruption. “Of course it’s hard. But it’s not final. That is what death is.” She motioned to Ulla to hand her the photo of the dead woman. “Look at her again, Sheena. For her it really is final. There is no future here.”
Sheena stared dumbly and ran her fingers lightly across the face. “And so beautiful,” she said to herself. “So beautiful.”
“What do you think her father will feel when he sees this picture?”
Sheena put her face in her hands but she did not cry. “I am very selfish,” she said.
TO BE CONTINUED