As soon as the detectives leave, Leslie is off like a shot to find Siobhan. Leslie’s mind is whirling with the news she’s been told, and she still doesn’t know what the fuck to think. One thing she does know, however, is that she needs to get to John’s computer before the cops do. If what they are telling her is true, she knows she can find the answers on John’s laptop. He password-protected everything, and two weeks, three days, thirteen hours, twenty-four minutes, and nineteen seconds after he moved in, he had shown her his password list as he placed it in the top drawer of his desk. He wanted her to know that he had faith in her and that he had no secrets from her. Of course, Leslie never bothered using the passwords because she figured John would tell her anything she wanted to know, but she is grateful for them now.
Leslie finds Siobhan in Aileen’s room, reading a story. Bedtime had been thrown into chaos because of the cops, of course, so Siobhan is just now settling in her youngest child, even though it’s 8:58 p.m. and forty-three seconds, and Aileen’s usual bedtime is 8:30 p.m. Leslie waits for Siobhan to finish the story as she does not want to interrupt the mother-daughter bonding that is happening. Leslie had not experienced much of it when she was a child because her mother had suffered from postpartum and was only interested in Lisa, Leslie’s twin, after she recovered, but Leslie knows from reading psychology textbooks and self-help books and from her own therapy sessions that mother-child bonding is very important. She taps her foot as she waits, but is otherwise silent. Finally, after what seems like ages, but is actually only five minutes and seventeen seconds, Siobhan is finished reading about a caterpillar that eats a lot. Siobhan kisses her sleepy daughter on the forehead and tiptoes out of the room, closing the door halfway behind her.
“What did the cops tell you?” Leslie asks as soon as Siobhan is in the hallway.
“Let’s go downstairs and talk about it,” Siobhan takes Leslie by the arm and leads her to the living room. Siobhan refuses to say a word until they are safely away from the children.
“What did the cops tell you?” Leslie repeats her question as soon as they are sitting on the couch. Siobhan sighs, fiddles with a knickknack on the coffee table, and finally answers.
“They asked me what I knew about John. I told them what I knew, except for the sex stuff, of course.” Siobhan and Leslie exchange wan grins. They joked often about how hot Italian lovers were—and how big. Siobhan straightens her shoulders and continues. “They asked me a few questions about you. They seemed especially curious about—” Siobhan stops and looks flustered.
“About my hospitalizations?” Leslie finishes the question for Siobhan, who nods reluctantly. “It figures. Look first to the crazy person.”
“You’re not crazy,” Siobhan says heatedly. They have had this argument several times in the past, and she absolutely refuses to let Leslie call herself crazy. “You had a really shitty childhood, and it hurt you badly, but you are not fucking crazy!”
“My shrink in the hospital would disagree with you,” Leslie reminds Siobhan. “He thought I had borderline personality disorder or multiple personality disorder or schizophrenia or a combination of all three. This is in addition to my severe depression and my OCD. He also thought I was an unmitigated bitch—he was right about that.”
“That shrink had his license yanked for unethical behavior,” Siobhan retorts. “He was full of shit.”
“Well, yes. This is true. He was full of shit. You have a point there.” Leslie nods her head. “What exactly did the good detectives want to know? No wait, let me guess. They asked you if I had a gun and if I were capable of shooting someone I loved in the head. They told you about John not being John and asked if that would be enough to tip me over the edge back into crazyland. Am I close?”
“Pretty much,” Siobhan says. She lets out a sigh and sags into the couch before recounting her conversation with the cops.
“Mrs. Garelli,” Detective Stevens began. He didn’t get any further before Siobhan cut him off.
“Collins. Garelli is my husband’s last name, which I did not take. You may call me Ms. Collins, or Siobhan if you prefer.”
“Ms. Collins,” Detective Stevenson said smoothly. “You are Ms. Chang’s best friend. Correct?”
“Yes.” Siobhan knew to keep her answers as brief as possible.
“How did you meet?”
“Working at a nonprofit together over fifteen years ago.”
“Which nonprofit?” This question was from Detective Ricks who sounded impatient.
“Better Days Are Ahead,” Siobhan answered. “We helped at-risk youth.”
The detectives dropped that subject in order to ask about Leslie’s history of severe depression and hospitalization. Siobhan kept it brief, noting only that Leslie had had a hard childhood from which she was steadily recovering. More than that she would not divulge. She kept telling the detectives they would have to ask Leslie for the gory details. After several fruitless minutes, the detectives gave up that line of questioning.
“John Smith is a fake.” Detective Ricks was blunt in her delivery. “What do you think Ms. Chang would do if she knew discovered the man she was living with had been lying to her?”
“She wouldn’t have shot him in the head,” Siobhan retorted. “Herself, yeah, maybe, but not him.” Siobhan wished she could take back the last sentence, but it was not a big secret that Leslie had not been a huge fan of life when she had been deep in the abyss of depression. She had often said that the only things that kept her from killing herself were her belief that whatever was on the other side of death was worse than life, and inertia. “And, what do you mean John’s a fake?”
“We cannot find any trace of him prior to his life in Minneapolis,” Detective Ricks replied, carefully watching Siobhan. Siobhan’s face showed nothing but genuine surprise.
“What exactly does that mean, Detective?”
“It means that for some reason, Mr. Smith created a persona for himself. We were wondering if you had any idea why.”