A Hard Rain; chapter three, part three

Leslie’s stomach growls, but she does not want to eat anything until after the cops leave, so she ignores her stomach and concentrates on her computer.  She reads about how Amy had been rushed to the hospital with a broken leg when she was ten.  It was said to be an accident, but the article hints that Senator Robertson may have had something to do with it.  Another article methodically lists all the emergency trips the Robertson children had taken to the hospital in their childhood, and it was pretty long.  Then again, with five children in the family, it was only natural that accidents would occur.  The most interesting part of the article was the statement that Mrs. Robertson had been rushed to the hospital herself once when Jack Jr. was thirteen-months old.  She had been rumored to have been pregnant with baby Robertson number six, but no one could verify that tidbit.  At any rate, there was no sixth Robertson baby, so people freely speculated as to whether Mrs. Robertson had miscarried, and if so, whether Senator Robertson had caused the miscarriage.

Leslie’s mind is swirling with all the information.  The more she reads, the more she’s convinced that there’s something in Amy’s childhood that isn’t being reported.  What’s more, when she unearths this thing, it will clear up a lot of the questions surrounding Amy’s murder—of that, Leslie is dead certain.  And, of course, if she can solve Amy’s murder, she will solve John’s murder as well.  With that in mind, Leslie turns back to Google to see if she has missed anything.  Unfortunately, the problem is that Amy’s childhood was pre-internet, so nothing was recorded for posterity.  Of course, the fact that her father is a politician means there’s some dirt available, but not enough.  At some point, she may have to talk to Amy’s family, but Leslie pushes that thought to the back of her mind for now.  Leslie doesn’t have much use for family—which is not surprising given hers.


Mrs. Chang left her old job when the girls were six-and-a-half.  By then, she and Mr. Chang were sleeping in separate bedrooms, but there was no question of divorce.  Taiwanese people did not do that, and it would have brought great shame to both their families.  She was still a secretary, but she no longer had to put up with Mr. Pederson’s advances.  Mr. Chang finally got a job as an adjunct philosophy prof at the U, so their financial worries were eased somewhat.  However, Mrs. Chang was now an alcoholic, albeit a functioning one, and she had no intention of giving up the bottle.  Mr. Chang had long since given up arguing with Mrs. Chang about her alcohol consumption.  In fact, he pretty much emotionally checked out from the marriage when Mrs. Chang made it clear that she had chosen the bottle over him.

Things were holding at status quo until one day, Mrs. Chang fell in love.  Mr. Liu was an accountant for the hospital at which Mrs. Chang worked, and they quickly became friends.  Mr. Liu was always the perfect gentleman, inquiring after Mrs. Chang’s family.  He encouraged her to pour out her troubles to him—most of them concerning Leslie.  Mr. Liu never made a move on Mrs. Chang—she was the one who initiated the affair, planned it, and seduced him.  Their coupling was quick the first time, but it slowly improved each time they had sex.  For the first time in her life, Mrs. Chang was happy.  Her family couldn’t help but notice that she was smiling more often.  She told her husband it was because she was being considered for a promotion at work, and he accepted her explanation at face value.  The twins didn’t ask because they knew they wouldn’t receive a straight answer, but they were both relieved that the new and improved Mrs. Chang was drinking less, which meant there were less domestic strife to endure.

In school, the girls were separated because the principal thought it best that they interact with other kids.  Lisa was immediately accepted into the popular group of girls in her class.  They all vied for her favor, giving her little presents from time to time.  Leslie, on the other hand, had more difficulty with her classmates.  She wasn’t shunned or bullied like the Ellison girl, but she wasn’t welcomed, either.  She mostly sat by herself, quietly writing little stories to pass the time.  She had taught herself to write and read when she was four, which meant kindergarten and first grade were a trial for her.  The teachers didn’t care that she already knew her letters—she was made to practice them with the other students, anyway.  Lisa blossomed at school, whereas Leslie withdrew further into herself.

The sex didn’t happen as often as Mrs. Chang would have liked, but the conversation more than made up for it.  Mr. Liu was a wonderful listener, and Mrs. Chang found herself depending on him more and more.  She could tell him how she didn’t love Leslie the way she did Lisa, and he didn’t judge her.  In fact, he commiserated with her, saying a parent often had a favorite child.  By the fourth month of the affair, they were having sex once every other week at most.  Mrs. Chang complained about it from time to time, but Mr. Liu would quiet her complaints by using his mouth on her.  When she tried to return the favor, he would smile, shake his head, and say that it wasn’t necessary.  “Your pleasure is my pleasure,” he said, his American accent making his Mandarin all the more endearing to Mrs. Chang’s ears.

During the fifth month of the affair, Mr. Liu suggested that he meet the girls.  He said that since they were such an important part of Mrs. Chang’s life, he felt that he wouldn’t really know her until he got to know her daughters.  Mrs. Chang was thrilled that he wanted to be even more involved in her life, but she wasn’t sure she should bring the girls to meet him.  More to the point, she didn’t know how she would handle the logistics of such a meeting.  Mr. Liu said she should take the girls to the park on Saturday, and he would be there to run into them accidentally.  She could introduce him as a coworker, and they wouldn’t know anything was amiss.  Mrs. Chang thought it over in her mind and agreed that it was a good plan.  It was a bonus that her husband was going ice-fishing with some friends over the weekend so she wouldn’t have to make up a story for him.


“Everyone cheats,” Leslie mutters, her face darkening.  She knows it’s not true, but she also knows it happens often.  Furthermore, people do crazy things when they have affairs.  And, people who have been cheated on do even crazier things.  With this in mind, Leslie starts digging deeper into the muck.  She doesn’t find anything about Mrs. Robertson having an affair, but there are hints that Senator Robertson had strayed from time to time.  That doesn’t surprise Leslie as she knows that power is an aphrodisiac to many women.  There are star-fuckers in every public-focused job, and politics is no exception.  Senator Robertson is not an attractive man by Leslie’s standards, but that doesn’t mean that other women don’t find him attractive.  There is a decades-old article about the senator and a dalliance with an intern, but no solid evidence.

“Ms. Chang?”  The detectives are at Leslie’s door, startling her.  She quickly shuts down Chrome because she doesn’t want them to see what she is doing.  “We are taking Mr. Smith’s laptop with us.  Please sign here.”  Detective Ricks looks suspiciously at Leslie’s computer for a moment before holding out a piece of paper.  Leslie skims the document and then signs it.  She has what she needs from the laptop, so she doesn’t care what they do with it.  She walks the detectives to the door, cuddling Josephine in her arms.  Josephine is purring up a storm as she nudges Leslie under the chin.  Before the detectives leave, Detective Stevenson stops and turns to Leslie.

“Ms. Chang.  You are not being completely forthright with us.  It would be to your benefit if you tell us everything now.”  Detective Stevenson stares hard at Leslie, but she is not cowed.

“I have told you everything.”  Leslie’s tone is defiant, yet sincere.  She learned at a young age how to lie with feeling, and she is very good at it.  “I want you to catch John’s killer.  Why would I keep anything from you?”  Detective Stevenson’s shoulders relax, and Leslie knows that she has allayed his suspicions.

“We’ll be in touch.”  Detective Stevenson nods cordially at Leslie before leaving with his partner.  Leslie closes the door and sags against it, relieved that they are gone.

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