I decided to check my email as I hadn’t bothered for the past few days. I wasn’t one of those people who compulsively checked her email several times a day, feeling blue if nobody sent me anything. I viewed it more as a nuisance than anything else—a necessary evil, if you will. I sat at my mom’s computer and powered up. It was slow going only using one hand, but I did the best I could. I accessed my Yahoo! account and noticed that I had fifteen new emails. Most of them were advertisements from Yahoo! which I promptly deleted. There was a few emails from Liza who liked to email me during her workday when she got bored. I opened them up and saw that they were forwarded joke emails. She knew I hated forwarded emails, but she sent them to me, anyway. I deleted them without even looking.
“What’s this?” I had an email from someone who’s username I didn’t immediately recognize. I hesitated, then opened it.
Bitch, do you think I’ve forgotten you? Not a chance in hell. You fucking ruined my life, and I’ll get you back if it take me the rest of my life. You better watch your back, bitch. I’m coming for you soon.
Ah, the gentle tone of Shannon. There were two more from her, but I deleted them unread. I knew they would be of the same ilk, and I had no desire to read any more of her ranting claptrap. I didn’t think she was the one who stabbed me, but it was just a gut feeling. I had nothing concrete to go on. There was also an email from Aaron. I debated about deleting it unread, but my curiosity was too strong. Was it just the usual, ‘I want to fuck you’ note, or did he have something more important to say? I opened it.
Trish, how are you doing? It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I just wanted to let you know that I’ve heard from Shannon, and she’s serious about getting you back. You might say she’s obsessed. She’s already slashed the tires on my car and trashed the front of my house. Be careful, girl. I don’t want her to get you. P.S. How about getting together for old times’ sake?
I tapped my finger against my lip. She slashed his tires? Trashed his house? It sounded like she was serious. I wondered if I should tell the cops about her. I knew that I should show them the note I had received with my courtesy stabbing, but I didn’t believe that it would do any good. It was the generic kind of crap I got from time to time and for no other reason than I was a flashy Asian chick in a staid Scandinavian town. It was hard for me to believe that in this day and age, there were still people who judged me on the color of my skin and not on my merit. I had a hunch the police would take it more seriously than did I, but I still was reluctant to show it to them. I had an irrational dislike of the cops which dictated that I stay away from them as much as possible.
I decided to type a quick response to Aaron as I was going to talk to him, anyway. I found myself staring at the monitor, however, not knowing what to say. ‘Hey, Aaron, someone may be trying to kill me. Do you think it could be the psycho ex-girlfriend of yours? And oh, I’d love to see you but I’m in enough hot water as it is’ just wasn’t going to cut it. I ended up asking him how far he thought Shannon would go in getting back at me, and I gracefully declined his invitation. I was tempted, but not crazy enough to fuck up my relationship with Rafe even more. Aaron e-mailed back in two minutes saying he thought Shannon would do anything to get back at me, and I should let him know when I was single again. Great. That meant I couldn’t check Shannon from my list of suspects which meant I probably should tell the cops. I wisely ignored the last part of his email as I knew there was no going backwards.
“Honey, you home?” My mom called out. I gritted my teeth as I powered down the computer. Living with my parents was getting old which meant I had to find out who had killed Lydia and heal, fast. I just knew that as long as I had limited mobility, my mom wouldn’t let me live on my own—nor if she thought I was still in danger.
“Coming,” I called out as I gathered the copies and the originals and left the den. I went upstairs, tossed everything in a pile—along with my phone—before going back downstairs. My mom was in the kitchen and my father was in the living room watching the news.
“Have you eaten yet?” Mom asked, pulling out take-out containers. Chinese, of course. Though my parents ate other cuisine, their first choice was always Chinese/Taiwanese. “We got sweet and sour pork.” One of my favorites, even if it wasn’t authentic Chinese cuisine. I loved that tangy red sauce, though I had no clue what was in it. I had the sneaking suspicion that I was better off not knowing what it consisted of if I wanted to eat the stuff with a clear conscience. “Where’s Raphael?”
“Don’t know,” I shrugged. “Don’t particularly care.” As soon as that left my mouth, I wished it back. As I might have mentioned, my mother adored Rafe and wouldn’t listen to anything negative about him—not even from me.
“What did you do this time?” My mother asked, her shoulders sagging. Although I knew that was how she’d react, I couldn’t help but take offense. She was my mother, after all. She should be on my side, damn it.
“Why do you always assume that it’s me?” I asked in an injured tone. “We had a fight, but I swear that it was his fault this time. He wigged out because I didn’t tell him where I was every minute of the day. Sometimes he acts like he’s my keeper, not my boyfriend.”
“What were you doing that you couldn’t tell him about?” My mother asked, ignoring the rest of what I said. Count on her to unerringly hone in on the salient point.
“I figured out where Lydia had left her stash,” I shrugged, trying to downplay what happened. “At her boyfriend’s apartment. I went over there to see if I was right.” I could tell by the look on her face that my explanation wasn’t good enough and that I was about to get reamed a second time.
“Let me get this straight,” my mother said sarcastically. “You went to the home of a potential killer without telling anyone, and you wonder why Raphael was mad? Is that the long and short of it, Beatrice?” I knew that when she used my real name that she was upset with me, but I was pretty steamed myself.
“Look, I didn’t think he was the killer, and I still don’t. Besides, I am an adult who is fully capable of taking care of myself. Why does everyone insist on treating me as if I were still five?” I glared at her, pulling myself up to my full height. Since my mother was an inch taller than me, it didn’t do much good, but it made me feel better.
“You’ve been doing a good job so far,” my mother replied, glancing at my shoulder.
“That could have happened to anyone!” I said, bristling. “How was I supposed to know some psycho was going to stab me in broad daylight?”
“The point is that you’re in danger, but you refuse to take it seriously. It’s only common sense to let someone know when you’re about to do something potentially dangerous.”
“I told you! I didn’t think I was in danger, and I wasn’t, was I? What about trusting my judgment for a change?”
“It’s not about your judgment. It’s about being reckless. You could have told Raphael. You could have told me and your father. You could have told Liza. You should have told someone.”
“What’s going on?” My father came into the kitchen looking concerned. “I could hear you in the living room.”
“Oh, it’s your daughter.” My mother rattled off in rapid-fire Taiwanese. I understood the gist of what she was saying even if I couldn’t catch every word. It moved me to defend myself.
“Ba,” I said, calling my father by the Taiwanese equivalent of father—something I rarely did. “I wasn’t in danger. If I had been, I would have told someone. You don’t think I’d be stupid enough to walk into a dangerous situation unarmed?” My father looked from my mother to me for a minute without saying anything. He sighed deeply before responding. He said something to my mother in Taiwanese to the effect of ‘calm down’ which did little to mitigate her agitation.
“Trish, you have to understand,” he said carefully, using his most soothing voice. It didn’t work on me any more than it had on my mother. “Danger is hard to foretell. It only takes one second for a benign situation to turn nasty. You most likely weren’t in any danger, but you couldn’t know it for sure. What harm would it have done to have some back up?”
“I just hate feeling like I have to account for every minute of my time,” I protested, not backing down. “Rafe is my boyfriend, but that doesn’t give him the right to interrogate me on my whereabouts.”
“Hon, Raphael is only concerned about you,” my mother said, patting my arm. Both of us had cooled down somewhat though we still disagreed. “Wouldn’t you feel the same way if the situation was reversed?” Since that was similar to Rafe’s point and I couldn’t completely disagree, I kept silent. “Talk to him,” my mother added. “He’s a good man.” I sighed, but again, I couldn’t disagree. “Let’s eat.”
After dinner, I went to my room so I could phone Rafe in private. I was a little surprised that he hadn’t called yet, but he was probably still nursing a grudge. I didn’t blame him, really, as I would have done the same thing. Why was I so stubborn about my independence? It wasn’t as if Rafe wanted to wrap me in cotton and place me on the shelf. He was merely worried about me as I’d be about him or Liza or any of my siblings who ran off half-cocked. Still, it grated me the wrong way. I felt constricted by his concern, which wasn’t an ideal way to feel. I wanted to be able to do my own thing without worrying if I was stepping on anyone’s toes. I supposed it wasn’t very realistic, but it was what I wished would happen. I sighed and picked up the phone. I decided to call Liza first as I had neglected her dreadfully as of late.
“Hello?” She sounded tinny as if she were going through a tunnel.
“You driving?” I asked. I refused to talk to people while they were driving which didn’t endear me to many of the people I knew. Hank, especially, got mad when I would tell him to call me when he wasn’t in motion.
“Nah, I’m in the back yard lounging,” Liza said. “Reception is touch and go back here. What the hell is happening with you?”
I spilled the whole story. It felt good to tell someone who wasn’t intimately involved. I needed an objective eye as I was too close to the situation. She made the appropriate noises in the appropriate places, but more to the point, she listened. It was one of the things I liked best about Liza. She gave my words complete attention and didn’t interrupt the entire time. She didn’t bother admonishing me about going to Brian’s place alone though she made it clear that she didn’t think it was wise. She clucked her tongue when she heard that Shannon was still emailing me. She asked me what I was going to do.
I didn’t know what to tell her. I knew that I couldn’t stop until I found out the truth. Not only for Lydia’s sake, but for my own. I asked what she thought about the affair between Brian and Mrs. Rodriguez. Liza agreed that if it had no bearing on the case, then there was no reason to bring it up. Although, a part of me wanted to expose them for the jerks that they were as a tribute to Lydia’s memory. However, I didn’t think there was any real reason to do such a thing. If they didn’t already feel bad about the affair, me bringing it up wasn’t going to do any good. I wished I knew how much the affair tainted what they had told Rafe and me, but there was no way of knowing without confronting them. I told Liza I would get together with her this Saturday and hung up the phone. Enough procrastinating. I called Rafe.