“Gah.” I’m awakened by my phone ringing. It’s Jasmine’s ring, and it’s not stopping. I let it go to VM as I glance at my clock. It’s five in the morning, and I’m going to kill Jasmine for calling me so early. A minute later, my phone starts ringing again, and it’s Jasmine—again. I have a hunch she’s not going to stop calling me until I answer, so I grab my phone. “What?” I snap, pissed off that she’d call me so early. “This better be important.”
“He’s dead, Megan!” Jasmine screams, causing me to wince. I yank the phone from my ear and glance over at Rembrandt. He’s still sleeping, of course, because nothing short of a hurricane will wake him up.
“Who’s dead, Jasmine?” I ask, slipping out of bed so I can grab a cigarette while we talk. Onyx and Jet meep in protest, but they remain on the bed. I go downstairs, take my cigarette and mug outside, and smoke.
“Henry! Our father! Look at the local news.” Jasmine is still screeching, which is setting my teeth on edge. Then, her words sink into my brain, and I’m jolted awake.
“Hold on.” I quickly pull up the Strib’s website, and there’s a picture of that man staring back at me from the lower right corner. The photo is just of his face, thankfully, but it’s accompanied with the question, “Who is this man?” I frown. Why would they need to ask that question? He should have some identification on him that says who he is. Come to think of it, why the hell didn’t I ask for any identification from him? I curse myself, then dismiss it as unimportant at this point. I read the article, and it says that he was hit by a car last night in Richfield. Richfield. Why does that tickle my brain? I go through my mental rolodex of what that man told me, and I finally recall that he used to work for the IT department of Best Buy, who are based in Richfield. He also talked about being bilked out of money by somebody or bodies during that time, so it wouldn’t be surprising if those people live in Richfield.
“Did you read it?” Jasmine asks, her voice tearful.
“Yes, Jasmine,” I say. “I did.”
“I’m going to the police to tell them what I know,” Jasmine says, breaking down. “I’ll let you know what they tell me.”
“Do you want me to go with you?” It’s going to make it difficult for me to get to work on time, but I’ll do it for her.
“No. I can do it myself. You go to work.” Jasmine’s voice is wavering, but she sounds determined.
“OK. Let me know as soon as you’re done there.” I could sleep for another hour, but I’m wide awake with this news. It’s bothering me that I never asked that man for identification, and I’m kicking myself for being so stupid. I didn’t push him hard enough on why he scrubbed his online history, and I brushed off that phone call he received when we first met. In addition, I didn’t ask more about the business venture that went wrong and—oh shit. He sent me that rambling email last night in which he said he was going after the people who stole his money.
I take a shower, a long one because I have the time. When I get out of the shower, Onyx and Jet are on the counter. I give them each a skritch behind the ears before going back into the bedroom to get dressed. Rembrandt is in the middle of the bed, his arms splayed to the sides. Ginger is smack dab in the middle of his stomach, also splayed on her back. I snicker at them before pulling on a pair of brown corduroy pants and a magenta blouse. I’m hungry, so I go downstairs to see what I can rustle up for breakfast. I usually just make toast and jam, which is what I resort to this time. Toast and strawberry jam. It’s not very original, but it gets the job done. I still have time before I need to leave, so I check my blog. The debate about sex is still raging, and people on both sides are getting heated. No one is crossing the line into disrespectful, though, so I don’t step in. I Google more about that man being run over, but there isn’t much. Let’s face it, it’s not a sexy story in any way—an older Taiwanese man gets hit by a car—so I don’t expect it to be front page news. The fact that they don’t know who he is does add to the mystery, but that won’t take much to clear up. I’m startled out of my musing by my phone ringing. It’s Jasmine, which means she’s probably done with the police.
“What did they tell you?” I ask, making sure I have everything I need for work.
“He’s not our father,” Jasmine says before bursting into tears.
“You don’t say,” I say, my tone even. I’m not completely surprised, though I am angry at his deception.
“They called the police out where he’s supposed to have lived, and they found out Henry Liang died a month ago in San Francisco.”
“What?” That does surprise me, though I can’t say why. “So this man stole our dead father’s identity?”
“Yes!” Jasmine is sobbing, and I ache to wrap her in my arms. “I can’t believe I was so stupid.”