“That Stevenson girl sounds like a real piece of works,” my mother says, returning to the former subject with little preamble. “I think she stuck her nose where it didn’t belong. If your group is involved, you have to find out more about the other members.”
“Maybe I could run the names by you,” I suggest cautiously. Even though my mother is a fount of information, I don’t know what kind of confidentiality issues I’m running up against here. Then again, I’m not a therapist, and I’m certainly not talking about the group on television.
“Only if you want to.” My mother shifted on the couch to make herself comfortable.
I want to. I trust that my mother is not going to run around blabbing about the information, so I run the names by her. I only know the first names which makes it more difficult, but some of the names are quite unusual which should help. I give names, races, and a brief description of each woman. My mother doesn’t know Sharise, Jennifer, Maria or Leticia. I include Rosie’s sister since she has bearing on the case. She knows Tudd by sight and name, mostly because Stella knows her . It surprises me as Tudd is decidedly not Marin material. Turns out that Stella’s kids took judo from her. Tudd went to Stella’s home twice a week because Stella had a home gym and preferred to have the lessons there. It also surprises me to learn that Tudd taught judo, though I can’t say why. She doesn’t teach any more, not since the rape.
My mother tells me the gory details because I only know the basics. Tudd was walking home from work around eight o’clock—she’s a teacher in Marin County and stayed late for some reason—when two men dragged her into the bushes and raped her. One of them left a cufflink that was quite expensive. Stella’s impression was that Tudd knew at least one of her attackers, though no one was ever caught. That leads me to wonder if perhaps Mr. Stevenson had been one of the attackers and something Ashley said in group triggered recognition in Tudd. I grimace at my reasoning. Even if it were true, there would be no reason to kill Ashley rather than Mr. Stevenson. I say out loud that it was too bad the judo didn’t help, but my mother points out that it was two against one. Also, there was a knife involved, so Tudd really didn’t stand much of a chance.
I move to the last member of the group—Astarte. The minute I say her name, my mother’s face changes. Up until now, my mother’s looked as if she’s solving an intriguing problem. Now, there’s something else in her eyes, but I’m not quite sure what. I’m not surprised that my mother knows Astarte, but I am perplexed at her reaction. She leans back in the couch, sipping her tea. There is a set to her jaw that hadn’t been there a minute before. I open my mouth to say something, but shut it just as quickly. I’m not sure I want to know what my mother has to say about Astarte, but I know that I can’t stop the momentum. I nervously clear my throat and say her name again as my mother doesn’t seem inclined to talk. Still, she doesn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally, I break the silence by asking in a small voice if she knows Astarte even though I already know the answer.