“My mother tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists three months after we buried Rachel. She waited until after I visited her so she could see me one last time. Fortunately, she cut them the wrong way—many people do, you know—and a neighbor dropped in to see how she was doing. The neighbor had a key and let herself in. When she found Mom, she rushed her to the hospital. They were able to save her, but just barely. That’s it for Ferguson history 101.” Rafe picked up his burger again and started eating. I had no idea what to say after such a revelation, so I didn’t say anything. On the one hand, I was sorry I had asked, but on the other, it was time. If we were going to be serious, then I had to know more about him. I was only sorry that his past was so unhappy. I thought of a question to ask, but I wasn’t sure if I should push it. Me being me, I did.
“How’s your mother now?” Rafe kept eating, and for a minute, I was sure he wasn’t going to respond.
“She pulled herself together,” he said after a pause so long, I was afraid I’d have to repeat the question. “After years of beating herself up and periodically trying to kill herself, she decided to live. For me.” He smiled a smile devoid of real warmth. “She kicked my father way to the curve and refused to see him again. She works as a waitress in New Jersey; she gets by.”
“What about you?” I blurted out, my tongue running away with me. It’s just that after six months of hearing nothing of his past, I wanted to know everything I could. “Do you ever see your father?”
“No,” Rafe said, his eyes flashing. “If that asshole ever tried to approach me, I’d fucking kill him myself.” He forced himself to calm down before continuing. “He wouldn’t try to contact me, anyway. He never had much interest in being a father.”
I wisely shut up because I knew the laws of diminishing returns. The more I hounded him, the less he would tell and the more he would resent me for asking. I had learned more about his past in the last ten minutes than I had in the entire time we’d been dating. I absentmindedly bit into my now almost inedible cheeseburger. Something Rafe had said had struck a nerve. Not personally, but in relation to the case. I frowned and replayed the conversation, but I couldn’t remember what it was. Rafe and I finished our food in silence before returning to the waiting room. My mother was in the same position she’d been in when we left. Mona and Michele were gone.