I confess it right now: I felt a whole lot different when I went home that night. I felt a whole lot different when I walked into that house, when I walked by the parlor—my favorite reading room. Where, long ago, corpses had lain for viewing …
Father was in his study, probably reading. I knocked at the door, smiling as I did so. He had a sign on his door, the same one that the author Jack London had posted on the door of his study back in the early 1900s:
PLEASE DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT KNOCKING
PLEASE DO NOT KNOCK.
I heard Father’s voice from inside: “Can’t you read!”
“No, I can’t,” I yelled at him. “My mean father has kept me illiterate my whole life.”
“In that case,” came his voice through the wooden door, “come on in, you poor abused child.”
He looked over the tops of his glasses at me, put down his book. I bent my head to see the title. I always did that when I saw people reading—in school, at the library, wherever. Nosy, I know, but I couldn’t help it—can’t help it. Father was reading Mary Shelley’s novel Lodore.[i]
“I haven’t read that one yet,” I muttered.
Father looked at me. “It’s pretty good,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe where some of it takes place—”
“You’re changing the subject,” I said.
“I haven’t told you yet.”
“Did you find what you needed at the library?” he finally asked. “You’d been there so long, I was about to come over and see if you were all right.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. I found out what I needed … in fact, I found out a lot more than I needed to know.”
“Well, that’s good,” he said, looking back down at Lodore.
“I found out,” I went on, “about this house.”
Father looked up.
“About the murder in this house. The one you never told me about.”
Father’s eyes never left my face.