Herbert and Penelope didn’t want to go home. They wandered the streets of the city, until finally they were back on Madison Ave. Penelope halted them as they neared the bus stop.
“She was walking along the curb, right there,” Penelope whispered. “I asked her to stop, but she didn’t.” A sob escaped from the woman’s lips. “If I hadn’t been in such a hurry I could have grabbed her, saved her.”
Herbert led his wife to the bench. They sat there together, watching the traffic pass and the busses pull in and out. Soon, he knew, they would have to go home. Soon they would have to plan Leigh’s funeral.
“Jacobs, it’s straight suicide. The mother didn’t push her, we have at least ten eyewitnesses to testify to that fact.” Hailey looked at her partner across the desk.
“What if she didn’t physically push her? What if she mentally did,” Jacobs countered.
Hailey sighed as her fingers rubbed her temple. “A teen committing suicide isn’t unheard of.”
“I know, but something about the whole thing just bugs me.” Jacobs furrowed his brown as if he too was disturbed by the fact he couldn’t let the case alone.
“You know, I’m normally the one with the gut instincts,” Hailey reminded him.
“And I always go with them,” Jacobs responded, “Why can’t you let me follow mine?”
“Because your gut instinct hasn’t been proven,” Hailey sighed again.
“Well it’s more than gut. There are just facts that don’t make sense to me,” Jacob said leaning forward.
“Alright, let’s have your thoughts.” Hailey leaned back in her chair, arms crossed.
Jacobs shuffled through his notes. “Well first there was the disparity in the way they were dressed. I know he had an interview, but his suit was pristine compared to the mother’s clothing. They didn’t even look like they lived in the same tax bracket."
Jacobs leaned forward. "Then there’s the mother’s statement as to why they were on Madison Ave. How was she suddenly going to be able to afford a dress from one of those shops? She hadn’t even known he’d gotten the job.”
“He could have called her,” Hailey responded feeling her own phone buzz.
“But they have no cell phones. Remember Michal had go to the airport, tell him and bring him to the hospital. Not to mention the timing. They went straight to Madison Ave after he got off at the exchange.”
“Maybe the company had told Herbert ahead of time that he got the job?” Hailey sat up in her chair.
Jacobs scribbled a note down. “So they were booking on his getting the job to pay for a dress for the girl. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on giving her, say, braces?”
Hailey snorted as her phone buzzed again. “Look, I’m putting down suicide. If you want to keep going, it’s your free time.” She stood up and studied her partner. “If you want my gut feeling, I’d look beyond the parents.”
Jacobs watched Hailey leave their office before going back to look through his notes; yet again.
The sun was beginning to set when Herbert and Penelope finally stirred from the bench. They took the Metro back to the hospital to claim Leigh’s body. The process was more complicated than Herbert expected. He had to leave Penelope alone with her grief in the waiting room as he filled out this paper and that.
In the end he found there would be no open casket wake. No. The only way it was going to happen was to have Leigh cremated by the funeral home associated with the hospital. He and his wife would have to bring her home themselves, via public transportation. Penelope wailed when Herbert told her. She knew there was nothing she could do about it. Her child, her poor child, who had come into the world with such fuss, was now to leave it silently.
Who, Penelope wondered, would even come to Leigh's wake; certainly not her great-great aunt who lay near death. That ancient woman was the only one from either family who still cared about Herbert, Penelope and Leigh. It was her influence that had finally gotten Herbert his dream job. At fifty-four, he was not at an age that would normally be considered by the big airlines, despite all the discriminatory regulations. No, Penelope knew as well as Herbert did, there would not be a big turnout of people to say good-bye. Poor Leigh, she thought, we loved her all we could, but it was not enough.