It’s like a phone’s ringing in an empty house. I wrack my brain: The first grade desk tags just say first names. When we put his name on the title pages we write “written and illustrated by Arturo.”
I guess I don’t know, I say. Why?
Pop holds the phone out to me. Call Olivia and see if she knows, would you?
I’m thinking “strange doings here” while I punch in Olivia’s number. She has her own iPhone–can you believe it, ten years old with her own iPhone. She picks up on the first ring.
Hi Izzy, she says before I can tell her who I am. She’s got caller-ID, too.
I listen while she says something about the math homework being easy, and then I say, Olivia–short question–what’s Arturo’s last name?
I wait for a tiny bit as she thinks, and then she tells me.
I say, Thanks. See you! and hand the phone back to Pop. She says his last name is Jones or Smith.
Mimi takes a deep breath. Pop sinks back against the cushions.
What? What is it? What’s the problem! I look back and forth at the two of them.
Pop says, It’s not a problem, really, Isabel. He shakes his head like he can’t believe something. Isabel, Arturo’s name is Arturo Smith. His father is–
But he doesn’t have to tell me. All of a sudden, the ringing phone gets picked up.
The Papa. The wonderful, dear, kind Papa, the one who lost his beautiful wife and has two jobs and comes home covered in white dust–another one of Arturo’s books was all about his dusty Dad, the sheet-rocker. This sweet man who reads to Arturo and hugs him and plays Legos with him…
This Papa is MR. SMITH, the guy who killed my parents.
The guy I hate.
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