Chapter Seven – All the Stuff Since my notebook was at Uncle Tom’s house still, I had to resort to writing

on printer paper and stapling it together. Thus, my primitively gathered notes of late constituted the following clues: - Missing signed business license This license was motive enough for a toilet paper industry to destroy my dad, but if I could find a patenting license, that’d be even more motivating. - Thumb drive from Dad’s work computer Unfortunately, not much was on this. Mostly forms and receipts from various jobs my dad performed throughout the last year. I found this picture of me I’d never seen before.

I also found this picture of my dad and me.


In the GB folder, however, I found several items of interest. The first was password protected, but I know Dad’s password to almost everything is Mom’s birthday, which was the case for this document as well. In this document were the plans for The Bird—piping information, water distribution, electrical circuitry for the driers, collective costs for supplies individually and in mass production. It also included a patenting form issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office: Provisional Application for Patent Cover Sheet This is a request for filing a PROVISIONAL APPLICATION FOR PATENT under 37 CFR 1.53(c) The form was dated four months ago. Perhaps a copy of it was turned in for authorization on their website. I had no idea Dad’s bidet was so close to finishing its patent process. He never mentions all the red tape behind The Bird, he just tells me it’s happening. I’d have to keep an eye out for any response from the USPTO. - Letters from Dad to Uncle Tom and Aunt Debbie I found several segments from these letters that are of interest:


January 24, 1976—“Got a new roommate this term. We took a class together last fall and he’s absolutely brilliant. Hoping he doesn’t annihilate me…” All right, the whole sentence said, “Hoping he doesn’t annihilate me in this program, I’m trying for a scholarship next term.” But still, I thought it noteworthy. March 16, 1976—“Me and Pauly went to a party at his brother’s house and I met a really groovy chick [yes, my dad said “groovy”]. Her name’s Lolly and she goes to Pacific, but she might transfer out to PSU in the fall! I think Pauly digs her too but she’s not his type. He seems a bit too out there for her, but it might be tricky taking her out.” I was floored when I read this. I had no idea Angel Soft might’ve had a thing for my mom! Could you imagine if she’d married the guy? My cheeks could’ve stabbed open soup cans, but that’d be about the only good thing from it. Also, what does it mean that Angel’s too “out there” for Mom? Was he a weirdo? Crazy? November 6, 1976—“And Tommy, thanks for letting me bring Pauly to your guys’s place for Thanksgiving. Really means a lot to him with no family to go home to. And don’t worry about last week. Sometimes I think he’s got it all together but then he blows up when he’s tired and stressed, so switching to business school’s really made him a dick sometimes…” I could only speculate what this scuffle was between Angel and Tom or my dad, but it’d had to have been pretty big for my dad to mention it in a letter to Tom. Also, he had no family, additional statistical evidence that he was a less stable individual, as families constitute 71% of people’s well-being.1 June 17, 1977—“I’m thinking of staying out here even after my work’s done. There’s a lot of work to be done in the Peace Corps in Argentina. If you see Pauly, tell him I hope he’s got no hard feelings about the internship or about Lolly and me. Hoping he comes to your place for

This statistic is substantially inferential.


Christmas, then maybe I can tell him myself. He’s not much of a writer. Oh and Tom, you have to try these bidets. I’m telling you, the Argentinians have it figured out.” Dad’s told me about this internship. He got to work in Argentina making more efficient stoves and toilets and other appliances for the locals. Angel might have been jealous of Dad’s opportunities in the engineering program. Also, a new development in the investigation—Angel’s feelings for my mom—quite possibly contribute a personal motive in addition to motives of business to this murder. February 19, 1978—“Ah, that stupid son of a bitch. He didn’t even tell me he was leaving. I just woke up and all his stuff was gone. Pretty sure he took my can opener.” Now this entry in particular caught my attention. Something happened between my dad and Angel to make Angel move out—in a hurry. So that picture I saw in Tom’s box was only a few months before this happened. What could have made Angel so mad that he left? January 11, 1979—“I ran into Pauly at a conference last week, totally bogus. He got a job at Georgia-Pacific. They make paper cups and plates and stuff, but he’s doing the business side of it. I didn’t tell him Lolly and I were engaged, but he only talked about work and all. Something felt a little off about him. He seems less friendly and outgoing, but that could just be me. Still feel bad about how things went down, but I just did my best and so did he, so what can you do?” I just did my best and so did he. Their best for what? What caused such a rift between Dad and Angel? Was his internship the first of many jealousies between them concerning Dad’s business prospects? “Henry?” My mom opened my door, startling me. I dropped my stapled printer paper and shoved it under the bed, but Mom saw it. I knew she did.


“Sorry, I should’ve knocked.” She walked in, kneeling on the carpet next to me. I didn’t say anything, just watched her. Mom put one hand on my shoulder, rubbing her eyes with her other hand. Her heels had red sores with bandages over them from her shoes. Her blouse was untucked from her skirt and wrinkled on the bottom where it’d probably bunched up from her sitting at her desk all day. She was about to say something when she looked down at the ground. Dad’s letters were scattered around me. “What’s this?” She picked one up. February 19, 1978. “Where did you get these?” She looked at me, holding up the stationary. I could see the collar of my shirt shivering with each heartbeat in my chest I was sure she’d see the sweat on my forehead. “What are you doing, Henry?” she asked, tears harvesting on the bottoms of her eyes. Hearing my mom cry was one thing, but I hated seeing it right in front of me. I pointed at the floor. “I’m just looking at all the facts.” Mom grabbed at the letters, crumpling them in her fists and shoveling them together in her arms and standing up. “Stop it, Henry.” Her lips shook when she stopped talking, and her face was pink and wet. “Nobody killed him. He just died, he just died, dammit!” Her voice caught in her throat before she could say any more. I didn’t move. My phone buzzed on my end table, but I didn’t move to answer it because Mom was crying in front of me. I looked at the floor, the ceiling. I thought about who might’ve texted me. Maybe Simone or Maggie. What would they want to tell me? Maggie might come home for the 4th of July. We could go to the beach or the Waterfront and watch all the fireworks from Uncle Tom’s boat. Mom sighed. I looked up at her. She’d been staring at me.


“Dammit, Henry.” She walked out of my room and used her feet to shut my door. I wondered if that was painful because of the sores on her heels, but she didn’t seem to notice. I sat still for a moment, then looked under my bed at my stapled notes. What was I doing? I didn’t have much to go on here and all these investigations were making Mom feel even worse. Maggie’s right. I need to take care of Mom and make sure she’s recovering from all of this. I looked back at my end table. Maggie might be asking about her visit for the 4th of July. I stood and walked to the table, shaking a little as my feet almost tripped on the strands of wool carpeting. My phone was still lit. The lock screen showed a number I didn’t recognize. I flipped the phone open to read the message. Stop poking around or something bad might happen to you. My chest tightened. Holy crap.


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