Sister Dana's elucidation of "the facts" with regard to her journal, Melanie was
persuaded that Julian had taken it. She did recall his visit (albeit hazily). She recalled
many, many things, and, as her recollections accelerated, the alleged theft (temporarily)
dwindled in significance. Before long she and Sister Dana were racing, in an enthusiastic
whirl, toward Sister Zoe's quarters.
The elder nun, of course, was overjoyedthough she tempered her
outward response with an inward reservation. This apparently complete recovery was a most
encouraging turn of events. The girl, however, could yet be vulnerable to setbacks.
Certain gaps in memory might persist.
Sister Zoe adjudged it would be prudent to secure essential data first,
while the opportunity lasted.
In their excitement, the missing journal might easily have been
ignored, but at its mention Sister Zoe was quick to see its import. She exchanged some
words, aside, with Sister Dana, who was then dispatched. This had seemed fortuitous,
affording as it did the chance to interview Melanie alone without neglecting Julian (about
whom the nun was legitimately concerned). So, under an injunction to "be tactful and
considerate," Sister Dana rushed off to fetch Mr. Papp.
The cheek of it, the unabashed nerve of stealing from a helpless girl,
stealing something as sacred as a diary, incensed the young nun. It was cowardly. It was
mean. And it was typical. She was almost glad. This, most certainly, would be the final
straw. Yet Melanie, alas, would go away; that was now inevitable. But at least the
girls tormentor would be scourged. She would see to that! If only she could nab the
fiend red-handedthough Sister Zoe had simply said, "Find him. No accusations;
we have no real proof he has taken it. Just send him to me." But so obvious was his
guiltespecially if she found him wearing his glassesthat it was unimaginable
he would have the gall to deny it.
She climbed the stairs to Julians room. Without knocking she
bolted in. He was not there. She made a rapid search. But the journal was not among his
things. She found his photographs, however. Filth! She pocketed the one of Mercedes. She
marched into the bathroom and confiscated his box of prophylactics. Evidence was mounting.
Now, if only she could prove, in addition to his sexual depravity, that Julian Papp was
also a low-down thief! She left his room and hastened from the dormitory.
Where next? He was not in the rec. room; she had passed that way en
route. Perhaps the cafeteria. The rock salt crunched beneath he stalwart step. Patient or
no, Julian must be punished. This catering to his "suicidal tendencies" was
absurd. It was time he faced reality, took responsibility for his malicious acts, and
suffered the consequences. What if Melanie had not recovered? What if his attack
had caused irreparable damage? Why Sister Zoe had tolerated all he had done she could not
fathom. The man, the "boy," was unquestionably a menace.
He was not in the cafeteria. Where doth the devils
loathsome serpent coil? She clenched her fists and headed toward the library.
At the sound of footsteps Julian calmly exchanged the journal for a
look-alike book, then waited. Soon he heard a throat being cleared behind him. He closed
his finger between some pages and turned. The nun fell for the bait. In triumph, she
snatched the counterfeit from his hands.
"Sister wants to see you, thief."
She glowered at his dark glasses.
"Interested in existentialism, are you?"
He grinned as she opened the book. She slammed it closed.
"Where is it?"
He answered by turning up his palm to accept the books return.
His smugness maddened the nun still further. She wanted to slap his ghastly face. She
clutched the crucifix of her rosary to subdue her temper.
"We know you stole it. Youre evil, Julian. Evil."
"So have me excommunicated."
Casually, he pretended to resume his reading.
"Sister meant right now!"
He turned again.
"Listen, you." He paused. The 'poisoned pawn' would lure, he
resolved, no takers. "Go tell Ms. Zoeand use these very wordsthat Julian
says hell come when hes fucking ready."
She could not stand it. He had seen right through her, and what was
worse, he had not even deigned to answer her heated charge. Had she stayed a fraction
longer she would have strangled himor would have tried to. In a rage, she turned,
and stormed off down the aisle.