Yes, he did have a photographic record. As a matter of habit, Dad scanned everything, took stills, shot video when establishing locations. From Stuyvesant’s residence in Boston, to the Fink family home in Kenmore, from transcripts coughed up by MIT, to close-ups of Alexandra Albright’s malformed child, images had accrued, all of them downloadable, most of them still stored in various devices: wristwatch cam, keychain imager, ballpoint scanner, multi-media cell, Dad’s neglecting to process them attributable to his focus on what he considers his assignment’s bottom line, namely to find Mr. Fink:

"verify his address, living situation, and occupation—documenting all with digital photographs you will send—without his being aware of your activities."

This interim reminder merely multiplied the work—O’Rourke impatient with himself more than with his picto-craving client.

Visuals? Does seeing mean believing, regardless all the ways imagery can lie, be touched-up and manipulated? Like Flo’s absurd insistence that I put myself on camera when I call (a duty I have shirked, of late, to avoid self-incrimination). Is everyone on this earth a Doubting Thomas?

So be it. Jeanne Claude wants proof; proof Claude Jean will get—post-haste—along with my most feeble lead, to date: the whereabouts (at a Cambridge, Massachusetts Home for the Elderly) of Ester Harriet Blumenthal (Juliana’s mother), an interview with whom I’ve scheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back in Boston but staying at a different hotel (lest tempted to repeat his fatal carouse), Dad collects a folder-full of data and sends it, via email, hours before twelve midnight, facing then another out-of-towner evening (sans Scotch for company).

‘What do you think, Dad; are gladiolas morbid? I know they’re used in funeral arrangements, but, goodness, aren’t these pretty? Remind me of the flounces on a French chanteuse’s blouse. Thought you might have called by now. Imagine why you haven’t has to do with Boston’s climate being brisk this time of year. I wouldn’t fault you for partaking in a mug of apple cider, if you needed it, to keep you warm, or even something stronger (?), if you had to, if you couldn’t stop. I guess you must have tried. I guess you also must have figured I’d be waiting, maybe worrying. Well, I am, but I can wait and worry a little longer. There; I think that’s looking quite the centerpiece, for an amateur. Aren’t flowers lovely? Even withered, I adore them. Even dead, their charm survives—though I would have them live a good while longer.’

The voice and video vanish from Dad’s enabled cell phone, Flo’s the only message left in its under-used memory—nudging him to enter HOME, comb his blond-grey hair, and press CONNECT.




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