“Tell me about your relationship with Scottie,” Karen said.

Joley gave me a quick glance and settled on the sofa next to Karen.

“The summer after we graduated from high school, we started to spend time together,” she said. “I suppose mostly it was out of self-defense. Neither of us was going on to college, and a lot of our friends, like McKenzie here, that was all they could talk about. It was fun, being with him. I’d go to his gigs and listen to him play. And then—you know about the robbery.”

“I know,” Karen said.

“Scottie says that to this day he doesn’t know why he let Fulbright talk him into it. It was just so dumb.”

“Is that what you spoke about on the phone?”

Joley’s eyes grew cautious.

“Scottie’s brother, Tommy, said you talked for hours a couple of weeks ago,” Karen added.

“Yes, when he spent the weekend with his mother.”

“Have you spoken to him since?” I asked.

“A few times.”

“Did he ever mention any of his friends?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes we’ll talk about the people we grew up with and went to school with, you know, Peter, Steve, Mary, Milo, Zap, Bev, John, Mary Beth—those people.”

“Bobby Dunston?”

“Bobby? No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“No one from prison? A guy called T-Man, maybe? Or Mr. T? Anyone like that?”


“Do you have any idea where he might be now?”

“No.” Joley’s eyes swept up to her ceiling and back to me. “How much trouble is he in?”

“We don’t know that he is in trouble,” Karen said. “We’re just trying to find him.”

Joley was staring at me when she said, “Why can’t people just leave him alone? He’s not a terrorist. He’s not a drug dealer. He didn’t abuse schoolchildren—”

“Jolene,” Karen said.

“If people would leave him alone—”

“Jolene.” Karen snapped off the name, forcing Joley to face her. I was convinced she did it to keep me from saying or doing something foolish at the mention of schoolchildren. Like I said, empathy.

“Jolene, I’m trying to keep Scottie from going back to prison,” Karen said. “Can you help me?”

“I don’t know where he is. He said—”

“What did he say?”

“When we were talking, he said he would never go back to prison.”

“Why were you talking to him at all?” I asked. “I thought you were through with him.”

“The last time—the last time, he was mean to me. This time, though, he was kind and funny, and he was up, you know, up, like he had plans, like he had a future. And he seemed a little sad, too, like he needed a friend.”

“What about the restraining order?”

“I didn’t think about that. I forgot about that.”

“Why did you take out a restraining order in the first place?” Karen asked.

“That was because of when he got out of prison the first time. When he went to prison—it was so awful what happened to him, and we would talk about it all the time. I would visit him while he was waiting for his trial, and afterward he would call me from prison and write, and I would write back and sometimes I would visit him there. I was eighteen years old, though. Eighteen. My life was just beginning. Was I going to spend years waiting for Scottie?”

“You met a man,” Karen said.

“I met a guy, yes, and I told Scottie about it and asked him not to call anymore and not to write. He kept at it anyway. He said we were meant to be together. I guess he thought that way because I was his first, and I guess I was his last, too, because now he was in prison. I said no, no, no, only he kept calling and writing until I called the prison and they restricted his phone use and wouldn’t let him send me letters anymore. Then he got out, and he began coming over and calling and following me, and finally I got the restraining order, and the judge told him that if he didn’t leave me alone they would put him back in prison to finish the rest of his sentence. And then he stopped.”

“How did you get back together?” Karen asked.