Where This Began

Just before he died he sent an email saying there might be college money from some of his software. He copied an old friend, also John, saying John could help me. I didn't reply.

John wrote from Colombia where he had built a house in the mountains. My father had just died but John hadn't heard. I basically told John nevermind and goodbye in one sentence. I needed to forget my father for a while. He had hurt and embarrassed me enough. I had to think of my future now, and getting my early decision college.

When I write that now, "he had hurt and embarrassed me enough," I stop. I hear my mother's words in that. I think for years I did that. She arranged it so I wouldn't hear anything else about him, from anyone. She went around telling teachers and everyone not to ask me anything, it would be too painful for me. Still there were times I was caught without anything to say, and I would hear her words coming out of me.

Soon after he died my mother said we had to change our college plan. We had been working on it for over a year, like all the kids. We would run out of time.

Why?! I wailed. I hardly recognized myself. I don't wail.

Something about money, she said, not stopping to look at me.

"Why?! If you said my father wasn't helping anyhow. Never. Not a bit."

It didn't make sense. None of it had ever made any sense.

I wrote to John about my father's software. It was for investigators who need to combine stories from different sources. It cross-checks the different accounts using parallel timelines and tags. You can see where someone must be wrong or lying. You can see where the story has something missing, and what to look for next.

It looks cool enough to me, but what do I know? My father used it for our court case and we got killed. They weren't interested. They never looked at anything from him.

Could it sell and make money? John thought maybe.

Right now a little would be a lot, I told him. Anything for college.

He said we should probably change the name. Rashomon? People wouldn't get it.

I would, I said. But yeah, OK, whatever you think.

Along with Rashomon I found my father's papers from our court case, and motions and appeals he wrote to the court for six years, and emails to all the people he asked, and articles he wrote for two reform groups. He fought this all through his last years, if you look at the math. I was his first and last thought every day. I didn't know. I didn't know any of that.

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