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Home > The Sky Is Falling(9)

The Sky Is Falling(9)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

The telephone rang. Dana picked it up. It was Jeff. "Dana - "

"Darling, I - I can't talk right now. I'm too upset."

"What happened?"

"It's Kemal. He's impossible!"

"Dana..."

"Yes?"

"Walk in his shoes."

"What?"

"Think about it. Sorry, I'm on a deadline. Love you, and we'll talk later."

Walk in his shoes? That doesn't make any sense, Dana thought. How can I know what Kemal is feeling? I'm not a twelve-year-old war orphan with one arm who's gone through what he's gone through. Dana sat there for a long time, thinking. Walk in his shoes. She rose, went into her bedroom, closed the door, and opened her closet door. Before Kemal had arrived, Jeff had spent several nights a week at the apartment and had left some of his clothes there. In the closet were pants, shirts and ties, a sweater, and a sports jacket.

Dana took out some of the clothes and placed them on the bed. She went to a bureau drawer and removed a pair of Jeff's Jockey shorts and socks. Then Dana got completely undressed. She picked up Jeff's Jockey shorts with her left hand and started putting them on. She lost her balance and fell. It took her two more attempts before she could get them on. Next, she picked up one of Jeff's shirts. Using only her left hand, it took three frustrating minutes to slip into it and button it. She had to sit on the bed to don the trousers, and they were difficult to zip up. It took another two minutes to put on Jeff's sweater.

When Dana was finally dressed, she sat down to catch her breath. This was what Kemal had to go through every morning. And that was only the beginning. He had to bathe and brush his teeth and comb his hair. And that was now. What about the past? Living in the horror of war, watching his mother, father, sister, and friends murdered.

Jeff's right, she thought. I'm expecting too much too soon. He needs more time to adjust. I could never give up on him. My father abandoned my mother and me and I've never really forgiven him for that. There should be an eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not abandon those who love you.

Slowly, as Dana got dressed in her own clothes, she thought about the lyrics of the songs that Kemal listened to over and over again. The CDs of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit. "Don't want to lose you," "I need you tonight," "As long as you love me," "I just want to be with you," "I need love."

All the lyrics were about loneliness and wanting.

Dana picked up Kemal's report card. It was true that he was failing in most of his classes, but he had an A in math. It's the A that's important, Dana thought. That's where he excels. That's where he has a future. We'll work on the other grades.

When Dana opened the door to the study, Kemal was in bed, with his eyes tightly closed and his pale face stained with tears. Dana looked at him a moment, then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I'm so sorry, Kemal," she whispered. "Forgive me."

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Early the following morning Dana took Kemal to a prominent orthopedic surgeon, Dr. William Wilcox. After the examination, Dr. Wilcox talked to Dana alone.

"Miss Evans, to fit him with a prosthesis would cost twenty thousand dollars and there's a problem here. Kemal is only twelve years old. His body will keep growing until he's seventeen or eighteen. He could outgrow the prosthesis every few months. I'm afraid financially it's not practical."

Dana had a sinking feeling. "I see. Thank you, Doctor."

Outside, Dana said to Kemal, "Don't worry, darling. We'll find a way."

Dana dropped Kemal off at school and then headed for the studio. Half a dozen blocks away, her cell phone rang. She picked it up. "Hello?"

"It's Matt. There's going to be a press conference on the Winthrop murder at police headquarters at noon. I want you to cover it. I'm sending over a camera crew. The police have really got their asses in a sling. The story is getting bigger every minute, and the cops don't have a clue."

"I'll be there, Matt."

Police Chief Dan Burnett was in his office on the telephone when his secretary said, "The mayor is on line two."

Burnett snapped, "Tell him I'm talking to the governor on line one." He went back to the phone.

"Yes, Governor. I know that...Yes, sir. I think...I'm sure we can...As soon as we...Right. Good-bye, sir." He slammed the phone down.

"The White House press secretary is on line four."

The whole morning went like that.

At noon, the conference room in the Municipal Center at 300 Indiana Avenue in downtown Washington was crowded with members of the media. Police Chief Burnett entered and walked to the front of the room.

"Let's have it quiet, please." He waited until there was silence. "Before I take your questions, I have a statement to make. The savage murder of Gary Winthrop is a great loss not only to this community, but to the world, and our investigation is going to continue until we apprehend the ones responsible for this terrible crime. I'll take your questions."

A reporter stood up. "Chief Burnett, do the police have any leads?"

"At about threeA. M. a witness saw two men loading up a white van in the driveway of Gary Winthrop's house. Their actions looked suspicious, and he took down the license number. The plates were from a stolen truck."

"Do the police know what was taken from the house?"

"A dozen valuable paintings are missing."

"Was anything stolen besides the paintings?"

"No."

"What about cash and jewelry?"

"The jewelry and cash in the house were untouched. The thieves were just after the paintings."

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