“And that’s all I’d have to do?” I say cautiously. “Just look for her? Doesn’t matter if I don’t find her?” Obviously I hope for Owen’s sake I find the girl, but I’m real interested in covering all my bases here. I don’t want to get ratted out on account I don’t find her.
He shrugs. “That’s it. I don’t expect you’ll find her. She’s been gone a long time and she was sick when they took her away.” He looks past me at the window. “I’d just like to know someone looked. That’s all. I can’t.” His voice is bleak.
“Okay,” I say. It’s not like I’ve got a real abundance of choice here in any case, but it’s not like he’s asking me to do much. “You get me a picture so I know what she’s like and I’ll keep my eyes open.”
“Good girl,” he says, pushing himself to his feet. He holds out one hand to help me up and with the other takes the stack of files away from me. My eyes follow the folders and I frown, thinking.
“You think there’s records in there about your kid?” I ask. “There’s a lot of files.”
“I’ve looked,” he replies, brushing past me and beginning to refile all of the folders I pulled out. “She went to Eureka first and then was transferred to Harper-Brown Hospital in Albany but after that her file ends.” He closes and locks the cabinet door. “No death notice though. So she might not be dead.”
“Do they always file death notices?” I ask, and wish I hadn’t when I see Owen’s face.
“No,” he answers. “No, they don’t.” He lifts his head in response to a sound elsewhere in the house and says, “Your uncle and Daka are home. We can start work on you tomorrow. Now, it’s time for dinner. I guess you’ll be hungry since you didn’t touch lunch.”
I follow him out of Uncle Larett’s office and down the hall to the kitchen, where I let myself get drawn into a conversation about what Daka learned that day. He has such good ideas, it’s a shame he’ll never get into government himself.