She looked as though she didn't have a clue. Charmin' Charmaine Cleary. Decent student. Outstanding athlete. A beauty, though she seems hardly to know it. I'd have killed for hair that lustrous, skin vibrant as hers. She glows. Her body announces good health like a neon sign.

We're waiting for her parents to arrive.

Her mother's first concern was the scholarship. She won't lose it? she asked. This after I told her Blat was in ICU. The stepfather was even better. He cursed her out. The stupid bitch! She did what? I tried to calm him down. He kept saying If this screws up her career . . .

Not the parents I'd have imagined, a kid like her. She's sweet. You can see it in her eyes. You want to be her friend. You want to give her a hug, and go get an ice cream float somewhere.

Whatever it is that makes her like that, what youthfulness or innocence of spirit, heaven knows how she managed to maintain it. Little chance it'll survive this disaster.

Part of me is almost glad. Part of me is grinning like a jealous kid watching a sibling take a beating from Dad.