Prologue: What’s Best
Ellen Myers dabbed at her puffy red eyes with a fresh tissue. “But we’ve already been over this with Lt. Narita.” The box of tissues was the only item on the utilitarian metal table.
From his seat on the other side of the table, Daniel gave the distraught woman his most sympathetic smile. “I know this is hard, Mrs. Myers, but please bear with me. We–”
“Who did you say you’re with again?” Russ Myers demanded. Although the stout, forty-something man shed no tears over his son’s debacle, his stiff posture screamed tension. His hand hadn’t left his wife’s since Daniel had entered the small meeting room in the Portland Police Department.
“The Triptych Corporation, Mr. Myers.” Daniel waited for the parents’ next question. No matter the nationality or social status of the parents he spoke with, they always asked the same things. Although their predictability made recruiting easier, the routine was getting tiresome.
“But you,” Ellen sniffed, fidgeting with her tissue, “your company makes electronics, and jets, and–”
Daniel nodded. “Yes. We’re quite diverse.”
Russ scowled. “Why are you talking to us?”
“Because of Shane’s… situation,” Daniel replied. “Our social outreach program has had great success with troubled youth. Your son–”
“He’s not my son,” Russ grumbled.
Ellen yanked her hand from her husband’s. “Russ!” Then she turned to Daniel, chagrined. “It’s been a long day, Mr. Gibson. What Russ means is that Shane’s not our biological son. We adopted him when he was a baby.”
Daniel nodded as if interested. The adoption was in Shane’s file, which the recruiting department had assembled after learning about the death at Shane’s high school. “I see. Does Shane know he’s adopted?”
Ellen nodded, but Russ sniffed. “He knew before we’d even considered telling him.”
That piqued Daniel’s curiosity. He’d studied the photos of Shane and his parents in Shane’s file. Although the fifteen year-old’s build was lankier than his parents’, that was the most pronounced physical difference. The small family looked like any other white, middle class American family. “Oh? How did he figure it out? If you don’t mind me asking,” Daniel added.
Ellen pursed her lips and studied the table top. “We don’t know.”
“Shane was three,” Russ stated, frowning. “He…” Russ’s eyes fixed on a spot on the far wall. “He’s a weird kid.”
“Shane’s precocious,” Ellen interjected, “but he’s a good boy.” She exchanged a weary look with her husband and reached for his hand. Russ took it. Reassured, Ellen turned back to Daniel. “School’s never been easy for Shane. Socially, I mean. He’s been in fights before, but this–” Ellen’s voice hitched as she squeezed her eyes shut.
“Luis is–” Russ pursed his lips, then continued. “–was a bully. We’ve always told Shane to stand up for himself, even if it means detention. But Shane didn’t kill the kid. He couldn’t have!”
Daniel leaned toward the troubled parents, all earnestness. “I’m not accusing Shane, Mr. Myers. May I speak with him? Your choice, of course.” It wasn’t really, but the Myers didn’t need to know that. Besides, most of the parents of potential recruits agreed to the request.
Ellen plucked another tissue from the box on the table. “I suppose.” She looked a question at her husband.
Russ nodded. “After he’s spoken with our lawyer,” he told Daniel.
“Naturally.” Daniel got to his feet. His work was done for now. He produced two business cards from his suit pocket and offered them to the Myers. “My card. If you, Shane, or your attorney have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. We all want what’s best for Shane,” Daniel lied. He wanted what was best for Triptych.