Home > Everything Leads to You(12)

Everything Leads to You(12)
Author: Nina LaCour

Charlotte smiles and changes slides.

I’ve only gotten through October 5 by the time my first quarter runs out and the screen goes dark.

“I thought libraries were supposed to provide information free of charge,” I whisper.

Charlotte ignores me. I search and search forever. There should really be a more efficient way of doing this.

“Why do we have to search by date? We should be able to search by name.”

“Newspapers don’t work that way,” Charlotte says, and I can tell she’s getting tired of me.

An hour later, she’s made it through October, and she sighs, defeated.

“My mom wants me home tonight,” she says. “She’s been complaining about me staying at Toby’s all the time before leaving for college.”

“That’s understandable,” I say. My parents haven’t been too worried about it, but I’m staying in LA for college, living at home to save money, while Charlotte’s really leaving. “I’ll see if my dad can help us out.”

Charlotte appears skeptical. “I feel like we’re hitting a wall,” she says. “I don’t know if we’re going to find her.”

“You feel that way because you just read through hundreds of obituaries. It’s depressing. But we’ll find her,” I say. “We just need to approach this from a new angle.”

Charlotte’s mom picks her up, but I keep searching, loading film and popping quarters into the machine. I make it through September and then I am finished with nothing to show for my patience and Charlotte’s faith in antiquity. I still have my studio work to do, so I wander over to Joel and ask him for today’s paper, which, thankfully, is in its normal paper form. I take a seat at a long, shiny table and start the weekly task of mapping out my Saturday morning garage- and estate-sale schedule.

~

My parents have gotten delivery from Garlic Flower, so I kiss my mother’s cheek while she talks on the phone to a colleague, then grab a plate and a fork and heap rice and garlic chicken on my plate. My dad is watching a reality show about rich women. This is the kind of ridiculous thing you get to do for money if you are a professor of popular culture.

“Dad?” I say. “I need to vent. Mom’s on the phone.”

He turns the TV on mute. “Your mother has just finished reading a New Yorker article on emerging African American filmmakers and is now trying to coax them all into speaking to her graduate seminar,” Dad says. “So try me.”

My mother is also a professor, of black studies and gender studies, which basically means that while Dad observes all things pop culture with palpable glee, my mother observes and then obliterates them with whichever theory best suits the subject. Which, considering the subject I’m about to raise—perhaps the whitest, straightest, most gender-normative American icon in all of cinema—makes my dad the far-better sounding board anyway.

“Okay,” I say. “It starts with Clyde Jones.”

“I’m intrigued.”

I tell him the story from the beginning: Charlotte’s phone call, which came at the perfect time because it meant I didn’t go to see Morgan; all the cool stuff in his house, Toby’s belt buckle and Patsy Cline; and then, finally, the letter; and Frank and Edie; and the library and all of those obituaries from all of the papers.

“Do you know how many newspapers there are in Los Angeles?” I say.

“I know of quite a few,” he says. Then, “So Clyde Jones had a daughter named Caroline who died in an apartment on Ruby Avenue. And you need to learn more about her in order to find someone named Ava who may or may not be her daughter.”

“Exactly,” I say. “And, really, why is it so difficult? Why can’t I just search ‘Caroline Maddox’ and have an obituary pop up?”

My dad strokes his beard in a way that’s so cinematically thoughtful that I have to try not to laugh.

“Why do you want to find her daughter?”

“There might still be money in that account that belongs to her.”

He raises an eyebrow, so I try again.

“It seemed to really matter to Clyde.”

Still, he is unconvinced.

“Okay,” I say. “Look. It’s just important to me. I just feel like it’s important.”

He seems satisfied by this answer.

“And how do you know that Caroline died in September or October of ’95?” he asks.

“Edie said something about the Dodgers losing in the playoffs.”

“That’s right,” he says. “Three–nothing.”

“You should hear this woman talk,” I say. “She’s really great. ‘I said I wanted plain,’” I imitate. He laughs, so I keep going. “‘Do you shop at the Vons on Wilshire? Nice deli section. Too crowded, though.’” He laughs harder. “‘Those Braves beat them three to nothing. Three to zip. Terrible!’”

“Wait,” he says. “The Braves?”

I take a bite of my dinner and nod while chewing.

“They lost to the Braves in the playoffs in ’96. Not ’95.”

I swallow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. The Dodgers lost three–nothing in the playoffs in ’95 to the Reds, and then again, three–nothing, to the Braves in ’96. Sounds like Edie got her years mixed up.”

I stop chewing. Stare at him.

“Are you sure?”

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