March 10, 1997
ALPINE -- Tragedy struck the county today when
firefighters found the bodies of 17 people in the vegetable garden behind an
Alpine farmhouse. The victims, all clad in white, lay sprawled in a circle.
"There were no signs of struggle," said Police spokeswoman Anna Ghelardi.
She declined to comment further on the cause of death until after the bodies
The 17 victims were all members of the Pure Universe
commune, which first moved into the house in 1984. Their leader, Sandalwood
Lotus Carroll, 28, died with the group. Names of the other 16 victims will be
released pending notification of their families.
Alpine residents had mixed feelings about
the commune. "They weren't bad neighbors," said Vernon Rich, who lived
two doors down from the commune in the semi-rural San Diego suburb. "They
kept to themselves. Always wore white. It's a free country, right? Had beautiful
gardens and kept the place up. Still, they always gave me the creeps."
The Allen family moved down the road from
the commune just three months before Carroll and her followers took up housekeeping
in Alpine. "It was ironic," said Missy Allen, mother of three teenagers.
"My family moved out of San Diego because of the crime and all the crazies.
We wanted to find a community where we could raise our children in a wholesome,
Christian atmosphere. Then a cult moves in practically next door! It's a terrible,
terrible thing that happened."
Pure Universe was part of the New Age channeling
movement. "Carroll was a teen-age channel in the early eighties. An occult
child prodigy," said Susie Mattos, director of the local chapter of the
Cult Awareness Group (CAG). According to Mattos, the group followed bizarre
trends in diet and dress, but seemed harmless until the suicide. "We never
had any complaints about Pure Universe," Mattos said. "Which goes
to prove that even the most innocent appearing cults can be highly dangerous."
Mattos was unaware of any other chapters of Pure Universe. She believes they
are a strictly local group.
Carroll is survived by her mother, Persephone
Carroll, who lives in Ocean Beach; and a sister, Solstice Alexandra Carroll,
of San Francisco.
Sandi and I were third generation residents of
Point Loma, a skinny finger of San Diego poking into the Pacific Ocean. Rich,
suntanned families drove new cars down palm-lined streets. They slept, ate,
and glowed with well-being in their six-bedroom houses.
More accurately, Sandi, Mom and I lived in Ocean
Beach, a cheaper area which bordered Point Loma. Our apartment complex housed
surfers, old hippies, drug dealers, lifeguards, and sunburnt girls in bikinis.
Our grandmother Annabelle lived up the street.
My great grandparents arrived in Point Loma in
1898, before it became part of San Diego. They came to populate Lomaland, a
Theosophical commune, a Utopian community that Annabelle swore lived up to its
ideals. She and Mom were born there, and if the government hadn't seized the
commune's grounds during WWII, maybe Sandi and I would have grown up there,
too. But sometime after the war our sacred family land turned into Point Loma
Nazarene College. Austere modern dormitories and huge crucifixes replaced the
amethyst-domed buildings of Annabelle's day. Lomaland formed our family backdrop,
the root of our common ideals and regrets. Annabelle spun tales of our golden
lost domain, a birthright snatched by the machinery of war and Christianity.
Instead of Greek pageants, gardens and spiral staircases, Sandi and I lived
in a building that looked like a converted Travelodge.
At Lomaland, children grew up communally. They
didn't take special notice of their families, and they made themselves useful.
Annabelle glared when we complained, and winced when we called her Granny. When
I was four and Sandi had just turned three she told us to call her Annabelle,
that she wanted to be defined as an individual, not through a relationship.
Our grandparents bought Point Loma Nursery back
in the 1950s, and Annabelle ran it alone after our grandfather died. Every afternoon
of elementary school, the school bus dropped Sandi and me off outside the nursery,
and Annabelle worked and watched us while Mom worked as a clerk at the Nazarene
College. Annabelle lost patience with this system early on. "I don't believe
in idle children," she said one day after the five year-old Sandi tripped a
customer while playing hide and seek. Annabelle set the numbers on the price
gun, handed it to me, and told me to shoot the stickers on all the four inch
petunias and pansies. Within two months I became chief pricer. She taught me
to change the numbers on the price gun, and gave me lists of plants and prices.
I relished my new job. I'd stick some extra price labels on my notebooks. $1.39.
$2.29. I'd smile at them during my school day and feel special. No other kid
in my first grade class had a job.
Annabelle named Sandi chief waterer. Sandi had
a knack for growing things, and intuitively knew how much to water each plant.
By the time Sandi turned six, she knew the watering schedule of every plant
in that nursery, and Annabelle gave her full charge.
To me and Sandi, the nursery recalled the lost
gardens of Lomaland. Other mysteries of the commune lurked in the shack that
housed indoor plants. There stood a bookcase full of macrame, lumpy pottery,
and earrings made of shells. Annabelle's students in the Prisoners' Arts and
Crafts Guild made these things, which mostly sat and attracted dust. Like Katherine
Tingley, the founder of Lomaland, Annabelle devoted herself to rehabilitating
Beside the bookcase, a wire rack stood stuffed
with Theosophical guidebooks. They were tiny, hardly more than booklets, with
names like Karma and Reincarnation: You Have Lived Before. Mom forever
chided Annabelle about selling books on Theosophy. "They scare away all the
normal customers," she'd say in the evenings when she came to pick us up. "They
give people the creeps! You didn't tell my girls anything weird, did you?"
Annabelle would wink at Sandi and me. "Religion
and genius often skip a generation," she'd say.
Sandi and I liked the small, toy-like books, with
astrological diagrams and pictures of souls leaving bodies. Annabelle explained
them to us while Mom worked. Annabelle wanted us to have spiritual lives. "Strive
to overcome your base nature," Annabelle repeated through the years. At six
years old, I didn't understand base nature versus higher self. But by the time
I turned nine, I had it down. In fourth grade I wrote in a little notebook every
night, making two columns, base and higher, to see how I stacked up. "Kicked
Mike in shins during dodge ball. Pretended it was an accident" went under base.
"Stole Sally's chocolate cookie, ate it in the bathroom." Base, too. Base was
easy and fun. It gave me little thrills to do these things, then to catalogue
them in my notebook. Sometimes at school I invented, then executed, new base
activities just so I could write them down later. My higher column looked noticeably
skinny. Usually it had something like "Saved Sandi's lunch from mean big boy."
But this brought on a moral dilemma: if saving her lunch constituted an act
of the higher self, was punching the bigger boy part of that higher act, or
was it somehow base? On days like that I added an awkward third column under
a question mark.
The other kids ridiculed the tofu and grated carrot
sandwiches Annabelle packed for us when we slept over at her house, and the
scarab Sandi wore around her neck. But we really lost our social footing after
a report I presented to my third grade class. This was in fall, and other kids
reported on how to carve a pumpkin or how to make a hand turkey. My presentation
on how to contact the dead, gleaned from spying on Annabelle and her friends
holding seances, stunned the class. The teacher called Mom in for a conference.
Mom tried to explain to us that other kids in our neighborhood were brought
up differently, and that her mother wasn't normal. But too late. The other kids
had dubbed us kooks.
Our weird ways brought one social advantage: Little
girls invited us to slumber parties. We must have gone to ten parties in fourth
and fifth grades, always calling forth spirits with dubious results. The spirits
seemed almost there, just past a whisper-thin wall. I could feel them, but sometimes
we had to convince the other girls they were really there.
I remember our last seance the best. Leslie Campbell,
a big girl with square, horsy teeth, invited us to her tenth birthday party.
Her family lived in a huge house in La Playa, an expensive neighborhood on the
Point. Leslie played soccer and wore a little gold heart on a chain around her
neck. She got Bs and Cs in school when she studied and never talked to me unless
she wanted me to pass a note to someone.
She'd invited ten girls. Leslie's dad bought us
pizza and her Mom had baked a cake. Their long dining table seated all ten of
us. Red and blue plastic plates and cups made two straight lines down the table,
and balloons with long tails bounced against the ceiling. After we ate, Leslie
opened her presents and the girls squawked and bleated at the treasures her
parents produced -- a Slip N Slide, horseback riding lessons at La Jolla Farms,
roller skates, three big plastic horses like all the other girls collected.
Leslie had a special shelf where she displayed her horses. A giant rainbow soared
over her bed, and framed in the curve of that rainbow twenty horses roamed the
shelf -- dapple gray, palominos, Lippizan stallions, all poised under the rainbow
like they were enjoying a post-rainstorm graze in the pasture. Those horses
cost about ten dollars each. We'd only brought a box of crayons Mom had on hand,
a hopelessly juvenile present.
"Let Lex look at your pretty horse," Leslie's
Mom cooed. Leslie thrust the horse at me, then hurried across the room to her
real friends. Sandi sat on the pink shag carpet, an enormous gray cat in her
lap. The cat batted Sandi's stringy blond hair with a lazy paw, then curled
into a purr. I helped Leslie's Mom do the dishes.
But hours later, after the girls had braided and
unbraided each other's hair, after ten girls scrambled around the bathroom brushing
their teeth, after Leslie's parents went to bed, Sandi and I had our moment
of power. Just about midnight Sandi took a candle, matches, and two of Annabelle's
old purple cloaks out of her overnight bag. We slipped the cloaks over our pajamas
and gathered the girls in a circle on the floor of Leslie's bedroom. Sandi placed
a purple candle in one of Annabelle's brass candle holders, struck a match and
lit it, and I turned out the lights. The horses and rainbows disappeared. A
circle of nervous girl faces were cured of giggles, illuminated by jumpy candlelight,
and looking at us for a change.
"Does anybody know any dead people?" Sandi asked,
her voice calm and serious. No one answered. "Well, who do you want to talk
to?" she asked, impatience creeping into her voice. That was too much for these
girls, all of whom were at least nine, a year older than Sandi.
"My grandmother died when I was little," said
Leslie. "But I didn't really know her."
"Do you want to ask her anything?" I asked.
"What would I ask her?"
"I don't know," I said. "She's your grandmother."
Leslie was as smart as a tuna sandwich. Anyway, it didn't matter who we called
or what we asked, just as long as the person was suitably dead.
"How about Abe Lincoln?" another girl suggested.
"He's been dead forever," Sandi said. "He's probably
been reincarnated by now."
"Reen-what?" Leslie asked.
"You know, his soul's probably in someone else's
body now," Sandi explained. I could feel our social position slipping. We were
too weird and we knew too much.
"How about Captain Kangaroo?" asked another girl.
"He's not dead! I saw him on TV this morning.
My little sister was watching him."
"You can be dead and still be on TV!"
"OK, Abe Lincoln," Sandi interrupted their stupidity.
"I'll call him and we'll see what answers." Sandi looked around the circle at
the girls. "But you all have to concentrate. Look at the candle flame. Picture
Abe Lincoln's face in the candle flame."
We all looked till our eyes burned. I pictured
the way he looked on the five dollar bill. I imagined five dollars burning in
the flame. I thought I saw the flame move to the left, just a little, and I
caught my breath. Then the flame shot up to ten times its original height, and
the top part detached itself so a tiny point of fire flew straight up in the
whirring air. I saw a huge shadow on the wall, superimposed on the lit-up rainbow.
I kept my eyes on the flame and didn't look directly at the shadow, which seemed
to have wings. All around the circle, little girls began to cry.
"Turn on the light," Leslie whimpered, but no
one dared leave the circle. "Turn on the light. The light!"
The crying must have gotten louder because the
light came on and Leslie's mom stood there in the doorway in a puffy lavender
robe. "What's going on?" Girls looked sheepishly at each other, an accusing
eye or two falling on Sandi.
A little girl burst into fresh tears. "Abe Lincoln's
ghost was here," she stammered. "It had wings."
"For heaven's sake," Mrs. Campbell said, cross
but covering it with a smile. She put an arm around the crying girl.
"I saw it, too," another girl cried. Then they
"It was real!"
"It had wings!"
"Sandi and Lex called it here."
"I saw it, too!"
Sandi's eyes looked twice as big as usual in her
pale face. I thought my little sister must be terrified. I felt kind of scared
myself. But when she looked at me I saw a fever in her eyes, a look of triumph,
and spots of color bloomed on her cheeks.
Mrs. Campbell glared at the still burning candle,
then at Sandi. "Where did this candle come from, Leslie?"
"Sandi brought it," Leslie chirped. "She brought
the matches, too."
"She called the ghost of Abe Lincoln," another
"It wasn't Abe Lincoln," a blond girl said. "Abe
Lincoln has a beard, not wings."
"Of course he has wings! He's in heaven, stupid."
Mrs. Campbell fixed cold eyes on Sandi and me.
"Is this true?"
"It wasn't Abe Lincoln," Sandi said. She sounded
distracted, like Mrs. Campbell didn't scare her, like I'd have to deal alone
with the situation because she couldn't be bothered.
"But you tried to call a ghost into my daughter's
bedroom? This is a Christian household!" I saw our social end right there. We'd
never again be invited to the houses of these mean little girls who told their
parents everything as soon as the lights came on. The other girls already stood
huddled together, some with teary eyes and arms wrapped around each other. "I'm
going to have to call your mother," Mrs. Campbell said. "I know it's the middle
of the night, but I won't be able to sleep with this, this . . . influence under
my roof." I wondered why Mr. Campbell hadn't appeared. Apparently he could sleep
through these influences. I wondered if that meant he had a base nature.
I felt sorry for Mom, who would be disappointed
by our social failure. But I liked the thought of going home and sleeping in
my bed, not in a pile of sleeping bags, my arms pinned to my sides, in Leslie's
cavernous rainbow bedroom.
"What's your number?" Mrs. Campbell asked, picking
up the phone by Leslie's bed. Leslie had a private line, and even her phone
sported rainbow stickers.
"223-6837," I said. Sandi stared at the wall where
the thing had appeared. She didn't pay any attention to me or the other girls,
who all listened to. see what Mrs. Campbell would say to my mom.
"There's no answer!" Mrs. Campbell cried. The
girls looked at each other wide-eyed. Weren't all mothers home, safe in bed,
after midnight? "Where is she? Did you give me a fake number?"
"I don't know," I said "I guess she went out."
No one said anything. I could see Mrs. Campbell's mind working, wondering how
to dispose of me and my little sister. "I'll get dressed, then we'll walk home.
We have keys. We'll just let ourselves in." I'd never walked home at night,
and didn't even sure how to get there from La Playa. But the dark didn't scare
me, and nothing could be worse than spending more time with these two-faced
Mrs. Campbell gasped. "It's one AM! You can't
walk home alone!" I crossed my arms and stared back. I hated all of them then,
including good Christian Mrs. Campbell, and I didn't care who knew it. "Surely
she must have left a number for you, in case of emergency." I shrugged. Sandi
pet the gray cat, who'd awakened in the commotion. I could see Mrs. Campbell
didn't want Sandi's occult germs on the family cat.
"Call Annabelle," Sandi said.
"Our grandmother," I said. "Annabelle's our grandmother.
But she's probably asleep. We'll just walk home." I went to the corner of the
room where we'd left our bag, and pulled my sneakers on, ready to walk home
in my pajamas.
Mrs. Campbell shook her head as I laced my shoes.
"Little girls do not walk around alone in the middle of the night." She muttered
something about a lawsuit. "What's your grandmother's number?"
"223-2906," I said.
"And what's her last name?"
"Carroll. Ms. Carroll." No other children in school
had the same last name as their maternal grandmothers, but we hadn't realized
it yet. I repeated the number and Mrs. Campbell punched in the digits. We heard
the electric tones playing the tune for Annabelle's number.
"Mrs. Carroll? . . . OK, Ms. Carroll. This is
Mrs. Campbell. Your granddaughters are here at my daughter's slumber party and
I'm afraid they need to go home. But I can't find their mother. She's not home
and she didn't leave the girls an emergency number . . . No, they're perfectly
healthy." She flashed us a look like she wished we weren't. "No, they've been
. . . disruptive. . . . Well, I hate to say exactly . . . No, nothing like that.
Well, Mrs., er, Ms. Carroll, they were attempting to conjure spirits in my living
room. I haven't raised my daughters in the Presbyterian Church to have girls
like your granddaughters lead them astray! . . . Excuse me? What do I want you
to do about it? I want you to come get them until their mother comes home from
wherever she's running around in the middle of the night! . . . but . . . wait
a minute . . . Hello?. . . Hello?" Mrs. Campbell slammed down the receiver and
regarded us with steaming eyes. "It looks like I'll be driving you two to Ms.
Carroll's house." She said our grandmother's name with a smirk. "Get your things,
It was a stone quiet ride. Mrs. Campbell didn't
walk us to Annabelle's door. In fact, her car began creeping away before we
rang the bell.
I thought Annabelle would be mad. But she met
us in her purple robe - a royal color that made Mrs. Campbell's lavender look
downright common - and made us peppermint tea. She sat in the kitchen with us
for half an hour, even though she always rose early and needed her sleep. She
didn't ask any questions.
"Why didn't you come get us?" Sandi finally asked
in a small voice.
"She was unkind to throw you out of her house.
I wasn't going to participate in your punishment."
"What did you say on the phone?" That's what I'd
been dying to know.
Annabelle smiled. "I told her she could just put
the two of you in her big Christian car and drive over here if she was so anxious
to be free of you." The tea and the old wooden table warmed me with their familiarity,
making me happier than the dumb party. "Although I must say, you girls are gifted,
but inexperienced and untrained. Calling up spirits isn't a parlor game. Well,"
she sniffed, "it is, for some. But it shouldn't be. We shouldn't use spirits
just to advance ourselves by impressing others. We have to be careful. We have
to be skilled. If we're not, spirits will use us. Remember that, girls."
Spirits would use us.
I remembered that.
Sandi's been dead four days, and the news reports
are messing up my childhood memories. If anyone had asked me last week, I would
have told them I had a happier childhood than anyone I know. Last week, my childhood
conjured visions of handling that heavy price gun at the nursery, shaded by
the towering plants. It was running on the beach, ocean spraying around my miniature
feet. I could see inside the ocean then -- the riptides, sharks, starfish, anemones,
all living lives of their own alongside ours, shadowy lives like ghosts that
barely touch us.
I remember playing in the evenings on the cracked
walkway beneath our apartment, crouching between masses of nasturtiums, naming
the stray cats that roamed through the apartments. Once we rounded up three
of the cats and tried to lead them in a seance.
I remember the creepy allure of Annabelle's house,
the unused dining room full of dusty pictures of the dead -- her husband Latrobe,
her mother and father. There sat Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, creator of Theosophy,
her face fat and dour, beside the strong-willed Katherine Tingley, Lomaland's
founder. I remember the darkness of the dining room, the only light seeping
in from the living room, illuminating the photos, making me feel like one of
the dead might materialize behind me and tap my shoulder.
I remember the droning of the Madame Tingley's
organ, sound waves spilling out of the canyon and over the hill behind Annabelle's
house. Lou Jones, Annabelle's neighbor, bought the pipe organ at auction in
1955. Just to plague her, she swore.. He couldn't play, never tried to learn
though he'd had the thing nearly thirty years. He'd randomly hold down two or
three notes, at three PM or three AM, whenever the mood struck, and the sound
brimmed over the craggy canyon lip, bouncing crazily between houses and palm
trees. When Annabelle wasn't looking, Sandi and I made up silly, dramatic dances
to the organ music.
And I remember the evenings when our tired mom
picked us up from the nursery and took us home to our apartment. She showed
her love by letting us watch TV -- Annabelle didn't have one -- and feeding
us Coke and potato chips for an appetizer while the frozen pizza crisped in
the oven. We were happy and normal enough.
But that's not how the San Francisco Chronicle
sees it. They only see that we had no father, that a loony old grandma helped
raise us by forcing us to work from our kindergarten days on. They called our
hard-working mother loose, and criticized the part of Ocean Beach we lived in
because some drug deals went down The Tribune even dug up a guy who claimed
he'd sold crystal in our building for a few months during the ten years Sandi
and Mom and I lived in that apartment. The guy's in N.A. now, and he wept on
the news, saying he had to make amends for contributing to this tragedy by being
such a bad influence on the child Sandi. I swear I never saw the guy before.
People lunge at fame. They have no pride.
Of course, I feel like a sorry excuse for a human
now myself. Hiding in my studio apartment in San Francisco instead of rushing
to San Diego, to Mom's side. I've begged her to come up here and escape, but
she says she's not running, despite the reporters she has to dodge just to get
out the door of her condo.
I told her I'll come in a few days. I know I should
go to her, I should want to go to her, but I avoid the center of grief.
San Diego will overflow with pain, and I have nothing to hold onto there except
Mom, the essence of pain. I can concentrate for short periods on the technical.
Today I fixed a broken jack on a GK amp. It took an hour to take all the screws
out, replace the jack, screw it back together. An hour of minimum pain. My cover
band, The Friday Knights, has a show at the Grant and Green Friday night, then
a wedding Saturday afternoon and a street fair Sunday. If I can hold it together
that long, three more days will have gone by and seeing Mom won't break me.
I swear I'll go to San Diego Sunday. I'll be a few hundred dollars ahead and
I'll just get on a plane.
All yesterday I lay sick on the floor. Sandi was
cremated yesterday. Cremation is the ultimate plan for my body, too, but I threw
up three times wondering if they'd burnt her yet. I kept seeing her platinum
hair melt or turn gummy, that scar of Italy char on her leg like a hot dog at
a beach barbecue. Pablo took the day off work and stayed with me.
Today I'm better. My appetite even came back,
though there was nothing in the kitchen to eat. I looked forward to my Wednesday
afternoon music students, ready to concentrate on scales and rhythms. But their
mothers called and canceled their bass lessons, saying the girls were ill. Of
course I knew they didn't want to come to my apartment anymore.
So just when I'm lying on the floor, thinking
how hungry I am, the phone rings. And something makes me answer it, although
I haven't picked up the ringing receiver for days.
It's a guy with a phony sounding British accent.
He's writing a biography of my sister. Would I consider collaborating?
Please don't be so hasty. I want to hear your
I'm hanging up now.
Just give me a few minutes. I'm right downstairs.
I'll buy you lunch.
So I agree to meet him. I can eat a fucking sandwich
without signing anything, right?
He's in his early thirties, with sandy blond hair,
about the same color as mine. We both have green eyes. We could be siblings.
He's kind of skinny and suave, good-looking in a low-key way, so I could imagine
him assuming various disguises to slip, unwanted, into anywhere that muck awaited
We go to Burrito Bandito down the street from
my apartment. I order a giant chicken, rice and green chile burrito, extra hot
sauce on the side. I think he's encouraged that I can eat so much so soon after
Sandi's death. It bodes well for his prospects.
"So, what other books have you written?" I ask
as we sit at a corner table. I know I must look like shit. I haven't washed
my hair in four days and my fifties housedress has a noticeable rip in the armpit.
I can't remember if I've bathed since hearing the news.
He's just orders a salad. People who invite you
for a meal and then don't eat make me suspicious. He clears his throat, another
bad sign in a man under fifty. "I threw together something on Waco. I also did
a book on Kurt Cobain. I hear you're in a rock band?" He looks at me expectantly,
a spring green lettuce leaf poised on his fork like we're in some kind of San
Francisco neighborhood dining photo shoot.
"It's hardly Nirvana," I say with my mouth half
full of chicken and chiles. "So, you throw together bios. What's that like,
interviewing all the grieving relatives of the dead?"
He lit a cigarette, even though he'd only taken
two bites of his salad, and I hadn't finished eating. He shrugged. "It's a job.
I'm good at it. I used to be a copy editor. I had to work every night, always
under the boss' eye. Now I travel. Meet people."
"What's your name again?"
"Dale. I'll try to remember that."
"So, how do you like reading about yourself in
"How do you think I like it?"
"They're being pretty rough on your whole family."
His green eyes slanted up at the corners, like a cat.
"So you know I'm just dying for a chance to clear
up the whole mess by showing my side of my beautiful, misunderstood sister."
"I don't know if your sister was misunderstood
or not. You tell me."
"Don't count on it."
I couldn't eat the whole thing after all. I yearned
for Dale Ross to go to the restroom so I could drink a shot of straight hot
sauce, an embarrassing habit that always calmed me. Instead, I made do with
the cigarette he offered, although I rarely smoke, and fidgeted with the ankh
pendant I wore around my neck. I spotted a guitarist who'd been in one of my
old bands, huddled over a burrito. When I caught his eye he lifted a hand in
greeting, then dropped his eyes back to the rice on his paper plate. A little
pinprick of anger cut through my grief, at being demoted to instant pariah status.
"All right, Lex. I'm obviously not going to talk
you into anything you don't want to do. So let me just outline this deal. This
kind of bio comes out fast. I have two weeks to write it, then it goes straight
to the printer and should be on bookshelves in about a month. Before interest
fades, you know. This kind of bio sells a lot of copies. It's cheap paper, cheap
cover art, big profits. I can guarantee you ten thousand."
"Ten thousand dollars?" It was a lot of money
to me. "Ten thousand dollars and my sister is dead?"
Dale Ross politely looked at the table so I could
keep my face private. "Maybe fifteen."
That's about what I'd made last year. "I think
I better go."
He stood up. "I'll walk you home."
"I'll call you."
How could Dale Ross think I would even consider