I hope this letter finds you well. It was wonderful to hear your voice again this morning, groggy with sleep though it might have been. I hope you’ll excuse the terseness in my voice when your new paramour was introduced; not, perhaps, the most traditional way for a Southern officer to be acquainted with his daughter’s beau, but you do take pains to remind me that we live in the 21st century, not the 19th. Let me know on the e-mail how you did on your finals, too, although I’m sure you performed just fine.
I was down in Georgia, recently, where the mosquitoes were very thick on the ground. There may come a time in your life, Alice, when you are confronted with a moral dilemma regarding a problem or opponent. You might ask yourself, “is it honorable to strike down a chained dog”, or some such analogy. You wouldn’t be my daughter if you didn’t. But always remember that we strive for things in this life not for ourselves, but for others. I did my duty, and I am as sure as ever you will do yours.
We’re in Louisiana now, taking on some more casework for Candlemakers and Lamplighters. We went to a peculiar funeral home on business, managed by the strangest little man I’ve met in some years, truth be told. Remember this, Alice, that you shouldn’t see something just because you expect to. It might be the most ordinary thing in the world to think “horses” instead of “zebras” when you hear hoofbeats, but sometimes we have to see the zebras for what they are, even when all the world tells us they are harmless mares. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well, it might just be a very clever goose, wouldn’t you say, dear?
My new coworkers and I are getting along fairly well, all things considered. One of them, a professor, I think you would get along splendidly with. She’s smart and stubborn, with a flair for improvisation. Another, I hope, does not in any way resemble Bradley. The third has his head up his ass, but perhaps he’ll grow out of it. He’s new on the job and going through some family troubles. Nothing like with Granddad, you understand, just a separation.
I understand, my not-so-little girl, how difficult this is for you. I hate myself for not coming to see you and Mom more often. But I know you’ll be strong, and if this new fellow of yours helps you in that and treats you right, then that’s good enough for me. If my work takes me North I’ll be sure to come by and see you and Mom and Nadine, though.
Some fathers hope their children will follow in the family business, Alice. I surely hope that’s not the case. Know only that I love you and your mother more than I could ever say, that I am very proud of you, and keep a candle burning in the window for me.
Yours with love, always,
P.S. Don’t show this letter to Brad.