The Girl Is Murder
isn’t very good.”
    “It was night. There wasn’t a lot of light in the room.”
    “They saw you. Detectives have to be invisible. No one’s going to forget a child with a camera.”
    Child? Seriously? “I can be discreet.”
    “I can’t use these.” He dumped them back into the trash can.
    I stared at him, willing the tears I knew wanted to come to wait until I left the room so I could retain a little dignity. But then why not let him see me cry? He deserved to know how much his decision had stung.
    “You’re making a mistake,” I said between trembling lips.
    He shook his head at me, and the ripples on his forehead grew four feet deep. “That’s the way you see it. From where I sit, I’m finally doing the right thing.”
     
     
    THE NEXT AFTERNOON I arrived home early from school and discovered Pop’s office door closed. From inside came the familiar sound of Mr. Wilson. He had come by to retrieve the photos— my photos—and return the money he’d taken from Pop. I waited for him to ask how Pop had finally gotten the shot after all those failed attempts, but he never did. He didn’t care how Pop had done it; all he cared was that the job was done.
    I could barely contain my excitement. Surely Pop had changed his mind and was ready to give me a chance to show him what I could do.
    Mr. Wilson tipped his hat at me as he exited the office. I feigned interest in Ten Cent Love Story Magazine , a romance slick that Mrs. Mrozenski had brought home with the groceries.
    When Pop returned from walking Mr. Wilson out, I was waiting for him with my arms crossed, shoulders squared. “I thought you threw the photos away.”
    “I didn’t think you’d be home yet.”
    “We had early dismissal today.”
    Pop unfurled a ten-dollar bill from his pocket and passed it my way. “Here.”
    “So does this mean you’ve changed your mind?”
    “No.” He put the money on the coffee table in front of me. “Take the money. I don’t want you to think I’m taking advantage of you. Buy yourself something for school.” He turned to head back into the office. In another thirty seconds his door would be closed, and then who knew how many hours would pass before he’d talk to me again.
    “He said the photos were good, right?”
    He froze and his back turned rigid. His left shoulder was higher than his right one. “That’s not the point, Iris.”
    “Then what is?”
    He sighed heavily—had he always relied on sighs to convey emotion?—and spun back toward me. “Do you know why that man wanted me to follow his wife?”
    “Because she was having an affair.”
    “No. Because he wants out of his marriage. His mistress wants him to get a divorce and he doesn’t want to lose her, but he doesn’t want to lose his money, either. So he’s held out until he has something on his wife that will make the separation go a little more smoothly. Those photos you took just guaranteed that his wife won’t get one red cent in the divorce settlement.”
    I was having a hard time connecting the dots. “So he was cheating on her first? That doesn’t seem fair.”
    Pop suddenly looked uncomfortable, and not just because his leg was bothering him. “It’s the way the law works, Iris. They don’t care who behaved badly first. All they care about is who can prove it. These people I work for, they aren’t all good people. They aren’t always asking me to help them do good things. A lot of them are like Mr. Wilson; they want proof that someone else is doing something wrong so that they can justify their own bad actions. I don’t want you around that.”
    Poor Mrs. Wilson, with her under-eye bags and her desperate smile, was going to have her goose cooked because of me. A knot tightened in my stomach. “If you knew that was what he was up to, why did you take his money?”
    “Because there are bills to pay and no one but me to pay them.” He looked tired. I wasn’t the only one who’d spent half the night awake. “It can be

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