little girl lost:
a true story of shattered innocence & murder
Sometimes it seemed as if he would end up killing her. She’d hear the
sonic boom of the front door smashing closed, the leaden footsteps down
the hall, and the little hairs on the back of her neck would stand up as if
There was no telling what his retribution was for. Maybe it was because
she'd brought home another bad grade on a test. All she had to do was try
harder next time--that was what the teacher had said, and it was what Shirley promised she would do; it was what she always promised she would do, only it never seemed to work out quite that way. Or maybe it was because of the spilled milk at the breakfast table, or the rip in the skirt of her favorite red dress when she fell down on the playground, or the spot on her new patent-leather shoes, or her angry backtalk when someone told her to do something she didn't want to do.
Or maybe there was no reason at all.
In fact, you could almost invent a scenario, and it would probably have
enough elements of reality that it wouldn't really matter. You could say they were driving home, and Louis Wolf was in one of his black moods from something--or nothing--his daughter had done. No matter how long it took to get there, all the way home he might refuse to speak, with the tension in the car growing like some evil, malignant thunderhead. Shirley would begin to feel as if she couldn't breathe. Once they got home, he would just stand there like a huge dark mountain, his brown-black eyes filled with venom and fury, hands clenching and unclenching as he decided what his next move would be.
It had happened like this so many times that Shirley couldn't count
Slowly and deliberately he would stand to his full towering height, menacing eyes staring as if to incinerate her; then in a scene reminiscent of Scrooge's encounter with the macabre, black-hooded ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, one huge hand would rise with a single finger outstretched toward his victim like a portent of doom. After so many years of practice, Louis Wolf's techniques of psychological and physical intimidation were tuned to a fine and perfect pitch. Underlying it all was his motto, unspoken but perfectly understood nevertheless, that the only way to correct behavior was to inflict pain--physical or emotional. He was an expert at both.
That day, just like so many others, he stood before her, wordless and
almost motionless, his black eyes boring into her like a laser, his tongue
darting in and out from beneath his front teeth, making the habitual little
thsk, thsk sucking noise that meant he was contemplating saying or doing
something. Shirley felt like a wispy little creature trapped in his ominous
shadow. No matter how many times it had happened before, the effect on
her was always the same. Too terrified to speak or even move, mouth
drooping open and deep brown eyes wide and staring, recoiling from the
intensity of his mere presence, she simply waited for the reign of terror to
Just let it come. Let it come so it can be over.