That did cause Ian some concern. Few human beings ever had manines as friends. They tended to be driven by emotion and could abandon someone on a whim.
“Wait a minute; you said he lives to be 58,” said Ian.
“Yeah, I know it sounds stupid, but if you saw him, you’d know he’d never make it. He’s gentle, cries easy, and he’s a bit naive.”
She stared as Ian waited. Apparently she believed she hadn’t convinced him of her point.
“He’s strong, Ian, but he’s not tough like you. He’ll never make it!”
She sobbed, clutching Ian’s hand tightly.
After a time, he gently sighed. “He’s had a bullying father.”
Lisa looked at him indignantly.
“So you’re a psychologist too?”
Ian ignored the slur on his intelligence. Lisa only spoke out of genuine concern for the boy on the projector.
“No, but I know something about it,” said Ian. “A boy goes one of two ways when he has a father who stands over him. They either become hardened and hit back or they become a cowering wreck, afraid of their own shadow. It seems your boy went the other way.”
“I know first hand that the weak never survive.”
“No, they don’t,” Ian agreed. “But you said he lives to be 58. I wouldn’t worry. He gets strength from somewhere. Now that his dad’s gone, he’ll have no one to belittle him anymore. You watch; he’ll get stronger now.”
A faint smile etched itself on her face.
Ian sensed an air of serenity.
“What are you thinking?” Only women say that he berated himself.
“I just find it a comfort to talk to you, Ian. You seem to understand him.”
Ian nodded. “We are the same; just different people who made different choices in different times.”
“Would you mind if I talked to you again about this?”
Ian looked thoughtful.
“I mean on a regular basis?”
“I thought you couldn’t talk about this.”
“No; I’m not supposed to. I can only talk to my boss. I love him like a father; the only thing is, he’s a manog, so you understand…”
“… I have a better perspective?” Ian finished.
“Please say “yes.” The only thing is; you can’t tell anyone.”
“I’d love to. You’ll find me in here any night you want to talk. There’s one condition though.”
Lisa looked surprised.
“You’ve got to tell me his name.”
She worked her lips, before answering.
Ian closed his eyes; relieved. At last, he could put a name to the bones he found in the stormwater pipe.