FB: “Oh, I’m sorry, Father, I guess you said bring in the BOYSENBERRY juice for breakfast. Honest mistake.”

Spoilers for a twenty-year-old set of novels: these moments owe a debt to a striking passage at the end of S.M. Stirling’s Nantucket trilogy, with a more realistic use of poison than is found in a lot of fiction. Looking back, I don’t recommend the series as a whole…it’s overpopulated, its worldbuilding tends to swallow up its characterization as it goes along, and even that scene is kind of anticlimactic in the larger context of the story. But that one scene did stay with me.

One bit’s different, though. Iwatani does register what seems to be genuine concern for his wife in panel 1. It’s not slam-dunk conclusive proof, I guess…he could just be confused and alarmed. But if he really didn’t care, if the marriage were just for show, I’d expect him to be annoyed (“What, is she day-drinking now?”) and not using her name quite like that.

Perhaps he didn’t know he cared. Perhaps he didn’t realize that until just this moment, exactly when it became too late to matter.