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did one swab, then the other, and handed them to Michael. “Go ahead, test them. Your mother isn’t going to cooperate, but this will tell you I’m your father. As should be obvious.” Michael put the swabs into a clean plastic bag and sealed it. He took a second bag, turned it inside out, and grabbed the used tissue from Ruth’s lap with it. “She’s not my mother,” Michael said. “They can prove it with this. Or with hair from her hairbrush back at the room. Or even from her toothbrush. It’s over. No more lies.” His father’s bravado collapsed. Michael realized then that he’d been waiting all his life to see it. The coldness, the distance, the unreasoning anger were gone, and there was only a wounded and dying animal underneath. Michael felt the dizzying exaltation of total victory even as he recoiled in shame from the violence of it. “Talk to me,” Michael said. “Please. I need you to talk to me.” “Ruth,” Robert said, “go to the hotel. I’ll call you later.” Robert had to tell her a second time, with a forcefulness Michael had
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