Sheba McEnroe Ramana Spenser

Sheba lived in a weird situation. Firstly, there was her name, which wasn’t (as names go) a terrible name, nor even (in Whittier, where she lived) such a strange one, but it was strange enough. She liked her name; she liked how strange it was, she liked that it was like a cat’s name, she liked that it was Biblical. She didn’t mind a little bit of strangeness. Then there were her parents, and that was very much stranger than her name, and she wasn’t quite sure whether or not she liked their brand of strangeness.

They had strange names, too. Her father was Uriah Heep McMillian — his father, Sheba’s grandfather (who had his son’s puckish sense of humour), had loved Dickens and been married to a woman who hadn’t read any — and her mother was Harmony Melody Fay, which weren’t, taken individually, all that strange, but in collection served to describe her mother unfortunately accurately.

Uriah and Harmel were divorced, but they lived next door to each other. Which, Sheba would be the first to admit, was convenient for visits and whatnot, and certainly useful when one (or the other) was mad at her, since she had a bedroom in each house. But it was still strange. They were still best friends, and went to see movies or out to sing karaoke or for sushi two or three times a week, but they weren’t married anymore. There was some reason for this that Sheba didn’t quite understand but privately suspected had something or other to do with a tontine. Perhaps either Uriah or Harmel — it was probably Harmel, she thought, it would be her style — was in danger of being messily killed for a large pile of gold and precious jewels! You wouldn’t want your family to get involved in something like that.