sally was slowly chewing her cucumber and lemon grass sandwich. tania watched her approvingly.
"i see you have good mastication. you have so many things going for you, sally. that is why we would really appreciate your cooperation in this matter."
sally finished swallowing the portion of the sandwich she had been chewing.
"ok, but i want to watch my show first."
tania looked up and saw larry motioning to her at the doorway behind sally.
"excuse me." she got up and went out in the corridor.
larry held a thick blue folder in his hand. "i just got something on the nelson case. why don't we check it out? let's leave her here, let her watch her show, and when we get back she might be more cooperative. i can go myself, if you want to stay with her."
"sounds like a good idea. i'll go with you." she went back to the desk and took a screen out of a drawer.
"all right, we are going to let you watch your show. then we will be back. what was the show again?"
"doctors and wives. it's the fourth most popular show."
"anything else we can get you?"
"a strawberry and papaya drink. a cold strawberry and papaya drink. that orange and papaya drink wasn't really cold enough."
"we'll do our best. and i'll tell you what, you can watch the whole show even if we get back before the show is over. how does that sound?"
the nelson case, or as it was sometimes called, the nelson-vasari case, had frustrated tania and larry for a long time. an elderly woman named nadia nelson, 79% human, had come home from work to find a crude drawing on her apartment door of the twelve apostles playing a game of canadian football against a team comprised of the seven deadly sins, pontius pilate, nero, caligula, agrippina and vergil. besides the basic crimes of intrusion and unlicensed contact, she had been particularly offended by the inclusion of vergil, dante's guide, on the second team, and she became a demanding, though not overwhelmingly cooperative victim. the first drawing had lasted until the arrival of the unclassifiable crimes unit but disappeared 24 hours later, to be replaced by another, which was then replaced by yet 24 hours after that, for a total of 103 days. they then began appearing for one day at a time at intervals of 103 days, and this had continued until the time larry got sally a frosty strawberry and papaya drink and he and tania left her to doctors and wives.
each of the succeeding drawings showed a variation or extrapolation on the original. st paul emerged as the coach of the apostles, and julian the apostate as coach of the second team. many of the drawings had dialogue in balloons, in an unknown script and language which had so far defied all attempts at translation.
the case had quickly become contested between different branches of law enforcement. were the pictures the result of technology or witchcraft? the unlicensed technology department and both the white and black magic departments were consulted and involved but no progress was made by any and after the obligatory territorial clashes, they agreed to pass it to unspeakable crimes.
from the beginning, tania and larry had agreed to concentrate on finding the perpetrator, rather than ascertaining his methods. with their limited resources, they could hardly do otherwise. so nadia nelson became their primary focus. tania, who had strong opinions on christianity and did not think it should be classified as a redeemable religion, had little patience with the devout old woman, and so larry had become the lead in their interviews.
they took the elevator to the roof and got into a small two-seater with larry at the controls.
"so what's up?" asked tania as they took off. 'i didn't think it was time for another picture."
"the old lady remembered something. i am surprised you came - you didn't even ask if we were going to see her."
"i didn't want to watch doctors and wives."
sally finished the sandwich and the strawberry and papaya drink. she got up and stared out the window at the lights of the city. she saw larry and tania glide into the sky in the two-seater and disappear. she stood there, listening to doctors and wives but not watching it. after a while she noticed the reflections in the window of some people behind her and she turned to face them.
in the front of the group was a short muscular young woman with close cut blonde hair, wearing a metal vest. she stared at sally with dark green eyes. four people stood behind her - pete street, the head of the suspicious development unit, mike mean, mac the mailman, and the archangel gabriel.
"hello," said the young woman to sally, "i'm jeanne d'arc, head of the unspeakable crimes unit. you must be 1H-38y56-6616gt-65398a, the young woman getting the threatening letters." she continued to stare intently at sally. "where are detectives kelly and lyndon?"
"they went somewhere. "
"they left you alone?"
"they left me so i could watch my show. when it's over they will be back to question me - question me some more. they questioned me before,"
"you told them you would watch the show if they left you alone?'
jeanne d'arc looked at the screen. "but you weren't watching it. you were looking out the window."
"i was listening to it - it's the same thing,"
"no. it is not the same thing.'
"it is to me."
"look, we know you have been through a lot. we empathize with your trauma but we ask that you observe the rules of common courtesy and truthfulness - that's all. now these people are here to see the detectives. you say they will be back soon?"
"maybe before the show is over."
"good. then i will leave them here to wait. now sit down and watch the show like you said you would."
'i was listening to it - it's the same thing."
"you have some attitude, don't you? is it because you are 100%? well, let me tell you something, i am jeanne d'arc and i'm 200%. so i don't need any of your sasparilla, young lady . do you understand?"
sally shrugged. "i guess."