"thanks for this." country girl looked out the window of the low slung sedan as elephant girl sped away from station 1473. "i hope i'm not taking you too much out of your way."
"well aren't you the polite one," elephant girl answered. "you can't get too far out of your way with vicki here."
"i like this, it just has a different feel from a van."
"wait till we hit the artery. then we'll show you something." elephant girl glanced at country girl. "of course we don't want to scare you."
"don't worry about that."
"you know, maybe we'll go even faster than usual. "
"i appreciate it."
"i figure with your luck, what can happen to us, you know?"
country girl didn't answer.
"you must be the luckiest person in the whole world. first you get away with murder, then you get a ride home instead of having to take the bus with the peons. all in one night."
"thanks for the ride." country girl slid down in her seat and looked out the window.
"oh, did i say something rude? watch out, here we go." the sedan took a sharp turn and was in the main tunnel under the city.
it was wide but not crowded, as it was used mostly by police and other official couriers. elephant girl increased the speed and passed a couple of other vehicles.
"this is fun," country girl told her, "can you make any kind of turn at this speed?"
"i can. not everybody can."
"and you're not even afraid of me."
"afraid of you?"
"don't act dumb. i know everybody thinks i'm an informer."
"i never said anything like that."
"you don't have to say it. you just have to think it."
"you're the one saying bad things about me, calling me a murderer. i didn't say anything about you."
"do you think i'm an informer?"
"i really don't care who's an informer or not. if people think someone is an informer, they should just keep their mouths shut, is that so hard?"
they sped on in silence .
"i'm pretty smart," elephant girl said after a while. "everybody thinks i'm dumb, but i notice things. and i can sense things, which is really the same."
"you know what i think?"
"no, what do you think?"
"i think you got yourself a little sweetie."
"ha,ha! i saw you flinch."
"maybe you should keep your eyes on the tunnel."
"i thought you weren't afraid. vicki has got everything under control." elephant girl turned her head around to face country girl. "not like you."
country girl sat up straighter in her seat. "are we almost there?"
"not like you, i said, acting crazy. first you murder pinky, then you run off and get lorna even madder at you, how sensible is that? i know the signs."
country girl slouched back in her seat and looked out the window. they were at the end of the tunnel and elephant girl slowed down. in a few seconds they were in the main streets of level 27, moving at normal speed.
"i know the signs," elephant girl repeated. "i think you got yourself a sweetie. now you could have a big sweetie, but i don't think so. you don't exactly strike me as the type to be true to a big strong man."
"that's pretty filthy talk for a police officer."
"you going to report me?"
"take the next right. we're almost there."
elephant girl made the turn.
"go get a little sleep," charlotte told jeanne after larry left.
" madame d and mrs roosevelt just called a meeting - or one of them did - eleven o'clock this morning. who knows how long it will last? so get some sleep."
"'all right. what about you?"
"don't worry about me."
"what about larry?"
"if he's not back before we leave, robespierre can tell him to go home."
jeanne got up and went out and got on an elevator going up. both she and charlotte slept and changed clothes in little rooms in the building. charlotte almost never went "home" and jeanne didn't have one,
the sedan stopped across the street from country girl's apartment building.
country girl started to open the door. "you look like you've got something else to say?"
"yes. the funny thing is, i've seen a couple of others go down this road, and then when you see the sweetie they went down for, you say, that's nothing much there. i bet yours is like that - nothing much."
"she isn't. she's special."
"ha,ha,ha,ha,ha! she's special, is she?"
country girl flushed. "go ahead and laugh."
"i told you i was smart. but you're lucky, right?"
"yeah, i'm lucky. but you know what - it's love that makes me lucky. you wouldn't know about that." country girl got out, closed the door hard and started to walk across the street.
"hey!" elephant girl called after her.
country girl stopped. "what now?"
"i didn't mean to upset you. listen, you're in more trouble than you know.
you made a big mistake, getting lorna mad at you. you don't know lorna. she doesn''t give up easy."
"if you've got anything lying around, romance novels, cigarettes, you should get rid of them."
"thanks for the tips. and the ride. you're a sib - even if you have a big filthy mouth."
elephant girl circled the block, then parked where she could see if country girl came back out.
she punched a button on the dashboard and their entire conversation in the vehicle was replayed, with spaces omitted.
elephant girl punched another button and erased it all. then she switched the recorder back on, said "are you asleep?" waited a minute and said "wake up", in a loud voice.
then she settled back and waited. after half an hour, when country girl hadn't reappeared, she backed up and left, without passing the building again.
sally got on the elevator and it went down to the lobby without any problems. she didn't look at the mailboxes or notice the note that larry had put back. she went outside and looked around.
larry was watching her from across the street. he was standing behind a fourth floor window in a building that seemed completely deserted. he was a little surprised when sally didn't move along but sat on the curb, as if waiting for someone.
but after about fifteen minutes, she got up and walked away.
elephant girl parked the sedan at the side of station 1473.
she went inside. the latest batch of prisoners had been picked up, and it was quiet. sergeant fred was dozing on his feet behind the desk, but picked his head up when elephant girl approached.
keeping his voice low, he asked "did you get what lorna wanted?"
"not exactly." she passed a small coin sized disk across the counter under her hand. fred palmed it but didn't put it in his pocket right away. "she went to sleep, or pretended to, as soon as she got in."
fred nodded. "lorna won't be too happy about that."
elephant girl shrugged. she went over and took a seat at the end of the bench.