"jojo! jojo is the reason i am here! if it was jojo that brought the police around and almost got me arrested!"
"slow down," rosa lee told edwin. "don't get excited. start from the beginning and tell us how you got here."
"why don't you sit down first," connie told him. "just grab one if those crates."
edwin grabbed a crate off a pile. he hardly had the strength to lift it.
country girl showed up only twenty minutes after swan and schweik. lorna watched impassively from behind the front desk as country girl and buddy brought their prisoners in, took their handcuffs off and left them on the benches.
country girl walked over to lorna with buddy behind her.
"sergeant, this is officer buddy from the replacement center. i just want to let you know he did an excellent professional job tonight. he would like to ask about a permanent assignment here."
"thank you so much, corporal. your recommendation will be given its due weight in consideration of his application."
"i also mentioned to him that the robot advancement program is emphasized in this station."
"how very thoughtful. thank you."
"well, i'll leave him to you." country girl turned to take a seat on the officers beach.
"not so fast, corporal. i'd like you to fill out another 637."
"for being twenty minutes late."
"i'm not late! i was on assignment - i picked up some prisoners. i'm not late!"
'you were twenty minutes later than the other officers on the same assignment. perhaps you would like to explain your detour - as you described it to the other officers."
"i had a tip on a tract salesman on level 15 - we were just across a tunnel from it so i thought i'd check it out."
'i see. and did this tip result in an arrest?"
"no! they don't always, you know."
"and how long have you had this wonderful tip?"
'just since today - i got it when i took the young woman home to level 15 earlier. i couldn't follow up on it because i had to bring officer pinky back."
swan and schweik were now listening to all of this. swan glanced at schweik and shook her head almost imperceptibly.
"and why didn't you mention it when you brought in officer pinky?"
schweik shook his head openly at this.
"i forgot. i was concerned about officer pinky."
lorna handed country girl a form 637. "you can explain all that on the form."
country girl took the form. she reached into her pocket as she headed for the bench, then stopped. "i lost my pencil."
"i don't have any extras."
"you don't have an extra pencil? are you serious?'
"my replacement might have one. maybe you can wait for him."
swan and schweik looked at each other. swan jumped up from the bench. "what is this? she can use my pencil!"
lorna turned and stared coldly at swan. "no need to shout, corporal, or to interrupt. i was just about to suggest to the corporal that she ask the other officers for assistance. please act in a professional manner, especially with the benches filled with prisoners."
"yes, that we brought in."
"i apologize, sergeant. my attitude and conduct were uncalled for."
lorna nodded. "very good. i will overlook it." she turned back to buddy, who had been watching and listening without expression.
lorna reached into a drawer of the desk and brought a form out. "here is a form 563, officer. after you fill it out, i will find someone to take you back to the replacement center."
swan took a pencil out of her pocket and tossed it to country girl, who caught it and took a seat on a bench. she began filling out the form.
"interesting," was rosa lee's comment when edwin finished.
"did you really think so?" bonnie asked. "it sounded like a lot of other stories we hear."
"don't mind them," rosa lee told edwin. "so it was crispus that sent you."
"it was crispus that gave him a note with bobby's name on it," bonnie put in.
"bobby is a common name," rosa lee said.
"how many other bobby's do you know?" bonnie replied.
"don't mind them," rosa lee told edwin again.
"don't mind her," said connie. "i'm being nice."
rosa lee ignored her. "did crispus tell you anything about me?" she asked edwin.
"no, he just gave me the address and pointed me in this direction."
"he never talked about me before?"
"i never even saw crispus before last night. it was my first night on the shift. and i didn't talk to him before he found me in the basement."
"good. that's good. so tell me, edwin, now that you are here, are you ready to become a soldier in the army of love?"
edwin looked blankly at her.
"are you ready to stand up for love?" rosa lee asked.
edwin looked down at the crate he was sitting on. "i just sat down."
"oh ho,'" said bonnie, "he has a sense of humor."
"always a useful and admirable attribute," connie added.
"i'll do anything you want," edwin said hurriedly. "anything. i'm very grateful. don't think i'm not."
"good. i'm glad we got that settled. maybe now you should rest up."
"yes, i'd like that." edwin's shoulders slumped.
"connie and bonnie here will find you a place to sleep." rosa lee nodded to the two girls.
"is it far?" edwin asked. "is it in this building"
"it's not far," connie told him.
edwin stood up and followed connie out the door with bonnie behind him. bonnie turned back and rosa lee held up two fingers. bonnie nodded.
rosa lee waited a minute and then moved to a stack of empty cartons.
she pushed them aside revealing a door. she knocked on the door and bobby came through it. bobby was a head attached to the top of a clear cylinder filled with blue fluid. the cylinder was attached to a board with wheels, which he maneuvered with metal arms attached to the cylinder.
"where do we get these people?" he asked rosa lee. "he may be the worst yet."
"oh he's not that bad. he's a little tired and nervous, but why shouldn't he be? he might be ok."
"we have to work with what we get. crispus sent him - that's good too, it's shows crispus is finally making an effort."
"the besotted crispus."
rosa lee shrugged. "we're the army of love, aren't we?"
the passengers waiting for the train in the black forest were growing impatient. finally the three princesses stood up and approached sally.
"station master," the austrian princess demanded, "where is the train? and what are you planning to do about those frightful men outside?"
"the train is late," sally answered. "it always is."
"then why don't they change the schedule?" asked the french princess.
"probably because it might make it even later," said the danish princess.
"or never come at all," said sally.