annabelle could hear muffled voices through the door. she heard charlotte's voice and jeanne's and they seemed to be talking to a third person she couldn't hear. she was a little afraid of charlotte and usually avoided her, but she was so bored she got up and went out to see what was going on.
jeanne was gone somewhere but charlotte was talking to a young woman sitting just outside jeanne's office.
annabelle recognized her almost immediately from pictures in some of the files she had just been slogging through - laura poll! or was it? could it really be?
charlotte ignored annabelle and continued talking to laura.
"i suppose we will have somebody interview you.," she was saying. "maybe tonight, to get it over with." annabelle thought, she doesn't sound too excited.
annabelle stood hesitantly behind charlotte with her hands at her sides. jeanne reappeared with a drink and handed it to laura poll. "orange and pineapple," she said. "that and orange were the only choices."
jeanne turned to annabelle. "this is the famous laura poll. charlotte was kind enough to pick her up on one of her midnight rides."
"yes, i thought i recognized her. would you like me to interview her?"
"why not?" jeanne answered. "but let her sit here a while first."
"why not interview her yourself ?" charlotte asked jeanne. "since you are such old acquaintances.
or maybe tania could do it."
"i thought you wanted tania to concentrate on johnson."
"she can fit it in. i'm having second thoughts about that anyway."
"tania isn't here ," said annabelle. "larry called in looking for backup on something and she took it herself."
charlotte whirled on annabelle. "and you don't approve? did i hear in the tone of your voice that you don't approve?"
"i was just making a statement," annabelle replied weakly.
"oh. leave her alone," jeanne told charlotte.
"she's here working, isn't she? we should be celebrating here."
"what are you doing out here anyway?" charlotte asked annabelle.
"i was just getting a drink."
"then get it, detective. carry on."
"i will do the interview," jeanne said as annabelle went down the corridor.
"no," said charlotte. 'i think i will do it myself. bring her down to me in about fifteen minutes,"
the nearest alley to sally's apartment building was narrow but empty , and toni could barely squeeze the van through it to get around to the back of the building.
"we should have taken a sedan," said tania. "my fault, i wasn't thinking."
"don't worry about it. half the sedans are wider than the vans anyway."
toni circled around in a narrow space behind the buildings so that the van was ready to go back out the alley.
they both got out.
"pretty tall building," said toni. in the small space, there wasn't much of an angle to look up at it. "what floor did you say this person was on?"
"thirty-first. it could be worse. according to larry, she was on 51 until this morning."
toni had a small pair of binoculars and she looked up at the building with them.
"i can see a little bit of light. like from a viewer. she must be watching a show." toni dropped the glasses down.
"it looks like at least seventy-five stories. maybe somebody should be on the roof. or just sitting outside her door."
"we haven't thought this out very well," tania said. "detective lyndon and myself. i mean. your observations are very good," she told toni.
"wait here until i talk to larry. i'll be right back."
country girl looked into the back of the van.
"citizen prisoners, listen up. we have a long ride ahead of us, but it is going to be a quiet one. expeditions of this nature are sometimes just a block or two, but i am sorry to say that that is not the case here as my partner and i are a little out of our way. so just sit back and enjoy the ride as best you can."
hurk, sitting at the end of one side, at country girl's right, spoke up. "why can't you just take us to the station up the road?"
"citizen, i sincerely wish i could do exactly that. but it just isn't meant to be."
"what do you all care anyway?" leslie asked. "you're all just going to jupiter. consider this a nice moonlight ride, your last taste of freedom."
this didn't get a good response.
"how do we know where you are taking us?" someone shouted.
some of the prisoners started stamping their feet. leslie looked away into the shadows but there was now no sign of any other vans or police.
"we want some chow!" came a voice from the rear. it got a few laughs. and a couple more shouts of "chow! chow!"
"you'll get your chow when you get it," country girl answered. "now, listen! i was trying to be nice, but you people are prisoners. you were in a sweep zone, and you got swept.
now you are going to jupiter. my partner and i will make every effort to treat you in a civilized manner but do not, i repeat do not, presume on our good nature."
"and what if we do?" came another voice.
"what if you do?" country girl asked. she took a light out of her pocket and flashed it into the van.
the light hit pippi in the face, but the voice had been male.
"i'll tell you what if you do, we are going past the waterfront, pretty much the whole length of the waterfront.
there's a lot of cold dark water there and if i get upset somebody is going in it."
"i don't really think you would do that, officer," tomboy said from the middle of the van.
"no? try me. notice i said 'somebody'". cpuntry girl flashed the light around. "i'm not going to come back and hold a trial and try to figure out who's naughty and who's nice. i'm just going to grab somebody - and then - splash!"
"you know what i heard?" pippi asked from the back.
"no, pippi, what did you hear?"
"there's a big sandwich factory down by the waterfront and people fish bodies out of the water and sell them to the sandwich factory."
this got some laughs, including from leslie.
'"i admit that's new to me," country girl said.
"but citizens, listen to the young lady and take good heed, if you don't want to end up as some poor slob's imitation crabmeat sandwich.
i am going to close the doors now, and i sincerely hope we don't have to open them until we get to station 1473."
"where's that?" a voice shouted but she ignored it. she nodded to leslie and they slammed the doors and locked them.
"whoo! not as good a group a i thought.
i should have just locked them up and not made my little speech."
leslie shrugged. "it was probably worth a try."
they walked back to the cab.
'what can they do anyway?" leslie asked. "if they are screaming and yelling and biting each other when we get back lorna won't like it but too bad jim."
"you want me to drive again?"
"just until we get past the waterfront. in case i have to jump out quick. when we get back to civilization then i'll take over."
they got into the cab. they could hear some muttering in the van, no real shouting.
"they can't actually shake the van, can they?" leslie asked.
"no. they can make it feel like they are, but it's just vibrations. they can't actually move it an inch on the road."
"cool." leslie exhaled. " i want some chow."
"there's still that extra sandwich. you want it now?"
"i'll take it."
country girl took the sandwich out of the compartment and gave it to leslie.
"you want half? you bought it."
"they actually made a pretty good sandwich."
"yes. they did."
"tomorrow," said leslie, "we're going to sit on the bench the whole night. i can feel it."