suzi looked at her notebook before asking jody the next question.
"you say that nikki never brought any sex partners home."
"that's what i said."
"my question is this - given that fact, does it surprise you to learn that nikki had a lot of applications for sex - not only for totally hot sex but for extremely hot sex and beyond?"
jody shrugged. "not really."
"not even a little bit?"
"no. nikki was not here a lot. what else would a person be doing but having some kind of sex somewhere?"
suzi looked up from her notebook. "what else would they be doing? they could be doing a lot of things. they could go to a movie. or a concert. or a ball game. or a museum or the ballet. or a gym. or a library. or walking alone along the river."
"there's a river around here?"
"well, there are some that aren't that far away."
"if you say so. is that what you like to do, walk alone along the river?"
they heard the door to nikki's room open and robbie came out. he had a couple of books in his hand.
"find anything?" suzi asked him.
"i took some scans of the bed and the clothes. nothing that looked worth taking except maybe these." he handed suzi the two books.
suzi looked at the books. one had a black cover and was titled "black night of passion" - " by nikki bonney." and was subtitled "book one of the final passion tetralogy."
the second had a red cover and was titled "red flower of passion" also by nikki bonney - "book two of the final passion tetralogy".
"no book three or four?" suzi asked robbie.
"any other books?"
"just some books by james patterson and ayn rand."
suzi looked at jody. "you read these?"
"i never even saw them."
"did you know nikki wrote these?"
"but it doesn't surprise you?"
"nothing much surprises me."
suzi flipped the first book open. "take me, varon, merlinda gasped," she read aloud. "i'm a human and all i want is to get fucked."
"that sounds like me," said jody.
suzi looked up from the book.
"i bet nikki heard me say that," jody told her. " i should get a cut of the royalties."
"there probably aren't a lot of royalties," robbie said.
"i know. i was just kidding."
"do you have a sex partner named varon?" suzi asked jody.
"i was just kidding! making a little joke, you know?"
"so was i."
jody had left the stephen king book on the couch. robbie picked it up. "the tommyknockers. one of his best. you a big stephen king fan?"
"ever read 'needful things'? or 'dolores claiborne'? those are my favorites."
"no, i haven't got around to those."
robbie put the book back down. "all right. now i just have to look in the other room."
"we're almost done here," said suzi. she put her notebook in her pocket and got up from the table.
robbie headed over to jody's room.
"no more questions?" jody asked suzi.
"not for now. we'll let you know if we need you again."
"you think you will?"
"i already told you, yes, we probably will. for now, we'll just take these books and the note and the bottles."
suzi went over to the trash container and lifted the plastic liner filled with bottles out of it and twisted the liner into a knot at the top.
"you got a tie or elastic for this?"
"the top drawer right beside you."
suzi opened the drawer.
she looked down into it.
"well, well. look at this." she put the bag down.
"look at what?" jody asked.
jody came over and looked into the drawer and gasped.
"i didn't know that was there! i swear i didn't know that was there! nikki must have left that there."
"whatever. this changes everything. we will have to get a full t-squad in here now."
"would i have told you to look in the drawer if i knew that was there?" jody asked desperately.
"that's as may be. but we can't just let it go, can we?"
"oh, no. this - this is probably going to turn my whole life upside down."
and as curvaceous as the smile of a beautiful woman.
alfredo grew them in his own ground.
which his ancestors had owned for generations.
he grew them carefully.
and was careful not to grow too many.
he brought them to town every two weeks in season, to sell them in the market.
people from the united states were his best customers.
his best customer of all was a certain mr walter taggart, from richmond virginia.
mr taggart extolled the virtues of alfredo's lima beans to his friends.
and he had a lot of friends.
as he was very rich and his family had been involved in politics in both the united states and south america for many generations.
things proceeded in this way.
the lima beans were good and life was good.
then gonzalo came to town.
gonzalo had a wife and nine children and had difficulty providing for them.
he set up as a cab driver but business was not good.
the people from the united states had their own cars and chauffeurs.
most of the townspeople laughed at the idea of paying someone to drive them from one place to another.
gonzalo had a lot of idle time on his hands, and he spent some of it at the market.
he took note of the success of some of the vendors.
such as maria who sold pomegranates, and bonifacio who sold a peculiar kind of small green banana.
but he took particular note of the thriving business of alfredo with his lima beans.
how hard could it be to grow lima beans?
gonzalo purchased some of alfredo's beans and began to grow his own.
two of gonzalo's young daughters tended the lima beans as best they could in addition to their other chores during the day.
gonzalo and the two little girls grew as many beans as they could at once, and gonzalo and his wife and eldest daughter began selling them at the market at much lower prices than alfredo's.
such townspeople as had purchased alfredo's beans were quick to purchase gonzalo's instead.
so did most of the cooks and housekeepers who did the shopping for the americans.
after all, a lima bean was a lima bean.
even though most of gonzalo's beans were a pale greenish white and as flat as tire rims, instead of round and lushly green like alfredo's.
gonzalo quickly took away most of alfredo's business.
one day mr walter taggart himself came to the market to purchase some of alfred's superior beans.
alfredo told mr taggart his sad story.
mr taggart was quite upset.
he was determined that this intrusion of mass production methods, at the expense of old world craftsmanship - and in a place he regarded as a personal refuge from the crass modern world - should not go unchallenged.
he made no promises, but told alfredo he would do what he could for him.
mr taggart made his views clear to his friends.
the friends were happy to oblige him in this - to them - utterly trivial matter. they instructed the cooks and housekeepers to go back to buying alfredo's beans.
the cooks and housekeepers shrugged and obeyed.
alfredo got most - not all - of his business back.
some of the townspeople sympathized with gonzalo and thought he had been badly used by alfredo and his rich american friend.
after a while gonzalo and his family, unable to make ends meet, moved away, no one knew where.
life went on.
for what is life, but a series of crushing defeats for some, and small victories for others?
"probably you both wanted it that way, to avoid complications," robbie noted.
"exactly," jody agreed.
"you are sure about that?" suzi asked, with her pencil poised over her notebook.
"yes, i am sure. how many times are you going to ask?"
"you don't have to get snippy. it's a reasonable question, and you gave a reasonable answer."
"one that we get all the time," robbie added. "it's a common situation."
"i was just making sure," said suzi. she made a mark in her notebook. "next question - did you find nikki attractive?"
"do i have to answer that?" jody asked.
"you don't have to answer anything," suzi answered. "you can be helpful and speed things up."
"because we can find out anyway," said robbie.
suzi answered. "we can run every call or message you have ever made or received and check if you ever said something like 'nikki is hot' or 'that nikki sure is cute.'"
"but even if you didn't find anything, that wouldn't be absolute proof."
suzi rolled her eyes. "what do you want, a course on probability 101? we go on probabilities. if you never once recorded anything about nikki being attractive, we would go on the assumption that you did not find nikki attractive. does that answer your question?"
"good. i answered your question, now be a pal and answer mine. did you find nikki attractive?"
"thank you. next question. did nikki bring sex partners or contacts to the apartment?"
"i never saw any."
"did you bring sex partners or contacts to the apartment?"
suzi looked over at robbie.
"actually, all the time," jody added.
"thank you." suzi made another mark in her notebook.
"don't tell me you are going to want the names of all these people?"
"hopefully not," suzi answered. "we hope it doesn't come to that. do you know all their names, by the way?"
"mostly. some of them, anyway."
"whatever. we can always find them if we have to. "
"but you don't want to?" jody asked.
"not at this point."
"i have a question," said robbie. "did nikki ever bring people - or other entities - back to the apartment and present them as just friends?"
"yeah, a few times."
"did you get their names or numbers?"
"if i did, i don't remember them. i really wasn't interested in nikki's friends."
suzi and robbie exchanged glances.
"you might have to come down to the station to describe these people," suzi told jody.
"it's not certain," said robbie. "but you should probably expect to."
"but i hardly took any notice of them!"
"we'll be the judge of that."
"the station? does that mean p j?"
suzi laughed. "no, no. probably just some little local station. just a recording station."
"i should probably start looking around here," robbie said. "did nikki leave anything behind, that you noticed?"
"no, i didn't really look. i hardly looked in the room."
"but you did look in the room?" suzi asked.
"just a quick look when i first saw the note. to make sure nikki was really gone."
"i'll look in at it, " robbie said. "which door was nikki's ?"
"the further one."
robbie moved toward it. "of course i am going to look in your room too."
"of course," jody answered.
robbie moved over to the doors to the two bedrooms.
"can i ask you a question?" jody asked suzi.
"you know you can't really keep track of everything everybody does every second of every day?"
"you don't think so?"
"there aren't enough of you. every person would need their own police."
"that's not true. it would be if we had to sit outside the building in a van and listen to everything you say as you say it. but look at it this way. every person on the planet is like a book in a library - a book that is always being updated.
now the book will probably just sit on the shelf and no one will ever come along and take it down and read it. probably not, if you just follow the rules. but the book is there. you are there."
"i still think - "
"we don't really care what you think. now while robbie is looking around i got a few more questions, so we can get this over with. at least for now. okay?"
"all right. now when you are bringing all these sex partners home and nikki is not, does nikki ever evince any jealousy?"
"not that i noticed."
"not that you noticed. here's another question. did you ever make any remarks, sort of twitting or teasing nikki about this situation? either when the partners were present or when they were not?"
"do i look like the sort of person who would do such a thing?"
"did you in fact make such remarks? we can certainly find out if you did. this isn't the dark ages, you don't have any secrets."
jody hesitated. "i did not go on any kind of deliberate crusade to embarrass or torment nikki. i may have let a few things slip out, i don't really remember."