One day, after the usual morning meeting, we were about to leave for some appointment or other when we realized that Pat had stayed behind, looking very awkward and uncertain.
Pat was our aide and factotum. For some people, that would have been a position of influence and clout, but she never took advantage of it, and it often seemed that she got less out of us than the average citizen did.
Jan immediately sat down again, wanting to make it clear that we weren't in any hurry to leave. I sat down beside her, and she said, "Pat, is something up?"
Pat nodded, and sat down. She looked sheepish. "I have a bit of a problem," she said slowly. She took off the battered baseball cap she always wore and held it in her hands.
Vicki had left the room with the others, and I know we were both wondering why she hadn't stayed behind as well, but we didn't ask.
"Before I met Vicki," Pat said slowly, "I knew this guy, when I first came here. We've stayed in touch a little, and he's . . . he's been dating this other girl, and now she's dead, and everybody thinks he did it."
"Why is everybody so sure?" Jan asked, and I knew we were never going to make it to whatever meeting we were missing.
"He was the only one in the room with her. There was only one door, and his roommate Freddy was sitting outside it the whole time. Freddy claims he was awake, and I think there was somebody with him too. He saw the girl come home and go into the bedroom, some time after midnight.
"Then, a runner came to the door around three or four in the morning for Leo, that's the guy's name, and when Freddy knocked on the bedroom door, Leo opened it and the girl was dead on the bed, and the knife was on the floor."
"What did Leo say?" Jan asked as I lit her cigarette.
Pat shrugged. "He said he had been asleep when she came home, and he woke up when Freddy knocked on the door and found the girl dead in bed with him."
"Did she kill herself?"
"She was stabbed in the back. I don't think anybody could do that to themselves."
Jan nodded. "Where are they? Leo and Freddy?"