“Here,” said Patience, handing him a bottle of water. “You still look a little peaked.”
Security Chief Sherman had released them after recording their official statements. The only other thing that they had learned before they left was that Delia had apparently been stabbed with the same ballpoint pen that had killed Bella. She had ten punctures across the front of her torso. Sherman believed that she had been disabled before Bella’s murder. This was born out by the lack of the latter’s blood on any of the formers wound, and also the supposition that Delia would have protected Bella from an attacker had she been able.
“I can’t… God…” said Mike. “I really hate this. She was so alive and young and now she’s dead. It’s just not right.”
Patience placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he covered it with his own.
“I can’t sit in here. I can’t just sit and think and do nothing.”
“Come,” said Patience. “Let’s go up to the gym.”
Mike changed into his shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes and let Patience lead him to the sun deck and the gym, taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Loud thumping music filled the room. He stepped toward the treadmill, when she put a restraining hand on his shoulder.
“No, Mike. Remember your knee. Ride the recumbent cycle. It will be gentler.”
“I’m not sure I want gentler,” he said, but he followed her directions, climbed onto the exercise bike, and began peddling.
Patience took a place in the back of the room and watched her husband. When Mike went to the gym in Springdale, as when he worked out at home, he usually spent several minutes on weights before jogging on the track or down the street. When he rode an exercise bike, it was usually limited to 30 minutes. Today he passed the thirty-minute mark without slowing and at the end of an hour he seemed he just kept going. After 150 minutes, Patience approached and touched his head. Mike’s hair, like his workout clothes, was completely soaked through with perspiration.
“That’s enough for today, Mike.”
He stopped peddling and nodded. When he got up, he leaned precariously to one side. Patience put her shoulder under his to support him.
“I hope you didn’t aggravate your knee.”
“It’s fine. I’m just worn out.”
As they made their way back to their room, taking the elevator this time, Patience felt herself pinged several times by the ship’s network. When they reached their door, Security Officer Sherman was waiting.
“What’s going on?” asked Mike.
“Can I come in and talk to you for a minute?”
“Please come in,” said Patience, before Mike could point out the man’s incorrect grammar. She smiled to herself as she imagined him saying, “Of course you can come in. You do know how a door works, don’t you?”
She opened the door and led the two men inside and to the dinette set, where they all sat down.
“Is there something else you needed to ask us?” wondered Mike. “I think we told you everything we know.”
“No, it’s not that. But I do need your help. The only possible witness we have to Miss Brown’s murder is her robot.”
“Bella,” said Patience.
“Of course,” said Mike. “I guess I didn’t know her last name. Can you fix Delia, um… her Daffodil?”
“That is the question,” continued Sherman. “I contacted Daffodil headquarters in Cupertino, California to see if they had someone in Adelaide that they could recommend to try and fix her, or alternatively to fly someone out from California. There are technicians in Adelaide, but apparently none who are qualified to work on Daffodils. The company suggested I talk to you.”
“Me?” asked Mike. “I don’t know anything about robots or how they work.”
“Not you, your robot. They said… no, they insisted that I get Patience D. Smith to examine the damaged Daffodil.” Sherman looked at Patience. “You are Patience D. Smith, aren’t you? I mean… you are the one they are talking about?”
She nodded thoughtfully.