Ricky, who had been watching as if we were Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon, now stood, stretched and stepped over the coffee table in a slow motion vault. “Can I get you girls something else? Want to order a pizza?” Without waiting for an answer, he ambled into the kitchen where I could hear him opening and closing the refrigerator.
“I was interested in you,” whispered Patty.
“Me? You mean my job?” I was feeling the early stages of a bummer, a flicker of paranoia mixed with disassociation. What was I doing here?
“Not your job. Well, sort of. I wanted to know what it was like to, you know, find a dead person.”
“Because she used to live here?”
“I guess. And because I live in her apartment here.”
“You live across the hall?”
She nodded. “I moved in about a month ago.”
“No wonder there’s so much filing to do,” I said.
“Yeah, I remembered her name when Barbara told me about the accident.”
“But you were shopping me before Abigail died,” I reminded her.
“That’s true. That was for Barbara. The next day was for my own curiosity.”
“Pepperoni okay with you girls,” Ricky called.
“Sounds great,” said Patty. I said nothing. I was leaving. But before I left, I took a chance.
“Patty, I’m trying to figure out whether it mattered that Abigail lived here before she moved to Arborgate or if it was just a coincidence.”
“Why? Why wouldn’t it be a coincidence? She just fell and hit her head.”
“You think she was pushed?” asked Ricky from the doorway. He’d stretched the phone cord as far as it would go trying to reach for his wine glass. “You think someone hit her? Why? Was she bleeding?”
I handed him his glass.
“She wasn’t bleeding. If she’d bled, she cleaned it up, but I didn’t see a cut or anything. Just a bruise on her forehead.”
“You’re just trying to make something of it, aren’t you?” said Patty. “You’re just bored.”
“I'm not bored, just curious. I didn’t get a chance to read her whole file. Why don’t you finish the filing and let me know what come up with? She had a visitor drinking vodka with her the day she fell. I’m wondering who it might be. If it was someone she knew from here.”
"Don't look at me," said Ricky. "I don't do hard liquor."
“I don’t think her drinking buddies are going to be in her file, but what the hell, it can’t hurt to get that job finished.” Patty snapped her fingers and pointed to me. “You obviously didn’t get much done.”