The trees of the upper side of Lunar Terrace had fresh green leaves after the rain. In the cool afternoon sunlight I could see the steep drop of the hill and the flight of steps down which the killer had run after his three shots in the darkness. Two small houses fronted onto the street below. They might or might not have heard the shots.
There was no activity in front of Geiger's house of anywhere along the block. The box hedge looked green and peaceful and the shingles on the roof were still damp. I got my rickshaw bot to drive past slowly, while I gnawed at an idea. I hadn't looked in the garage the night before. Once Geiger's body slipped away I hadn't really wanted to find it. It would force my hand. But dragging him to the garage, to his own ground-car and driving off into one of the hundred odd lonely airlocks around the Habitat would be a good way to dispose of him for days or even weeks. That supposed two things: a key to his car and two in the party. It would narrow the sector of search quite a lot, especially as I happened to have his personal keys in my pocket when it happened.
I didn't get a chance to look at the garage. The doors were shut and sealed and something moved behind the hedge as I drew level. A woman wearing a green and white coat with soft blonde hair stepped out of the maze and stood looking wild-eyed at my rickshaw, as if she hadn't heard it coming up the hill. Then she turned swiftly and dodged back out of sight. It was Carmen Sternwood, of course.
I went on up the street and got my rickshaw bot to park and walked back. In the pseudo-daylight it seemed an exposed and dangerous thing to do. I went in though the hedge. She stood straight and silent against the locked front door. She looked strained. There were purple smears under her eyes and her face was gnawed white by nerves.
She half smiled at me. She said: "Hello" in a thin brittle voice.
"Remember me?" I said, "Doghouse Rogers, the man that grew too tall."
She nodded and a quick jerky smile played around her mouth.
"Let's go in," I said, "I've got a key. Swell, huh?"
"What?" she stuttered.
I pushed her aside and applied the key to the door and let it swing open and pushed her through it. I let the door shut again and stood there sniffing. The place was horrible by daylight. The Chinese junk on the walls, the rug, the fussy lamps, the fused recording bot - all this in the daylight had a certain stealthy nastiness.
The girl and I stood looking at each other. She tried to keep a cute little smile on her face but her face was too tired to be bothered. It kept going blank on her. The smile would wash off like water on sand and her pale skin had a harsh granular texture under the stunned and stupid blankness of her eyes. A whitish tongue licked at the corners of her mouth. A pretty, spoilt and not very bright little girl who had gone very, very wrong, and nobody was doing anything about it. To hell with the rich. They made me sick. I picked out a cigarette and rolled it between my fingers and pushed some books out of the way and sat on the end of the black desk. I lit my cigarette, puffed a plume of white smoke and watched the girl for a while in silence. Carmen stood in front of me, like a bad girl in the Principal's office.
"What are you doing here?" I asked flatly.
She picked at the hem of her clothing and didn't answer.