"Well here we are, hole thirteen," General Morrison announced and leaned back to Bob telling her, "I hope that's lucky, but any case come on and be my little good luck charm."
Bob hopped off when the cart came to a stop making a quirky bend to one side in the process and turned to face them with a sway of her shoulders, very pleased with herself. She asked, "Where's the ah, where we do it?" That query earned her two faces completely lost for reactions, so she clarified, "Tee."
"Oh, oh!" Jim said as Jack blew out a breath. "Right over there," Jim gestured her with a club.
"Tee-hee-aaaah," Bob said with a wicked smile as she passed by them.
"All right!" Jim bellowed as they followed the sprightly Bob to the tee, "show us the magic spot."
"The spot," Bob said, turned aside, bent forward slightly and pointed down to a spot. Walking along behind her, Jim craned his neck to stare at a different spot a bit above the back of the gradually declining little shorts while the rest of him kept right on marching over the green.
Bob instinctively reached out and grabbed Jim's elbow, leading him around to face the spot she was pointing to. Jim humored her, setting up his ball there as Bob started to return to the golf cart. "This one should be easy," Jim boasted.
Bob looked back over her shoulder and as expected found Jim staring after her. She smiled and suggested to Jim, "Don't say that. It's bad finka."
"She's right," Jack suggested and smiled back at her. "It's bad luck."
"It is?" Jim asked. "Oh then come on over here Miss, maybe you can offset some of my jinx."
"Mkay," Bob said and sauntered over to supervise. As it happened, the General had taken three balls from his golf bag. One ball he'd placed on the grass and he was putting the other two back in the bag. Bob strolled up just then and took the two balls, telling him, "For luck." Holding the two balls in her hand by her two smaller fingers and sticking her other two fingers straight up, she kissed the two balls. Jack cringed and covered his eyes with his hand but Jim wheezed laughter. After returning the two balls into the golf bag for him, she picked up the other ball, kissed it, put it back down, stood alongside and behind the General and asked, "Feeling luckier?"
"I do believe I am," Jim heartily replied and laughed. Just as lined up his shot however, the main theme from Star Trek by Alexander Courage trumpeted in beeps from his cell phone. "Oh hell, bloody....crikey, tee off, Jack, I'll take this. Didn't I tell them not to bother me on Sunday, and on the bloody course?" Jim asked no one. He grabbed out his cell phone, opened it and while his fingers fumbled at the tiny keys on the tiny phone he complained, "Who the hell's finger tips are three millimeters across!?" Irritably, he bellowed into the phone, "Yes?!"
Jack and Bob shared a secret look of amusement at the General's temper as Jack prepared his attempt on the course. Meanwhile a voice on the phone said, "Agent Honey."
"Oh oh oh," Jim sputtered and quickly excused himself, "I'll have to take this."
"No problem Jim," said Jack. Before he took his swing, he looked around and saw that Bob was already some distance away in a narrow wooded border, indelicately bent over, seemingly having a tug of war with a brush tailed 'possum for possession of the General's package of spare balls. Jack laughed and took a moment to watch her antics. As usual she was amusing to watch just from her postures and movements alone.
Jim's annoyance at the interruption of his free time gave way to some curiosity and anxiety by the time he reached a secluded spot by a tree on the other side of the green. The IASA special investigations operative code named Agent Honey had made her curiosity of John Crichton's case known to the General some time ago but had only been flagged into the sphere of the General's concerns in an official capacity at the mysterious disappearance of Amelia.
Typically the operatives made everyone a little nervous, including the General. Agent Honey was a definite exception to the rule. His own knowledge about her was limited, although unlike the rank and file he knew that her real name was Ginger Ambersteen. By his own observations, Honey was a perfect code name for her. As others who had seen her remarked, the tall and skinny bleached blond woman could have been a super model and had a definite glamor to her hair, makeup and dress.
As interesting as that was to him being a man and one with a frustrated home life, the most important point was that she seemed surprisingly pleasant to him. He realized it could all be part of her act, but it was played very subtly if so and he felt sure she wasn't that good of an actor. Their rapport was almost immediate and had seen them on cordial, sometimes informal terms through many run-ins over the past few years. Over that time she'd proved to his satisfaction that she had her heart in the right place. So it wasn't unprecedented that she should call him on his own cell phone, which he didn't remember giving her the number of, and that he didn't feel any concern about speaking with her.
What concerned him was a feeling of dread that something more damning against John Crichton, and by some extension his old friend Jack, would turn up at any time. Jim spoke into the phone with a sigh, "Go on."
"Early this morning I took an initial inspection of the residence of subject 'red-mop'," Ginger reported, "and I've just completed all the reports."
"What did you find?" Jim asked. "As far as you might say."
"Oh I understand Gin," he said and waited.
Seated in her brown Hummer in a shaded corner of a Sydney parking lot with one arm resting on the wide door at the bottom of the open window and gaping at the cell phone she held in her other hand, Ginger could only wonder what marvels of fortune had made Jim a General. But then she closed her mouth in a scowl. He could at least have tried keeping her cover on the phone, but to her own frustration, his presumptuous familiarity endeared him to her lonely heart.
After an awkward moment Ginger continued with a resigned sigh, "Well there was no trace of Amelia, as you might have guessed. The report is still to be reviewed by superiors, but I expect nothing of it except a note I found on the refrigerator under um, let's say a magnet only Amelia would like. It suggests to me that she expected an appointment Monday at an office in the Melbourne Building in Newport, with one Richard Stepson of one Styx Enterprises."
"Now why does that sound familiar?" Jim asked himself.
Ginger almost irritably told him, "I have been reporting of this organization-"
"-Yes, I know," Jim reassured her, "don't snap at me er, Gin. Your tireless efforts are not unnoticed."
"Thank you Sir," Ginger said and then took a sip from a take-out cup of black coffee. Almost under her breath she said, "But after being up since Friday I wouldn't say I felt very tireless."
"Now that you're done, you can catch some rest. Very kind of you to keep me abreast, if there's- wait," Jim halted his thoughts mid-stream. Slowly his eyes turned to set on Jack Crichton and his weedy brows hunkered down in thought. Roberta's mentions of Payne's whereabouts came to mind. Seemed Roberta was either manipulative or multi-faceted in the extreme, but either way Jim felt it was obvious that the frisky would-be daughter in law of Jack's couldn't keep an act straight one time to the next. Therefore Jim reckoned she certainly wasn't clever enough to be involved in any plots of John's or Payne's. He now figured he had a possible way to test Roberta's honesty, possibly incriminate Payne and clear John of many suspicions all in one simple test. Jim almost laughed as he asked, "That Melbourne Building in Newport, that wouldn't be one across from a mall? My wife Margaret, she shops there all the time. It gets bloody expensive."
"Ah ha," Ginger half-laughed. "Funny. So do I."
"Well then you're bloody expensive," he told her.
"I guess I am," she confessed with a smile.
"I pity your fellow," Jim told her.
"No thank you," she said of having a 'fellow'. "But yes it's right nearby."
"What sort of car does Payne drive?" Jim asked.
"Why?" Ginger nearly laughed again. "Cars in plural, he's always boasting of course. Anything fast and expensive."
"What was he driving when he took John's fiancee-" Jim began to ask.
Ginger snickered at the memory of that night, "Now that was fun. Oh it was a black Lexus. He also has-"
"-Does he have a Porsche? I seem to remember he does," Jim asked.
"Yes he does," Ginger confirmed. "A 1994 911 to be more exact."
"That's right, the archetypal Porsche at that," Jim noted and told her, "Hang on for a moment won't you." Jim put her on hold and walked over toward Roberta's apparent destination, the golf cart.
Meanwhile Jack made his swing. The ball fell half way to the putting green. "Not even close," Jack muttered. "Now that's a weak drive."
"You're just out of practice," Bob said with a wicked smirk as she brushed by him to stand near the golf cart.
Jim arrived near the golf cart at about the same moment although he was busy prodding Jack, "That's what a lack of Vegemite in your diet will do to you. Say Miss Chevalier, I mean eh Bob, didn't you uh-" Jim started to ask as he looked around for Bob, hunching down to look and see if she was standing on the other side of the golf cart.
"Little freller almost got away with your case," Bob said, her voice next to him making him nearly jump in surprise.
Jim turned in the direction of her voice still hunched over, finding himself staring at Bob's midsection and her holding his package of spare balls with a 'possum hanging from it. 'Strange but cute', Jim thought. Not about the 'possum, but about seeing little tufts of down soft white hair peeking out above the front of the gradually declining waist band. Only then did he finally notice the 'possum. He looked twice at the 'possum with bugged eyes. The 'possum let go just then and scurried over to a tree.
"Uh thanks," Jim said as he took the case and stared at it. "Oh Miss Bob, didn't you say you saw Payne Adams at Newport?"
"Some business place by the mall? Yeah," Bob nodded, standing with her hands behind her back. Jack thought her fingers twisted into a sort of alien gesture for good luck and he smiled to think that alien life would have such a concept.
"You're sure it was Payne Adams?" Jim asked. "You were close enough to be sure?"
"Well....he's got ah, stuffed animals in the back seat of his Por-sssh," Bob replied with both amusement and persuasive openness. "How many other guys look exactly like him and would have stuffed animals in the back of a Por-sssh?"
Jack shook his head to himself at her self-amused way with deception. John had tried to warn him about that, and now he thought about it, he thought he detected a kind of wariness clouding John every time his son looked at Bob. Perhaps, he thought, his son still hadn't learned to live with it. He decided he'd have to speak to John about that, since it didn't seem to him that Bob was likely to change that way.
After hearing Bob's reply, Jim excused himself again and walked over to the trees. "Gin?"
"Hm?" Ginger bleeped as if he'd startled her from dozing.
"Does Payne have stuffed animals in the back of his Porsche?" Jim asked.
Ginger took a longer drink of coffee and scowled at the phone. "I am trying to picture that," she assured Jim.
"No, literally I'm asking," Jim told her, "and I won't ask how you'd know, just does he or doesn't he?"
"Honestly I wouldn't know," Ginger answered, "not having been in it."
"I would ask the one woman at the base who hasn't been in it, hm?" Jim teased. "Well I'm all but sure he does. I suggest you find out," he told her. "If so, he was seen there today, at that same office building you mentioned."
"Hm," Ginger said, rousing herself along with the interest in her voice, "is that good oil? Who saw him? When was he seen?"
Obliged to directly reveal his source, Jim looked over to Roberta and made an inventive snap judgment call more like the kind of thinking that earned him his position than anything he had done at IASA in years. "Spare the interrogating," Jim suggested, "let us just say anonymous drum if we can help it."
"No we wouldn't want her involved," Ginger agreed, guessing that he meant his wife. After a small sigh, she relented, "I suppose I could check now."
"Well it's Sunday, he could be anywhere," Jim supposed, pleased that had played exactly as he'd planned.
"I'll give it a burl," Ginger said, "and will tell you if I find anything."
Standing some distance off to the side in the shade, General Morrison was speaking in what he might have thought was privacy. But Bob easily heard him and was pleased things seemed to be playing out as she'd planned. Thanks to the fact that the General tended to speak loudly, Jack also overheard a little here and there. About all Jack could make out was that Jim was asking if Payne's Porsche had stuffed animals in the back seat. Jack didn't know what was going on, but he had ideas. Those ideas involved a nearby young lady with a cat-ate-the-canary look about her.
Bob set herself up to take a swing, complete with a cute swinging of her mostly bare little rear in exaggerated imitation of what she must have seen someone do on TV. Jack came over and made as if he were giving her some pointers. "What's this about Payne and stuffed animals in his Porsche?" he asked Bob.
"Tell you later," she didn't answer, "but if General shinytop and his boys back at that IASA are buying like I think they are, we've got them on Payne's eema and off John's, at least for a little while."
"Bob, don't obfuscate," Jack mildly glared. "What've you done?"
"Don't throw a wobbly," Bob brightly threw him some Australian slang. "It's better you don't know yet because you're not supposed to know anything about it, okay?"
"No, it's not," Jack didn't accept. "You've done something-"
"John got it from you," Bob took a couple steps back, bristling with annoyance and rejection, barely keeping her voice low. "Trust the wrong people, mmnnot me."
Jack glared, his jaw set. But although John probably would have, he wasn't going to press the matter. It wouldn't make her say what he wanted to hear, in fact he felt sure it'd only push her to more hazardous behavior.
"Sorry for the interruption old man," Jim interrupted and jocularly asked as he approached, "Am I interrupting something now?" Both of them turned to face him with some surprise. But Jim went right to taking his next shot. It sailed into the woods near the putting green. "Probably done for by that 'possum of yours. Well we'll have you put out next, it's only a seventeen hundred yard drive at this course isn't it?" Jim told Jack as he patted Jack on the back and walked with him towards Jack's ball. "Would you bring the cart around, dear?" Jim asked Bob.
Jack looked horrified. "Uh Jim, I'll bring the cart-"
"Nonsense!" Jim blustered and told Bob, "Give it a burl. My son doesn't talk much to me for some reason, so imagine my surprise," Jim carried on to Jack, only pausing to watch Jack's line of sight to the hole. Jack prepared to swing, distracted by the cart bounding by behind him. Jack turned to look again, only to find the cart was already out of sight. Jim didn't seem to have even noticed the cart. "You'll get this one," Jim decided.
Jack took his turn, but the ball landed several feet from the hole. "Well it's still on the green," Jack said and shook his head. Hearing the cart again to one side, Jack looked to see it bouncing off though a narrow gap in the surrounding woods leading to another hole. "Uh do you think-"
"We'll look," Jim interrupted. "The ball landed right over there, I'm sure." The General indicated the way with his golf club pointed in the air and led on to the woods near the putting green. Once there he began to organize the search operation. "I shall take this sector, Jack between there and- yes there and Roberta can look around over here when she returns."
To Jack's surprise, Bob appeared from behind them asking, "Lookin' fa something?"
"Jim's ball," Jack said.
"Aw doesn't he have-"
The moment Jack realized the cue he'd left open for Bob to make a naughty quip, he interrupted her and specified, "Golf ball. It went off somewhere around here." As he spoke he was reminded of the missing golf cart as well. "And where's that cart?" he wondered out loud. A quick look around showed no sign of the cart. Jack scratched his head.
"Lemme," Bob said as she scratched her shin with her foot. "Think I saw his ball go in that bush," she gestured.
"Ma'am," Jim said, graciously moving out of Bob's way. Seeing that her little shorts had worked down to ride lower still, Jim stared after her, wishing the sun wasn't shining toward him and trying on a grin he hadn't worn for decades. Jim snapped out of the stare and asked Jack, "So how's the family? Damn if you can get anywhere with a son. I sent him to the best, and what does he do? Dad, I've decided to go into cabinetry. That's right. Cabinetry. Well at least it isn't embroidery, right?"
Jack put in an attempt at a laugh while wondering what Jim was getting to. They were interrupted by a ruckus from the bushes. It looked as if Bob were boxing someone. Bob's head emerged from a bush and she suddenly tossed the ball to Jim. "Your ball?"
"It is!" Jim laughed, catching it and putting it on the edge of the green before looking up to see if Jack accepted the improvised placement.
Jack shrugged agreeably, not about to try making the General stick to the rulebook on a day off. Then he looked over to see Bob staggering back from the bushes in an explosion of leaves. She spun around and staggered over to Jack. "Red 'roos," the winded Bob managed to say before collapsing off to the side into a sand trap.
Jack watched Jim preparing for his put a moment, then walked over to help Bob. He found he couldn't find Bob. There were tracks of what looked like a kangaroo nearby. As Jack wondered what in the world happened to Bob, Jim scored the ball in one put. "Perfect put!" he cried, delighted with his effort.
"Yes it was," the bewildered Jack said as he walked back onto the green. Suddenly he was handed his put club. He had to make a double take when he looked to his side to see Bob. Seeing the golf cart parked a ways behind her caused Jack to make another double take. "How did uh...."
"Brought the cart closer," Bob announced.
"What a charming caddy," Jim said and laughed, squeezing a blinking Bob with one arm around her shoulders. "Would you put this up, luv?" he gave her his club when he released her. Bob took the club with some annoyance and walked off to the cart.
Jim stood back waiting for Jack to line up his shot and idly remarked, "Trim little thing. I don't suppose you have any specifications on that fuselage?"
"Yeah she's um," Jack started to say but realized he didn't know. "You know I'm not sure?"
"Yes, you're getting old," Jim teased him. Easily hearing them where she stood thanks to her Nebari hearing, Bob almost piped up the answer for Jack but she just let them talk and listened with a big grin on her face.
"I'm pretty sure she's mentioned it," Jack admitted, "but I'm afraid I forgot. If she doesn't mind saying, I'll get modern and email you. I'm not good with kilograms and such either. After so many years of scientific study my mind has imploded, reverting to my grade school years as a white dwarf. On that guest visitors form I think John filled her out as a hundred and sixty six or sixty eight centimeters tall and I think forty kilograms weight. That's about all I can say, and I can't say I know how accurate that might be."
"Hm," Jim told him, "in American English that roughly translates to ninety pounds soaking wet."
Jack laughed and said, "Well maybe she's a bit more or less, I'm not sure. But it's her condition, you know."
"In a pig's arse," Jim snapped back with a chuckle. "Him or her or both run a damn tight ship. She might even be a tad less. You didn't hear me complain, Jack ol' boy. Right she may be little, but she's got plenty of brain, she has. For the rest well, the waist goes in, the hips stand out, there's two pert points on top and it all looks fantastic with a tan and makeup. Add she has a bewitching smile, electric eyes and she seems frisky. All the bases are covered far as I'm concerned. In fact I've a respectful admiration for females of all sizes and sorts, I do."
"John would kill us for that admiration," Jack joked and shook his head to himself at Jim's attitude.
"Good job then he's not here," Jim said and enthused, "You know, this is the best time I've had golfing since I don't know when. Sometimes upscale golf clubs are too much. Besides I like to golf with anyone I please and you can guess what I'm thinking about their dress codes right now. But that brings to mind a question, ol' Jack. Has your son ever thought to take the lady golfing?"
"I couldn't imagine," Jack said and quickly ducked the question any further. "Let's see if I can't get somewhere in the general vicinity of the hole huh?" he said, winced at his target area and swung. It made a perfect arch and went in. Bob squealed and hopped happily, Jim's mouth fell open and the amazed Jack said quietly, "I'll be."
"I tell you you've still got it," the General whacked Jack on the back and walked to the cart.
Jack was still thinking of Jim's question and he thought out loud to himself, "No Jim, I'd bet he'd never think of asking her."