Twyla: Frankie told me that you found the bone. I'd like to hear more about it. Nikki: Does that mean I get to be in the book? Twyla: Yes, if your mother has no objections. I can use a different name for you in the book, if that makes it easier. Nikki: No, if I get to be in the book, I want everybody to know about it. What's the point otherwise? Jet: It should be fine, but I want to see all passages involving Nikki before the book is published. Twyla: Of course. - So, Nikki, tell me all about it. Start with how you found the bone. I'll record our conversation, so I can be sure to get the facts right when I write about it.
Nikki: One boy at school told me that there were great bones near the haunted house, so I went there to see and found the big bone I took home to show mom. I always show my finds to mom, and she then says if it's okay to keep them. Twyla: Haunted house? Jet: Kids think the house is haunted. It's been empty for a long time, and it's in very bad shape. Twyla: I see. What happened then? Nikki: Mom and Frankie saw the bone and freaked out, and mom told me to drop it and go change my clothes and wash my hands. Then Frankie told me what it really was, and I took a bath, because it was totally gross. And then Captain Maria came and wanted to know where I found the bone. Jet: A uniformed officer took the bone to the ME, and Maria told us she'd take care of the matter. That's all. The rest is in the police records.
Twyla: Is this bone collecting thing usual for felines? Jet: Oh yes, many children do it, and some continue it even as adults, compiling entire skeletons for display. It's a very typical feline hobby. Twyla: But only animal bones? Nikki: Of course! Who'd want to collect dead people? That's totally gross! Twyla: Can't argue with you on that one. - You said that somebody told you to go there. Who was it? Nikki: I promised not to tell anyone. Besides, he's a scaredy-cat and doesn't deserve to be in the book. Twyla: Why is that? Nikki: He got all scared about that article about the skull and thought he'd go to prison, so I had to take the skull from him and give it to Captain Maria. Jet: Nikki... - Twyla, that was something that is not in the police records. You will have to clear it with Captain Maria. If she says you can't include it, then you can't. And if you do it against her wishes, I won't let you include anything Nikki just told you or even mention her in the book. Do you understand? Twyla: Yes. I wouldn't want to annoy the Captain as I want to interview her for the book as well. Jet: All is fine then. Nikki: What did I say? - Hey, wanna hear what I did to him when he asked me to find out how bad trouble he was in? I punched him in the nose, because he knew what it really was, but didn't tell me. Jet: Nikki, what did I tell you about that? Nikki: You said I shouldn't do it again. You never said I shouldn't talk about the one time I did it. Jet: Sigh.
Lily: I wonder if you could help me. I'm looking for my uncle, and his landlady told me that he comes here regularly. His name is Schizo. Venus: Oh yes, I know him. He usually comes here around this time. Lily: Thanks. I guess I'll wait then. In the meanwhile, I think I could have a coffee. Venus: May I ask something? Lily: Depends on what you want to know. Venus: Um, you said Schizo is your uncle. Do you mean you're really related or...? Lily: Really related. He didn't date my mom, if that's what you're wondering. Are you one of those kids? Venus: How did you guess? Lily: You're not the first one to ask. He gets around. Actually, it's a miracle that nobody's come forward to introduce some kid as his. That is, as far as I know. Maybe it has happened already since I last met him.
Venus: I really can't see him as a father. I mean, he was always great, but I wasn't his responsibility, so it's not the same thing. Lily: No, it's not. Venus: He has never told me anything about his family. I didn't even know he had one. Lily: We're not a very close family, and what comes to me and dad, who is Schizo's brother, we've been living abroad for years. Venus: I'm sure he'll be glad to see you.
*Note: In spite of these developments, the Mad Hatter Story does not take place in this world. Mainly because it would have strange consequences regarding Schizo and detective Wolf (who would be father and son) and also some other characters. In the Kitty and Riddick stories, Schizo claims to not have a family, but maybe he's just lying to keep people from asking questions, or maybe everybody's dead by then.*
Nikki: Then I met Steve. He's a detective, and he wanted to know about how I found the bone and what others at school were saying about it all. Twyla: And what did you tell him? Nikki: That they thought ghosts had killed the guy. He'd gone there after dark and gotten so scared that he'd had a heart attack or something. Twyla: What did Steve think about that theory? Nikki: That's what he called it, a theory. I guess that means he didn't believe it. And anyway, it was a real person who killed him. Twyla: Calling something a theory doesn't mean you don't believe it. It just means that it is one possible explanation, although a bit far-fetched in this case, and needs some evidence to support it. Nikki: And there are no ghosts. Twyla: No, at least not in this case. It was a real person who did it.
Nikki: What's the book going to be called? Twyla: The name of the book is Old Sins Cast Long Shadows. Nikki: What does that mean? Twyla: Jet? Jet: Go ahead, you can tell her. Twyla: Well, Nikki, how much do you know about what happened? Nikki: Some guy did something bad a long time ago and got punished, but people who helped him ran away. Then somebody found them and told the hitman to kill them. Then he killed the hitman, so he wouldn't tell anybody or something. Twyla: Close enough. That somebody who found them was my grandfather, and the book's name comes from the fact that even though the original crimes happened a very long time ago, they had really bad consequences years later. It's like you can't run away from bad things you've done, because they always come back to haunt you in some form. Nikki: So you shouldn't do bad things to begin with? Twyla: That's right. And you can't right a wrong by doing more bad things. Nikki: Like your grandpa did? Twyla: Yes. What he did was wrong, although he managed to convince himself that it was right.
Lily: I've been waiting for you. Schizo: Do we...? Oh, Lily, I didn't recognize you! Lily: It can't be that long since we last met. Schizo: Hey, you were almost bald the last time. Did you get bored with that style? Lily: I was never too fond of it. It was just practical at the time. Schizo: I didn't know you were coming so soon. Are you here permanently now? Lily: My studies are going to take a few years, and I'm planning to stay after that, if I can find a job. Schizo: I'm sure you will. You'll be a brilliant doctor. Lily: Let's hope so. I don't feel very brilliant so far. Schizo: You're the first one in the family to go to a university. That alone makes you brilliant. - Did your father come back too? The last letter was kind of short. Lily: No, dad found a new girlfriend, and she didn't want to leave her family. She's got several grandchildren, and the youngest was born a couple of months ago, so it's totally understandable. Schizo: You don't mind? Lily: They're happy together, and her relatives like dad, so why would I mind? Especially as playing grandpa to her grandkids means he's not going to be bugging me so much about the issue.
Schizo: So, what are your plans? Do you have a place to stay? And do you have enough money for living while you study? LIly: I rented a tiny apartment for relatively cheap. I won't have much time to be at home anyway, so I just need a place to sleep. I've got the grant and a loan, which should be enough, if I keep spending at minimum. I don't expect there to be much time for spending money. Schizo: That bad? I mean, I don't know anything about how one becomes a doctor. Lily: Lots of studying and working at a hospital. It's not going to be easy. Schizo: But it'll be worth it when you're a well paid professional. Any ideas on what kind of a doctor you want to be? Plastic surgeons make a lot of money. Lily: I don't really know yet. Something that would be most useful, if I decide to go back. Schizo: Why would you? Lily: Well, if I ever want to wipe out what's remaining of the debt, I just need to go back to work in a government hospital for a few years.
Steve: Have you talked with any of the others yet? Twyla: Only with Nikki. I'm sort of going in chronological order, at least to start with. She was the one who found the first bone, so I started with her. Claudia: I bet she was excited about the prospect of being in the book. Twyla: She was, and fortunately Jet has nothing against it. Claudia: It was all very innocent. She just found the bone, thought it was cool, and then found out it was anything but. - So, what do you want to know? Twyla: Anything that is not in the reports. I've got those, now I want your story. You two were the first ones to investigate the case. Steve: Actually, we weren't. We just happened to be the first ones to find something useful to get the investigation in full speed. But let's start from the beginning...
*The Hitman story starts with "John Doe" here.
Twyla: That was an awful lot of theories that turned out to be wrong. Is it always like that? Claudia: More or less. You look at the evidence, formulate a theory based on it, and try to find something that either confirms or disproves it. If the theory is disproved, you move on to the next theory and do the same. Twyla: Steve, I understood that this was your first real case as a detective. How did it feel to get something so complicated to start with? Steve: Well, it started as a case of identifying the person, which isn't usually a big deal, just takes a lot of work. It was later that it turned out to be something a lot bigger. And the Captain stated very clearly that she didn't expect me to find all the answers. She just wanted me to take a look and tell her what ideas I could come up with. Claudia: You certainly got some ideas. Steve: I wasn't the only one who got ideas. You suspected Winona, which, I must add, was very justified, just didn't turn out to be true. - But really, I just wanted to show the Captain that I've got what it takes to be a good detective. Twyla: I think you proved that.
Twyla: I need to ask you one thing. I don't want you to take it as criticism in any way... Claudia: You want to know if we would have solved the case without your grandpa's confession. It's hard to say. The FBI would have checked each and every person in Ava's research, so they would have come knocking on his door, but I don't know if they would have been able to make the connection between him and the hitman. Steve: Yeah, we still don't know how he found Warren. It wasn't in his confession or in any of his papers, and we haven't found anybody who could put them in the same place at the same time. Twyla: Do you think you will? Claudia: I'm starting to doubt that. In every investigation, there are details you just cannot find. Steve: It's really bugging me, but I'm starting to think that Claudia is right.
Pepper: Is she really going to write about you? Nikki: Really. I found the bone, and that's important. Caroline: And then you freaked out and took a really long bath. Did you tell her that? Nikki: I told her I took a bath. Maybe I didn't tell how long it was, but that's not important. Pepper: What's she like? I mean, her grandpa was a murderer. Nikki: She's really nice. She said it's okay for Frankie to invite us to see the house. Caroline: Seriously? We get to see it from inside? It's like a fortress. Pepper: I bet her grandpa had a lot of money. Rich people have all that camera stuff and high fences with spikes. Nikki: Uncle Harvey says the fences are there because the mayor used to live there before Twyla's grandpa bought the house.
Pepper: Do you think you'll get to read the book? It's a crime story, so I know my mom won't let me read it. Caroline: So? All we need is to get one book, and then we can all read it. Nikki: Nobody's going to sell it to us. It's like in the library, "you're too young for this department, the children's books are on the ground floor." Caroline: I'm sure your mom will get one. Nikki: She'll lock it away somewhere, so I can't get it. Caroline: I'll find a way. I always do. If nothing else, I can steal it from somewhere. Pepper: You shouldn't, it's not right. Nikki: She's right. Caroline: Okay, no stealing, I promise. Maybe we'll get a chance to borrow it from somebody. Do you think Schizo is going to buy it? Nikki: I don't know. Maybe. But even if he does, he won't lend it to us. Pepper: Why not? Caroline: Is he scared of your mom? Nikki: Not scared, but he doesn't want to upset her.
Twyla: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me. I know it must be hard, given that it was my grandfather, who... Winona: That's not your fault. He was the only one responsible for what happened. Twyla: Well, your brother did play a part in it by agreeing to do the murders. Winona: I know. I still find it hard to believe, but I guess it was the money. He was a greedy man, willing to do a lot for large amounts of cash. Still, I would never have believed... - And I don't believe what your grandfather gave as the reason for him shooting Warren. I think he was just covering his own tracks. He was too coward to do the initial killings, but he did have it in him to kill to avoid getting caught. Twyla: I guess that's one way of looking at it. I admit that the only evidence on grandpa's motivations is his own word. Winona: I suppose you believe him. I don't blame you. You loved him and want to believe him. I just hope your book isn't going to be too subjective about it all. Twyla: I am going to make it clear where there is only my grandpa's word on what happened.
Twyla: Would it be possible to talk with your mother? Winona: No, and if you knew her, you wouldn't even want to try. Twyla: Why? Winona: She almost kicked the last cops, the FBI agents, out of the house, and they had all the necessary paperwork. She's not going to talk about Warren, unless a judge threatens her with contempt of the court. And I'm not sure even that would work. Twyla: Oh. - Does she believe that Warren did what he's been accused of? Winona: She can't deny it, too much and too good evidence. She's just chosen to forget any of it ever happened. Twyla: There was a private detective... Winona: Yes, her mother is my mother's friend, so when she presented the evidence, mother had no other option than to believe.
Twyla: You know, the one big question that still remains open is how grandpa found your brother. He didn't talk about that part, and I didn't realize then that I should have asked. It was all just too much to take in at once. Do you have any idea? Winona: I've been thinking about it, but I just can't think of anything. It's probably some "friend of a friend who knows somebody who knows somebody else" thing. Twyla: That's what you'd think, but nobody's been able to find any of these people, and word always goes around, so somebody should have said something by now. No, it must be some more direct contact. Winona: I wouldn't even know how to start looking for a hitman. I mean, you can't just blurt out in casual conversation "do you happen to know anybody who'd kill some people for money?" - Anyway, your grandfather doesn't sound to me like a man who'd move in the same circles as Warren did. Twyla: I guess we'll never know.
Nikki: Mom, are you going to buy Twyla's book? Jet: She promised to give me one when she gets the author's copies of it. Nikki: Can I read it when you get it? Jet: I guess you already know the answer to that. Nikki: Mo-o-om! Jet: It's a true crime story. There will be dead bodies and murderers and all sorts of other nastiness. You'll have plenty of time to read that sort of books when you're old enough. Nikki: But I'll be in it! Jet: I know. How about you can read that part? You already know what happens anyway. - It's better than nothing. Nikki: All right.
Topaz: What's better than nothing? Nikki: Auntie Topaz! Topaz: Yes, it's me. Frankie let me in. Nikki: I thought you were filming a new movie somewhere really far away. Topaz: I was, but we came back early. So I decided to come for a little visit. Jet: Early? I would have thought nobody would leave a shoot at a tropical island before they had to. Topaz: Well, we had to. You see, the problem with these tropical paradises is that they often include a volcano, who occasionally decides to blow her top off. This one was in a particularly foul mood. Although, probably not as foul as our director, when the police came with the evacuation order. Jet: That does sound serious.
Topaz: It was very serious. The volcano was expected to erupt within 24 hours, and in our case, the order was to get out of the country, because, as the Chief of Police put it, "we have enough work saving our own citizens and we want all tourists out asap." He was quite apologetic about it and hoped we'd come back once things get back to normal. He was really nice, all things considered. Jet: Can't be easy to be in charge in a situation like that. How did you get out? Topaz: We had a charter plane. Of course, some of our people weren't happy, when we were told that we had to take extra passengers, because planes were only allowed to leave carrying the maximum number of people. The tourists weren't happy either to have their vacation cut short, but their mood improved remarkably, once they realized who they were travelling with. In the end, everybody was happy, because this particular director always loads the plane with enough boo... refreshments for two plane loads of people. Nikki: But what about the movie? Topaz: We were almost finished. A few changes in the script and some stuff added with computers and you'll never notice anything is missing.