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I had no idea at this point, of course, what had happened. My whole response to the snippet of conversation that had felled Mike like a mighty sequoia after Paul Bunyon got through reading it its rights was “Yuck.” It would never have occurred to me that somebody that big could be knocked for a loop by something that…ordinary. Gross, certainly, but gross in an ordinary, everyday, “Look Ma, there’s wooly bears in the egg cream” sort of way.

I thought he was having a heart attack.

At first I was going to rush over there and apply emergency CPR. Then I came to my senses. I’d have to climb on top of him and jump up and down with both feet to have any effect at all, and if he woke while I was doing it, he’d swat me like a fly.

On the other hand, I couldn’t just let him lay there, could I? Potentially breathing his last honking gasps of air as his life oozed away in the park like melted ice cream from a 2-yr-old’s cone? Could I?

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Carolyn donned a long wooly sweater as she got out of the car, this despite the heat of the day. It hung well below her knees and was so bulky that even on a specimen like her it wasn’t entirely clear which gender was hiding under its lumps and folds.

“You’re punishing me, aren’t you?”

She sniffed. “It’s to protect me from the rats and roaches, since you won’t take me to a reasonable dining establishment.”

I didn’t bother to argue. The 5-star rumbling in my tummy would have done it for me had Carolyn been listening. She wasn’t. She was too busy crinkling her nose at imaginary spots on the table and demanding that someone in authority sandblast the bench she would have to sit on.

“Carolyn,” I said wearily, “you’re making a scene.”

She smiled that ghastly sweet smile again. “Nothing to the one I’ll make when I collapse from breathing the fumes of anthrax that are wafting from whatever is beneath this…seat.”

I groaned. “It’s just a diner, Carolyn, not the pestilential core of a New Jersey landfill.”

She glanced at her surroundings, a nice little chrome-and-wood diner from the age of art deco. “You could have fooled me.” Read the rest of this entry »