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“Nice hair. Is that your natural color?”

“You can get your food to go, you know,” she shot back. She’d had enough of this stranger in town, who showed up at 7. 7:15 now. 10 minutes to order, 10 minutes to look over the menu that had only 3 items. Bar owner made it sweet and simple to save time.

“Martian,” Wheeler continued the absurdity. “Greentown — should’ve known.”

Jamie hadn’t read any Bradbury so she didn’t get the reference, and probably wouldn’t want to if she did. The dinger dinged on the stove. Wheeler’s fries, extra cheese were ready, burger extra blood still cooking. She wanted to make sure it had as little blood as possible now.

“In town for a funeral, thanks for asking,” Wheeler then said, rummaging around in her purse. “Man named Arthur, Arthur Kill. Strange thing I know. Because he was actually killed — murdered. Mexican standoff.” She pulled out a pistol. “Killed by something much like this.” She plopped it on the counter with a loud clunk beside the just delivered fries, barrel facing forward. Jamie turned back around, saw the gun, stared at Wheeler.

“You can’t bring that thing in here,” she started to say but then changed her mind. She could take the gun from Wheeler, she calculated — confiscate it in effect, since a town ordinance forbids firearms inside the city limits. Would be close, though. Then, hehe, she could *back* Wheeler out of the bar with it and tell her to not come around here any more and to get her ass out of town, funeral or no. But as she was thinking this Wheeler picked the weapon back up. She’d missed her chance.

She looked it over a bit. “Yesss. I think it is exactly this type of gun that did our poor Arthur in.” She pointed the gun in the direction of the far wall to her left. “Ping ping… *ping*,” she produced with corresponding, fake recoils, then blew pretend smoke from the end before reinserting it back into her purse.

“Out!” Jamie wanted to issue. “Done!” she shouted instead, turning around as Wheeler stared into her more-dairy-than-vegetable fries, devising a plot on the spot. The burger was off the grill and into a day old bun faster than a Wyatt Earp burp (local expression?), then plate on the counter as loud as the pistol was earlier, clunk for cluck. Wheeler took the plate and deftly dumped the contents into her purse as well, making a bloody mess (but not as bloody as Wheeler wished). “Thanks!” she said pretend sweetly and made her way out of the bar to Jamie’s exasperation, leaving the dirty, empty plate spinning at a booth near the door. It spun and spun and finally settled down on the formica table top after Wheeler walked up the street, down another, and into the town cemetery to meet a waiting (or awaiting) Baker Bloch.

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