Stranger than fiction

Johnson`s sorrel, I found out, may gallop across the plains smoothly enough, but she skidded across the gravel of the rocky hillsides a little nervously. I was coaxing her down a steep ravine when I looked up and saw him - the tall, cadaverous fellow from the saloon in Miles City. He looked about as friendly now as he did then, waiting for me with a grim expression at the bottom of the hill. Except now we were alone - the good citizens of Miles City wouldn`t hear a thing. There`s probably not a

Jul 1st, 1998

Mark Hartley, Editor

markh@pennwell.com

Johnson`s sorrel, I found out, may gallop across the plains smoothly enough, but she skidded across the gravel of the rocky hillsides a little nervously. I was coaxing her down a steep ravine when I looked up and saw him - the tall, cadaverous fellow from the saloon in Miles City. He looked about as friendly now as he did then, waiting for me with a grim expression at the bottom of the hill. Except now we were alone - the good citizens of Miles City wouldn`t hear a thing. There`s probably not a soul for miles around, I thought. I slipped the thong off the gun and smiled, "Hello, stranger. Fancy meeting you here."

She stormed out of the lobby, infuriated at the manager, her cheeks burning from the humiliation. The mere mental replaying of his condescending attitude caused her throat to constrict with rage. Finding it momentarily difficult to swallow, Daphne paused and leaned against the window pane of the store next door. Through the film of bitter tears forming in her eyes, she gazed down at an array of musical instruments in the display case. She fantasized about rapping the manager with a violin`s bow and teaching him some manners. All she wanted was for Mother and Father to sleep safely tonight. "May I be of assistance?" a voice asked. She easily recognized it from her eavesdropping at the cafe yesterday, her dreams last night. The sudden shift from the fantasy of disciplining the manager to the flicker of her erotic fantasy about the handsome man standing right in front of her almost caused her to stagger. She blurted out, "I don`t believe I know your name?"

Maguire closed the door. She crossed the conference room swiftly, knowing that one of the two men seated probably had full knowledge of the disposal of KaMaDan`s funds. Maguire was determined not to leave the conference room until she also knew. She directed her attention first to Cianci. KaMaDan`s CEO waited impassively for her, even though she knew the jet lag from flying across the Atlantic must be overwhelming him. Maguire calculated that he would be vulnerable to her questioning, especially when she shared what she knew. She just didn`t know about his companion. She didn`t think he would bring his attorney to the secret meeting, so who was he? "Who`s the bozo with you this morning, Mr. Cianci?" she asked.

The lady appeared to know what she was doing, efficiently arranging all her sharp instruments. "Are you ready, Mr. Hartley?" she asked from behind her mask. She started to tilt my head toward her, and I firmly gripped her wrist. "Who are you?" I demanded. "I`m your dental hygienist," she replied, "and I will be taking care of you this afternoon." "You are a hygienist? Not an assistant?" Apparently, she detected my concern, and she pulled the mask down on her throat. "Of course," she said. I was still unsure. "Where`s your certification? The plaques hanging on the wall? Do you have a business card or something?" She said soothingly, "Mr. Hartley, let me reassure you that I`m fully licensed and authorized to treat you."

Even in fiction, people like to know who strangers are. As Joanne Sheehan states in this month`s issue, "Identify yourself!"

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