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Saturday Storytime: The Water Museum

Nisi Shawl is cowriter of the highly useful Writing the Other: A Practical Approach. She is also an award-winning author of short stories. An excerpt:

Came a low, unmistakable growl and he jumped back. I went around to his side. “Don’t worry, I’ll get it out for you,” I said. “Girlfriend!” I bent over and grabbed one green canvas corner of my assassin’s duffel bag and pulled. This is Girlfriend’s favorite game. We tussled away for a few minutes. “She’s small, but she’s fierce,” I commented as I took a quick break. “You got any food in there, a sandwich or somethin?”

“No. Why?”

“I just noticed she had the zipper open some.”

The hitchhiker got a little pale and wispy-looking when he heard that. He stayed that way till I retrieved his duffel and gave it to him to rummage through. He took his time finding his jean jacket, and by the time he’d dug it out and put it on he looked more solid and reassured.

So now I knew where his gun was. Should I let him keep it? He’d be a lot easier to handle without a pistol in his fist. Then again, the thing might not even be loaded, depending on how soon he’d been planning on meeting up with me; simpler for him to explain an empty gun to any cops stopped him hitching rides. And I’d be able to get him relaxed faster if he was armed.

He threw the bag over his shoulder and I locked the car. Girlfriend had already started up the trail. Of course he wanted me to walk ahead of him, but Buddy just looked at him with his dark, suspicious eyes and Mr. Man decided it would be okay if this time he was the one to go first.

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