Slim Randles' Home Country
'Love and Other Fiction'
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The subject was
love, of course, with Valentine's Day upon us, and that's why the
grizzled and semi-grizzled members of the world dilemma think tank
had settled upon it. Well, to be fair, they agreed to talk about
someone else's love life, naturally.
The problem — the romantic mystery — was Sarah McKinley. It started
small, with just a few people wondering why this attractive woman
was — still or again (no one knew which) — single. In a valley where
being single is looked upon as a sin of omission, all those
inquiring minds wanted to know.
And then, about six months after
Sarah opened the Read Me Now Bookstore, she threw everlasting
gasoline on the fire by hanging the now-famous sign on a long
bookshelf, saying "Love and other Fiction."
This spurred on speculation (none dare call it gossip) about an
unhappy love affair in Sarah's past. The most interesting
speculations centered around either (1.) losing a lover in a foreign
war, (2.) secretly lusting after an actor on afternoon television's
"As the Worm Squirms" or (3.) being left at the altar by a
Naturally, no one came right out and asked her, as that would be
... pushy? Rude? Nobody's business?
The "girls" down at the Curl Up 'N Dye beauty salon couldn't get
the job done, so the world dilemma think tank decided to do the
manly thing and confront her.
The four-man coffee'd-up deputation walked into the store en
masse, and Doc had been assigned the role of grand
inquisitor, since he pried into people's private lives as part of
his official duties.
"Hi, guys," Sarah said, smiling. "What can I do for you?"
[to top of second
"Sarah," Doc said, "we'd like to know ... you know ... so we can
put an end to all the speculation."
"Know what, Doc?"
"Well, why do you have that sign up there. 'Love and Other
Fiction.' You know. Is it something in your past? Did you have an
unhappy love affair?"
"You certainly come right out with it, don't you, Doc? Well ...
it's like this. I needed a sign up there and I painted that one and
put it up. That's why. As for any unhappy love affairs I may have
had, how many women had you consorted with before you met Mrs. Doc?
How about you, Herb? Dud? Marvin? Let's get it all out on the board
and talk about it."
Ten minutes later, the guys ordered fresh coffee back at the
"I never thought Sarah would be like that," Herb said.
"Yeah," said Doc. "Kinda nosy, isn't she?"
"Some things are just ... personal, Doc," said Dud.
Marvin just quietly smiled and put sugar in his coffee.
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