"My buddie Sal, he hustles as a...tour guide, you know? over near the bus station, he gets the freshies off balance before their feet have even hit the ground, takes 'em for a spin, shows 'em around...he sees 'em come in all the time, which is why he noticed this dame. she seems to know the score, even managed to give old Sally the slip a few times, so he thought maybe she could handle the job. yeah, I agreed to meet her at the cafe, and I gotta tell ya, she's the kind of woman you notice enter a room! she stood framed in the doorway long enough to let her eyes adjust, so she could spot the fern she'd been told I'd be sitting by, then approached with an unhurried gait, and slipped into the booth. she leaned in close to me and said, 'it's nice to meet you'. I couldn't help but notice that her skin held no trace of the creams and powders the ladies use to highlight their features, and her breath smelled minty. blinking, I shook my head a bit, and cleared my throat - sat up a bit taller. 'so, Sally recommended you to me, you must be hot stuff - do you know your way around a filing cabinet?' I asked, as I tossed some peanuts down my throat. too many, apparently...they got stuck in a clump deep in my gullet and I began to choke. it was so sudden, the loss of oxygen, the adrenaline rush of panic flooding my body as it realized there wasn't any air. I thought, 'this can't be happening', as I watched one of my arms flail out and knock the fern to the ground in slow motion, and all I could think about was how much I loved that fern - how many times had I sat next to it while meeting with clients and friends alike? how many times had I thought it looked dry and watered it from my own glass? and now it was going to shatter on the floor, and it was my fault, and there wasn't anything I was going to be able to do to help it. I spiraled down after it, and then this dame's face was suddenly above mine, a look of desperate concern etched across her brow as her eyes searched mine for some kind of answer, and her hands reached tentatively towards my chest and patted me, as if to wish me well on my final journey. 'at least', I thought, 'I get to die within the sturdy shelter of her compassion'...and then I was gone. man, what a way to go...good thing I woke up here, there's no saying what would have happened if they had taken me to the hospital. remind me to thank them proper, will ya, Ben? jeez, thanks for helping a friend out, ya know? I gotta go find Sal, see if he can give me a lead on that dame - I'm gonna find her, Ben, just you wait and see..."
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