Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

"What would you like on your hamburger."

"Could I get ketchup, mustard--what are you doing?"

He looked at me blankly, knifeful of margarine in his hand. "You don't want?"

"No! No, thanks."

He shrugged and scraped the margarine back into the container. "Yeah?"

"Ketchup, mustard, relish, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mayonnaise, and a slice of pickle, please."

Nod. He dolloped out a wad of mayonnaise and spread it on the burger. I must have made a sound of protest--after all, you're supposed to put the mayonnaise on the top part of the bun--and he looked up. I shook my head.

Next he went to put the pickle on top of the mayo. "Could you put the lettuce and tomato on next instead?" I can't stand it when someone doesn't know how to garnish a burger.

"The what?"

"The lettuce and tomato?"

"You don't want the pickle?"

"I don't want it next to the mayonnaise. The lettuce and tomato have to go next to the mayonnaise." If you put the pickle by the mayonnaise, it'll make it go sour. Don't want that.

He threw the pickle slice back into the little plastic bin, a little harder than he had to, and applied the lettuce and tomato. Next he held up a slice of cheese. "Okay now?"

Oh well; we've come this far. "Could you put the cheese under the patty so it'll melt a bit?"


"Yeah. Actually the pickle and all the other stuff can go under there too. But the cheese should be right against the meat."

He turned the entire burger upside down, removed the bottom part, put the cheese on the meat, and followed up with the ketchup and pickle and all the rest of it. Just like I wanted (except for the lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise being in reverse order). Put it all back together and said, "Okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

"Okay." Then he--I can hardly bring myself to type the words--cut the hamburger in half, wrapped it in wax paper, and brought it to the cash. Is it his first day? Has he never actually eaten a burger himself? I was trembling.

I ate it, despite the cut-in-halfness, but it wasn't satisfying.
Perseid was sitting at my desk reading when I came in today. She looked up at me and said, "Who's the bald man?"

"Expensive suit? Little older than us?"


"His name's Cruickshank. He's Greyghost's legal and financial guy."

"What a funny little man."

I perched on the edge of the desk. "What happened?"

"This afternoon, whenever I was sitting in here, he came and gave me all these forms." She showed me. There were a couple of insurance forms and a couple of waivers. The idea seemed to be that if Perseid got killed, maimed or otherwise inconvenienced while Greyghost was showing her the ropes, it a) wouldn't be Greyghost's fault, but b) would make him a bit of money. The forms were blank. "He said Greyghost needed me to fill these in and sign them. I told him I'd read them and think about it."

"How'd he take that?"

"He told me it was necessary before I could be 'cleared for field work'. Then I told him I certainly wasn't going to sign my real name to something handed to me by a strange bald man. The idea."

"I'd pitch them out," I said. "There's no way this was Greyghost's idea. Cruickshank's taking initiative again."

"As he was leaving he gave me his card--see? He wrote an extra phone number on here. Do you think he was coming on to me?"

"I'm not sure how you'd tell," I said.

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