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.“I need to talk to you,” I said.He didn’t look especially happy about it.Which he should have considering I was doing condiment duty.“What about?” he asked.I thought he would have figured that out by now, but since he didn’t, I supplied him with the Reader’s Digest Condensed version.“Marjorie.”Ray’s spine stiffened.The burger on his flipper slipped off and hit the floor.He stared.Worried he’d gone catatonic on me or had some kind of age-induced stroke or something, I waved the ketchup bottle in front of his face.“Earth to Ray! I said I needed to talk to you about her, I didn’t say I was raising Marjorie from the dead or anything.”He shook himself back to reality.“Of course.Yeah.Sure.” Though no one called out another order, he went to the cooler, came back with a stack of burger squares, and carefully arranged them on the grill.“I figured someone from the cemetery would be talking to all of us, taking up a collection for flowers,” he finally said.“If you’re looking for a donation, Pepper, of course I’m willing to contribute.Only it’s kind of hard right now in the middle of the lunch rush.”I didn’t bother to point out that if I’d been looking for a donation, I could have found a way better place to solicit it.Besides, I didn’t have a chance.A local suburb’s senior citizen bus pulled up outside, and a collective groan went up from the kids behind the counter when a group of bluehaired grannies trooped in.Oh yeah, we were plenty busy before, but I learned soon enough that busy meant zip in the fast-food business.Not compared with being slammed.“Thanks for helping me out, kid.” Ray slipped into the purple booth across from where I sat and plunked a medium diet cola in front of me.“After six months at this racket, I’m good at the grill, but not good enough to keep up with a crowd like that on my own.I couldn’t have done it without you.”Any right-minded person who’d learned the intricacies of squirt-squirt-etc.in so little time would have been rightly proud of herself.I would have been, too, if I wasn’t so bone-tired I could barely sit upright.It was an hour-and-a-half later, the crowds had finally thinned, and Ray had invited me to join him for his break.Since I was never planning to go near a Big Daddy Burger franchise again, it was the perfect opportunity for me to make my escape from the kitchen.Not to mention a chance for me to ask Ray all the things I hadn’t had a moment to talk to him about while he flipped and I squirted.“This is what the owners of this joint think of as good employee relations.” There was a purple plastic tray on the table in front of him, and Ray tipped it my way so I could see it better.“Every day we get one free Big Daddy burger, an order of fries, and all the soft drinks we can swallow.I wish they’d just add another twenty-five cents an hour to my minimum wages.The food, it’s OK for the first week.Then your stomach starts reminding you that too much Big Daddy is not a good thing.” He pushed the tray away.The sight and smell of food reminded me that I hadn’t eaten a thing that day.Empty calories be damned! I made a grab for the burger.“I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.” Ray shook his head in warning.“I know what they put in those things.”I set the burger down, then let my hand hover above the fries.When he didn’t offer another warning, I popped one fry into my mouth and grabbed a few more.I waited until I swallowed before I said, “So here’s what I’m doing.I’m trying to figure out what happened to Marjorie.And so far I’m not getting anywhere and I’d really like to solve her murder because.” Big Daddy Burgers wasn’t exactly the kind of place I wanted to discuss my relationship with Quinn, and Ray wasn’t a person I wanted to do it with, either.He reminded me of my grandfather, and Grandpa wouldn’t have understood.Not about Quinn.I was beginning to realize that when it came to me and Quinn, even I didn’t understand.I twitched the thought aside.It was then that I noticed I had ketchup stains on the sleeves of my new black tunic shirt [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]