Uncertainty

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She walked into the room, and silence swept over the place. Waiters stopped waiting. Politicians stopped lying. Gentlemen stopped puffing on their cigars, and ladies stopped thinking about how every other woman in the room was thinner, prettier, wealthier and healthier than they. She was a force, and all those who saw her were reckoned to admit that the winds of fortune had changed and soon they would be forced to change with them.

“May I offer you a seat?” he said, as she moved into the center of the room.

“Thank you,” she replied.

A buzz from the back began low and slow, traveling to the place where she sat as the room assessed her with glowering eyes. Waiters began waiting tables once more. Politicians once more begat lies. Gentlemen and ladies throughout the room resumed what they had been doing prior to her entrance, but always, always with an eye to her and what she might do next.

She chose a table two-thirds the way back from the entrance and settled herself where everyone in the room could see her next move. She reached into her purse and drew out a revolver. She sat it gingerly on the table. No one moved.

If she’d come there that day looking to kill someone, her plan had been foiled. Whoever it was she was looking for she did not find. Still, she sat. She ordered a drink. She removed her gloves and lay them gently to one side of her plate as she scanned the room further; slowly at first and then with increased fervor. She lit a cigarette and took a long draught of tar into what must have been beautiful lungs. The hope of the crowd was that she had an intended. Everyone knew that kind of beauty could never be content short of possessing everything she wanted.

 

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