by Lavie Tidhar
narrated by Sarah Tolbert
This story originally appeared in Aeon #14.
The diner stood off the highway outside a small town optimistically called Hope. Hope was being stuck in the middle of the Northwest and wishing you were someplace, anyplace else. And Hope was also the name on the tag pinned to the dead woman in waitress uniforms that was currently lying against the wall inside the _Barbie-Q Roadhouse_. I had to stop myself from worrying at the connection: looking for patterns when sometimes there are none at all.
I wasn’t worried about Hope (the waitress, not the town). I didn’t get called down here for a murder: shit, murder is an honest-to-God American pastime. Just look at the statistics. No, I got called in because of the Marilyn.
The Marilyn was also dead. All in all, there were five dead people in the Barbie-Q: two waitresses; a balding man who – from his bag full of cheaply-printed catalogues – was some sort of a general salesman; the diner’s manageress; and Marilyn. They had been shot by a machine gun, probably an Uzi. Marilyn’s head left a red smear against the glass of the booth she sat in. She was there alone.
What the hell was a Marilyn doing out here?
Rated R for violence and language.