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. I had not been able to spot a probable killer; I did not
even note anyone displaying a curious lack of curiosity about the trouble at my
table. People had stared, but when the body was gone, they quit staring and gave
attention to the show. There were no screams or expressions of horror;
it seemed as if those who had noticed it thought that they were seeing a
customer suddenly ill or possibly taken by drink.
The dead man's wallet now rested in my left jacket pocket.
When Gwen Novak returned I stood up again, held her chair for her. She
smiled her thanks and asked, "What have I missed?"
"Not much. Jokes old before you were born. Others that were old even before
Neil Armstrong was bom."
"I like old jokes, Richard. With them I know when to laugh."
"You've come to the right place."
I too like old jokes; I like all sorts of old things-old friends, old
books, old poems, old plays. An old favorite had started our evening: Midsummer
Night's Dream presented by Halifax Ballet Theater with Luanna Pauline as
Titania. Low-gravity ballet, live actors, and magical holograms had created a
fairyland Will Shakespeare would have loved. Newness is no virtue.
Shortly music drowned out our host's well-aged wit; the chorus line
undulated out onto the dance floor, sensuously graceful in half gravity. The
ragout arrived and with it the wine. After we had eaten Gwen asked me to dance