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Home Country

BY SLIM RANDLES

Dud came in chirping like a squirrel the other day, making us all grin, 'cause as Dud goes, so seems to go the day. If he's happy, the trees are happy. If he's sad, plumbing stops working all over town.

Or at least it seems that way. He's contagious.

"Hey Doc, guys, isn't it a beautiful day? I woke up this morning and said I really should go down and have coffee at the Mule Barn and check to see how the guys are getting along."

"You mean," said Doc, "like you do every day?"

"Well ... yeah, I guess."

Then we gave him the silent look. Steve glanced at his watch. With Dud, you don't have to ask, as he'll tell you exactly what's up. But he does enjoy some coaxing and we weren't going to give it to him. It's a little game we have here at the philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank. Everyone needs a hobby.

"Guess what, guys!" Dud said.

"Nine seconds," said Steve.

"What?"

"Nothing. What were you saying?"

"Well, I started back working on that book again."

"Is that the mystery that got rejected because it had eight murders in the first chapter?"

"Yep. That's the one, Doc. But I decided to cut out some of those murders, you know, the way the publisher suggested."

"How many?"

"I left in two murders," Dud said. "I really hated to cut those others, because I realize the need to keep the reader on the edge of his seat. I mean, you have to keep up the suspense, make them wonder what's going to happen next."

"You know, Dud," said Steve, "if I had two murders to think about in the first chapter, I believe I'd be willing to slog through two or three more chapters to see what is going to happen, even if nobody died for several thousand words."

"You mean, like read about the police work and all that clue stuff?"

"Hey, I'd hang with it that long, yeah..."

"So you don't think I'd need to put in any more killings until maybe chapter six?"

"Maybe even seven."

Brought to you by Sun Dog Days at www.unmpress.com which doesn't have eight murders in it.

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