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"Hello again, thank you for joining us on KELF, I am the Pixie. I can see the ferry pulling into the dock right now, so I want to say hello to any tourists who may have their radios tuned to 1220. Since you're just joining us, let me fill you in on what's going on. We're in the middle of a... very special broadcast. You see, a few days ago, I came out of the closet as a gay woman. Since then, well... a lot has happened. Too much to go into. But the main point is I was fired from this radio station. Advertisers were pulling out and it wasn't 'financially feasible' to keep me on.
"So, I was given this one final show to say good-bye and I'm doing it the best way I know how; I'm giving every other gay person on this island an outlet." She smirked at Miranda. "So to speak. I'm giving them a forum where they can come out without feeling persecuted or judged. You don't have to give your name and you don't have to be on the air if you don't want to. I totally understand not being ready.
"But if you are ready... if you want to come out on the show, please, give me a call at 232-KELF. That's 232-5353. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. And to any tourists on the ferry; welcome to our little island. I may be a lame duck, but I'm still taking your requests. Give me a call. Right now, we've got *The Boxer* by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I'm cut and I'm down, but the fighter still remains. This is the Pixie on KELF AM 1220."
Miranda broke in half the cookie she'd been nibbling on and tossed the uneaten half back onto the plate. She'd taken off her jacket and was sitting in the booth in her sleeveless white blouse. Nadine leaned back and admired her. As great as Miranda's legs were, she mused, her arms were quite something themselves. She looked over to see Miranda's lips closed around the word "PIXIE" and smirked. She didn't say anything about the symbolism of Miranda's snack, however. "Getting your fill?" she asked.
"Of you or of the cookies?" Miranda groaned. She put her hand on her stomach and glanced at the clock. "Wow. Time really does fly in here, huh?"
"Yeah," Nadine said sadly. The arrival of the ferry meant she had three hours and twenty minutes left on the air. It didn't feel like enough time; not enough time at all. "I can't believe this is it."
Miranda turned her chair and looked at Nadine. "Have you always wanted to be a DJ?"
"Always," Nadine said. "My parents own Butler Photography, across the street...?"
Miranda blinked and glanced towards the front wall of the station. "I... I pass that building every day. I can't believe I never put that together."
Nadine smiled. "Anyway, from the time I was really young, I used to come over here and hassle the receptionist. Before long, the DJs found out about this little squirt that was stalking their place of business and started inviting me upstairs. I sat in the booth during the show, I ran out and bought them snacks when they were hungry... when I was fifteen, I got Billy's job. Cleaning up trash, hanging around in case anything needed to be done. I went to school, got a degree in broadcasting and came back to the Elf."
"Who gave you the Pixie nickname?"
"Christopher Hamm. Hamm Bone, they called him. He used to introduce me by saying that he needed some cheering up and he'd sprinkle some fairy dust. My intro was some musical chimes that he'd play to cover the sound of the door opening. 'Here's my little pixie now!'" She smiled and twisted her seat back and forth. "He's the one who suggested I become a disc jockey. I was content behind the scenes, but he loved my voice. He gave me the push I needed to get through school."
"What about your parents?"
Nadine looked at the song counter. "Butler Photography is the family business. With me breaking tradition, it'll probably close down when he and Mama retire. Either that or it'll go into the hands of someone else. Whichever happens, it doesn't matter. I let him down and he's hated me ever since for it." She bit her bottom lip and smiled. "What the hell, right? People have given up a lot worse for their dreams..."
Miranda took Nadine's hand off the console and held it.
"It's why you sticking up for me meant so much. I'm... not exactly used to it."
"Well, get used to it," Miranda suggested with a smile. "I'm here for the long haul."
Nadine brushed off her cheeks and glanced at the phone bank. "I should answer these. God, I never expected to get so many calls..." She answered the first blinking light. "This is Nadine and you're on with the Pixie. What's your name?"
"Hi, Jake. You want to hear a song?"
"No, I'm calling about the other thing. The gay thing?"
"Uh-huh," she said warily.
"Well, I'm a straight guy, but... you know, if sleeping with women makes *you* bad at *your* job, maybe that's the reason I'm bad at my job."
She frowned and raised her eyebrow at Miranda. "Are you... bad at your job, Jake?"
"Yeah, I kind of am."
Nadine and Miranda both laughed and Nadine said, "Jake, do you think I'm bad at my job?"
"No, I think you're great! But I've only been listening for, like, five minutes. I came over on the ferry."
"Well, let me win you over. What do you wanna hear? We're a classic rock station, by the way."
"Something by the Beach Boys...?"
"*Something* is by the Beatles, Jake."
"Hah, laugh riot. Let me hear some *Good Vibrations.*"
"You've got it, Jake. And guess what? You are my Tourist of the Day." She hit a button and a pre-recorded sound effect of the ferry horn played. She said, "Since Gail's Seafood coupons are all I'm allowed to hand out, it'll have to do. Just make sure you pick it up so you have time to eat before you head back to the mainland. Sound good, Jake?"
"Sounds awesome! Stay strong, Pixie."
"You too, Straight Man. What's your last name, so we don't accidentally give your coupon to someone else?"
"Okay, Jake. Come on by the station sometime before five and we'll feed you."
She disconnected and said, "We do have coupons for Gail's, right?"
Miranda nodded and stood up. "I'll go grab one out of my desk, give it to Hoagie or Billy. I'll be right back."
As Miranda walked to the door, Nadine turned in her seat and watched her go. She focused on the way Miranda moved; the sway of her hips, the way her legs seemed to go on forever into that skirt, the curve of her ass underneath the... She bit her lip and looked up to see Miranda smiling over her shoulder. "Pervert," she snickered before she slipped out of the room.
Nadine answered another call. "Hello, you're on with the Pixie..."
Miranda walked the coupon down to Hoagie, gave him the kid's name and told him what he'd won. When she returned, she sat down and leaned back in her chair. "So, do you do that a lot?"
Nadine held up a finger and spoke into the microphone. "Okay, I'll try to get that on for you. Thanks for listening to KELF and thank you for your support." She disconnected and turned to Miranda. "Do what?"
"You know," Miranda said. She gestured over her shoulder and said, "Check me out."
Nadine blushed and rubbed the back of her neck. "The truth? Yeah. Kind of a lot. Mostly when you wear skirts or those pants that end just below the knee... God, what are those called?"
"Capri," Miranda said. "You really like my legs?" She bent her knees and examined her calves, running her hand over them as if she'd never seen them before.
Nadine exhaled and said, "Yeah. So, um... stop touching them or we'll have to play *American Pie.* Twice."
Miranda smirked and moved her hands away from her legs.
Nadine smiled and fanned herself. "So, okay. While we're sharing secrets, tit for tat. Have you ever looked at *me*?"
Miranda hesitated and finally gave a slow nod. "Yeah. Occasionally, I've watched your show from the window with a... less than managerial interest."
"Like when? Give me an example."
It was Miranda's turn to blush. "Are we really going to do this?"
"Oh, yeah," Nadine said. "The song's got three more minutes and the phone lines aren't too crazy at the moment..." She leaned forward and smiled evilly. "So tell me, Miss Powell. When have you ever checked me out?"
Miranda thought for a moment and said, "Well, one day springs to mind. Last summer, you came to work wearing this sexy little dress. Thin shoulder straps, very light material. Your legs were... so, so tan..."
"I'd been at the beach, I think," Nadine remembered.
"I can believe it. You looked practically char-broiled. But it looked good on you! Don't get me wrong." She cleared her throat and shrugged. "Anyway, because of the thin straps and how low it was cut in the front, you were wearing a t-shirt underneath it. And I spent that entire day wondering how great the dress would have looked on you without the t-shirt."
Nadine arched an eyebrow. "Undressing me with your eyes, were you?"
"Just down to the t-shirt!" Miranda quickly added.
"Well. Still," Nadine shrugged. She glanced towards the phone lines to make sure they weren't getting crazy. "It's..." Her voice cut off and she straightened slightly in her chair.
Miranda straightened and glanced at the console. "Dean? What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Nadine murmured. She punched a button and the "On Air" light came to life. "That was *Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey* by Paul and Linda McCartney. Uh, we're... going right back to some music right now so I can answer some more calls. I'll be right back with you here on KELF."
She leaned back and looked at the flashing lights of calls waiting to be answered. After a moment, she said, "Miranda... please don't take this the wrong way, but would... you mind leaving for a few minutes?"
Miranda glanced at the Caller ID. "What is it?"
"I'll be okay, I just... I need to answer this call alone."
"Okay," Miranda said. She leaned in and kissed Nadine's cheek, letting her lips linger a bit longer than necessary. "I'll go downstairs and check on Hoagie. Are you sure you'll be all right?"
Nadine nodded and waited until Miranda was gone before she looked back at the Caller ID. The display cut off the full name, but it was hard to ignore what "Butler Photogra" meant. She cleared her throat and hit the button. "Hi..."
She jerked and nearly pushed her chair away from the table. She gripped the edge of the table with shaking hands and focused on the solid yellow light of the line. She swallowed and quietly said, "Daddy?" Her mind started to fill in the empty space after she spoke; she wondered if he would call her names or just get right to disowning her. After what seemed like an eternity, he began to speak.
"Nadine, are you really doing this?" His voice was calm, but she could hear a tremor of fury working under the surface. "You're making a goddamn spectacle, girl. You come out of there right now and end this foolishness. I--"
"No, Daddy," Nadine said. She shocked herself not only by the firm denial, but by interrupting the man for the first time in her life. Hell, it was probably the first time in his life that he'd been interrupted by anyone. "I've been wronged and I'm not just going to sit down and take it. Do you understand that? You may not agree with who I am or even this job that I'm trying to save. But you have to understand that all I'm doing is standing up for my beliefs. And I won't stand down. You wouldn't want me to."
Another pause. She felt goosebumps on her arms and hugged herself to quiet them. Her father's silence was the most terrifying thing she'd ever heard, but she refused to be the one who broke it. It was up to him to hang up, to give in. Twice, she started to apologize and twice she bit down on her tongue to keep from saying anything. Let him break the stand-off. Let him...
"Your mother said you'd say that."
She blinked. She'd won. Dear God in heaven, she'd stood up to her father and she had *won.*
He continued, "All of this, the... broadcast and the call-in thing. You're just doing what you think is right. Your mom said I would be proud of anyone else. And you know... it hurts that I only turned my back on you *because* you were my daughter. I didn't realize it had gotten to that point with us. My fault, I suppose. God knows *you* tried to be civil." He cleared his throat and he said, "Forget what I said a minute ago, Nadine. You don't let anyone pull you out of that booth before you're ready. You hear me?"
"Yes, sir," Nadine said, wiping at her cheeks.
"I'm proud of you, Dean."
She sobbed and said, "Thank you, Daddy."
"I'll... I'll see you."
"Yeah, Daddy. I-I have to go back on the air..."
"Okay. I'm sorry I made you cry."
She laughed. "It's okay, Daddy. I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, too, Nadine."
Nadine barely managed to push the button to disconnect the call before she put her head down on the desk. She wept, big body-shaking sobs that kept her from hearing the door open. A hand landed in the middle of her back and she jumped as Miranda leaned over her shoulder. She gently pried Nadine out of the chair and traded places with her. Nadine let herself be guided onto Miranda's lap and buried her face against her neck.
Miranda pulled the microphone close and hit the on-air button. In a smooth, professional radio voice, she said, "We apologize for the delay. We're experiencing a brief technical difficulty. Please stay tuned and Nadine will be back after *Eleanor Rigby* by the Beatles."
She pushed the microphone away, started the song and turned her full attention to Nadine. Nadine let herself be held and began shaking with the force of her tears. Miranda smoothed down the back of Nadine's hair and whispered soft words in her ear. When the sobs died down, Miranda said, "Who was it? Who the hell hurt you?"
"No," Nadine whispered. She turned her head and kissed Miranda's neck. "Thank you, but no. I'm... they're happy tears, I swear." She pulled her head back and kissed Miranda's lips. Her heart soared and her tears began to flow once more.
When Miranda had left the booth, she had gone directly downstairs. Billy was standing just inside the front doors of the station, a sentry against any unauthorized entrance and gatekeeper to those who belonged. She put a hand on his shoulder as she passed, thanking him for his work, and stepped out into the sunshine. It felt like years since she'd been outside, decades since the broadcast had begun.
Hoagie was seated on the sidewalk outside and keeping his eyes on the crowd. Sheriff Rucker was parked across the street, a barrier between the mob and the station. To Hoagie's left, Amy and one of the workers from Coffee Table Books had set up a table with drinks, cookies and donuts.
Miranda stopped next to Hoagie and said, "Everything calm out here?"
"Hey, Miss Powell. And yeah, everything's a-okay. That Jake kid stopped by to pick up his coupon already."
"Good. Glad to hear it."
"How is Nadine holding up?"
"She's doing well, so far," Miranda said. She looked up and saw the small window that looked out onto the harbor. What was going on in there? Who had called? She fought the urge to run back up the stairs and fight the battle for Nadine, protect her from whatever had made the blood drain out of her face that way. She shook her head and scanned the street. "No problems I should know about...?"
"Nothing the sheriff and I can't handle. Those Coffee Table chicks offered to protect Nadine when she came out. Make sure no one tries anything."
"Her own personal Secret Service," Miranda smiled. She chuckled at the image of a cookie maker and her patrons surrounding Nadine as she walked to her bike and patted Hoagie's shoulder. "Okay, I better get back in there. Thanks for being here, Hoagie."
"No problem. Happy to help."
She walked back upstairs and saw Nadine with her head down on the desk. She ran across the bullpen and burst into the broadcast booth. She went to Nadine and felt her heart wrench with each quiet sob. She put her hand in the middle of Nadine's back and swore that whoever had been on the other end of the line, whatever they had said, they were dead meat.
When the tears stopped and Nadine had explained the call, Miranda felt her rage begin to ebb. She shifted them both so Nadine was no longer in her arms and got them both a can of soda out of the fridge. As she sat down, she shook her head in amazement. "Your father accepts you. That's... that's huge, Dean."
"I don't know about accepting me," Nadine corrected. "He never said he was okay with me being gay and he never forgave me for 'abandoning' the family business. He just said he understood my reasons and supported me standing up for my rights. Still... big day."
Miranda nodded. "Big day indeed." She toasted Nadine and touched their cans together.
Nadine smiled and said, "I'm going to take some more calls." She answered the first line and said, "This is KELF and you're on with the Pixie."
"My name is Kevin Dawes and I've been in a relationship with the same man for fifteen years. We were in an openly gay marriage for ten of those years until we moved to Squire's Isle. We came out to a couple of people when we first got here and saw their reactions change in a heartbeat. We knew we'd never be accepted, so we went in the closet, firmly shut the door. We've been hiding ever since, but no more. Thanks, Nadine."
"Thank you for calling, Kevin. May I ask your partner's name or...?"
"His name is Alex."
"Hi, Alex. Kevin, is there anything you'd like to hear?"
"Yeah, I'd like to hear *Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)* by Sly and the Family Stone."
"Ooh, I love that song. It's appropriate, and it has Elf in the title. Thanks for calling, Kevin."
"KELF, hello. You're on with the Pixie."
Nadine tensed and looked at Miranda. "Kate, hello."
"I've been listening to your entire show. I'm home now, they... they released me about an hour ago. I am so damn proud of you, babe."
"Thank you, Kate. Are you feeling well...?"
"I am. I wanted to call and..." She cleared her throat. "You can play this on the air, Nadine. My name is Kathryn Price. I'm a reporter for the Squire's Isle *Register* and it was my article that caused all of these problems for Nadine. And I want to admit to the town, to my employers, to everyone listening right now that... I am a lesbian."
Nadine closed her eyes. "Are you okay, Kate?"
"I'm fine," she said softly. "I'm going to be just fine. Thank you, Nadine."
"Thank *you,* Kate. I love you."
"Love you," Kate said.
She disconnected the call and felt Miranda's hand on her thigh. She smiled and turned for the hug she knew was waiting. If there was one thing she already knew about Miranda Powell... the woman was big on hugs.
"You're on with the Pixie."
"You're going to hell, you know. All gays are--"
"If I'm going to hell, you can finish you're thought when you run into me down there. All right, chief?" Miranda covered her mouth to keep from laughing on the air. "Next caller, please."
"KELF, talk to me."
"You know what the problem with America is?"
She kept her finger over the disconnect button. "No. What's the problem with America, sir?"
"That with divorce, broken homes, children growing up with single-parent families, that we're making such a big deal out of someone loving someone else. If you're happy, more power to you. As long as you're in love, I could care less who it's with."
"Thank you very much for calling, sir. Can I play anything for you?"
"You're on the air with the Pixie."
"Hello, Miss Butler. My name is Amelia Judah. I work at the library and I'm not calling about the overdue book you have out."
"I appreciate that, Mrs. Judah. And, uh, I'll... get it to you as soon as possible."
"Good girl. I was listening to your show and I realized it's partially the library's fault you're in this pickle. When the subject of inappropriate content was raised, I volunteered to read the book in question. I have to admit, I found it... not to my liking. But I did *not* find anything objectionable and I didn't support taking it off the shelves."
"Thank you for being honest, Mrs. Judah."
"Well, I could hardly do anything else, dear. I'd have to look it up to get the entire quote, but I remember the end. 'When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.' You can't, and shouldn't, go quietly. Good girl, Miss Butler. And seeing as how you're under the threat of unemployment, we'll waive the five cent overdue charge on your book. Granted you get it in before next week."
"I'll do my level best, Mrs. Judah. Thank you very much for your call and for reminding us of that wonderful quote. Can I play anything for you?"
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jackson Browne and Pink Floyd broke up the rest of the calls. Nadine leaned back and talked to Miranda while the music played and put her feet in Miranda's chair. Miranda shifted to one side and lightly massaged Nadine's feet as they spoke. Halfway through an Aerosmith song, Nadine suddenly realized they were being more intimate than she and Kate had ever been. She smiled and pinned Miranda's fingers between her feet.
"Cut that out," Miranda chuckled.
"No, you're not," Miranda smiled.
"No, I'm not. I love how comfortable I am with you. I've known you for all this time, we're... friends, right?"
Miranda nodded. "I don't have many friends. But I've counted you as one of mine for a while. Even if I never really showed it before this week."
Nadine nodded her understanding and toyed with the tab of her soda can. "I think this is how it's supposed to be. Love and relationships. You can't just grab someone, take them home, end up with them the rest of your life. That's what I was trying to do with Kate. But you need a basis of some sort if you really want to make it last."
"I don't believe that," Miranda said.
"No. I think you *can* stumble over the person you're supposed to be with. You don't need an existing relationship just to make your romance work. Otherwise Simon would have to marry Willa."
Nadine frowned. "I thought Simon *was* married to Willa."
Miranda shook her head. "No, of course not. But... while I don't think it's necessary? I certainly think it helps." She smoothed her hands down Nadine's ankles and caressed her calves.
Miranda smiled and glanced at the clock. "Oh, Dean..."
Nadine turned and felt her good mood flee the room. It was three minutes to five. She pulled her feet from Miranda's grasp and turned to face the microphone. She silenced the song that had been playing and pulled the microphone closer.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's almost five o'clock. That will be it for me. For now, maybe for good. I wanted one last show, I wanted what I was promised: that I could come on here, play some music and say what I wanted to say. So many people stood up to help make sure that happened... I'd be lost without them. Miranda Powell, Joe Hogan, Billy..." She glanced at Miranda, eyes wide. "I... I'm sorry, Billy, I don't know your last name. Amy Wellis, the cookies were delicious.
"I want to thank everyone who called in. Everyone who came out today and those who will be inspired by this show to come out in the near future. Coming out was one of the greatest things that's happened to me. It's changed my life and I can honestly say I think it's changed me for the better." She felt a hand on her shoulder and reached up to hold it. "Thank you to my listeners. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and who believes in me still. Thank you, Clifton Gail, for standing up for yourself and for being behind me.
"We've only got a couple of minutes left. I was promised one show and that's all I'll take up. Hoagie is right downstairs and I'll be sending him up on my way down. I'm going to clean up the booth for him so he can abandon his watchtower downstairs. And I'm pretty sure Hoagie doesn't have any diatribes he wants to go off on, so it should be pure music and contests and, and all that stuff I know you guys love."
She bit her thumb and blinked away tears. "All I ever wanted was to be a disc-jockey. I wanted to be paid to play music and talk to people who loved it as much as I did. No matter how it ends, I got to live my dream. What else can anyone ask for? Thank you. To everyone who has ever listened to me, to anyone who has ever cared about some little girl sitting in a booth playing music. This song is for everyone in December Harbor and everyone on Squire's Isle. I think it sums up what I wanted to say pretty nicely. This is... this is... Nadine Butler. Your KELF Pixie. S-signing off. Good-bye, everyone."
She hit a button and *Imagine* by John Lennon began to play.
She looked over the console for a moment and ran her hand over the assorted buttons and controls. She leaned back in the chair and took in the view out the window, the small sailboats, the tree-lined shore that made the northern cup of the harbor and the clear, blue winter sky. The booth was tiny, it was dark and it had a not-unpleasant odor to it, but it was home. It had been her favorite place in the world ever since she was a little girl. To say good-bye to it was almost too much.
Miranda stood and held out her hand. Nadine took it and let Miranda pull her to her feet. She gathered the cookies while Miranda put her jacket back on and they walked from the booth hand-in-hand. Nadine leaned against Miranda's shoulder and said, "What a show."
"What a show," Miranda said with a smile. Nadine squeezed her hand.
As they came downstairs, Billy crossed the lobby to intercept them. When he saw Nadine, he broke into a smile that threatened to break his face in two. "Hey, Miss Butler. You made it."
"I sure did, Billy." She paused and said, "Billy, I'm so sorry I have to ask this, but what is your last name?"
Nadine slipped her hand out of Miranda's and walked over to him. She kissed him once on each cheek and solemnly said, "Thank you for protecting me today, William Joseph."
His dark cheeks flashed bright red and he unlocked the door for her. Nadine retook Miranda's hand and they walked out of the building together. The world exploded in a cacophony of noise. From their left, Amy and her Coffee Table Book patrons let up a cheer. From directly ahead of them, the protesters echoed a chorus of sneers and name-calling. They thrust their placards in the air and began a chant: "Ho-mos must-go! Ho-mos must-go!"
Sheriff Rucker and Deputy White's patrol cars were parked tail-to-nose at the curb and both officers were standing in the street between the station and the mob.
When Nadine reached Hoagie, she offered her free hand and helped him to his feet. His knees popped as he rose and he brushed off the seat of his pants. He smiled and said, "Looks like you made it, Pixie. Wish I could've been there to hear it."
"Trust me," Miranda said. "Someone somewhere recorded every word."
Hoagie smiled. "Nadine, I've been thinking. Why don't you come back up and sit in on my show? Special guest co-host, that sort of thing. I'd take a backseat and you could..."
"Hoagie, no," Nadine interrupted. "Thank you, and I love you for thinking of it, but... but no. I don't want you to get into trouble. All I wanted was the last show I was promised and I've got it. Thanks to you." She kissed his cheek and patted his muscular forearm. "I'm satisfied. Really."
He shifted and said, "Well. So long as you're sure..."
"The offer means the world to me, Hoagie. But it wouldn't be the same. I'd feel like I was cheating."
"I understand that," he said. He kissed her cheek and said, "Take care of yourself, Nadine. Don't be a stranger."
Miranda guided Nadine to the bike rack and looked over her shoulder at the crowd. "Are you sure you don't want a ride? You could always come back and get your bike when things have calmed down a little."
"Nope. I'm not changing my habits just because of a couple of close-minded idiots. The sooner they see I won't be scared away, the sooner they'll stop trying."
Hoagie had already gone back into the station and Rucker was crossing the street to tell them he and White were leaving. Nadine pulled her key from the pocket of her jeans and was about to unlock her bike's chain when someone yelled out her name - "Nadine Butler!" She lifted her head and turned in the direction of the voice. Miranda and Rucker both turned their bodies in response to the call and, for one split second, they left Nadine exposed to the crowd.
She never saw what hit her, but she did hear the impact. Strangely enough, it seemed to come from behind her ears rather than in the middle of her face where she was hit. The impact made a quiet *thock,* a solid and yet somehow hollow sound that was followed by a quiet snap. Nadine screamed and covered her face as she fell backward, warm liquid - it couldn't be blood, it couldn't be blood - trickled down her nose. It started to get in her eyes and she screwed them shut as tight as she could.
She hit the ground, covering her face and screaming as Rucker ran back towards the already-dispersing mob and Miranda was frantically yelling for someone to call an ambulance and Hoagie burst back out of the building at the sounds of the screams and sirens began shriek in the chilly afternoon air.
To be continued in Chapter Twelve
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