"What in tarnation!" he said finally.
The golfer took a clumsy step forward, the pleasant smile on his face frozen as his spikes popped noisily out of the wood. "Ahem," he said. He lifted his golf club. "I'm a golfer," he announced, shaking the club and trying to speak as matter-of-factly as he could. "Just got left behind there at the railroad crossing. Fellow with me just drove off. Stepped out, you see, to practice my swing...."
"Not so fast," said the man sitting next to Claude. He had come half out of his chair to look at the golfer.
"Don't quite know what to do," the golfer was going on. "Haven't got a dime, but maybe I could put in a telephone call collect to someone...if I could borrow...."
"What crossing you talking about?"
"The crossing? Well, the railroad crossing just up the street."
The man looked at his watch. "Hopped off the 5:15 freight—that your story?" He looked keenly at the other two.
"No," the golfer said. "I came by car. The car drove off by mistake. We're on our way—or we were on our way—to the Jacksonville Open."
The third man at the table made a quick gesture to quiet the other two. He was older, with a sun-creased face. Black suspenders crossed at his chest, and he had taken longer to awaken than the others; he now had the sly questing look of a turtle about to go to feed. "Martha," he said to the woman in the straw hat, "go out back and fetch Mark Tanner." When she had gone, scuttling quickly behind the counter through a screen door that slammed loudly in the gloom, the older man reached into his coveralls and set a large pistol on the table.
"Now, stranger." He cleared his throat. "What you got them shoes painted blue fur? And what about them spikes? And what does that writin' on your hat say?"