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chambers of the Federal Bureau of Termination.
The painter thumbed his nose at the orderly. "When I decide it's time to
go," he said, "it won't be at the Sheepdip."
"A do-it-yourselfer, eh?" said the orderly. "Messy business, Grandpa.
Why don't you have a little consideration for the people who have to
clean up after you?"
The painter expressed with an obscenity his lack of concern for the
tribulations of his survivors. "The world could do with a good deal
more mess, if you ask me," he said.
The orderly laughed and moved on.
Wehling, the waiting father, mumbled something without raising his
head. And then he fell silent again.
A coarse, formidable woman strode into the waiting room on spike
heels. Her shoes, stockings, trench coat, bag and overseas cap were all
purple, the purple the painter called "the color of grapes on Judgment
The medallion on her purple musette bag was the seal of the Service
Division of the Federal Bureau of Termination, an eagle perched on a
The woman had a lot of facial hair—an unmistakable mustache, in fact.
A curious thing about gas-chamber hostesses was that, no matter how
lovely and feminine they were when recruited, they all sprouted
mustaches within five years or so.
"Is this where I'm supposed to come?" she said to the painter.
"A lot would depend on what your business was," he said. "You aren't
about to have a baby, are you?"
"They told me I was supposed to pose for some picture," she said. "My