I had met Ron after school, and she and I were going to meet Jan for dinner, to celebrate Ron's birthday. Ron was somewhat ambivalent about this; she was always uncomfortable about anything which meant she was the center of attention. But she had agreed, once I had made it clear that it would just be the three of us, and there would be no singing of Happy Birthday or party hats or anything like that.
Which was fine with us, we didn't make too big a deal about each other's birthdays, but with Ron it was a real resistance and we had to respect that.
"So," I said, "we spent most of the afternoon making a huge cake. We figured–"
She glanced at me to make sure I was kidding, then she just shook her head.
Then she turned, and she was about to speak when we heard a sound from the doorway next to us. We both stopped, and I put a hand on her shoulder. There was nobody near us on the sidewalk, and I was pretty sure we were the only people who had heard it. And I was pretty sure it had been a gunshot.