Stella had a different reaction to the sound of gunfire.
Startling circumstances compel different people to do different things. Some people, when faced with an adverse situation (i.e., watching someone fall or, in this case, potentially getting shot) tend to offer assistance. Or in the case of falling, they actively attempt to stifle a laugh.
Neither was the case with Stella.
After hours of driving, and having a certain inbred, conventional comportment, Stella simply needed to "p".
So as Maisie curled herself into a crisis-driven fetal ball after hearing the gunshot, Stella headed straight for the bathroom.
What was once a place of contemplative worship and respect for the dead had become a wild ride of disorganized mayhem once the unanticipated shot of gunfire occurred.
As Stella quickly entered the First Presbyterian Church of Burlington with a very singular objective, the stoic folk of Burlington streamed out of the church in a crazy fractal.
Maisie slowly regained her bearings during the crowd's crazed exodus from the church. She straightened herself up, and attempted to regain some sense of composure.
Saunter. Saunter. Saunter. She repeated the word as she adjusted herself, trying to look normal in the midst of a completely abnormal situation.
Stella and Maisie found themselves at the swinging door of the bathroom; one entering, one exiting.
That's all Maisie could say.
Stella had to be the strong one.
"Let's see what in the hell is going on, Maisie. For god's sake, pull yourself together."
So they did their best at sauntering and strolling, despite the chaos of the situation. After a series of frenetic twists and turns down several hallways, they found themselves in the church kitchen.
It was as though no one in the kitchen knew what had happened. Everyone was cooking up the last supper for Mrs. Clark Thompson.
The two women did their best to muscle up a shred of composure. They smelled the Beef and Barley Stew. Each of them salivated when they saw the crock pot of White Bean Chili. Both took note of the complete lack of vegetables and fruit.
Despite the lack of freshness and the recent gunfire, they were both hungry.
"Do you need any help?" Maisie broke the ice.
"Take this tray to the dining hall." The woman who quickly dispatched the order apparently had no idea what had happened that disrupted the event's solemnity.
Maisie had regained her composure, as well as her appetite.
She had been given a tray filled with steaming smoked pork ribs and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
Despite the lack of audience, she dutifully brought her tray to the Multi-Purpose Room in the church, and laid the tray down next to the series of water jugs, each of which was peppered with ice that was quickly melting.
Stella was soon to follow, with a tray of Buffalo Chip and Wyoming Cowboy cookies, which apparently were the dessert items on the menu for the passing of Mrs. Clark Thompson.
"God, I'm hungry."
Maisie said it first.
Silently, piously, both of the women sampled items from each of their trays.
They washed it all down with water, now devoid of ice chips.
Everyone was elsewhere.
That's when Maisie saw the envelope that was most likely left by one of the mourners who had swiftly departed when the gunfire changed everything.
"To Claudia." Maisie knew it was time to leave.
"Eat up, Stella. We've got to get to Bozeman."
She quickly pocketed the envelope. They had a first name.
And thanks to grazing at the buffet, they were full.