Here is the news. Dateline, Port Allen. The Future.

What police are calling “a regrettable but unavoidable mishap” occurred in a restaurant here yesterday.

A woman customer at a table in the center of the room, reaching for the hot sauce to sprinkle on her jambalaya, knocked her purse off the table. When it landed on the floor, a pink 9 mm. pistol (“very little kickback, and comfortable for the fair sex to handle”) clattered to the floor and discharged. The plucky little lady was unharmed; the bullet thudded into a wall.

However, Bergeron’s was packed, thanks to the 10 percent discount offer for any diner carrying a gun. Hearing the report, several good ol’ boys figured the place was being robbed. It was for just such an eventuality that they had been encouraged to exercise their Second Amendment rights at mealtimes.

Confusion reigned. Forks were cast aside, while furious customers reached for their pieces. Rat-a-tat-tat. Nobody came close to hitting the unfortunate lady, who was trying to look nonchalant while stuffing the pistol back in her purse, but diners seated around the edge of the room were not so lucky.

A police spokesman, straining to describe the scene, likened it to “a circular firing squad.” He said casualty figures would be released as soon as local hospitals could provide them.

Meanwhile, he urged “everyone to keep a sense of proportion,” pointing out that guns kill more than 30,000 people a year in this country. “Although we don’t yet know how many people were hit, they won’t amount to more than a statistical blip,” he said.

“As is the case every time a mass shooting occurs, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, but it is not for us to question God’s will. Rest assured, however, that we will do all we can to help put this unfortunate incident behind us. Teams of grief counselors stand ready.”

Diners who escaped the fusilade insisted that, horrific though the experience had been, their faith in guns remained unshaken. “All them pantywaist liberals are always saying we wouldn’t have so many gun deaths if we didn’t have such easy access to guns,” one said. “But they’ll never convince me of that. If I don’t wanna believe it, it ain’t true.”

“Makes no never mind if it is,” said another. “All those people who get shot die in the cause of freedom. It is only because we have our guns that sinister forces in Washington have been unable to enslave us all. I’ve never been out of the country, but I know that disarming the citizenry is the first step to tyranny. Those limeys don’t have democracy or civil rights any more now, do they?”

They were overheard by another diner. “I’ve been over there,” he said, “and I wouldn’t advise it. True, they have elections, habeas corpus, free speech and stuff — they probably copied it all from us — but I never felt relaxed. You can look all around you in a crowd, and there’s not a gun to be seen anywhere. It was like one of those towns in the old west where they made you check your hardware on the way in.

“I was nervous the whole time. I agree with the owner of this eatery. If you want to feel safe chowing down, make sure the customers are all armed.

“As for the poor gal who dropped her piece, don’t go calling her ditzy, ’cause these things happen, even in the best joints. I remember reading about a woman’s gun going off at Galatoire’s in New Orleans a couple of years ago. Nobody was hurt, but then Galatoire’s is too hoity-toit to offer a gun discount, so nobody was in a position to fire any more shots.

“Say, what’s that on your cheek?” he asked another survivor. “Looks like you took a hit.”

“It’s just a graze; I was one of the lucky ones,” said the other, “I’ll be here tomorrow, as usual.”

“Good man, but you know what I’d do if I was you?”

“What’s that?”

“Ask for 20 percent off.”

James Gill’s email address is jgill@theadvocate.com.