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Release date: 2022-12-07 11:06:28 Author:nrWoyzwo

Fat Jack leaned his backside against the metal worktable in the middle of the room, where he had laid out the Uzis, revolvers, pistol, and silencers. The table creaked ominously. "Well, what we're talking about here is army ordnance, tightly controlled stuff."

"All right," Laura said, putting one arm around Chris to keep him at her side, "what about the gas on my list?"

"It's a nuthouse out there," Chris said.

Raising her voice to be heard over the din, Laura asked for Fat Jack and said, "I called earlier. I'm an old friend of his mother's," which was what you were to say to indicate you wanted guns not pizza.

"Yes, I was supposed to ask for the pills, too," Laura said.

Now, after she gave Fat Jack her new shopping list, after he quoted a price and counted her money, he led her and Chris through the hidden door in the back of his office closet, down a narrow stairwell-he seemed in danger of becoming wedged tight-to the basement where he kept his illegal stock. Though his restaurant was a madhouse, his arsenal was stored with fetishistic neatness: cartons upon cartons of handguns and automatic weapons were stacked on metal shelves, arranged according to caliber and also according to price; he kept at least a thousand guns in the basement of the Pizza Party Palace.

"They're only children having fun," Laura said, standing with Chris in front of the desk.

He dealt in illegal weapons for the same reason he erected neon signs that violated city codes: as a statement against authority, to champion individual rights. He could talk for hours about the evils of government, any kind of government, in any degree whatsoever, and on Laura's last visit with Chris, in order to get the modified Uzis she wanted, she had listened to a lengthy explanation of why the government did not even have the right to pass laws forbidding murder.

"Yes, I was supposed to ask for the pills, too," Laura said.

"And Mrs. O'Leary was just an old lady with a clumsy cow, but she burned down Chicago," Fat Jack said sourly. He was eating a Mars bar. In the distance children's voices, insulated by soundproofing, rose in a dull roar, and as if talking to that unseen multitude, the fat man said, "Ah, choke on it, you little trolls."

"Please follow me," Dominick said in a funereal voice.

"Neuroactive, respiractive? What's the difference?"

"It's a nuthouse out there," Chris said.

Jack had a grainy complexion with gray eyes nearly buried in a puff-adder face. He focused on Laura and said, "You see my new neon?"

"All right," Laura said, putting one arm around Chris to keep him at her side, "what about the gas on my list?"

Fat Jack leaned his backside against the metal worktable in the middle of the room, where he had laid out the Uzis, revolvers, pistol, and silencers. The table creaked ominously. "Well, what we're talking about here is army ordnance, tightly controlled stuff."

He sat in a baronial swivel chair behind a desk sized for him, and he did not get up. "Listen to the little beasts." He spoke to Laura, ignored Chris. "I put my office at the back of the building, had it specially soundproofed, and I can still hear them out there, shrieking, squealing; it's as if I'm just down the hall from hell."

"It's a nuthouse out there," Chris said.

Fat Jack grinned. Bits of chocolate were stuck between his teeth. "Don't get much call for this kind of thing, not from someone like yourself, a small buyer. Tickles me to try to figure what you'd be up to with it. Not that I expect you to tell me. But usually it's big buyers from South America or the Middle East who want these neuroactive and respiractive gases. Iraq and Iran used plenty the last few years."

"Yeah. Isn't it a beauty? I designed it, had it made, and then had it erected in the dead of night, so the next morning it was too late for anybody to get a restraining order to stop me. The damn city council just about croaked, all of them at once."

They did not have to go through the cyclonic commotion of the dining room, which was good because that meant Laura was less likely to be seen and recognized by one of the customers. A door off the other side of the host's foyer opened onto a corridor that led past the kitchen and the storeroom to Fat Jack's private office. Dominick knocked on the door, ushered them inside, and said to Fat Jack, "Old friends of your mother," then left Laura and Chris with the big man.

"Yes, I was supposed to ask for the pills, too," Laura said.

"Good memory," she said. "A year ago."

Dominick had learned to project his voice clearly through the cacophony without shouting. "You've been here before, I believe."

Fat Jack leaned his backside against the metal worktable in the middle of the room, where he had laid out the Uzis, revolvers, pistol, and silencers. The table creaked ominously. "Well, what we're talking about here is army ordnance, tightly controlled stuff."

Raising her voice to be heard over the din, Laura asked for Fat Jack and said, "I called earlier. I'm an old friend of his mother's," which was what you were to say to indicate you wanted guns not pizza.

Fat Jack leaned his backside against the metal worktable in the middle of the room, where he had laid out the Uzis, revolvers, pistol, and silencers. The table creaked ominously. "Well, what we're talking about here is army ordnance, tightly controlled stuff."

"Please follow me," Dominick said in a funereal voice.

Fat Jack grinned. Bits of chocolate were stuck between his teeth. "Don't get much call for this kind of thing, not from someone like yourself, a small buyer. Tickles me to try to figure what you'd be up to with it. Not that I expect you to tell me. But usually it's big buyers from South America or the Middle East who want these neuroactive and respiractive gases. Iraq and Iran used plenty the last few years."

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