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datatime: 2022-12-05 21:55:34 Author:lRkwRVBr

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."

"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."

"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."

"The clown is new, isn't it?"

"You sure you don't mean tear gas?"

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?"

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.

Fat Jack had been embroiled in a decade-long legal battle with the Anaheim Zoning Commission and the city council. The authorities disapproved of his garish neon displays, especially now that the area around Disneyland was slated for urban renewal. Fat Jack had spent tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting them in the courts, paying fines, being sued, countersuing, and he had even spent time in jail for contempt of court. He was a former libertarian who now claimed to be an anarchist, and he would not tolerate infringement on his rights-real and imagined-as a free-thinking individual.

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

"Respiractive-they have to breathe it in; it kills them seconds after it hits the lungs and spreads through the bloodstream. When you release it, you've got to be wearing a gas mask. Your neuroactive, on the other hand, kills even quicker, just on touching the skin, and with certain types of it-like Vexxon-you won't need a gas mask or protective clothing, 'cause you can take a couple of pills before you use it, and they're like an advance antidote."

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

"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."

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.

He was able to provide her with two modified Uzis-"An immensely popular gun since the attempt to kill Reagan," he said-and another .38 Chief's Special. Stefan had hoped to obtain a Colt Commander 9mm Parabellum with a nine-round magazine and the barrel machined for a silencer. "Don't have it," Fat Jack said, "but I can let you have a Colt Commander Mark IV in .38 Super, which has a nine-round magazine, and I've got two of those machined for silencers. Got the silencers, too, plenty of 'em." She already knew that he wasn't able to provide her with ammunition, but as he finished his Mars bar, he explained anyway: "Don't stock ammunition or explosives. Look, I don't believe in authority, but I'm not totally irresponsible. I got a restaurant full of shrieking, snot-faced kids upstairs, and I can't risk blowing them to bits, even if that'd bring more peace to the world. Besides, I'd destroy all my pretty neon too."

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?"

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?"

"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."

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

"Oh, sure, I can get you some Vexxon," Fat Jack said. He moved away from the table, which creaked in relief as his weight was lifted from it, and went to a set of metal shelves where he withdrew a couple of Hershey bars from between boxes of guns, a secret stash. He did not offer one to Chris, but put the second bar in the side pocket of his sweatpants and began to eat the other. "I don't have that sort of crap here; just as dangerous as explosives. But I can have it for you late tomorrow, if that's not inconvenient."

Laura had no great love of big government, whether the left or right, but she had little sympathy with Fat Jack, either. He did not acknowledge the legitimacy of any authority whatsoever, not that of proven institutions, not even that of family.

"You sure you don't mean tear gas?"

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."

"No. Vexxon. That's the stuff I want." Stefan had given her the name of the gas. He said it was one of the chemical weapons that was on the list of items the institute hoped to bring back to 1944 and introduce into the German military arsenal. Now perhaps it could be used against the Nazis. "We need something that will kill fast."

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.

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.

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