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datatime: 2022-12-05 22:02:14 Author:OkOqooHN

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

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.

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

"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."

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."

"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."

"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.

Fat Jack took his nickname seriously and tried to live up to it. He was five feet ten and weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds. Wearing immense gray sweatpants and sweatshirt that fit him almost as tightly as Spandex, he looked like the fat man in that magnetized photograph that dieters could buy to put on refrigerators to scare them off food; in fact he looked like the refrigerator.

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

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.

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?"

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

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

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.

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

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."

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

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."

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

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

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?"

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