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TG Browning


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By: TG Browning
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Jerry Swann was forty-three and had been a logger and fisherman before they opened up the card rooms in Newport. Now he made what money he needed dealing blackjack and once in awhile, delivering furniture for a brother-in-law. Doris could remember him from when she was a Junior High student and he was a star end for the Toledo High football team. She’d thought he was neat stuff; now she figured he was a nice enough guy but something of a lush and awfully thick on one shoulder.

He hacked again and spat something darkly disgusting out into the gutter before he walked, bold as life over to where Doris and Mort were crouched. “Je-zus, Doris. Why did you have to call …”

Doris grabbed him by the belt on one side as Mort did on the other and together they jerked him off his feet. He landed clumsily and moaned, clutching his head. A string of profanity, mindlessly repeated like a mantra, wafted from him.

None too soon. Mary let off two more rounds, the first going over the top of the car and hitting a bird feeder in the yard behind them. The second creased the roof of Doris’ rig and hit the T11 siding of the vacant house behind them.

“Shut up, Jerry! We can discuss terms later. How’s Martha?”

Still groaning softly, he blinked at Doris with glassy yet blood-shot eyes. “She’s fine. A bit touchy, but fine.”

“Good. We’ll have her back to you in two shakes.” Doris pointed to the burlap sack. “Okay, Mort. Now you get to use that speed and upper-body strength you’re always telling Meg about.”

Mort nodded, but looked at the bag, puzzled. “What …”

“Never you mind. Here’s what I want you to do. I’m going to keep Mary occupied and I want you to make your way to the right side of the house. See that side window?”

Mort took a quick look. “Yeah.”

“Chuck this through the window – I don’t care how. Break the window open if you have to. Are you tall and strong enough to get it through that window?” Mort looked at the window and hefted the sack. After a moment he nodded.

Jerry had been quietly miserable, listening, but suddenly understood what Doris had in mind. “Oh, no! Jesus Christ, Doris, she’ll be pissed off for a week. She hates it when you do stuff like that to her.”

“Well, the two of you’ll just have to put up with it. I don’t turn you two over to the feds and you help me out once in a while. That was the deal.”

Jerry nodded ruefully. Making deals with Doris tended to have long range implications that you never counted on.

Mort had not a clue. But Doris had given him an order and he, by God, was going to do it. He hefted the sack again and nodded to himself. “Okay, let’s do it.”

“Right. Now I’m going to get her talking and make her think I’ve lost my patience. When I shoot, you start, okay?”

“Got it.”

“Mary! It’s getting late and I’m going to miss that sale if you keep this up. Let’s just call the whole thing off. Pitch your gun out.”

Snap-pop. Doris cursed, louder than she intended. The mayor was going to have a fit when he got the bill for the squad cars. “Damn it, Mary. Stop shooting the car. Cost money to repair those blasted holes …”
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