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Flurry at Fat Sam's

    by Derick Wilcox

He stared at her in surprise. She nodded, a wry smile on her face. "Yes," she said. "I'm pregnant."

"You're sure?"

She gave a grimace that might once have been a smile. "Absolutely certain." She gazed at him, a look of worry in her eyes. She reached out and took his hand. "Jack, I don't want to raise our child without his father. Can't you get out?"

Jack Brady gave a twisted parody of a smile. "Helen, love, in my line of business you usually retire dead."

She stared at him, face pale, mouth working. She opened her mouth to speak, caught herself, closed it again.

"What?" he said.

"Scara's men killed Tony."

He winced. "I know, but how do I prove it?"

"You don't. Let Henderson do the proving."

Jack stared at his wife. "What are you getting at, love?"

"You don't owe Benny Scara any loyalty, Jack, not any more."

"He saved my life."

"Yes, and ever since he's been sucking you deeper and deeper into his clutches."

"I know too much. If I go to Henderson Benny will kill me."

"Witness protection."

"It might not work. Benny will know. He has spies in Henderson's office."

"You know who?" There was hope in her eyes.

Jack shrugged. "I suppose."

"Tell Henderson." She took his hand again, her tone urgent. "Jack, I love you. I'm carrying your child and I want us to have a future together. You want out, to go straight. Well, see Henderson, see if he can help."

Jack shook his head. "What about Benny's spies?"

"I'll ring him. From a payphone."

"And say what?"

Her shoulders slumped. She shrugged. "We'll think of something."

Jack reached out and took her into his arms. He put a finger under her chin and tipped her face up, kissing her lightly. "I'll work something out, love. I just need to work out how."

She hugged him. "Come on, sweetheart. Bedtime."

"You wanted to see me, boss?" Jack gazed impassively at Benny Scara. Scara smiled. Like a shark, all teeth and no eyes.

"Yes, Jack, I do. What do you know about Louie Manolli?"

Jack shrugged. "Small fry. Does a bit of dope running, runs a few girls in the West Heights. He'd like to be bigger but hasn't the brains."

Scara nodded. "Nice summary, Jack. Except for one thing."


"Louie has gotten ambitious. He's putting squeeze on the warehouses along the river."

"You're joking!"

Scara shook his head. "You know me better than that, Jack. I never joke about ambitious competitors. I want you to take a couple of the boys and persuade Louie that he really ought to back off."

"He's stupid, boss, but not that stupid. We'd never get near him."

"Not at his club, that's for sure. But he goes to Fat Sam's every Thursday, for lunch. He never pays, and Sam's getting fed up."

"Not alone. Even Louie isn't that rash."

"True, Jack, but he usually only has two of his boys with him. Fat Sam's is popular, but there's always room because that self-service rubbish keeps them moving. Me, I like to be served at a table by a pretty waitress." He gave the shark smile again.

Yeah, thought Jack, giving an empty smile in return. That's why I'm glad Helen isn't working now. You'd never be able to keep your hands off her and I'd have to kill you. Aloud he said, "When?"

"Tomorrow is Thursday. Look the place over, see how you might do it. Next Thursday is soon enough."

"You want him dead, boss?"

Scara gazed at Jack for a long moment, then nodded. "Yes, Jack, I think I do. Kill him."

Fat Sam's was busy. Jack took his plate and found a corner where he could study the layout. The shrimp and black bean sauce was tasty and he ate with relish as he studied the restaurant. Anywhere which covered the most field was too far from the door. The kitchen door was round a corner, almost in an alcove, out of sight, but the traffic in and out was constant. Taking Louie out inside Fat Sam's was looking decidedly iffy. Jack kept eating, and looking, but he was looking in the wrong direction when Louie Manolli came in.

The first he knew was the hand on his shoulder, and the voice saying, "You're sitting in Mr Manolli's seat." Jack knew the voice, and ignored it. Louie's nephew hadn't recognised him. He kept eating.

The hand on his shoulder squeezed. Hard. "You deaf?"

Jack looked up and smiled. "No, Bobby. You suicidal?"

Bobby Manolli's mouth fell open, revealing way too many gold teeth. He swallowed. "No, Jack, I didn't realise it was you."

"Figures," said Jack. "I'm nearly finished, if your uncle wants to sit here."

"Haven't you moved the punk yet, Bobby?" Louie Manolli's voice showed vexed irritation. He couldn't see Jack's face, because Bobby was in the way, but Bobby moved and Jack was fascinated to see the way the blood actually drained out of Manolli's face, and the way the insincere smile appeared. "Jack! I didn't see you."

"No, Louie, you didn't. You really ought to be more careful who you call a punk, you know." Jack put his chopsticks down, wiped his mouth, and stood. "All yours, if you want to sit here," he said.

Manolli's mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. Jack nodded, and moved away to the door. He paused on the sidewalk, looking both ways, then moved to cross the street back to his parked car. A voice stopped him

"Brady." Just the one word, but he recognised the voice. He took a deep breath and turned.

"Mr. Henderson. So good of you to drop by."

Henderson smiled. "Always pleased to see you, Brady. Whatever were you doing in Fat Sam's?"

Jack laughed. "Eating lunch. What else would I be in there for?"

"Maybe to kill Louie Manolli?"

"I just talked to Louie. I even gave up my seat for him."

Henderson smiled and moved closer. "Leave Manolli alone, Brady. We're watching Scara. We're watching you."

For the benefit of anyone watching, Jack moved closer, almost putting his face into Henderson's. "I need to talk to you. Somewhere private, where the stoolies in your office won't know."

Henderson laughed loudly, then frowned. "What's your game, Brady?"

Jack decided to trust him. "Helen's pregnant, and I want out. Anything I have is yours, if you can get us into witness protection."

Henderson frowned. "How do I know you're on the level?"

"You don't. You only have my word."

Henderson stared at him for a long, cold moment. "Your word's always been good, Jack. Corner of Campbell and Third, in an hour. There'll be a Bell panel truck parked. If it's clear, I'll come and get you." Henderson grinned. "And now for the benefit of those watching us." He raised his voice and stepped a little away from Jack. "Brady, you're a fool. Go back to Scara and tell him I can't be bought."

Jack flipped him the finger and Henderson grinned again, standing watching as Jack crossed the street to his car. The grin faded as he watched Jack drive away.

"You sure?" said Scara.

"Certain, boss. Louie has only his nephew and another guy with him. Louie and Bobby are both scared of me. If I make with the nice guy approach, they won't know what hit them."

"You're taking them outside?"

"No room to move inside. It only takes one panicking female or would-be hero and I'm trapped. Outside, just as they're relaxing and looking forward to lunch."

Scara laughed. "You're good, Jack, really good."

Jack smiled, but there was no humour in his expression. "I'm the best."

"So get Louie for me, Jack."

"As good as done."

Fat Sam's was busy again, but this time Jack wasn't eating. He went in only to satisfy himself that Louie and his men hadn't already arrived, then bought a newspaper from a vendor at the corner, and stood reading it, his eyes busy over the top of the paper, watching everyone. He dropped the paper into a trash can as Louie, his nephew and the muscle stepped from a taxi, which moved off as soon as they were clear. Jack reached under his arm and took out the H&K 9mm automatic he preferred to use.

"Louie?" he called.

Manolli stopped, surprised, recognised Jack, began to smile and then saw the gun, his smile fading into abject terror. Bobby reached under his arm and Jack moved the muzzle of the H&K. "Not a good idea, Bobby," he said with a smile.

"Why?" said Louie.

"You're muscling in on Mr Scara's territory, Louie. He doesn't like it, so he told me to stop you."

"Scara sent you?" said Manolli, mouth slack with surprise.

"He certainly did."

"The double-crossing bastard. He told me it was okay!"

"What was okay?"

"To take over the warehouses on the river."

"Sorry, Louie. Wrong answer. You have to die."

"Freeze!" yelled a voice behind him. "Drop the gun!"

Jack spun around, shocked. Henderson and another man were standing, braced, guns levelled at him. So this is how it ends, he thought and brought the gun up, ready to fire. He was surprised at how hard the bullets hit, watching almost abstractedly as the blood blossomed on his shirt.

Henderson looked down at the body sprawled on the sidewalk, waving away the instant rubber-neckers. "Call the ambulance," he said to his colleague. "Let the hospital pronounce him dead. I'll ride along with him, just in case. You get statements from Manolli and anybody else that saw what happened."

The ambulance was there in minutes and Henderson watched impassively as the attendants loaded Jack Brady onto a gurney and lifted him aboard. He climbed in after him and the attendant closed the door.

Henderson nodded to the woman sitting in the dark corner of the ambulance. "Mrs Brady."

Helen nodded. "Mr Henderson." There was a taut edge of worry in her voice. "The blood?"

"Synthetic. It was under Jack's shirt. You can relax. How do you feel, Jack?" said Henderson.

"Damn' sore," said Jack. "Those guns hit hard."

"Sorry, but we had to use standard ammo. You'll probably have bruises like sunsets. I did, when I got shot when I was wearing a kevlar vest."

"Bruises I can live with. At least I'm alive." Jack laughed. "The blood was impressive." He grinned at Helen, and then turned to Henderson. "Where are we going?"

"Now? Or once you're away?"


"First, the airport. There's a private jet to take you and Helen to Pittsburgh. You'll take a commercial flight from there. I don't know where, and I don't know what your new identity will be either. Need to know, you understand?"

"I do. Thanks."

"Thank you, Jack. What you gave us is enough to put Benny Scara away for a very long time."

"He killed my brother. I know it, but I could never prove it! That's the only reason I stayed as long as I did."

Henderson smiled. "Jack, you are now officially retired as an active member of Benny Scara's mob, and there's one retirement present I can give you. A couple of the things you gave us tied in to what we already knew. We can prove Benny killed Tony." Henderson paused, and when he spoke again there was a smile on his face and a promise in his voice. "And we will."

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