Waking up with leathermouth never bothered Deck; it was the fucking hangovers which he somehow managed to create for himself that were really beginning to wear him down. Thinking that perhaps Mona had impaled his skull with a carpenter's nail or butter knife or some other metal-piercing implement, he sat upright in a comical mockery of alertness. After a cursory search of his head turned up no abnormal protrusions, Deck conceded guilt to and upon himself and his compulsive drinking.

Rolling out of bed he pulled on his pants, noting only the sad condition of the room. Mona had apparently turned the place upside-down looking for his wallet and/or her credit card, took his Ute Lemper CD and stormed out. What a fucking bitch.

The blinding California sun stabbed him right in the eyes as he fumbled for his car keys; he was never going to drink this fucking much, ever again. Really. And he meant it this time.

His office was an unholy disaster. Somebody had gone over it pretty well--not that there was much to go over. Deck just couldn't understand why they couldn't do it to him like they did it in the movies; with a fine tooth comb. If this was a fine tooth comb style job, it must have been some mutant, Don-King-Kong comb. It's times like these when Deck lamented that he didn't own a god damn gun. Well at least they didn't rip the phone out of the wall like the last cock-suckers did who broke into his office. While he was gingerly picking up, inspecting and re-organizing his collection of Frank Sinatra vinyls, the phone rang. He looked at his watch: Five, on the nose.

* * * *

Over the next few days, deck cleaned up his office and had better locks installed. There had been nothing new on the Petey side of things and Kim had been calling like clockwork. Deck was eating Fried noodles and reading Guns N' Ammo one afternoon when something peculiar happened. Deck stopped, sensing something was amiss. He looked at his watch; it was five-fifteen. Deck picked up the phone; there was a dial tone. He hung up and peeked out the window. No one was milling about in the street, but that didn't mean much.

Deck pulled the crumpled matchbook from his back pocket and examined the address. His gut told him that taking the book there might be bad news for him, but as long as he checked it out and didn't bring the book, there was a reasonable assurance that if something was fishy he could get out with his skin attached. Then again, some old lady could answer the fucking door. Deck rubbed his temples but the hangover seemed to have taken up residence. How the fuck was he supposed to cash in on this shit if he couldn't keep the book for a few more weeks? How was he supposed to know what to do when he didn't know the player involved?

Not knowing what was going on pissed Deck off to no end, and being pissed off generally made him act like an idiot. Deck grabbed his coat and rushed out into the hallway. When he go to the landing he didn't even pause to think about going up; taking the stairs down three at a time, he stormed out onto the sidewalk and got into his beat-to-shit Chevy Nova. Deck was going to find out what was going on if he had to kill somebody to do it. Nobody was going to fuck up his chance to get out of this rat race. He pulled the address out again and slapped it on the dash before he shot out into traffic.

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