Twenty minutes later, Deck sat in his car and stared at the address plate that matched the numbers on the matchbook. Deck was having a hard time believing that he was actually going to walk up to this door and casually knock and NOT have the fucking book with him. Too late for that shit now; the hour of truth was at hand. Thankfully, Deck had an almost uncanny ability to pull some bullshit plan out of his ass at the last minute, and they usually worked.

Deck got out of his car, wandered down to the payphone on the corner by the park and punched in numbers with the bottom of his lighter.

"Hello?" came a sing-song voice.

"Petey, it's Deck; you got a man?"

"Well Hello Deckard. Good to hear from you," cloyed Petey in a chirping lilt. "I might have one about, uhm, but you know Deckard, this time it's going to have to be full price. I simply cannot afford to..."

"Petey, will you shut the fuck up? Do you have a man or don't you?"

Petey coughed. There was a pause. "Yes, I do."

"How many balls he got?" asked deck as he jimmied a smoke out of his pack.

The "ball system" was the way that Petey rated his runners. A "one nut wonder" was usually a kid or an old man who would run your shit, drugs, papers, whatever, but a one-baller wouldn't do any funny stuff. A "guy with a pair" was your typical thug who would mix it up if need be. But a "three balled bitch," they were absolutely fucking crazy; killers, thrill seekers, druggies and just plain nut-jobs who would do just about anything for the right price. These would always cost extra. Petey was notorious for his large selection of worthless "one nutters;" Deck was praying that he had a man with a pair around.

There was a long, silent pause from the other end. "Hello? How many fucking nuts Petey?" Deck yelled into the receiver, dropping the unlit Lucky from his lips in the process.

"Yes, yes, Deckard," Petey cleared his throat. "I'd say Three."

"You'd 'SAY' three, or fucking three, Petey? Take the guy's god damn pants down and count them if you have to, but you better not send me one of those god damn kids again Petey; this shit is serious."

"No, no, Deckard. Three all right; two and a half to be sure, but. . ."

"Fine, whatever. Look, got a pen? Take this down." Deck lit his Lucky and stared at the house down the street. "One-four-oh-seven, on the corner of 14th and Lincoln Way."

"Ok, got it."

"Great. Now, I am going into that joint right now. You send the man down, and if I ain't out standin' by my car across the street at... quarter-till-seven, you tell your man to... send a car through the living room window."

"WHAT?!" screamed Petey. "Whose car? Are you fucking nuts Deckard?"

"Probably. Look I don't care where you get it; tell your three-baller to pick a junker up on the way or something. Put the shit on my tab." At this point, Deck was simply talking over Petey's hysterical protests. "Remember, standing by my car, wearin'.. uhh.. brown suit jacket, brown pants, brown hat, yellow tie. Got it? Look I gotta go."

With that, Deck hung up before Petey could frame a decent, coherent argument, and strolled back up the street. He would send the man; Deck just really hoped he didn't need the help. Petey's rates got pretty stiff for Grand Theft Auto III, Destruction of Private Property, Reckless Endangerment, etc., etc., etc. .

Deck lit a fresh one, wandered casually up the driveway to the house and rang the buzzer. All he could think about was bourbon.

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