Cruising down I-5, pushing 110 miles-per-hour in the slow lane, Deck just had to chuckle. He wasn't one who would ever be described--in casual conversation--as particularly "witty" or "studious" or any of that crap; he did, however, have a knack for the more practical things in life. As a student of logic and utility, Deck often surprised people with his industrious approach to things. Turning in that load of dirty cops would have given Deck nothing but courtroom headaches 'til Hell became a ski resort. Milking that shit-eating pig for info, squeezing the dirt out of him, and then showing him the tape recorder that had just caught every incriminating word: Genius. Oh, if he had only brought his Polaroid; you couldn't buy that sort of drama! Deck was all tingly inside; he'd never owned his own squadron of SWAT team members before. Those pricks would sooner give Deck head than let that tape get to the guys at the IA. Deck decided to hold them as a trump card and let them all split.

The only real bummer was learning the truth about what was really going on. Deck was pretty much fucked in every sense of the word. Blazing down the freeway with a Lucky dangling from his lips, a pint of JTS Brown in a paper bag between his legs and his foot on the floor, Deck reviewed his options. Going back to the office was tantamount to mailing his ex-wife a loaded gun and his updated home address. Deck had been planning to rent an apartment, but as it stood he slept on the fold-out couch in his office. Going to Petey's place sounded like a stupendously bad idea, and reviewing the list of the rest of his "close knit" circle of friends, they were all either in jail, going to jail soon or, even worse, had gotten married. There was only one place that Deck figured he could go while he was on the lamb: The Rusty Cat.

Stepping into the backlit doorway, Deck scanned the crowded bar looking for people he owed money to. Seeing none, he strolled across the room, slipped in to a rickety bar stool and ordered a whisky. What a glorious shit-hole! Deck felt right at home wedged in-between two catatonic barflies; yes'sir, this was retirement! Taking another survey of the bar Deck began to run over his options in his head.

He couldn't even get to the book because he was sure that his building was being watched. He couldn't go to the police and he sure as fuck wasn't giving it back to that backstabbing little fucker, Kim. He was stirring his drink with his finger in casual contemplation when his head was unceremoniously slammed into the bar.

"Carrie! Good to fuckin' see you. Where-the-fuck's-my-money?" inquired a deep voice--presumably the owner of the meaty paw that was holding Deck's face firmly to the bar.

"Fwank, Fwank I wers heer luking ferr you," promised Deck earnestly.

"Yeah, I bet you were. It has been two fucking months Carrie. You know what I did to your fucking girlfriend Petey, and he was only three weeks behind."

"I thot thet wess becus he wess fuckin yer wife." Deck mumbled to the wet spot on the bar. Frank pulled his head up by the hair and slammed it back down against the bar. Deck groaned.

"Don't get cute with me you little fuck. You have exactly ten-fucking-seconds to come up with the two grand that you owe me. I'll even count with 'alligators,' just to make sure that it's fair for you. "

At about 6-alligator Deck's hand shot back in desperation and found the best collateral that anyone could ever ask for: Frank's nuts.

Deck, being a bit of a haggler at heart, was able to gently coerce an understanding out of the situation. After having been released from the bar-top death hold he was in by gently twisting the jewels, Deck proceeded to call upon his nearly uncanny diplomatic faculties and perfectly execute a very tricky "public relations" maneuver. He slapped Frank upside the head with a beer bottle and then introduced Frank's face to his knee several times.

After dragging Frank's inert body outside, hailing a cab, shoving him in the back and handing the driver a Benjamin from Frank's wallet, Deck instructed the cabbie to drive his drunk friend to Los Angeles, promising that Frank would cover the rest when he got there. Deck then slammed the door, pocketed Frank's wallet and walked back into the bar.

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