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Chapter 28

  • Tonaishah’s Kubrick-figure facepaint distorted into wild grimaces when Ar_anged into O’Malley House, raccoon-eyed with sleepdep, airline crud cruste_t the corners of his lips, whole person quivering with righteou_mitefulness. He commed the door savagely and yanked it so hard that the gas-
  • lift snapped with a popping sound like a metal ruler being whacked on a desk.
  • The door caromed back into his heel and nearly sent him sprawling, but h_onverted its momentum into a jog through the halls to his miniatur_ffice—the last three times he’d spoken to Fede, the bastard had been workin_ut of his office—stealing his papers, no doubt, though that hadn’t occurre_o Art until his plane was somewhere over Ireland.
  • Fede was halfway out of Art’s chair when Art bounded into the office. Fede’_ace was gratifyingly pale, his eyes thoroughly wide and scared. Art didn’_other to slow down, just slammed into Fede, bashing foreheads with him. Ar_melled a puff of his own travel sweat and Fede’s spicy Lilac Vegetal, sa_lood welling from Fede’s eyebrow.
  • “Hi, pal!” he said, kicking the door shut with a crash that resounded throug_he paper-thin walls.
  • “Art! Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell is wrong with you?” Fede backed awa_o the far corner of the office, sending Art’s chair over backwards, wheel_pinning, ergonomic adjustment knobs and rods sticking up in the air like th_egs of an overturned beetle.
  • “TunePay, Inc.?” Art said, booting the chair into Fede’s shins. “Is that th_est fucking name you could come up with? Or did Toby and Linda cook it up?”
  • Fede held his hands out, palms first. “What are you talking about, buddy?
  • What’s wrong with you?”
  • Art shook his head slowly. “Come on, Fede, it’s time to stop blowing smoke u_y cock.”
  • “I honestly have no idea—”
  • “Bullshit!” Art bellowed, closing up with Fede, getting close enough to se_he flecks of spittle flying off his lips spatter Fede’s face. “I’ve ha_nough bullshit, Fede!”
  • Abruptly, Fede lurched forward, sweeping Art’s feet out from underneath hi_nd landing on Art’s chest seconds after Art slammed to the scratched an_plintered hardwood floor. He pinned Art’s arms under his knees, then leane_orward and crushed Art’s windpipe with his forearm, bearing down.
  • “You dumb sack of shit,” he hissed. “We were going to cut you in, after it wa_one. We knew you wouldn’t go for it, but we were still going to cut yo_n—you think that was your little whore’s idea? No, it was mine! I stuck u_or you! But not anymore, you hear? Not anymore. You’re through. Jesus, I gav_ou this fucking job! I set up the deal in Cali. Fuck-off heaps of money! I’_hrough with you, now. You’re done. I’m ratting you out to V/DT, and I’_lying to California tonight. Enjoy your deportation hearing, you dumb Canuc_oy-scout.”
  • Art’s vision had contracted to a fuzzy black vignette with Fede’s florid fac_n the center of it. He gasped convulsively, fighting for air. He felt hi_ladder go, and hot urine stream down his groin and over his thighs.
  • An instant later, Fede sprang back from him, face twisted in disgust, hand_rushing at his urine-stained pants. “Damn it,” he said, as Art rolled ont_is side and retched. Art got up on all fours, then lurched erect. As he did,
  • the axe head in his pocket swung wildly and knocked against the glass pan_eside his office’s door, spiderwebbing it with cracks.
  • Moving with dreamlike slowness, Art reached into his pocket, clasped the ax_ead, turned it in his hand so that the edge was pointing outwards. He lifte_t out of his pocket and held his hand behind his back. He staggered to Fede,
  • who was glaring at him, daring him to do something, his chest heaving.
  • Art windmilled his arm over his head and brought the axe head down solidly o_ede’s head. It hit with an impact that jarred his arm to the shoulder, and h_ropped the axe head to the floor, where it fell with a thud, crusted wit_lood and hair for the first time in 200,000 years.
  • Fede crumpled back into the office’s wall, slid down it into a sittin_osition. His eyes were open and staring. Blood streamed over his face.
  • Art looked at Fede in horrified fascination. He noticed that Fede wa_reathing shallowly, almost panting, and realized dimly that this meant h_asn’t a murderer. He turned and fled the office, nearly bowling Tonaisha_ver in the corridor.
  • “Call an ambulance,” he said, then shoved her aside and fled O’Malley Hous_nd disappeared into the Piccadilly lunchtime crowd.