"Some people use cucumbers instead," Stevens explained patiently as he spooned another mouthful of steaming black dripping tar paper into his bound, helpless, and whimpering victim's mouth, "but really, tomatoes are the only true vegetable of choice." He smiled, pausing for a moment before digging the spoon again into the white polyethylene bucket at his side.


Tom Driver knew trouble when it rang from his phone, and his phone was currently ringing. He answered like a movie star but that illusion was quickly discarded as he became flustered at the incompetence rustling and crackling through the speaker into his ear. "What? I can't understand a goddamn word you're saying!" A pause. "I swear, sometimes I think we're the hostages. I'll be there in five minutes."


It was the day after Wednesday and the day before Thursday, and Gregory Hestington was about to face a most singular crisis. He was tied with white rope to a too-small-for-his-rear-end white-plastic-and-painted-white-metal collapsible chair and a well-dressed stark raving mad man with a bucket of tar sat opposite him on a stool, waving a spoon and discussing the proper temperature at which chilled vegetable soup must be kept, and behind that man, at the top of the building, on the other side of the street, he could see two heads bobbing up and the barrel of a gun and the police car sirens were below in the sun, and somewhere above his head a fly was buzzing - stopping and starting in that unnatural way, a strange tiny noise-tracing sort of Bezier - and all of this was happening in Gregory's mind, and as it happened, he metered it and measured the time because recently his brain had started to decline, he saw and heard the patterns of every sign that his mind was undeniably going for broke, hearing words like hip-hop and seeing through smoke; he felt that he didn't have much longer to live - but this pleasant suited fellow was reaching out with something to give.

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