By Brian Coffey, aka Dean Koontz

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Perhaps Baglio's people wouldn't be able to trace the Tucker name any farther than the downtown mail drop. They had contacts, yes, of course they had, but they were not omniscient. Yet, even if they got that far and no farther, he would have to forget the Tucker identity altogether, assume a new name, purchase all new credentials in that name, and strictly avoid everyone who had, to date, known him only as Tucker. That would require an outlay of cash and a period of relative inactivity, and it would be, in the vulgate, a pain in the ass.

But there's a picnic area not too far from here, along the main highway, with a phone booth at the end of it. " He pushed open the heavy copter door, jumped out, reached up and slammed the door shut. Fifteen minutes later he made his call from the booth in the picnic area. An hour after that, Jimmy Shirillo drove into the parking lot in his red Corvette, cut the engine and climbed out, smiling. Another man got out of the low-slung car. He was at least twenty years older than Tucker, about Pete Harris's age, though he was slim and almost delicate-looking, like Shirillo, quite unlike the bearish Harris.

Tucker said he knew. "But now you can't take any chances. All this public uproar about guns puts pressure on the cops and, directly, pressure on me too. You'd think, listening to these anti-gun nuts, that every handgun in existence is used in crime of some sort. Take a look around this workshop, though. I got maybe twelve hundred, thirteen hundred handguns. How many of them am I going to sell to special customers like you? Thirty? Forty? " He made a sound of disgust in the back of his throat, located the lock previously covered by the books, used a key on his chain to open it.

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