Chapter 10 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

At nine forty-seven, The Four took seats in a booth at "Dollars to Donuts," and pulled the curtains closed. While waiting for service, Bert brought out the Icehouse set, and they began a game. Bert was so angry about his defeat in the last game that he played with fierce concentration, aggressively moving against his opponents. He won in less than ten minutes.

Suddenly their waiter, who happened to be Bill, stuck his head through the curtains. "Good Evening," he said, "May I-Oh, it's you, Norman! How's it going, guys?"

"Hi, Bill!" said Peter.

"Did Jim tell you about the men who were here earlier?"

"Yes," said Dave.

"Well, I wouldn't worry too much about them. They seemed like a bunch of windbags to me."

"We're going to get rid of the, um, object in question anyway." Dave gestured at the gift-wrapped bomb that Bert had placed on the end of the table.

"Oh, that's it?"


"You could just give it to those guys, if you want, though I really can't imagine what they want it for."

"We already have a way of getting rid of it planned, don't you worry."

"OK. What can I get you guys?"

They all ordered coffee and doughnuts. Bert ordered two doughnuts, the others just one.

When the curtains were closed up again, Peter said, "What do you think, Dave? Could it be a real atomic bomb after all?"

"I could never have believed it before, but now... I'm just not sure."

"Who are those guys, anyway? And why are they looking for, um, That?"

"FBI, I suppose, or maybe Army Intelligence."

"Then it must be a real bomb!" said Paul.

"You know, I just can't figure it," said Peter. "Bill couldn't build an atomic bomb, not in a hundred years. He knows nothing about nuclear physics. In fact, when I suggested that he try it, he said he had no idea of how to go about it."

"Maybe he learned."

"And if it's a real atomic bomb, why has it taken so long for whoever's after it to look into the matter? It's been gathering dust in the apartment for two months."

"You know how long it takes the Government to do anything these days."

"I guess. But how did they find out about it?"

"Whoever sold Bill the plutonium must have tipped them off."

"I still can't believe it's a real bomb."

"You want to push the big red button and find out?"

At that moment, Bill arrived with the food.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

News Search Gift Shop Games About Us | contact us