Joe opened the trunk.
"What's this, then?" He asked, looking at Kru.
Kru nodded in Finny's direction, so Joe turned his question on her instead.
Finny looked down and concentrated on grinding something into the dirt with the toe of her shoe.
"It's mine. I bought it."
Kru handed Joe the sales receipt.
"What in hell do you want with a hundred bars of pig feed supplement?" He scrutinised the receipt. "And if it's yours, why do I seem to be paying for it?"
Finny went from digging her toe into the dirt to rocking backwards and forwards on her heels with her hands behind her back.
"I din't have any money. I'll pay you back, promise."
Joe pocketed the receipt.
"Damn right, you will. But you still haven't said why on earth you want a box of pig food."
Finny launched into a convoluted tale of medicals and candy and working for Soggy Moise and how that had given her the idea for how she could help the other inmates at the orphanage.
Joe and Don listened spellbound while Kru watched with a big grin on her face.
She had to hand it to the kid, the way she was describing it,
it sounded like she was setting up a damn charity instead of what seemed to her to be a combination loan-shark cum some kind of money laundering scheme.
By the end of her tale, though, Joe was grinning enough to split his face in two.
"Okay, okay. Never let it be said Joe Spivey was one to stand in the way of free enterprise."
Ned managed a quiet aside to Kru.
"Unless it gets in the way of his own."
Kru lowered her head to hide the sardonic smile.
Joe, however, was too busy rummaging behind Finny's box to notice. He emerged from the depths of the trunk with an ancient flat briefcase.
"Okay, Finn. Come here and listen."
Finny moved closer and watched Joe open the briefcase and then delve into the endless pockets of his duster.
His hands came out with two flat plastic boxes which just fitted the suitcase when placed side by side. He opened one, and Finny leaned in to see.
"These," Joe said, lifting out a small electronic component from the protective foam nest it had been laying in.
"Are the energy stabilisers for those fancy electric rifles you sometimes see being totted around in Flag."
Finny glanced uninterestedly at it, and all of its nineteen companions still nestled safely in the open box. Joe carefully replaced the one he had removed and closed the lid.
"I've just spent a bleedin' fortune on forty of the buggers." He closed and locked the briefcase and dropped the trunk lid. Then, to Finny's surprise, he handed her the briefcase.
"Your job. Is to get this briefcase safely back to Flag and put it in the lock-up for me."
Finny looked puzzled.
"Um, you want me to carry the case?"
Joe looked at Kru and Don, who, aware of what was happening, had been watching the little exchange. Joe rolled his eyes.
Then he turned back to Finny, made a fist and knocked on the top of her head as if it were a door.
"Listen to what I said, young lady. No, I don't just want you to carry the case. I've got other business to see to.
" He leaned down and put his hands on his knees, bringing his face very close to where an annoyed Finny was rubbing her head.
"I want you to take this back to Flagg and make sure it gets locked away. Okay?"
Finny looked at the case in her hands and then at Joe.
Joe stood up straight.
"These two will keep you safe, but you're in charge."
Joe, however, was already striding away. He looked back over his shoulder.
"You'll be fine!"
Then he was gone.
Finny looked up into the unsmiling faces of Don and Kru.
"But... I dunno what to do."
Don was already looking around, his hand inside his jacket.
"Well, you better think of something because the guys we bought those doodads from will be working out about now that Joe jipped them good and proper."
Finny's mouth dropped open.
Just then, Kru tapped Don on the shoulder and pointed him in the direction of the truckload of unhappy and heavily armed men just passing through the twin white towers.
"Shit indeed," she muttered and pulled her gun in unison with her partner. "What do we do boss?"
But Finny was already getting in the car and scooting across the driver's seat to the passenger side one.
The two minders turned. Don passed Kru the keys.
She snatched them out of his hand.
What followed was a chaotic chase around the small town.
But there was purpose in the chaos because Kru was leading the truck steadily further away from the only entrance and directly towards one of the rat-infested areas which had been barricaded
to keep the vermin out of the rest of Diesel Town.
Kru hit the accelerator and seemed to be about to crash right through one of the barriers and into the field of two-foot-long giant rats that lay beyond.
At the last minute, she spun the wheel, and the highly tuned interceptor drifted ninety degrees around on the loose gravel before accelerating away, making a beeline for the towers.
The truck wasn't so lucky either in manoeuvrability or braking and smashed through the barrier before juddering to a halt in the middle of a thousand enormous and angry rodents.
The guards on the gates, recognising the car, looked to their sergeant for instructions.
Sergeant Tulley, seeing the fast-approaching racing-green interceptor,
finished the mug of coffee he was holding and then turned and went back into his little office at the base of one of the towers.
Without instruction, the guards just stood back and let the speeding car through.
Two minutes of flat out driving later, Kru slowed to a more reasonable and much safer speed. She turned to Finny.
"What now, boss?"
Pale-faced and trembling, and clutching the briefcase to her chest with all her strength, Finny managed a hoarse whisper.
"I need a wee."