"My dear young lady," he said in the oddest of gentle voices. It made me think of a wire being drawn through a vise. "I don't think it's necessary to repeat my order because I think you hear perfectly well. Therefore you've come back for a bit of amusement at my expense. The proof if which, I'm sure, lies in the grinning countenances of these men watching."

I hid a grin, quick like, behind a palm, and waited for the buxom Jennie to blow her top. It wasn't long in coming.

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"Look skinny!" she blazed out. "Any time you think I'd waste time on a sawed-off, pencil-pushing blue-nosey, who comes into a joint like this and orders like he's at the Ritz, and then gives the hasher lip, you're nuts! I don't go for no stuff like that. And if you don't like that-you can go to..." to

"Atta gal, Jennie," a new voice said. Its harsh throatiness could only belong to Bull Benton, a mucker at the Gentry.

He was sweet on the gal, just as the rest of us were, but in a kind of way that brought blood to our faces, so that even when he said the most innocuous of phrases to her, they seemed cloaked in vileness. I knew that suddenly I was hot under the collar. What was more, I suspected that he had put his two cents in just to throw his weight around. He was standing to my right and I could get the sweetly-sour smell of his clothes. Sweat which hadn't been washed away in a long time.

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"Go on," he continued.

"Tell the little tinhorn what you want. Old Bull'll back you up."

She turned on him like a tigress. "Get away from me, you stinkin' hunk of dirt," she shouted. "I don't need your protection... I don't need your help! Just mind your own little business which is feedin' your face."

I whipped my head around as the little man beside me said in his penetrating voice:

"Precisely! She could not have put it better. So why don't you do as the lady suggests and go, 'feed your face.'"

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Neural Network Novellas: Wanted - Dead Man #2