Franco the Barber was sitting in the passenger seat of the Lincoln, with the door swung open, parked in the back lane of Debora Demarco’s house. He leafed through a catalogue, while Leep stood outside on the gravel, leaning against one of the carport posts.
“Can you smoke in the car?” asked Leep.
“So many questions,” said Franco. “Always, so many questions. Yes, I can smoke in the car. Al does all the time, so why wouldn’t I be able to?”
Leep shrugged. “Just making conversation.”
“Go make conversation inside the house,” said Franco.
“What’s the catalogue?”
“Oh.” Franco shook off a layer of irritability and held up the front cover. “Yeager’s Surplus Guns ’n’ Ammo. You like guns, Leep?”
“Don’t know much about them,” Leep said. “What’s that on the cover? I like it.”
“That, kid, is your Daniel Defence AK18. Set you back a few thou for one of those.”
“You like guns, Franco?” Leep had graduated last week from calling him Mr Francesco.
“Oh sure, me and Al both. You might call it a passion.” He chuckled. “Al has quite a collection, some of them historic, like Civil War. Most locked away in his office, so the kids can’t get at them.”
“Smart,” said Leep.
“Only thing he loves more is—“ Franco closed up the catalogue and tossed it to Leep. “There ya go, have fun. Jack off to the DD’s if you want.”
“Heh,” said Leep, not knowing if it was a joke. “What does he love?”
“His wife,” said Franco. Then burst out laughing. “Well, women, and his wife is one of those. He loves his women.”
Leep affected what he hoped was a conspiratorial chuckle. He certainly knew that Al had his droopy eyes set on Deborah’s mother, Beth. “Aha, who doesn’t?” he said, and hoped Franco couldn’t sense the foolish mush that was inside his head, since no one knew less about loving women than Leep.
Franco laughed again. “You don’t. You should be asking Big Al about the women, not me.”
“Really?” asked Leep.
“No, not really, you fuckface.” Franco climbed out of the car and stood up, stretching his arms in the air. He wore a dark brown suit and a white shirt, without a tie. “Don’t talk to Mr Demarco unless he talks to you first.”
Like royalty, Leep thought, but didn’t say it aloud. He would take the catalogue and go into the house now, make note of where Albert Demarco put his briefcase when he visited, and refuse the Budweiser that Deborah’s mother would offer him, because his passion, at the moment, was beer.