The Chair (Final)

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Find out what really happened to Jack

Jack waited a day before going back to see Tony. He had sent a message and asked for a few days to come to grips with having to do in his mentor. He needed his boss to think that Steve meant something to him, so that Tony wouldn’t get suspicious. He actually took some of the cash that he had been hoarding and took a night at an upper class hotel. Slipping the concierge a Franklin, he had a date arranged for the night. Jack wasn’t into using prostitutes, but this particular evening was all about celebrating reaching one of his goals. He enjoyed himself many times that night. Each time as he reached climax, he envisioned Steve’s look of surprise just before the trigger was pulled.

Late the next day, with the saddest expression possible, Jack walked through the bar towards Tony’s office. Max, the second in command and one of those on the list, stepped aside. He nodded at Jack with a look of understanding. Jack so wanted to reach into his jacket and pull out the same weapon he had used on Steve, but he knew that he wouldn’t even make it out of the bar. Max could wait. George and Dan were next. Even they would have to wait. Jack needed to endure himself with the boss.

He walked into Tony’s office. Tony couldn’t even look Jack in the eye; he kept looking at his desk. “Did he suffer?”

“No.” Jack tried to sound somber. “I thought about it. He did take from you when all he had to do was ask. But I just couldn’t bring myself to make him suffer after all he did for me. He made me what I am.”

Tony nodded. He reached for a handkerchief to dab his eyes. Jack had made it so that no one would ever find him. There would be no funeral. No chance to say good-bye. “I will repay your loyalty and your taking care of this in such a professional manner.” Tony folded his hands and cleared his throat. “You are now in charge of all my teams. All of them will report to you.”

Jack controlled his facial muscles. This now put him in charge of his next two hits Jack half-bowed to Tony as he turned to leave. His hand reached for the doorknob. “Jack,” Tony called him back. “Know that my trust is given once and only once. Give me one reason and you will never get it back again.” Jack slowly turned. He stared Tony right in the eye.

“You,” Jack paused. “You will never have reason to doubt my loyalty to you and the family.” He turned and walked out.

Jack knew enough not to make his next move too soon. He also took pride in the fact that he now ran all of the teams. Tony had given him complete control over this part of the operation. That meant that Jack had the freedom to dole out punishments as he saw fit. If he felt that one of the guys was even thinking about skimming from the top, a beating was provided. If money did turn up missing, bones were broken. If a payee was short or late, Jack took it upon himself to be judge, juror, and executioner. He learned early that many men could take a beating, but they would cave when a family member suffered for their mistakes. He thought nothing of having a teen son suffer an accident, or a daughter getting bruised. Tony did step in once and only once when Jack took a five-year-old son as collateral. Tony made Jack return the child. In the end, just the fact that Jack was willing to stoop to this level made it around. Nobody ever tried to go against Tony or his lieutenant Jack.

He settled into his position. Six months in, Jack decided that it was time to move out of the room above the bar. Tony was giving more than enough to live wherever he wanted. He rented a three-bedroom apartment and offered Peter a room rent free. He needed Peter as his plans proceeded. After a suggestion to Tony, Peter was promoted to head accountant. He needed this bookworm to be on his side if things turned south. The two men worked together to run this part of Tony’s business. Their combined work raised Tony’s funds considerably. They worked hard to keep his trust and move closer into the circle. Tony obliged them by becoming more and more open. With the exception of Max, Jack and Peter were the only two that Tony felt safe to share some of the deepest secrets of the family. For years he had no one with whom to talk and now he had two of the loyalist souls with which to spend time. The two gentlemen learned the ins and outs, where the money was hidden, all of the books, and the locations of the bodies – so many bodies.

A few years after Steve’s move into eternity, Jack had grown to a new height in the business. While Tony still only trusted Jack and Peter to handle the monetary transactions, he also realized that Jack had so many more talents. He had a way of making people disappear quickly, quietly, and without questions. This talent was used for people within the organization, customers who broke the rules, and members of neighboring competition. At times Max would make comments about fear of being replaced, but since he was married to Tony’s eldest, he knew that would not happen. Just the same, Max started looking over his shoulder when Tony introduced Jack to his youngest, Sophia.

Jack had to be careful. He wanted Sophia more than anything else in the world, but he could not let his desire for a woman cloud his judgement. The courtship was short – 6 months. Only during the times that he was with her did he let his guard down. He feared this woman because he knew he would do almost anything for her. He decided the now that he was on the slide into his thirties, it was time to settle down and make a family. Why not have the pleasure of taking Tony’s daughter and then later watching him die?

The wedding was a large affair. Tony pulled out all the stops; nothing was too good for his baby girl. Prior to the start of the ceremony, Tony pulled Jack aside into a room – just the two of him. Jack no longer saw the head of a “family”, he saw a father ready to give away his little girl. He talked to Jack as a dad, a future father-in-law. “Jack. I couldn’t be happier that you are the one chosen by my Sophia.” He grabbed for his handkerchief. “You are more to me than any son could ever be. Do you understand?” Jack nodded his acknowledgement. “But I must tell you.” His voice hardened. “If you do anything to hurt her, there is nowhere on this planet that will be far enough for you to run. It won’t be a quick death either. I will personally cause you so much pain that you will wish you never had the fortune to meet me.” He paused for effect. “Do you understand that?” Jack nodded again. “Then let’s stop talking and get you married.”

Tony believed in old world traditions. The reception lasted days not hours. They partied until they could not party, slept, and partied some more. Jack and Sophia left on the second day. Nobody even knew they left. Within the year, Tony became a grandfather of a set of twins. The boy, Anthony Peter, and the girl, Lucia Sophia became Tony’s pride and joy. Max and his wife had yet to produce any heirs.

Five year later, Jack felt that he could make his next move. He now traveled with Tony and Max everywhere. Max was still the right hand protector for Tony. Jack started running the business. While Jack would never come out and speak to Max about the change in roles, he would do it in other ways. On more than one occasion, he would stop in the middle of a meeting with Tony and ask for a coffee. Jack would always pause and apologize stating he forgot that it was Max standing there and not some lackey. It didn’t help when Tony would look up and say, “That sounds good. Make mine black.” While the wheels were in motion, Max was not the target, just yet.

Dan and George had taken Jack’s former position in charge of the pick-up crews. They tried to be as hard and ruthless as their predecessor, but they were more of an Abbott and Costella team. The intake started dropping soon after the changing of the guard. More than one of the new recruits had been caught lining their own pockets. It got to a point that Jack pulled one young man in and while standing him in front of the entire crew, broke his leg. One might think that Jack would have seen the irony in his actions, but, according to him, there was none to be found. Jack had been beaten for no reason; this kid was stealing food from the table of his boss. It was justified. One a few occasions Jack informed the dynamic duo to shape up or he would handle it. The men did the best they could.

He decided to play on their lack of common sense to set his plan in action. He pulled the two men aside in the bar. He brought them each a drink and set them on the table. “We aren’t happy with what’s been happening.” Both men eyed the floor each ready to jump under the table at the slightest movement of Jack’s hand. “I know you are trying your best, but Tony doesn’t care.” He took a sip of his drink. “I like you two.” His hand moved and both men flinched. Inside Jack was laughing. “I have some new businesses for you to visit. We are expanding, and I am leaving it up to you. Don’t speak to anyone about this.”

Jack laid out the plan for expanding the business. What he failed to mention was that he was sending the pair into another family’s territories. Alex, Tony’s biggest rival, had as bad of a temper as Tony. Jack knew that this could erupt into a family war. He had to play his cards right. It all depended on the stupidity of these two. The first part had been set up. The two would start the new route the next day. Jack just had to wait.

Two weeks into the new route and Jack had not heard a peep from any of Alex’s men. He started to wonder if Dan and George had done as told. Then it started. Ralph came to visit Jack. The meeting took a total of five minutes. Ralph, while scared of Jack, informed him in no uncertain terms that Tony better pull his men back across the line. Jack told him that Tony hadn’t sent anyone over the line. “If anyone of our men our collecting on your side, they are doing it on their own.” Ralph took a deep breath. “Alright. Don’t get pissy. I will talk with them.” Ralph took this as an end to the issue and left. Jack went back to work with no intentions of talking with them.

Two weeks later, Ralph returned with a couple of friends. The meeting didn’t go as politely as the last. Ralph stepped so that his face was within inches of Jack’s. He started yelling about the fact that he should be able to control his men. Jack stood there ignoring the whole tirade until Ralph poked his finger into Jack’s face. Before Ralph couldn’t even think about what he did or to whom, Jack had Ralph’s finger, twisted it around, and brought his forearm down on to his knee. The cracking sound filled the room.

The thug to his left reached into his coat. Jack saw the movement out of the corner of his eye. His gun was drawn and trigger pulled before the man even had his out of the holster. He shot out his left knee. “I did that as a favor. Now get that piece of shit out of this fine establishment. Ralph nursing his arm attempted to work with the other man to lift the wounded man up and out the door. As they the exit, Jack called out. “I did all I can do with those men. If you don’t like what they are doing….you handle it.” Ralph nodded.

The next day, Jack positioned him just inside the first stop of Dan and George. He had a good view of the street without being too obvious. Like clockwork, most likely out of fear for their boss, Dan pulled up in front. The two of them were arguing about something which kept them sitting out front for a minute or two. Since the passenger window was down, he could hear them. Jack was starting to wonder how these two could ever get anything done. He almost stepped out of the store to yell at them when he saw him. Ralph, now in a cast, walked up from behind their car. He knocked on the window, startling the two men. He motioned for them to roll down the window. Dan didn’t think twice and hit the button to open the window. With the window half down, Ralph leveled a pistol and shot them both. Jack stepped out with the sound of the second shot. The man at first raised his gun, but lowered it when he saw Tony’s son-in-law.

Jack walked over to the car and stooped down on the passenger side. He reached in and touched George to see if there was any sign of life. There wasn’t. What Ralph missed was Jack’s other hand reaching behind and pulling out a revolver from his waist band. He aimed through the two open windows and shot Ralph. His first shot was level with the windows. Ralph bent over grabbing at his groin. With his head now level with the gun, Jack let go another round.

Jack placed George’s gun back into his hand. He had removed it from him earlier when he saw him at breakfast. He removed his gloves and put them in his coat pocket. Jack surveyed the area once again. This business had been selected due to the lack of cameras. Alex’s boys didn’t like to be on camera and months ago had forced the owners to remove any means of recording. Two more down. Two to go.

Jack didn’t know how Tony or Alex was going to deal with three dead bodies. He thought that his little plan of revenge might blow up into a war between the two groups. He really didn’t care if the two old men took each other out. Though he really wanted to be the one to pull the trigger on Tony. He glanced around once again to ensure that nobody witnessed all that had gone down. The owner of the store had taken a long break at Jack’s suggestion. The streets were deserted. Jack turned and walked the six blocks to where he had parked. He drove back to the bar, and waited.

It took about four hours before the knock at the door happened. Jack opened the door expecting to see one of Ralph’s men standing there. He was a little surprised to see two plain clothed officers standing there holding badges. They asked to see Tony. Jack informed them that he was out of town on business and had been for the past few days. When questioned, Jack went on to inform them that Tony was expected back late that day.

The officers held pictures of Dan and George. The lead asked Jack if he knew them. Jack smirked at the officers while asking, “What did those two assholes do now?” The detectives looked at each other. “Come on,” Jack continued, “you can tell me. Which station are they at and what is the bail?” The detectives remained quiet. “Come on. I need them back here to handle tonight’s rush.”

The detectives asked if they could come in for a minute. Jack opened the door wide and stepped aside. The two men took a seat at the nearest table and motioned for Jack to join them. While sitting, Jack remembered to let his smile fade from his face. He took on a more serious facial expression. The two men took time to fill Jack in on the scene that had been discovered about thirty minutes after Jack had reached the bar. Jack acted surprise but made sure not to overdo the role. He had some shock, some anger, a little curiosity, and finally concern for Dan’s family.

“So what’s next?” Jack asked. He thought of throwing some disbelief into his voice, but he knew that the two men knew all about their business. He was sure that any type of “why them” would send red flags. He stayed very matter-of-fact with his voice. The detectives looked at him. “Look.” Jack now took control. “I’m not going to play the game with you today. I just lost two of my best guys. What’s next with your investigation?”

The detectives accepted that the cards were on the table. “Fine. We’re not going to lie to you. The fact that three douche bags are off the streets won’t make us lose sleep.” Jack sat up a little straighter and cleared his throat. “As far as we’re concerned the investigation is over. Alex’s guy shot your two, but not before one of yours got off a couple of shots as well. Oh well. Three assholes are dead from shooting each other. We only came out here to do an official notification. Now that you mentioned a family, we get to go tell them.” The detectives stood. “Our guys will do a little more work to close out everything, but let’s just say your guys aren’t high up on our totem poles.” The three men stared at each other for a few minutes, and then the detectives turned to leave. Nobody shook hands.

When Tony returned that evening, Max was waiting for him. He met the older man at the door and ushered him into the office. He closed the door before Jack could even take a step towards him. Jack decided not to push his luck so he waited. He positioned himself to be able to see the phone behind the bar. He saw the light next to the extension in Tony’s office. Somebody was making a call. Jack figured that Max was calling Alex so Alex and Tony could discuss the day’s events. Five minutes later the light blinked off. The door opened and Jack was summoned. He went to the office.

“Not what I wanted to come home to, Jack” Tony sat behind his desk. His face showed his anger. “What the hell happened?”

“Tony,” Jack paused. He had planned this speech about a hundred times. “I screwed up. I trusted those two when I shouldn’t have. I was grooming them for better things and thought they had grown. They started thinking that they could expand their territory.” Tony shifted in his chair. Max unbuttoned his coat. Jack saw the movement. While internally he was preparing for a shoot-out, externally he stayed calm. “I will admit that I did find out what they were doing. Alex’s man, Richie,”

“Ralph”, Max corrected him.

“Ralph”, Jack nodded at Max. “Ralph came to warn me. I called the two in and read them the riot act. I told them to pull out and knock off their crap. They promised me that they would.” Jack tapped the corner of the desk. He looked down at his fingers. “Tony. Those two deserved better from me. I should have made sure that they listened. I guess they went back and Ralph was waiting for them.”

“I don’t give a shit about those two assholes dying.” Tony blurted. “Why didn’t you let me know that they were stealing from me?”

Jack pulled back a little. “I wasn’t sure that it was them.”

“Don’t give me that crap. Peter told me, and he said he told you.” Tony reached under the desk. Jack now started to worry that he had not planned everything out. Tony pulled out a stack of paper. He threw it on the desk.

“Tony?” Jack’s voice went up half an octave. “How was I to tell you that the two men who had been with you for years were stealing from you. I already had to clean up the mess from one of your faithful.”

Max shifted on his feet. Tony looked down. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that”, Jack gave a half-hearted apology. Tony shook his head and raised his hand slightly. “Tony.” Jack continued. “My father. I could not bear to tell you that two more of your most trusted looked at you like an old man losing control of his organization. I could not hurt you again.” Tony’s eyes met Jack’s as he heard the sincerity of his voice. “I already had talked to them. They were going to give you back everything. Plus.” Jack lowered his head. “I tried to protect you….. I am sorry.” Max let out a grunt in the corner. Tony bought it.

The three men spent the next hour in the office. A bottle of single malt had been requested. Half an hour later another. By the time Jack walked out, not only had he smoothed things out between Tony and him, Jack felt as if he was now closer than ever. The man told him to never protect him again, but that he understood. Max tried multiple times to be part of the conversation, but Jack would immediately go off in a direction that Max could not understand. He took every opportunity to make Max look stupid. He didn’t have to try too hard.

Jack had to let things die down. Alex was not happy that his best man had, supposedly, been taken out by two idiots. Tony paid him as retribution for the invasion of territory and the death of his man. For over a year, tensions ran high. Neither family wanted to start a turf war. If life had taught Jack nothing else, it taught him to be patient.

Over the next three years, Jack made sure that his wife invited her sister and husband over for all holidays and other occasions. He needed to make amends for how he was treating Max. He needed to get Max to let his guard down. Both families celebrated another birth each. The two men started to go out for drinks every once in a while. The time had come to start the path to remove Max.

During one of their weekly outings, Jack had arranged for a woman to be at the bar – not Tony’s bar, but one the two men went to without letting others know. She came in as planned and started working immediately. At first it was a simple just sitting nearby and listening. She laughed when Max made a joke. The conversation started. She showed up every few weeks. Eventually, she was there every week. Max started looking forward to seeing her. She gave him her attention. She made him feel wanted.

Six months after introducing Max to his new friend, Jack noticed that his brother-in-law started slipping away for long, late lunches. He came back disheveled and happy. Jack knew that his plan was moving forward. He let things progress. Eventually, Max backed out of a few nights out, but he asked Jack to not let his wife know about the cancellations. Jack would work those nights to avoid questions by his wife. Soon it was no longer just a hit and miss cancellation; the two men’s nights out stopped altogether. Max became so comfortable with his new relationship that he stopped asking Jack to cover for him.

Jack decided that it was time to let the cat out of the bag. He went home on an evening that should have been a night out. His wife was actually glad to see him home. The baby had had a rough day. Jack offered to take care of the baby. He even suggested that she go over to her sister’s and visit for a while. She didn’t think twice before grabbing the keys and leaving. Jack waited for the call.

After two hours, he started thinking about ways to call his wife and start the questioning. He reached for the phone only to be surprised by its ringing as his hand touched the receiver. ‘Hello?” Jack answered it.

“Honey,” his wife’s voice had the tone of something was not right.

“What’s wrong?”

“Why aren’t you with Max tonight?”

Jack didn’t respond. He was too busy counting to twenty.

“Jack?”

“I didn’t want to cause problems,” Jack lowered his voice.

His wife hung up the phone. Jack, knowing his wife well, sat down to watch a show. He knew the call would come, but it would take some time. An hour and a half later, his wife called back. This time she put him on speaker and demanded that he tell both women everything. The talked for a while, Jack many times having to assure his wife that he was not doing the same. He helped them plot a way to trap Max in action. His wife finally hung up and drove home. That night they made love like they had never done in the past. She thanked him for being faithful.

Jack stayed out of the plan. He let the women plot out the way to go after Max. He did have a closed door meeting with Tony. He knew that if he didn’t warn Tony that all would pay. Tony allowed the girls to do what they wanted to do. The day finally came. Max took off for a “lunch.” The girls came to the bar where Jack drove Tony and the girls to the hotel. Max’s wife stated that she was happy that it was not some seedy dump. It took Tony a few minutes with the manager before he was handed a key. He passed the key card to his daughters and they left for the elevators. Jack and Tony went for a drink. They allowed nature to play out.

Tony finished his scotch. He looked at Jack. “Today is a sad day for me.” Jack stayed quiet. “You are the only person who I can trust.” Tony called for another round. Both men took a swallow. They sat there in silence. After a while, Jack’s wife returned.

“Where is she?” Tony asked.

“She went home to get the kids.” Both men nodded. “She told Max that he could return in an hour and get his stuff. She was going to get the kids and leave for a while.”

“Jack”, Tony called out to the only man he could trust. “I want you at that house. Let him take only his clothes. He gets nothing else.” Jack nodded. “Tell him never to come near my daughter or my family ever again.” Tony finished his drink. “Not if he wants to live.” He got up to leave. “Let him know that it is only due to his many years of service to me that he is still alive.”

Tony and Jack’s wife turned to leave. Jack drove them back to the bar, and then he went to meet Max. He sat there until Max drove up. He watched a broken man get out of his car. He approached Jack; sobbing. Jack passed on Tony’s messages. The two men then spent an hour getting his clothes together. Jack informed him that he had arranged for Max to stay at the same hotel for the next week. After that he was on his own. The two men shook hands preparing to depart. Jack turned to walk away.

“Jack?” Max called out to him. He turned to the man who once beat him down. “Thank you. I didn’t know if I could trust you. But now you are my only friend.”

Jack nodded. “Go back to the hotel, Max. You need to figure out how to live without your family and the family.’ Max nodded and left.

The next morning Jack turned on the morning news to hear that a suicide had occurred in the hotel late the night before. Max was gone.

Jack now had one man left to go. Night after night he played back the morning in his mother’s garage. He remembered being that 17 year-old in soiled shorts as five grown man stood around. He remembered the promise he made himself. He smiled every time he thought of how close he was now to completing his dream.

Jack decided to take advantage of the stress playing out with the family. He suggested that a family weekend at Tony’s lake house would be the best thing for all. During the first night, he mentioned his concern about the stress and how it would affect Tony. It didn’t hurt that Jack kept Tony’s glass half-filled all evening. He had to almost carry the old man up to his room that night.

After a heavy night of drinking, and a few more suggestions, the girls started looking at their father in a different way. They swore that he looked ten years older. They worried about the bags under his eyes. The noticed every time he went outside to have a cigarette. They worried about their father.

That evening, after dinner, Jack kept, quietly, filling Tony’s glass with single malt. Nobody noticed that the glass never emptied. Come midnight, Jack once again had to carry his father-in-law upstairs to his room. The man was so tired and drunk that he could barely even move.

Jack laid the man down on his bed. Tony passed in and out of consciousness. Jack moved over to the nightstand and pulled out a syringe. He gently rolled up the sleeve of Tony’s left arm. Jack pulled the plunger back placed the needle against the main vein in the arm and gently pushed the needle in. He then pushed the plunger all the way in injecting Tony with nothing but air. He pulled the needle out and watched the old man suffer as the air bubbles moved through the blood stream and did their damage. It didn’t take long, but it looked painful. Soon the old man lay still, eyes staring, unblinking. Jack took the syringe into his room and tucked it in his bag. He slept peacefully for the first time in years.

The next day, Jack’s wife found her father. All assumed that a heart attack brought on by stress did him in. The police were called along with an ambulance and a few key players from the business. Peter, now Jack’s right hand man, came as beckoned. He took care of everything for Jack. He made sure that no autopsy was to be performed. He even helped pack up the entire family and Tony’s belongings so that all could return with the patriarch of the family.

Shortly after the funeral, Jack now in charge of the family, a surprise came for Jack. The two detectives who had delivered the news of George and Dan showed up once again at the front door of the bar. Jack was being arrested on a number of charges. These included but were not limited to fraud, extortion, and murder. Jack was being charged with the murder of Tony, Ralph, and others.

During the trial, Jack found out that Peter had been a plant in the family business. He was an undercover agent who had been working to bring Tony down since the first day he started working with him. Shortly after his assignment began, the FBI decided that the better prize would be Jack. Peter altered his plans and worked to gain Jack’s confidence. He helped out in the business wherever he could. All the while, he had been gathering evidence against his friend.

The morning Tony’s body had been discovered, Peter jumped into action. His offer to pack up the family gave him unblocked access to everything in the house. It had been a long, almost unsuccessful search. Jack actually handed him the blood stained needle. Peter had placed Jack’s bag on the bed. Jack, in tossing his wife’s suitcase on the bed, knocked the first bag over. Jack asked Peter to pick it up along with the belongings not remembering about the syringe. Peter spotted it and shortly after placed it in an evidence bag.

The trial was long, but the appeal process was longer. Jack, spending most of the family money, tried everything to get out of prison. Soon his wife divorced him from both her and the money. Jack lost each and every appeal.

Now he sits waiting for the end. The guards come for him. Jack chuckles when he sees that the one guard is the one he calls mom. Jack swears it looks like his mom as a man. The three march down to the room containing the electric chair. No priest is there since Jack laughed at this idea.

He is placed in the chair. The mom looking guard straps his wrists. As he leans in to grab another strap, Jack could swear that he is wearing perfume – not just any perfume but the same one his mom used to wear. “It’s okay, Jackie.” The guard whispers. Jack tried to pull away. The guard laughs at him. He leans in again and kisses Jack on the forehead. “You silly little boy.” Being strapped in the chair, Jack is forced to sit there as the guard runs his fingers through Jack’s hair.

The guard turns and walks towards a set of curtains. Jack knew that there would be a window for visitors. The guard pulled the curtains open. He was blinded. Instead of a group of people sitting there, bright sunshine filled the room.

Jack saw the shadowy figure of the guard walking back towards him with the sun glaring behind. His figure changes to that of a woman. He/she reaches out for Jack.

“Okay, little man. Time to wake up.” Jack realized that the guard no longer had a deep voice, but the voice of his mother. He shuts his eyes tight. “Come on, Jackie. Open the eyes. Mommy needs you to wake up now. I have a date tonight, and I want you to go to bed early.” She lifted the almost two-year-old Jack out of his bed. Jack opens his eyes. He is no longer an old man, but the two-year-old child who had been put down for a nap only two hours earlier.

His mother stripped him down and changed his diaper. Jack looked all around his room. His mother picked him up, and placed him in a playpen in the living room. The doorbell rang. A man came in and kissed his mother. Jack watched them for a minute and then reached out for his favorite Teddy Bear. He spent the rest of the afternoon alone.

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