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A prominent member of local society, Billy Halleck is self-conscious about his waistline, but his extra pounds don't slow him down in the courtroom, where his latest triumph is to win the acquittal--and gratitude--of Mafioso Richie Ginelli. His weakness for food, however, inspires a terrible curse that is placed on him after he negligently, though accidentally, runs down an old Gypsy woman and conspires with influential friends to sidestep responsibility for the deed. Billy may have evaded punishment in the courts, but he can't escape justice at the hands of the victim's ancient father, Tadzu Lempke, who lays a Gypsy curse on him that shrivels not only his body but his heart as well. As Billy begins to waste away, he pleads with Ginelli to help him force Lempke to life the curse. The gangster's brutal way of dealing with Lempke and his fellow Gypsies, however, pushes the increasingly emaciated Billy farther down the path of spiritual decay.