10-29-2011, 10:02 PM
Criss shook his head in disbelief. "Now I'm really creeped!" he exclaimed.
"So, did Nancy or her lover come back as ghosts or something?" Dorothy asked.
"Can't say for sure, sweetheart," Springs replied. "But it was bad luck for Bugs, that's for sure. Oh, sure, there were stories of Siegel's ghost wanderin' around the Flamingo or the hotel where he got shot, but I don't give 'em two cents' worth." He laughed ruefully. "Pretty much everyone I knew back then are ghosts now, more or less."
"Besides Moe the Gyp," a zombie painted young man spoke up, "have you ever seen any more ghosts from the past?"
Springs stirred the swizzle stick in the watery remains of his drink, contemplating his answer. "Only in my nightmares," he replied ruefully. "Only in my nightmares. They may be dead and gone today, but up here--" he tapped his head "--they live on. And even when I'm six feet under, they'll still live on. That's why I wrote my book when I did, while I still had all my marbles: so that I'll live on with 'em."
"Old gangsters never die," Dorothy spoke up.
Everyone looked at her, bemused at her statement. Springs, however, realized the meaning of the phrase. "You really did read my book," he said.
There was an awkward silence, then there was a loud tolling of a heavy iron bell striking midnight. "It's the witching hour, folks!" the deejay announced menacingly. "The ghosts and ghouls and goblins are comin' to getcha! Mwahahahahahaha!"
Springs looked at his watch. "Well, I think it's time I'd better be heading on back home before Sharon calls the morgue to see if I'm there," he joked. "Nice meeting you all."
The party around the table slid out to allow Springs and Dimitra out. Criss kissed his mother good-bye and shook Springs' hand. "Thanks for the entertainment," he said. "But what did that girl mean when she said 'old gangsters never die'?"
"It's a poem I put in my book," Springs explained. "Read it sometime."
The elderly couple bid the party good-bye and headed out of the club. "Would you like to stay in my suite tonight?" Dimitra suggested.
Springs was taken aback at such a request. "Why, Didi! I never took you for that kind of woman!"
"I meant because you had too much to drink tonight," Dimitra retorted indignantly, "and I don't want you driving after having all those Manhattans!"
"I know, I know," Springs laughed. "Anyway, I can get Sharon to pick me up." He gave her a peck on the forehead. "You go on to bed; I'll be all right."
Dimitra smiled. "All right, Danny. Good night."
The two parted ways, Springs to the main entrance, Dimitra to her suite. Once upstairs, she took off her costume, pulled on her nightgown and climbed into bed. On the nightstand beside her was a copy of Springs' book, The Guys of Glitter Gulch. She recalled that he had mentioned a poem in it, so she picked up the book and found it in the introduction:
Old Gangsters Never Die:
Old gangsters never die
Except the few that pass away
In the cinemas at midnight
Lay there sprawling in the footlights
For the usherette or the ice cream girl to find.
And if I die
God knows I might
Don't let me die in black and white
Don't let me share a haunted screen
With every other ghostboy
who stood trembling in the foyer sipping wine
Then coughed, and shot his cuffs,
And checked the time
And stepped outside and got cut down
By dead policemen, faces strobing in the panic light
Their long dark cars parked out the back
Their haloes black against the night.
And John Dillenger's name in finest bulletsilver
Etched upon their hearts
A cold tattoo upon their skin
Right next to where the badge is pinned.
I could die carefully, at dusk,
'cause buddy, I once owned a pair of diamond collar studs
And as I live and breathe I swear that that's no lie
And men like me deserve to cash their chips
More elegant than those without a shirt upon their back,
Or shine upon their dancing shoes!
Do you know so many hoods and hitmen
Got sent down to tread the river bed for all eternity
That now they look like statues in some cold submerged art gallery
And I would gladly kiss the hand of any man
Who'd bind my wrists and send me down
To be in such good company!
Or playing poker
Being dealt the Ace of Flames,
And whispering once your mother's name
Pitch headlong dead across the roulette table
Bulletholes pinned like armistice poppies
In neat rows across your back
Why men like that had hellstars in their eyes
And when they walked in groups of more than three
They musta looked like grounded constellations
Torn down from a B-movie sky.
Old gangsters never die.
Heh, heh, say
Wouldn't it be nice to fall asleep forever
In some old speakeasy in the 1920s
Where they never pulled aside the blind
And looked outside to find that fifty years had washed away the legends
And the zoot suits and the bloodstains
Like a dead rose someone left with the hatcheck girl
Then drove off into old Chicago
Windows wound and radio turned down
To keep their holstered shoulders cold and dry
Old gangsters never die.
Hey! Hey, John
I got tickets for the show here,
In my very hand.
Enjoy the show
And when you kiss that girl goodnight,
There in her red dress streaming,
Do it carefully
Good burgundy upon the tongue,
For she will kill you, John
And one must always kiss one's killer
Ain't that so?
They shot your boys out there
And as I live and breathe I never saw a pair
Who fell so sweet to hear the final poetry of cordite in the air
Or turned their faces up like so,
Receiving death as if it were a mother's kiss
Or something black and rare.
Hey, fellas, is it cold there in that movie house tonight?
Let's pass out that Jack Daniels
And we'll talk about old murders, double crosses and dead blondes
And say "Here's looking at'cha! Here's mud in your eye!"
Old ghosts sit in the backroom.
Old bodies don't tell stories.
Old dreams wear dusty clothing.
Old gangsters never die.
(Alan Moore, 1983)
Dimitra closed the book. It seemed sadly ironic to her that such a sweet, kind, wonderful man like Danny Springer had such a violent past. He could talk about murder and other criminal activities the way other people talked about their jobs or families. The man she knew and the man she read about in the book were like two different people: one a perfect gentleman, the other a gangster. Could she ever reconcile the two?
She set the book aside, turned out the light and lay back on the pillow. Lord, she prayed, thank You for this day--and night. Bless my sons, JD, Costa, and Christopher. Bless them and keep them safe--especially Christopher. Bless Danny Springer, and forgive him of his past crimes. Amen.
With a deep sigh, Dimtra settled down to sleep.
Meanwhile, Danny Springer stood outside the Luxor, speaking to his housekeeper, Sharon, on his cellphone. "Yeah, the Luxor," he shouted over the traffic noise. "Main entrance. See ya soon. 'Bye."
He shoved the phone in his pocket and waited for his ride. Around him, costumed figures roamed the Strip, mugging and preening for the camera, either looking for a party or returning from one. Springs smiled indulgently. Let 'em have their fun, he said to himself. That's what Hallowee'en's all about, right?
He saw approaching headlights coming up the drive. Might be Sharon, he figured. Stepping back from the curb, he waited patiently for the car to come to a stop in front of him. Sure enough, it was Sharon in the Mercedes. Springs climbed into the passenger side and closed the door. "Let's go," he said.
Sharon drove away from the hotel. "How was the party with Mrs. Sarantakos?" she asked.
"Good," Springs nodded. "That new club of Criss' is one hoppin' joint. Don't care for the music, though."
They drove on past City Hall. Springs idly looked out the window. The area was practically deserted except for a lone figure in a double-breasted suit and fedora making its way up the steps, pausing only to tip his hat at him, then disappearing.
Springs did a double take, then shook his head. Sharon turned to him. "Something wrong, Mr. Springer?" she asked.
"Hm?" Springs grunted. "Oh, nothing, nothing. Just thought I saw...someone I knew, that's all."
Last edited by Veritas; 10-29-2011 at 10:06 PM.