07-02-2012, 10:04 PM
The morning progressed uneventfully enough for a major Las Vegas hotel and casino: no fights broke out anywhere, no one had been caught cheating at the blackjack tables, no thefts had been reported--not even so much as a missing wallet or a set of keys had been turned in. The hotel staff performed their accustomed duties with quiet efficiency, whether it was carrying luggage, sanitizing the bathrooms in the suites, raking in or cashing chips in the casino, or mixing a Manhattan for an elderly man dressed impeccably in a tailored suit sitting at the bar of the hotel lounge.
Daniel "Springs" Springer, eighty-eight years old and feeling every minute of it, accepted his cocktail with a brief thanks and a ten-dollar bill, adding a mumbled "Keep the change," to the deep-bosomed bartender. His doctor had warned him to lay off the booze since his stomach transplant two years ago, but what the hell did he have to live for, anyway? No wife, no kids, no plans for the future--nothing. Just a big effing Tudor mansion cared for by a single housekeeper, the mother of his former caregiver, Cassie--or was it Casey?--who had been Mick's caregiver for years. Whatever. All he had was booze and blackjack to fill his time before his number came up and he would join his buddies in the Great Beyond, and to hell with what the doctor said.
Springs had been a collector, the guy who went around picking up the cash from the hotels and casinos in exchange for "protection". When somebody refused to pay up, it was his job to put on the pressure until they coughed up the dough or faced the consequences. On the rare occasions when that happened, Springs made sure he was as far away from the action as humanly possible. The last thing he wanted was to be mixed up in a murder case; Nevada was one of the few states that still had the death penalty. Springs had never been charged with murder, then or now, though he knew where some of the bodies were buried, a secret he vowed he would carry to his grave. No one would ever call Danny Springer a rat, that was for sure! Oh, sure, there had been his book, The Guys of Glitter Gulch, in which he told all--or almost all--after fifty years or so. There were some things from the old days that were best left buried, for reasons known only to himself. Still, he wondered if keeping quiet was worth it after all these years. No one was around to whack him for anything, and the statute of limitations had run out, so there was no fear of prison. He was too old to be charged, anyway. That was one thing in his favor.
Then there was all the hoopla about the opening of the new mobster museum where he had been the guest of honor (he even got the cut the ribbon), but, in retrospect, he was just a has-been gangster, a rotting relic of Sin City's golden era. Despite the graphically real stories of mob hits, extortion, and the billions of dollars skimmed from casino profits (some of which were now sitting in Springs' various bank accounts and tax shelters), the public was still entranced by the glamour of it all. Everybody who viewed the exhibits of the museum saw only the wealth it bought, heard only tales of the danger and the murders of Bugsey Siegel and others. They never experienced the fear of every day might being your last that ate into your gut when you woke up in the morning, nor of going to bed wondering if you would die in the night, and not from a heart attack, either. Death stalked you at every turn. You were constantly looking over your shoulder, always keeping an eye out for someone with a gun in his coat pocket or a razor up his sleeve. You couldn't start your car without tensing up out of fear there was a bomb under the hood. The Guys of Glitter Gulch had been lucky: each member, save for Springs, had lived to die of old age, more or less. Pretty rare in those days, that was for sure. Springs could count on one hand every business associate who lived past sixty, and he was one of them.
It was a messy business, the rackets, but it had been profitable for all four members of The Guys. All four--Springs, Mick Piccucci, Bluesey and Shorty--had retired rich, thanks to Bluesey's creative bookeeping and near encyclopedic knowledge of the current tax laws. Springs himself was worth over ten million dollars; Mick had been worth close to nine when he kicked the bucket (Springs shut out the memories of the so-called Piccucci Affair, when Mick's greedy ex-wife, greedy son and even greedier daughter-in-law tried to rub each other out to get the estate), and Shorty and Bluesey had been pretty comfortable, too. In their case, crime not only paid, but paid handsomely. Now they were all gone, and Springs had been left behind to tell the tale. What a crock.
(I'm a little stuck here. Will finish later. I think I'm getting rusty in my storytelling skills. V.)