A Mobster's Hallowe'en -
10-29-2011, 09:49 PM
Author's note: Of all the characters I've created on this forum, former mobster Danny "Springs" Springer proved to be one of the most popular. He is a representative of Las Vegas' golden era, when the casinos were run by the mob. Vice was a lucrative business: extortion was standard business practice, bribery was considered "insurance" against reprisal or prosecution from the law, and bullets were the most effective means of eliminating the competition--or silencing those who would "squeal" to the authorities. A gangster like Springs would have seen the darker side of Sin City in its heyday, and remembered the legends associated with that era.
This Hallowe'en, I have made Springs the master of ceremonies for a trilogy of terror tales: two of my own creation, the third a poem I found in a graphic novel. So, fix yourself a Manhattan, dim the lights, sit back, and enjoy:
Hallowe'en in Las Vegas has always been a gaudy, glitzy, ghoulish affair with lavish costume parties and elaboratly staged live horror shows. Costumed revelers parade up and down the Strip, mugging and preening before the camera, either on their way to a party or just leaving one.
This year was no exception: There were vampires galore that year (thanks to the popularity of the Twilight series) as well as the usual ghosts, witches, Frankenstein monsters, UFO aliens, glammed-out drag queens and showgirls. Many of the women's costumes were so revealing they gave the phrase "trick or treat" a whole different meaning.
As usual, the nightclubs and bars competed to host the biggest and best Hallowe'en party. The newest club, Liquidity, was no exception. They did, however, boast one advantage: its owner was none other than Criss Angel, the hottest magician in Vegas, if not the world. His live show, Believe, was a major hit; the Hallowe'en show alone sold out last July in less than thirty minutes, a box office record. Those who couldn't get tickets settled for attending the aftershow party in Liquidity, just to catch a glimpse of the MindFreak himself--assuming, of course, they could get through the door.
It was eleven PM on Hallowe'en night, early by Vegas standards. The evening show was over, and the aftershow party was in full swing. The music thundered from the loudspeakers, the soundwaves pummeling the walls and bouncing back again. The liquor flowed freely, as did the dancers on the dance floor, the flickering strobe lights above giving the effect of a silent movie film. If not for the masks and costumes, it would have been just another night out at the club.
This was the scene in which former Glitter Gulch Guy, Danny "Springs" Springer, made his appearance, his date for the evening, Dimitra Sarnatakos, who happened to be Criss Angel's mother, on his arm. Both were dressed in the fashion of the Twenties: Springs in a double-breasted black suit and fedora with a gold watch chain dangling from the vest pocket, Dimitra in a long tailored flat-looking gown with an equally long string of pearls around her neck, her black hair bound up with a feathered headband. Though seemingly out of place among the younger crowd, they moved comfortably among them.
Dimitra showed off her famous son's new club with the pride only a mother could possess. "So, what do you think, Danny?" she asked, beaming as brightly as the sun as they stood by the bar.
Springs sipped his Manhattan. "Booze is good," he commented, "but I'd prefer Tommy Dorsey to whatever's playin' right now. Where's yer son, Criss, anyway?"
Dimitra looked around and spotted a small knot of costumed figures (mostly female) in a far corner of the room. "He's over there," she told him, pointing to the group.
Springs glanced at where her finger directed. "You sure?"
"Oh, yes," Dimitra confirmed positively. "Where there are women, there is Christopher."
Springs laughed at Didi's instinct. The elderly couple threaded their way to the corner, stopping occasionally for an enthusiastic Loyal who wanted to say hello and happy Hallowe'en to Mama Angel. One lovely young girl dressed as a French maid who remembered Springs from an episode of MindFreak asked him what he himself thought of Criss.
"Good magician," Springs replied flatly, "lousy dresser."
The girl left, giggling all the way. Springs and Dimitra made it to the corner where, sure enough, Criss was entertaining the group gathered around a small bar table with a deck of cards. They had missed the trick itself, though by the reaction of the group, it had been amazing. "Did we miss anything?" Springs said nonchalantly.
Criss looked up. "Mom!" he cried out happily, reaching out to embrace her. The group respectfully withdrew, deferring to Mother Dimitra for the moment. "Hey, happy Hallowe'en!" He examined her costume. "Wow!" he exclaimed. "You look great!"
"Thank you," Dimitra replied. "You remember Danny, don't you?"
"Course I do." Criss reached over and shook Springs' hand. "Good to see you again, Springs. Happy Hallowe'en!"
"Same to you," Springs returned. "Quite a joint you got here. Pretty damn noisy, though."
Criss laughed. Springs suddenly became indignant. "What, you ain't gonna offer us a seat?" he chided. "Whatsa matter with you? Ain't your ma here taught you some manners?"
Chastened, Criss directed Springs and his mother to a large semi-circular booth and offered them to sit. Satisfied, the elderly couple slid over to the back of the booth. Criss slid next to his mother. The rest of the group sidled in as best they could, or found chairs from other tables to sit on the other side. Springs looked around the table. "Quite a little party we got here," he commented. "Who's buyin'?"
Criss flagged down a waitress passing by to take drink orders. He ordered a Martini, while his mother asked for a beer. The guests went for more exotic fare, such as Fuzzy Navels or Sex-On-The-Beach ("And hold the beach!" one quipped laciviously, obviously forgetting the presence of Criss' mother). Springs, of course, ordered another Manhattan.
After the waitress left with her stack of drink orders, Criss turned to Springs and Dimitra. "So, what brings you here?" he asked casually.
"Your ma wanted me to see yer new nightclub," Springs explained. "Since it was Hallowe'en, we decided what the eff, let's dress up, have some fun! Beats hell out of stayin' home doin' crossword puzzles, that's for sure."
"You look lovely tonight, Dimitra," a woman dressed as a female vampire complimented. "Really you do."
"Thank you, dear," Dimitra replied graciously.
A young man in Johnny Depp-style pirate garb turned to Springs. "Is it true you're a former mobster?" he blurted out eagerly.
All eyes fell on the pirate for his indiscretion. "Please," Springs said primly. "I prefer the term 'retired businessman'." He shrugged a little. "Maybe it wasn't the most legitimate business to be in at the time," he conceded, "but I did well for myself, as you can see."
"I saw you on Criss' show," a perky little Dorothy figure in blue gingham piped up. "And I found your book at the bookstore, so I bought a copy and read it. If I had known you were gonna be here, I would have bought it with me for you to sign it."
Springs smiled indulgently. "Your a good kid," he said.
"You've must've seen a lot of changes since then," Dorothy commented.
"Damn right I have," Springs replied. "Hell, I can tell you stories that're scarier than anything you'll hear on Hallowe'en!"
He leaned closer, drawing in the others in a tighter circle. "Y'know," he spoke conspiratorially, "Vegas...is haunted!"
"Haunted?" they all echoed.
"Oh, yeah," Springs nodded. "And that's not all. I've heard stories from guys in the Syndicate who had...whaddya call it?...paranormal experiences. They kept it to themselves, of course--they didn't want to be packed off to the bughouse ward, if you know what I mean. But I heard 'em, and I remember 'em to this day. Wanna hear?"
Everyone nodded enthusiastically. "Okay," Springs said. "Gimme some time to dust the cobwebs outta the attic, here, and I'll tell ya one."
(to be continued...)