Vegas is a funny town; despite all the holes dug out there in the desert to bury problems folk seem to have a issues with putting anyone in the ground if there’s a ceremony involved. Richard was being interned in one of those fancy mausoleums that seemed to be springing up all over town – fancy condos for the dead. He’d drawn a pretty bug crowd out front for a dentist, but when you’re married to the Tooth Fairy I guess you do that. I found a side door and let myself in quietly.
The grieving widow was at the front – the first time I’d ever seen her wearing black – and I couldn’t tell whether she was genuinely upset to be burying her husband or putting on an act, the last twenty four hours and indicated that there was a lot in this town that I no longer knew about. I kept to the shadows, partly out of respect and partly to make sure that nobody spotted me.
Chappy’ was laying it on thick about how Richard had been taken away in the prime of his life; I guess many men who were married to a hot tamala like that and knocking another one of on the side would consider that the prime of their life also, but I don’t think that he meant it like that. There were a few other faces dotted around that I recognised as well, including the two goons from outside my apartment. As soon as Chappy’ had finished they all filed past which would have allowed me to get a closer look at the body if I was quick – if it hadn’t been for her.
I suppose I should have guessed she’d have been their – she was his lover after all, but seeing her standing their looking down at the casket did something to me, so much so that the first time I knew he was there was when I felt the cold end of his iron in the small of my back.
“Nick, how ya doin’?”
Guess I was a high priority now, they’d sent the toughest son-of-a-bitch in town to get me. I looked up to see that she was gone.
“Blitzen, what you doing here? Shouldn’t you be downtown arresting smurfs for spitting on the sidewalk?”
“Aint ya heard Nick – I got promoted, I work for the DE now.”
“You’re still the same son-of-a-bitch to me.”
I felt the butt of his gun hit me on the back of my head, I struggled to stay standing.
“Look Nick we can do this either the easy way or the hard way – doesn’t matter to me – but I’ve got to take ya to the DE.”
“Okay, I’ll come quietly. Just do me a favour and take me out the back way so that the press don’t see, can you do that for me?”
“Sure, Nick – ya wanna come along quiet we can go out the back – but if you try any funny business I’m dragging ya out the front fer all to see.”
“Now turn ‘round, I gotta’ frisk ya.”
He found the iron fairly easy but that didn’t matter, I was banking on a long shot to get me out of this mess and with my luck it would be the horse that came in last. I made sure to keep at least three steps ahead of just in case I caught a break.
Outside the fine afternoon was turning into a fine evening, but that didn’t matter to me, I was too busy scanning the car park for my break.
Blitzen put his gun in my back once again, a little more forceful this time.
“C’mon Nick, don’t make me regret being kind t’ ya.”
I smiled and walked forward, it looked like my break wasn’t there.
“The black Pontiac, Nick – ya know the drill – hands where I can see them when yer get in.”
He reinforced his point with a playful little poke in the back, I put my hands on my head.
“That’s better Nick, now keep movin’.”
I’d barely taken a step when I heard the screech of the tyres. From the corner of my eye I could just make out its colour – emerald green – as it barrelled into us. I hit the deck hard but so had Blitzen and the iron was no longer in his grasp. I grabbed it on reflex and looked around for my saviour. The door of the emerald greed caddy’ swung open.
“So, aren’t you getting in?”
I gathered myself up and made a break for the back seat.
“Are you always in this much trouble?”
“Only when women are involved.”
She hit the gas hard and the caddy’ lurched forwards. I looked out of the back in time to see Blitzen squeeze off a couple of wide shots at us.
“They’ll be after you too now Missy so we’d better lose this boat fast.”
She pulled off onto the verge and stopped the car, I looked out to see if we were being followed but it looked clear.
“Why did you save me? I’m the man who’s supposed to have killed your lover.”
“We both know that you didn’t.”
“The DE seems to think so…”
“The DE’s being played the same as you are, you just haven’t figured out who by yet.”
“For all I know it could be you?”
“Then rescuing you like that would be the perfect cover.”
I lay back down and caught my breath, she reached into her bag and brought out a pack of long cigarillos, lit one and handed it to me.
“I don’t smoke, its bad for me.”
“Do you always do what your doctor says?”
“No and that’s the problem – I never can take advice.”
“Never got involved with a women who’s willing to spring you from trouble, there’s no saying what else she’s willing to do.”
She turned and looked out of the window, I’d obviously touched a nerve.
“Look, just drive out to the lake and we’ll find a place to hole up for the night – I need to think things through.”
“Are you sure that’s your only reason for wanting to take me out there?”
“Look, you’re a classy lady and I’m flattered, but in the last twenty-four hours I’ve had a pair of goons practice for The Grand on my ribs, been left for dead and been shot at – whatever you’ve got in mind I assure you I’ve not got the energy for it – now just drive and be sure to keep below the limit.”
I lay back down on the back seat and tried to get some shut eye – I had a feeling I was in for a long night.
We sold the car less than twenty miles outside of the city and bought a red Malibu. It had once been a beautiful car but now all I hoped was that it had enough in it to get us to the lakes so that we could rest up. She changed to, but somehow she didn’t quite look right in anything other than green.
The lakes were about an hour out of town but far enough that they wouldn’t come looking for us. We made out to the clerk of a cheap motel like we were there for a little la-la-la – it saved him asking any questions about what we were really doing. I wish it had been the case but I knew that I’d be spending that night on the sofa.
“I’ll grab a shower.”
She ran off towards the bathroom before I’d had time to answer and soon all I could hear was the sound of the water pounding against the wall. I loosened my tie and lay back on the couch to grab some rest.
“Nick, are you okay?”
She was stood in the doorway with the light behind her for maximum effect – it was if she’d practiced looking that good.
“Sorry, I must have drifted for a moment. You finished in there?”
“Yes – aren’t you even a tiny bit curious to see what you are missing?”
“I don’t want to get my fingers burned again – besides I’m not sure I even know if I trust you yet.”
She went over and lay on the bed, stretching out in the half light from the bathroom.
“What can I do to help you trust me?” she breathed.
“Let me get some sleep.”