Cesar's Palace…Las Vegas...Tuesday, Feb 24, 2009…12:30pm
Judy Looney checked her wristwatch for the umpteenth time; it was two minutes later than the last time she checked. Apparently Whitey Roode's friends were all assholes! At least this Wally character was especially where promptness was concerned. Oh, and he had a bad attitude too. For a crime fighter he sure had no tack with a damsel in distress! She'd been hiding in plain sight for over an hour, knee deep in wannabe gamblers busily pissing away little "Johnny's" college tuition on a chance at the next jackpot. Wally told her to lay low in the Keno parlor because traffic was heavy there since people had to pass through it to get to either the gaming tables on one side or the slots on the other. He said he'd meet her there in a few, in a few what? She'd taken that to mean a few minutes, but she realized now that he could have meant hours or days! Judy felt so overly conspicuous, positively naked. She was convinced that whoever was after her was close; really close, she could feel it in her bones. Her neck ached from jerking it this way and that with every sudden movement or new face. She was mentally and physically exhausted from trying to cover the circumference of the room with all six of her senses, and was about to leave when Wally the prick showed up abruptly.
"Dr. Looney I presume," he said in a monotone that came off as condescending?
"Jesus! You startled me, Detective Price," she asked, holding a hand to her face trying to push the squeal that escaped her lips back into her mouth?
"In the flesh, may I sit down," Wally asked in a gracious tone Judy wasn't expecting?
"Sure be my guest," she answered, scooting to the far side of her own seat unconsciously.
Wally Price sat beside her and quickly surveyed the room from this new perspective. Actually he had been there the whole time having arrived shortly before Judy had. Like any detective worth his salt he knew that the Boy Scouts motto had it down right, be prepared. He had positioned himself at a "Wheel of Fortune" slot machine and watched for her arrival. While he waited he memorized every face in the general area, on the look out for anyone more interested in Judy than he deemed reasonable. Anyone might gawk at a beautiful woman, and Judy Looney was a dish, but a trained observer like Wally Price with thirty years experience hunting bad guys would notice someone with murder in their eye. The eyes are the mirrors to the soul, or so they say.
He had followed her at a safe distance when she walked into the casino and headed for the Keno Parlor. She found a seat with her back to the wall. Smart girl he thought, Whitey knows his dolls. He watched her nervously watching everyone else. It was probably a little unfair to let her sweat like this, but if anything was going to happen it would happen when the perp felt safe enough to try. That was an axiom in the murder game. Wally waited until his instincts told him it was all clear before approaching her. Sure, he could have told her about all of this but it was safer this way. It was better she thought of him as a badge carrying prick then to have her wise to his tactics and next time shout out his name in recognition at exactly the wrong moment! Wally let her eyeball him a moment before opening his yap.
"Alright Dr.Looney…" he began.
"Call me Judy, please," she said interrupting him.
"Alright Judy, let's get down to it. Whitey says you have some kind of micro thing that contains some interesting stuff. Some stuff that the Russian mob in LA might be willing to kill for. Is that about it," he asked, leaning in close so that her reply couldn't be overheard easily? Judy flinched but answered without hesitating.
"Yeah, that's it in a nutshell I guess. I mean I don't know anything about a Russian mob, I didn't even know such a thing existed. The only mobsters I know are Brando, and Pacino and all the others in those Godfather movies," she said managing a weak smile. Wally cleared his throat and leaned in close enough to whisper in her ear.
"Tell me the truth, did you read everything on that chip," he whispered. Judy nodded in the affirmative pursing her lips as she felt his warm breath on her neck. He had a gyro for lunch she noticed, she liked Greek food.
"Tell me the truth, did Whitey read it also," he asked, his tone remaining hushed?
This time she shook her head in the negative, she was lying, but her instincts told her to do so, she didn't know why? She waited for Wally to move away, but he didn't. He whispered in her ear once more.
"Are you quite sure that you are telling me the truth Judy? Think it over carefully, your life may depend on it," he said a little louder this time.
That was it; Judy was officially more pissed than scared now and she was about to tell him where to get off when she heard a soft "pffft" sound and Wally suddenly slumped onto her shoulder. She tried to push him off of her but he was heavy, like dead weight. She discovered why instantly when she saw a tiny trail of blood trickle down his forehead and into two very cold very dead eyes. Judy swallowed a scream and pulled him back to her like a long lost lover and surveyed the crowed room. Nobody seemed to notice anything was out of the ordinary even though she could actually hear her own heartbeat booming like the cannonade in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony! She started thinking about what to do next but she didn't get to think very long. A split second later a gruff older man in a tattered gray suit walked up to her. He sat down confidently and quietly as you please; on the opposite side of the dead weight resting on her shoulder. Mr. Gruff held a chubby forefinger up to his lips and told her to shut up with his eyes, which looked as cold as the ones on the stiff, only his were blue instead of shit brown like Wally's.
The ragtag man, in his late fifties she guessed, reached over and felt for a pulse with one hand and flashed his LVMP credentials with the other. Judy gasped, she'd been had. The stiff on her shoulder wasn't Detective Wally Price, the man in the rumpled suit was. Judy started to swoon as if she would faint, realizing just how close to her own death she had come. The real Wally Price grabbed her and stood her up in one swift movement and they were halfway to the nearest exit before she caught enough breath to say anything.
"WAIT, WAIT," she hissed shaking loose from the hold Wally had on her elbow!
"What the hell was that man? Who the hell was that man?"
"Not here Dr. Looney, let's take it outside before someone figures out that fella on your shoulder isn't just sleeping it off," Wally said quietly but forcefully.
Judy sized him up quickly, how did she know that this was the real Wally Price? She never saw the guy before and Whitey never actually described him, other than to say that he was an old friend willing to help us? She was scared and this guy was standing on her last raw nerve. She felt a panic attack coming on when he suddenly said the magic word.
"Stifle doll face, Uncle Wally has everything under control," he said nonchalantly.
Only Whitey Roode's friends talked that way, like they walked straight out of a Humphrey Boart movie, minus the cigarette though, none of Whitey's friends smoked, that was weird? It was weirder that she even thought of that given the jam she was in, but that's how the human psyche works, it distracts you from painful experiences with laughter or trivia, strange.
"Okay, okay, just tell me you're the real Wally Price, Detective Wally Price," she said calming down. She allowed him to gently take her by the arm again and lead her out of the casino.
"That's right sweetness, Detective Wallace Jordan Price, at your service. Now, let's get the fuck out of here, I've got some more bad news for you. I guess this must be your unlucky day doll, sorry," Wally said as they passed through the glass door from the air conditioned room into an unseasonably hot February afternoon.
Judy flinched at the blast of hot air and Wally put on a pair of cheap shades. He steered her toward the parking lot and his waiting car as his eyes covered the 180 degrees in front of them. He knew that he hadn't dropped whoever that Arab bastard was back there, and he was certain that whoever did was watching them both right now; and possibly taking aim as well.