Rick Eddy on the Temple of Doom (Part Four)
Yeah, yeah. I know I said Part Four would be the conclusion. So sue me. His Ineptness pointed out how what happens in Vegas and LA 'splains a whole lot a what happens in the Temple, so I hadda go back and write this part afore'n you'd understand the next part.
And if it ain't all spelled 'xactly right, or there's some real "continuity" problems, well, I'll get to them when I get to them.
Also, we done put all links to all the parts over there ------> (the right side link column), so we didn't have'ta put all a' 'em at that start of each Part no more.
I don’t know when I decided to declare war, but it was well before we were half way to Vegas. And I don’t have a clue what ultimately triggered it, but it was probably the ‘ol’ straw that broke the camel’s back’ syndrome. ‘Cause somewhere during the first hour after take off, I decided to cross the line.
Hell, it mighta’ been the fact that I was dealin’ with an amateur like Hickey. I’d asked Murdoch, “Why the fuck would anyone want to do a drop like this at a fuckin’ Beverly Hills tennis club? Shit, there was so much illegal drug money and the like flowin’ through places like that…”
“Look,” Murdoch said, “I want all people involved in this deal to have their hands sullied. So, yes, you are dealing with an amateur.”
“That’s fuckin’ crazy, Murdoch. It’d be safer to do this drop in a fuckin’ biker bar in Hollywood than a Beverly Hills tennis club.”
“R.E., you’ve been paid handsomely, and you have your marching orders. So MARCH.” Then he threw in a teaser that he knew’d get me to play along, “When you return tomorrow night, I will be providing you access to a story larger than all of the assassinations of the sixties, Watergate, and O.J.’s trial combined.”
Yeah, we’d see. But it worked. I mean, I could always walk away from the money, but my curiosity wouldn't let me miss this. Murdoch might be a bastard, and he sure as hell was using me, but if he said the story was big – it was big. Still, the whole Hickey thing pissed me off.
Hey, it mighta’ been the company I had for the flight. They didn’t know who I was; they had no idea of why I was bein’ allowed to fly with them, and they had no need to know. But what a buncha’ of pretentious, self-important executives - worse than the ones I’d been in the limo with. These people thought they were on this flight because they deserved it; ‘cause they were important; because they had somehow ‘earned the right’ to be there. Dumb fucks.
What they were, were fuckin’ house slaves. And these dumb fucks didn’t get it. Their power was not their own. They had as much power as Rupie allowed them. The master allowed them to come into his house, but it sure as hell wasn’t as equals. They might get better scraps from the master’s kitchen than the rest of the corporate slaves, but it was still just scraps. It wasn’t the execs that were important, it was the role they filled in makin’ Rupie richer and more powerful – it was the role they filled. The real dumb asses were loyal to Murdoch and believed the loyalty worked both ways. Rupie would sell these bastards as soon as they quit adding to his bottom line.
It mighta’ been that. It mighta’ been the fact that I was getting’ bored. Livin’ off the yuppies in North Georgia was too easy. So, maybe I declared war on the powers that be oughta’ boredom. I figured years ago that I probably only had 70 or 80 years on this planet, and that if I was lucky. At the same time, I figured that I might as well enjoy them. I wasn’t going to spend my time worryin’ ‘bout no fuckin’ after life, or keepin’ score by tryin’ to die with the most toys. Naah. Fuck that. I was going to have fun.
I like that. Declarin’ global war on the powerful out'a boredom. Hell, wars had been started for far stupider reasons than boredom. Like religion, or out of revenge for old family squabbles, or…Hell lots of stupid reasons had been used to get large groups of people to die for the good of the few vested interests. And that’s where my war would be different. I was going to bring down the vested interests without enlisting people into my cause - out of boredom. Don’t get me wrong, here. I ain’t sayin’ that I won’t never enlist people; I just don’t figure many people would rally to the battle flag of "Risk your life to bring down the pwerful out'a boredom". I’d have to sell my enlistees on some other idea. Hey, I got no reason to deviate from the tried and true.
Oh, don’t even think I believe I can win this. That’s the beauty of it. If you don’t have a prayer in hell of winnin’, there’s no pressure to perform. This war was more like that line from ‘Animal House’, “This situation requires a stupid, futile gesture on somebody’s part,” and in this case, I am just the guy to do it.
So, ‘bout an hour into the flight, I used the plane’s phone to call a Vegas hotel, made reservations in the name of ‘Dee Kay’, and told them to send a car to pick me up at the private landing strip where we were headed. That got their attention. Then I told them to expect an overseas wire transfer and credit the amount to the room. That’s the beauty of Vegas greed. They don’t ask a whole lot of questions if they think they’re going to get the action.
I knew the Swiss were just opening for the day’s business so I called a bank there; one where I had an old ‘black account’ that I’d left idle for ‘bout the past ten years. The Swiss didn’t give a shit, they’d earned interest on the money, and even though they’d been forced to tighten up, they still didn’t ask many questions. Especially where old accounts were concerned - they didn’t want to have to answer any questions either. I had them close the account and wire the balance to the hotel in Vegas; somewhere around $25k.
I know, I took the hit on taxes, and even the whole $25k ain’t much of a war chest, but I had more. I had a lot more - scattered across a lot of places. Over the years, I’d stashed away a fair amount of ‘undisclosed’ revenue. I had a pretty decent campaign chest. Not enough to be called a war chest, maybe, but more’n enough to start one. Now it'd be nice to at least have a plan, but I did at least I know where I was gonna start. I was gonna start with that schmuck Hickey. And since I plan best when I’m drinkin’, I helped myself to Murdoch’s finest. Yeah, I know I said that I liked cheap whiskey better - for the burn, but as long as I was goin’ to war, I figured I might as well start by tryin’ to single handedly deplete Murdoch’s bar, and for that matter, his supply of Cuban cigars. I stuck a fist full of the cigars in my coat, and grabbed a handful of the ones that came in them metal cigar condoms in the briefcase. Fuck Murdoch. I was a field slave that was getting’ to play house slave for the night, but at least I knew it.
When the plane landed in Vegas, the executives piled into the company limo, and I headed to the hotel's limo. I didn’t look to see if it raised any eyebrows. I just got in and helped myself to a drink from the limo bar, and started thinkin’.
I started thinkin’ about Vegas. Home of Hill Billy Heroin, Cracker Crank, Redneck Speed, or whatever street term they’d come up with for crystal meth. I hadn’t been to Vegas in years, but I’d heard enough, mostly from watchin’ fire department trainin’ programs on local public access stations to know Vegas had a lot of crack runnin’ through its veins. Hell, how could it help but be anything else? What a fuckin’ depressin’ city to live and work in. All those fuckin’ tourists and high rollers comin’ through, spendin’ like there was no fuckin’ tomorrow, and if you lived here, you weren’t makin’ shit. It was sort of like livin’ in Orlando and workin’ at Disney - lot’s a’ people spendin’ lots a’ money, and you’re workin’ for little better than minimum wage. Matter a’ fact, Vegas was called the Disney World for adults. Yeah. Only worse. You ain’t nothin’ but part of the woodwork, and you spend half your time fantasizin’ ‘bout hittin’ the big one. It’s probably even more depressin’ if you don’t even have that for a dream; if you know you’re going to spend your whole workin’ life next to all that money and not ever get a real piece of it. And in Vegas, you get to live next to Yucca fuckin’ Mountain. There’s a goddamn piece of civic pride.
Anyway, by the time I got to the hotel, I knew I needed to score some crank. Lots of it. So, while I was checkin’ in (Vegas may be the only city in America, where checkin’ in without bags is almost normal), I made sure the money had arrived, and how much was there after Uncle Sam had takin’ his. One thing for damn sure, in the future I’d get to my money without givin’ him his cut, or my war would fold due to lack of funds. No real problem, it just took more prior plannin’. There was enough money left that the desk clerk didn’t trouble me with minor inconveniences like showin’ ID. I asked her to arrange a rental car for me, quickly calculatin’ drive time and the time differential, I asked her to have it available by 9 am. I also got directions to a shop that sold tennis gear, and before I headed up to my room, I asked to send three bottles of Beam’s Rye up to the room.
On the way to the room, I detoured a walk through the gamblin’ area, checked out what shows were playin’, but mainly I was lookin’ for exits and alternate routes should the need arise. I was also takin’ note of all of the security cameras, at least the ones you were supposed to see if you looked; even those were so discreetly placed that you had to actively look for them to spot ‘em. I think I actually smirked. I mean, the new Vegas slogan was “What goes on here, stays here”. Yeah, it was a play on the old military slogan, “What goes TDY, stays TDY”. I never thought a city would adopt somethin’ so fuckin’ sleazy as their civic slogan, but hey, this was Vegas. It also gave me an idea. With all these cameras, this place was primed to be blackmail heaven. I’m still thinkin’ about turnin’ on a couple of teen hackers to the potential windfall they could get by breakin’ through casino security systems, accessin’ the videos, and blackmailin’ the people. It could be a beautiful thing. ‘Might have the makings of a future campaign.
Well, then it dawned on me. I might have some real competition on I hands if I tried to play that game. I mean the people that ran Vegas didn’t ‘xactly have a rep for bein’ nice. Hell, ‘twouldn’t surprise me if the whole marketing campaign was a set up to do just that – the preliminary set up for a mass blackmail operation. I could imagine these guys sittin’ around dreamin’ this up, and one of ‘em sayin’, “Yeah, it be like, ‘What happens here, stays here’ – ‘For a Price’. And the whole lot of the falling all over themselves laughin’ their asses off. ROTFLTAO. On the other hand, as long as I was declaring a losing war on the major players of the world, I probably wouldn’t notice if added the casino owners to the enemies list. Didn’t matter, it’d have to wait.
Damn, they were good to high rollers. The Beam was in the room before I got there. I looked around. It was alright as far as these kinda’ suites go. I had about seven hours ‘til the rental would be out front waitin’ for Mister Dee Kay, high roller. And it was time to prep. I opened one of the bottles of rye, poured ‘bout two inches into one of the hotel tumblers, and pulled a long swig off the bottle. Then I put the bottle down, and picked up the glass, and startin’ lookin’ for the hotel literature. I found the hotel fire escape plan and committed it to memory. Hell, push comes to shove, I might be the one who started the fire. Ya’ never know.
I went ahead and pulled out that 60 Minute cell phone I’d bought on Friday Dawg’s credit card, and called a local number I knew from the bad ol’ days. The cell’s minutes would fly at long distance rates based on NYC, but hell, it don’t take all that much time to set up a dope deal, if ya’ know the right kinda’ people. And I happen to know all kinds of the right kinds of people.
A guarded, “Hello.”
“Dave’s not here, Mannn.”
A long pause, and “Is this Ace 44?”
“No, it’s Catch 22, Mutha Fucka.”
Another long pause, “I thought you were dead.”
“Yeah, Frank, and I’m sure a lota’ people are hopin’ that’s true.”
“Yeah, well I hope you ain’t callin’ just to talk about the old days; I ain’t got time for bullshit.”
Well, we were past the formalities at least, and based on his tone it was safe to talk business, “No, Frank, I need you to take advantage of me.”
“I always have, and I always will.”
“Yeah, fuck you too, Frank. I need some crank,” and I liked the way it rhymed. “I need enough to keep me goin’ for 72 hours minimum, maybe 96. Plus…Uh, how much to earn a felony rap with intent to distribute in California…and a big enough bust to get it on the news?”
“Shit, I don’t know Kalifornia law (Hey, I heard the ‘k’ in his voice), but to make the news on weight alone…Hell, way to goddamn much. As for keepin’ you up, when’s the last time you played with this shit?”
Wow. I had to think about that. Crank’s all over North Georgia, but it just wasn’t something I played with lessin’ I needed it for business purposes. “Ya know, it’s probably been eight-nine years since I’ve done any.”
Frank laughed, “Well, hell, it won’t take much for you. You just cut yourself out three or four grams for personal use, and let’s say…Hell, man, buy five kilos of the shit, pure, cut yourself out a couple of grams…I mean, I don’t know the game you’re playin’, but that oughta do you right.” Short pause, “By when?”
“Actually, Frank, I was thinkin’ in about, say, two hours? I got other arrangements to make.”
“In that case, you’ll definitely have to settle for ‘bout five kilos. Where do you wanna meet?”
“Let’s see…I’m stayin’ on the Strip, I gotta play for an hour to make it look good…You know a decent place within, say, a half an hours cab ride? And, uh, let’s go ahead and run this on your premium plan.” The ‘premium plan’ meant I paid way the fuck more than I needed to for the product, but I got silence and service include. That’s why he was willin’ to work with me on short notice, no questions asked. I paid top dollar, in return, I didn’t have to worry ‘bout him shootin’ me and keepin’ the stash and my money, and, he wouldn’t talk for 48 hours even if Ashcroft himself was pushin’ the button on the electrodes to his balls. 48 hours was a lot of runnin’ time in this business.
“$10k, and tell the cabbie to take you to *****. Unless you’d rather work the Latin side?”
“Naah, the white side is fine, but hey, let’s make it eleven, and throw in a QP of ‘kind’.”
“Done. See you at 4.”
I finished the rye in the glass, walked back over to the bottle, did another long pull. Poured another two inches from the bottle to a fresh glass, took another swig from the bottle, and went and grabbed a shower.
The only thing I got to say about that, is I’m always surprised ‘bout out how much chest hair hurts gettin’ pulled out by the med tape, but it’s worth it. I doubt even the casino’s stuff picked up on the plastic. I took a long ten minute shower, and tried to figure out how to use my remaining wardrobe to its best advantage. I’d freeze my ass off if I tried to hit the tables in runnin’ shorts and the tank top…I decided to put the grey slacks and the sports coat back on, with the tank top and black tennis shoes, no socks. Sort of that casual, ‘I made money durin’ the DotCom boom look’. That’d fit in, and play well with the whole persona.
So, to make a long story short, I went down and played an hour’s worth of Black Jack, ‘bout the only casino game I can win or break even on. I piss the other players off ‘cause I don’t play the number game, I play feel. Fuck ‘em. I may not win every time playin’ on feel, but I ain’t never lost.
This time I won. Alright, It was only a $k, but it was a win. And, a’sides, I was going to need cash to keep movin’.
Then I headed out to meet ‘Frank’. Ya’ll don’t need to know, but I’m gonna’ tell ya’ anyway, he’s government. I don’t know what agency, but it ain’t the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I’d worked with him over the years, and I ain’t never tried to find out too much ‘bout him. As far as I know, he ain’t ever looked too far into me, either. Worked well so far. I cashed in the chips, wandered out, and made it to the meet point. NO, I ain’t tellin’, but the bacon and eggs were good, and they couldn’t do grits right. Least wise, by what I was served.
‘Frank’ showed up with a woman. She looked like a wife. They looked like tourists on their way to the city and the Strip; tourists/losers. Ya’ had to admire the look. They joined me at the table, ate, and we all left together, like I was showin’ them the way into town. The action happened in their four door, and they dropped me off a couple a blocks from the hotel, with me in possession of the five kilos of crank and a QP of 'kind'.
Hell, I didn’t know shit from Shinola as far as meth was concerned, but I took the package to the room, broke off a chunk that I figured might be ‘bout five grams worth, chopped up a fifth of that, and did a couple of lines. It was good. I knew sleep wasn’t gonna be a problem. Massive psychosis maybe - not sleep. Then I realized I didn't have anything to smoke the weed in - to take some of the edge off the crank. So, I found something in the room that was wrapped in a decent tinfoil, cut through the paper on a roll of T.P. and used the roll and the tin foil to make a quick, disposable pipe. I also lit on of Murdoch's cigars to cover up the smell of the weed. So far, so good.
Now I had somewhere around four hours ‘til rental car time. I had time to kill or more accurately, time to prep. I grabbed one of the opened bottles of rye and found my way to the hotel tennis courts where the early risers were starting to get court time. I way pretty wired and catchin’ a good whiskey buzz. That was one of the benefits of the crank, I was now a wide awake and on the verge of being schnockered. I waited for the shop adjoining the courts to open, and bought myself some tennis whites, shoes, a racquets, a couple of cans of balls and one of those sports bags, and headed back to the room.
When I got there, I changed into the tennis whites, put the crank in the bag with the raquette and balls, and put my street clothes in a hotel laundry bag with a tag sayin’ I needed them ready by three in the afternoon. Then I headed down the blackjack tables to get in a few hands while I was waitin’ for the rental.
I love drivin’ through the desert. Nice and desolate, and I love being able to see those incredible distances. You don’t get that much in North Georgia. Usually, there are far too many trees and hills to see any great distances. I sucked down the last of the rye as I was workin’ my way through the fuckin’ LA traffic. As much as I loved the desert, I hated this city. Fuckin’ sprawl and traffic, and too fuckin’ many people.
Anyway, I got to the tennis club and met Hickey at his cabana. Yeah, the club had cabanas for the members use, and I guess Hickey was using it to entertain his daughter – hey, not my business. There were no introductions. I knew who he was, and he had no need to know who I was. That’s the way I like to handle this kind of work – I keep the information advantage. He had the money in his tennis bag, and we swapped it to my bag. He poured us both a drink, which I was happy for. Then, while he was distracted by his daughter, I slipped the five kilos (okay, just short of five kilos) into a side pocket on his bag. He didn’t look like he was actually gonna play any tennis, so I figured the risk of him finding’ the package before I was ready was pretty small. I also overheard him and his 'daughter talkin' about stayin' to watch some match later this evening.
The whole thing took about fifteen minutes, including the three minutes I used to snort some more crank in the cabana’s bathroom, and I was headed back to the rental. On the way out, I found out the match Hickey was stayin' for, started at seven. With a quick stop at a liquor store to stock up on more rye for the ride and some rollin' papers, I headed back for Vegas. I got there with enough time to spare to play a few more hands at the tables before changing back into my street clothes, re-applying the stirrer stiletto with fresh medical tape, and threw the whites and all the stuff from the briefcase into the sports bag, and put the money into the briefcase. I left the raquette and balls for the maid to find and checked out via the telephone. I wanted ‘Dee Kay’ to have a good rep here in case I ever came back – not likely, but you never know.
We'll also call this the end of Chapter One. Don't know how many chapters they'll turn out to be, but I figure the this ends the set up for what actually happened next, and that sets up what's happenin' now. I'll 'splain later...
Edited for content: 10/19/04