He came to town. Wasn’t that enough? EB thought. Often it just wasn’t. EB considered this as he holstered his weapon. EB opened his office door and walked out in the hall. Grime and dirt of a dozen decades covered the walls and filthy carpet. Most of the time EB didn’t even see it anymore. He headed for the parking lot where his Cadillac awaited him.
Sliding into the deep blue leather seats EB felt his back muscles become just a bit less tense. And he was tense. Like a fracking 15 pound steel trigger spring. EB started up the powerful 5.7 liter engine. Again he racked his mind as to why he came back. After all that had happened, EB never thought he would see his ugly mug back in Vegas. A town that never forgives much less forgets.
It was going to real ugly real fast. Not as ugly as the fat man thought EB, but still…
EB headed out onto the strip. The hot afternoon air hung in the air like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from. Traffic was just beginning to get heavy. EB handled the heavy car with nimble efficiency in the hot Vegas traffic. Over sized taxis heavily laden with outworld aliens prowled the strip. Denizens of other worlds looking for cheap thrills among the Vegas crowds. A particularly large “Sweat” splashed in the fountains in front of the Bellagio. Twisting and writhing as the fountains sprayed to the music. EB twitched as he looked at the “Sweat”, his hand unconsciously resting on the butt of his weapon. Some things never change he thought disgustedly. EB continued forward through the Vegas traffic. His destination was “the fatman”.
No one knew or remembered the fatman’s name. He’d been in Vegas so long, he was practically part of the landscape. But if you needed something, information, a girl, a loan or muscle, he was the one to see. Weighing in at close to 600 lbs, he was almost an island unto himself thought EB. As EB walked in he noted that his girl friday was working for the fat man. Asia looked across the desk at him, rolled her eyes and said to EB, “he is there” as she pointed at a beat up heavy duty steel door. From the look of the bullet marks dinged into it’s surface, that door had seen some days. EB raised his eyebrows at Asia and mouthed “What?”. She just shook her head and point at the door.
As EB reached the door Asia said “press the red button to get him to let you in”. Sure doll thought EB. He pressed the red button on the door and a low growling voice answered “person, place or thing”. EB tilted his hat back, scatched an ear and pressed the button again. “person, place or thing and don’t waste my time rabbit…”said the fatman. EB looked up, spotted the camera and made a rude gesture at it. “Learn that in grade school?”said the fatman. “No” muttered EB, but you could use learn some manners. With that, the door clicked open and EB entered the room. Sitting behind a large battered metal desk was the fatman. Calling him fat would have been like calling space small. His girth seem to bend the time space continuum. EB steadied himself and looked the fatman in the eye. “I came for some intel on a man” said EB. Vegas is full of ‘em said the fatman. I got some in the desert as well. If you don’t need em breathing, I can cut you a deal. EB said “This is about about that man…”
The fatman ponderously rose to his feet, slammed his fist to the desk denting it. “Damn it EB” said the fatman. Why can you not leave that alone! He will be gone tomorrow and then you can go back to doing whatever you rabbits do without me losing more valuable customers. EB just looked at him. “You know I can’t do that” said EB. He slowly drew a large cigar from in inner pocket of the brown leather flight jacket that he wore. The fatman sniffed. “Arturo Fuentes” the fat man said? “Of course” said EB. A bead of sweat rolled down the ruddy face of the fatman as he considered. The fatman’s large sweaty hand flashed out to retrieve the cigar. Biting the end off of it and jamming it between his teeth, EB stepped up to the fatman and struck a match against his desk. The match flared with intensity, lighting the cigar clenched between the fatman thick lips effortlessly.
“You know I can’t resist these” the fatman said.
To that EB just grinned quietly.
“What do you need to know” the fatman asked thick smoke exiting his mouth with the words. EB just starred at him, held out two fingers and said “Where and when”. The fatman shook his thick jowls, ran his hands through his short greasy hair and growled. Give me an hour or two and I will give you a call with the info said the fatman. EB’s grin disappeared from his face. His eyes became steely pin points. The flowing smoke from the cigar seemed to slow in its movements. The fatman sighed and said “give me a minute to make a couple of calls”. Squeeze some sleaze thought EB.
EB pulled out another cigar and lit it. Breathing in the smoke deeply, his mind and heart seemed momentarily at rest. He looked out the door and realized Asia had left for the day. So much for opportunities EB thought. The fatman looked up from his phone and said to EB in a harsh voice “he’s at the Venetian”. “Pretty upscale for him” said EB. The fatman just looked at him. EB tipped his hat and headed out the door. So much for the fatman thought EB. I probably should have beat the information out of him.
EB quickly left the office and entered the deep blue Cadillac. The smooth purring of the engine quickly turned into a roar as EB headed back down the Vegas strip to the Venetian. Night was starting to fall in Vegas with the lookers and hookers on display. Look at me they all said in their own way. The young foolish ones and the old used women that plied the world’s oldest trade on the city sidewalks of Vegas. The aliens just added into the nights mix. A dusty wind blew across it all giving the falling nights air a feel abrasiveness. Vegas wore you down, chewed you up and spit you out into a shallow grave somewhere out in the desert. Sand and parking lots defined Vegas.
EB pulled into the Venetian’s back parking lot. Pulling his weapon from it’s shoulder holster, he ejected the magazine and slid in a fresh one. Then racked back the slide, chambering a 40 cal hydro-shock round. No sense in taking any chances EB thought. Leaving the car, EB headed inside. Going in through a service entrance EB was instantly assaulted by the noise. It felt like stepping out onto the tarmac of a busy airport. Ringing bells, music, old and young talking, complaining, excited and angry. EB silently pushed his way through into the casino back rooms. Where the real gambling took place. Where the whales came play and some to be beached. The bouncers noted EB entrance. Several nodes in his direction. He knew most of them over from over the years. Helping them with a nasty divorce, a brother in jail, a gambling debt they couldn’t settle. EB had known them all. And short of hosing down all of the patrons in the place with an AK-47, not one of them would lift a finger to stop him. EB was never there. Even the ubiquitous cameras somehow seems to be shutdown when EB rolled in. EB had friends in both high and low places.
EB quickly scanned the room looking for him. Nothing. He slowly cruised room looking at each individual gambler. Largely EB was ignored. Not because a six foot three in rabbit in a brown Fedora and leather flight jacket was the norm, but you know… What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Of course!
The girls paid attention though. They followed his careful movements through the large private room. Table after table of gamblers. Addicted to the high. The rush that the winning hand brings. High stakes, quiet murmurs and undertones of money lost and won. EB notice the girls, but did not let on. Girls usually wanted what they couldn’t have. That made him extra tasty to them. No matter though EB thought. He isn’t here.
The fatman lied.
Well, if he was to be honest (in Vegas?), the fatman always lied. You had to ferret the truth out the stream of vomitus waste that normally was the fatmans trade. He lied for a living and was damn good at it. Survived this long in Vegas meant the fatman was either doing something right or was protected.
Sweat Mob protected.
The mob is Vegas usually meant the “Sweats”. Ugly obscene aliens from a distant star system that came to Earth to make it their new cesspool away from home. EB hated sweats. The only good one was a dead one as far as EB was concerned. And if the fatman was connected with the
sweats, then EB had been played like a school yard chump. EB clinched his jaw in anger.
Slowly he forced himself to relax himself. EB pulled out a large cigar ring 50 sized Arturo Fuentes, bit off the end and put it in his mouth. Pulling a match out of his pocket, he struck across a gamblers lizard skin jacket (alien hide of course). The gambler deep in thought considering the bad hand he had been dealt didn’t notice. EB lit the cigar, took a deep breath and felt the resolution of a long life lived behind a gun. EB straighten his flight jacket and headed out to the door. Back to the Cadillac to consider his options.
Time for some large weapons though EB. He walked around to the rear of his Fleetwood Brougham. Built some 40 years before in 1994, it was the largest luxury vehicle ever built in it’s class. Once used in a presidential motorcade, this Cadillac had been modified with some “special” features. An armored body, electronics hardened against EMP and bullet resistant glass up to a fifty cal. The trunk was large enough for a family of alpha centaur black shaded monocled womcat to build a colony hive in. EB like to think of it as his weapons storage depot.
Inside on the trunk were a survivalist dream. From silenced small caliber handguns to a 50 Cal BMG. The RPG was just for special occasions. EB reached in and grabbed a couple of hand grenades, a Benelli 12 gauge slug gun and his steel eagle tanto. EB strapped the tango blade to his leg, clipped the grenades inside his flight jacket. He check the Benelli Slug gun, noting that he had one round in the chamber, six in the magazine and another twelve on the stock in a speed loader. EB shut the trunk, climbed into the car and placed the Benelli in the passenger seat. EB pulled his armored vest from the back seat. Removing his leather flight jacket momentarily, he slid on the body armor and then his flight jacket. Taking another drag on his cigar, he fondled a grenade and said to himself ”don’t leave home with it…” Putting the car in drive, he headed back up the strip to see the fatman.
The fatman ain’t here said Asia. Filing her nails with a metal file, she looked as beautiful as ever. EB looked at her and said ” Do you know where he went?”. Asia just sighed, looked over and starred. “What do I look like, his baby sitter, google maps, what?” said Asia. “He left out of here right after you left. Told me to take messages and he would call in” said Asia. “An over sized visitor’s taxi came by and got him. I didn’t see much, but it wasn’t humans in with him” she said. Asia looked EB over again and said “What’s this about EB?” EB replied “It’s too long of a story for now. I’ve got get looking, call in some favors to find him”. Asia made a pouty look with her beautiful asian face. “I’ll be seeing you around EB”. But EB was already out the door…
Riding toward the spaceport EB thought that fatman knew more than he was telling. If was involved with the sweats, he knew EB would be coming for him. All this for some information that would have left the fatman with no dirt on his hands. Stupid fatman EB thought. Traffic was heavy and it wasn’t helping EB’s mood. The fatman could be off world by now headed to gods knew where. The galaxy is a big place to get lost in. And with the help of the sweats, he could go very very far and never be found. The sweats always had uses for a fatman.
EB felt that the window was closing for him. Not the fatman, but the reason all of this started thought EB. Hell he could be on the same outbound intergalactic ship as the fatman for all he knew. The lethargic traffic finally started to move. EB turned onto I95, the old veterans memorial highway where the space port was located. Racing up the freeway as much as the traffic would allow, EB tried to will himself forward. As he finally came apon the exit for the spaceport, he could see an intergalactic ship rising on a plum of white smoke. Cursing to himself, he hurried into the parking lot and ran for the door. Once inside, EB headed directly to the door for the spaceport security office.
As EB entered the security office, at the counter a surly looking waif looked up from her magazine and then reach for her cigarette. Taking a drag, she asked in a smokey breathy way “can I help you?”. EB looked at her before he replied. She must be new he thought. “Yes” said EB. “Can you get the Chief? Tell’em EB’s here and needs some assistance”. “Chief Blackfoot” she asked? “You don’t know do you?” “He died in a tragic accident about a month ago” she said. “It was in the news”. “I don’t watch much TV” EB stated feeling the shock of the loss of an old friend take hold. “The Chief and I go way back. How did it happen?” EB asked tentatively. Looking uncomfortable she girl said ” I’m Nicole, Nic for short” holding out her hand for EB. He took it and asked again “What happened to the Chief Nic?” She said ” I don’t really know. It was all so hush hush. It’s still under investigation and no one want to tell me anything”.
EB’s heart felt like it was made of stone. Chief Blackfoot had been a loyal friend in a town where loyalty is bought and sold for ten cents on the dollar. A straight arrow of a man that never gave up on is friends and would take a bullet for you. That’s the kind of man Chief Blackfoot was. EB would miss him sorely. He decided he would grieve later, if a later came for him. “Nic could you do a favor for an old friend of the Chief? I need to know if a very large fatman got on one of the intergalactic flights out in the last couple of hours” EB said. Nic stepped back, cigarette hanging from her lip and said “for a friend of the chief and perhaps a new friend of mine yes. It’ll take a little while to pull the records, give me your cell number and I will call you with the info”. EB reached for a pen when she stuck out her hand when she said “Here, write it here”. An amused grin crept into his eye as he wrote the number down. “I will be talking to you soon” Nic said. EB turned and headed out the door.
This had all become much more complicated than he had anticipated. The fatman was gone. “He” was in all terms gone as well. The sweats were up to something nasty. EB had heard some rumors about a goings on up at the Vegas lake. Could that be what the sweats were after?
The Chief, well was it an accident or something more sinister. And Nic. A surly charming girl that smoked entirely too much. Just the kind I like thought EB. He got back into the Cadillac feeling a little older and headed back for his office. He needed to sort all of this out and develop some new leads. Try to make sense of a tangled mess.
Mean while, up at Vegas lake, the water swirled as a new school of larva came forth from their egg. Swimming and feeding in the dark.
Ugly larva. Tearing and eating at everything living around it.
In the dark..