The International Writers Magazine: Vegas Stories
The Bone Crusher
Leroy B. Vaughn
“Las Vegas, here I come,” Bill Heart said as he crossed the Nevada state line. He was one cool dude, he admitted to himself as he ran a comb through his slicked backed, sun bleached hair.
Bill had that look that people usually associated with guys that owned speed boats. Sun tanned, with the blonde hair and sideburns that stopped at the jaw line.
It had taken Bill a few years to develop the look. He had started off as white trash from the poor side of the San Fernando Valley and worked himself into a good job as a parking valet on restaurant row, La Cienega Drive in West Los Angeles.
He was fired the day before he hit the state line, for stealing tips that he was supposed to share with the other valets. Bill thought he had a pretty good plan, after he sewed a small latex bag to the inside of his trouser waist band. He had used a light coat of vasoline to grease the inside pocket, so the fifty cent pieces and silver dollars that he slipped into his secret pocket would not clank, when they went in. Another valet they called Whizzer saw Bill slip a coin in and that was Bill’s last day on the job.
The hell with it, he told himself. He had been wanting to go to Vegas for a long time, and now was as good of a time as any. It didn’t take him long to pack his Ford Ranchero, skip out on a few bills and start a new life in Las Vegas.
He found an old buddy of his that worked as a slot mechanic in a casino on Fremont Street and he told Bill that he could crash at his pad, but only for three days, while his girlfriend was out of town.
1967 looked like it might be a good year for Bill Heart. His slot machine mechanic buddy talked to a pit boss and got Bill a job dealing blackjack at the casino he worked at, right in downtown on Fremont Street.
Bill already owned a couple of white dress shirts and two pair of black dress slacks. Each pair had the secret pocket, for stealing large coins already sewn in. All he needed was a pair of black Beetle boots with zippers on the side for work. At that time, Fremont Street had a lot of action. It wasn’t as classy as the strip and didn’t get the wannabe rat pack gamblers in their suits and cocktail dresses like the newer casinos out on the strip.
Fremont Street attracted a lot of locals and small time gamblers that came over from California. It had more of a honky tonk atmosphere and the good old boys that ran the clubs on Fremont Street where not the kind of guys you wanted to piss off. If you got out of line, or worse than that you tried to cheat the house, these good old boys didn’t call the cops. They had their own people to handle that crap.
The big man from Texas that owned the casino that Bill Heart went to work at, had a reputation for making real bad actors disappear in the Mojave Desert, just a few miles from downtown Las Vegas.
The casino had its own goon squad. They were a team of big, burly bruisers that worked together patrolling the casino floor looking for trouble. One of the goon squad members was a big hillbilly that didn’t have a brain in his head, but he sure could fight and he was the chief enforcer, for employees that tried to cheat the house.
The Texan that owned the casino paid the hillbilly a bonus every time he had to use him for special jobs. If locals or tourists caused a problem, they were usually escorted to the door with a stern warning from a member of the goon squad to get out and stay out, after they had their photos taken in the security office.
If an employee was caught stealing, they were not given the option of leaving and not coming back until the hillbilly had given them a good ass kicking in the employee break room.
The severity of the ass kicking depended on the crime. Stealing casino money was considered high treason and the hillbilly always broke at least one hand of the crooked employee, before throwing them out the back door.
Not one employee with a broken hand or in the case of some females just a broken thumb ever went to the Sheriff’s Office. It was one block over on Carson Street and no one filed a police report.
The three hundred pound hillbilly always told them if they went to the cops, he would find them later.
After a good ass kicking or a broken bone, most if not all ex-employees got in their cars, or on the Las Vegas-Tonopah-Reno stage line, as the bus was called and headed out of town never to work in Vegas again.
Just to make sure, the Texan that owned the casino put the word out to other casino owners. Casino owners wanted to make sure that they were the only people stealing from the gamblers.
Bill Heart’s secret pocket had worked well for him after he finished his training as a blackjack dealer.
He figured that the house would not miss a twenty dollar check, that’s what the other cool dealers called chips, if he just slipped one chip every shift into his secret pocket.
The eye in the sky surveillance man spotted the old twenty dollar chip in the inside pocket trick the third time Bill used it.
Bill was surprised when the pit boss walked over to him thirty minutes after he had stolen the chip and said, “Someone wants to see you in the break room.”
Bill wanted to know who was looking for him, but the pit boss played dumb and said, “I don’t know, go check it out.” He signaled for a relief dealer and Bill headed for the break room.
Bill had not been at the casino long enough to know about the hillbilly and the corporal punishment that was dealt out in the break room. Never one to miss a chance to milk out any break, Bill decided to stop at the rest room first to use the urinal and take a few minutes to comb his long blonde hair.
The hillbilly was ready in the break room. The floor boss had sent him there telling the hillbilly bone crusher that a dealer was spotted stealing casino checks and to get ready to kick some ass.
The big wheel dealer decided to take a break from her boring job. She ran the game that was considered to be the worst game in town by gamblers, but the house liked the game because there were always a few suckers willing to place a dollar or more on a spot and watch as she turned the big wheel to see if their spot would win.
The big wheel was near the slot machines, away from the blackjack tables and the floor boss never coordinated breaks with the blackjack dealers and her. He would send a relief dealer over when she needed a break.
The big wheel lady had a cigarette in her mouth and was pulling her cigarette lighter out of her skin tight cowgirl pants, while the hillbilly waited behind the break room door.
She saw the hillbilly and tried to scream because she knew what the break room was used for if he was in it, but the hillbilly had already hit her in the jaw knocking three teeth loose. He had her arm cranked up behind her back and decided to dislocate her shoulder instead of breaking her thumb.
She was so small compared to the hillbilly and it didn’t take any effort to pop her shoulder out of place. He gave her a swift kick in the ass with his size thirteen cowboy boot before he hustled her out of the break room, heading for the back door.
Bill Heart was street smart. He was approaching the break room when he heard someone groaning and he rounded the corner in the hallway in time to see the big bone crusher security guard haul some dealer towards the back door.
It didn’t take Bill anytime to figure out that he was supposed to be the person in the break room. He went out the door right behind the big security man.
The door slammed shut and Bill took off running the other way, while the hillbilly threw the woman face first into the alley and told her to get her ass out of Vegas.
She cussed like a drunken sailor as she told the idiot that he had just kicked the shit out of the wrong person.
He was confused as he looked at her dealer uniform. He was told to do a job on a dealer.
She was the one that came into the break room and now he wondered if he should kick her in the ribs to shut her up.
She was lying on her stomach with a dislocated shoulder and pavement rash all over her full sized breasts, knee caps and good arm when the floor boss walked out to see if Bill Heart was ready to leave town.
One week later, Bill Heart was back in the San Fernando Valley selling vacuum cleaners door to door and the retired thirty eight year old ex-big wheel dealer was moving to her small ranch that the casino owner had purchased for her in the Texas hill country.
© Leroy B. Vaughn August 2013
The Rescue of Duke
Leroy B Vaughn
I was trying to make small talk with one of the men that hand washed our pick-up truck, when I looked towards something moving behind the chain link fence.
“Is that a rat,” my wife asked