“This place is a damn mess” detective Alexa Bliss said as she looked around the interior of the strip club. While most such places tended to look a bit rough when exposed to natural light they were rarely full of bullet holes and evidence of a recent fire.
“Mmhm” detective Bayley Martinez said as she too studied the place. She and her partner had been called to the scene of the crime due to their long investigation of the place. The club was known as Cheetah’s and was run by one Charles ‘The Godfather’ Wright. Or at least it had been, Bayley thought as she looked over to where two large bodies were covered by dark tarps.
Bayley and Alexa were vice detectives. And in a town like Vegas that meant they were two very hard working cops. The Godfather had been infamous as the runner of one of the cities largest and most profitable prostitution rings, and in Vegas that sort of title meant alot. Of course no one had ever been able to actually CONVICT him of this, officially he was merely the owner of a high end strip club. Bayley and Alexa had been chasing him for months, and now it seemed all that work bad been for nothing.
“Jesus...and in broad daylight too” Alexa said as she joined Bayley where she stood by the end of the club’s main stage. Officer’s had been called to the club around ten in the morning in response to gun shots and a fire. Unfortunately, once officers had secured the scene the fire department had arrived and done their thing. It wasn’t that Bayley wished the place had burned down but fire hoses were about the most effective way to spoil a crime scene.
“I asked one of the uniforms to canvas the area but…” Bayley said before trailing off delicately.
“Yeah, no one will have seen anything” Alexa muttered as she continued to study the strip club turned warzone. She and Bayley had both joined the vice squad at the same time and had been working together for years both as detectives and as uniformed officers. Alexa had a very quick analytical mind that allowed her to make logical connections that could still stun Bayley. She knew better than to try and engage her partner in any kind of deeper dialogue when she had her current expression on. Alexa was thinking.
While she waited for whatever conclusion Alexa would reach Bayley walked carefully over to where the two bodies lay and knelt beside the first. Carefully lifting the tarp she saw that it was indeed Charles Wright. Bayley had spent so much time looking at photos of him that she knew his features as well as she knew anyones. His face was still contorted in the rictus of pain that it had formed when he’d been shot and Bayley found it oddly sobering
She had no doubt that the Godfather had been a criminal. He’d sold his ‘ho’s’ as though they were property and not human beings and had been ruthless with those who threatened his business. But in many ways he’d also been one of that quickly vanishing class of criminal: the gentleman gangster. Most of the working girls that Bayley and Alexa had questioned had had mostly positive things to say about him. He’d never stiffed them, put hands on them, and would refuse to sell their services to anyone he thought might be a danger to them. This could of course have simply been him protecting his assets but the girls hadn’t seemed to think so.
Moreover despite his public business as a strip club owner he’d been a very popular person. Always jovial and good natured he seemed to greet every day with the kind of enthusiasm that few people could match. Even when he’d been arrested and tried he’d never been anything but bubbly and polite with law enforcement, though it was easy to be so when you were constantly being acquitted. He’d even been philanthropically active. Bayley would happily of slapped cuffs on his wrists and tossed him in a dark hole for the rest of his life but she had never been able to truly hate him.
Replacing the tarp over the Godfather’s face she moved to the next body. Charles Wright had been a very big man at six and a half feet tall, yet he still gave up several inches to his bodyguard Tyrus Clay. Bayley didn’t have to lift the second tarp to know it was Tyrus’ body, there simply weren’t that many people who could claim to be just shy of seven feet tall. Bayley had a brief morbid thought that it had probably taken a lot of bullets to bring him down.
In many ways Tyrus had been like his boss. Big and happy with the confidence of a giant who knew he had nothing to prove to or fear from most of humanity. The main difference between the two had been that while the Godfather had been as shrewd as he was big, Tyrus was a slow plodder both physically and mentally. He’d been happy to accept orders as he’d lacked both the brains and ambition to want to run an organization of his own.
A glint of metal caught Bayley’s eye and she looked down to find a large pistol laying just out of reach of Tyrus’ hand. It was a .500 Smith and Wesson revolver. It already had a numbered evidence card next to it so she didn’t pick it up but she studied it interestedly. The thing was enormous and supremely powerful, despite her own skill with a firearm Bayley was certain she wouldn’t be able to control it if she fired it. But what interested her most was that it still seemed to be fully loaded. Bayley checked the Godfather’s weapon and found that it too had not been fired.
Whoever had killed the two men, they’d taken them by surprise. Frowning, Bayley lifted the tarp on Tyrus and looked into his big face. Under the pain she thought she could detect surprise. Moving back to the Godfather she looked again and thought she saw the same. Whatever had gone down it seemed that the Godfather and his bodyguard hadn’t even had the chance to shoot back. Bayley looked around and noticed the nearby table. She was studying it and the chairs around it when Alexa finally spoke.
“Look at the bullet holes back on the bar” she said as she pointed. Bayley turned to look and saw that the front of the bar had been struck several times as well as the mirror behind it.
“Go on” Bayley said, knowing that Alexa wouldn’t have spoken up if that was all she had. Before she answered Alexa moved to the far side of the table and raised her hand mimicking the shape of a gun.
“Look at how close together they are, even the ones that missed” Alexa said as she pointed at the bullet holes. Alexa paused for a moment before adding “I don’t think this was someone spraying bullets. It looks like they had some skill with a gun. Even the misses could be accounted for by someone shooting at a body falling backward”. Bayley looked at the bullet holes for awhile and decided that Alexa was probably right.
“Look at the chairs” Bayley said when she’d looked at the bar for several seconds.
Alexa raised an eyebrow but looked at the furniture for awhile before asking “what am I supposed to be seeing here?”.
“First, there are three chairs at the table and only one, the one The Godfather was in, has been tipped over. The others HAVE, however, been pushed back. I think that Charles was meeting with whoever killed him and they only shot him after standing up while he was still sitting. If you look at the guns by their bodies, neither Charles or Tyrus got off a shot, this happened quickly and without warning” Bayley said. She watched and waited as Alexa digested this internally for several moments. Alexa was an empiricist and less comfortable with speculation than Bayley so she would likely be skeptical.
“Let’s say…” Alexa said slowly “...that you’re correct. We have a blatant hit, done by someone who knew what they were doing, in broad daylight...there aren’t many people who would have the balls to even think about that”. As she finished Alexa looked troubled, as well she would. The notion of such a blatant attack was very disturbing.
“Excuse me, detectives?” a voice said behind them. Both Alexa and Bayley turned to see officer Naomi McCray standing near the door. Both detectives knew her well and had worked with her often.
“Yes officer?” Bayley said.
“We canvassed out to five blocks, no one saw anything or at least no one wants to talk about it if they did” Naomi said sounding almost defensive. Many people would have assumed this was because she thought the detectives might blame her for this lack of leads. Bayley and Alexa happened to know that Naomi was actually from the area and had deep sympathies with the locals in most things.
“I didn’t think we’d find anyone but it was worth a try, thank you officer” Bayley said as she stood and smoothed the front of her slacks.
“Of course, crime scene van has just arrived by the way” Naomi said, sounding a bit more relaxed now. She smiled at the detectives before exiting the club.
“What’s our next move?” Alexa asked Bayley as they followed Naomi out the door. Both women reached for their sunglasses at the same moment as they emerged into the bright sun of a Las Vegas afternoon.
“We can’t just wait around for the lab to get back to us, so I think we need to lean on our CI's” Bayley said as they approached their car. As per tradition they stopped a few feet away and played a brief round of rock, paper, scissors. Bayley swore once as Alexa’s paper covered her rock and then tossed the blonde woman the keys before walking around to the passenger side.
“It IS about lunch time…” Alexa said, concentrating on adjusting the driver's seat which made Bayley laugh and drew a middle finger from Alexa. Bayley wasn’t tall by any means but Alexa barely crested five feet and it had become something of a joke around her in the department. Once Bayley had stopped laughing she thought about what Alexa had said.
“Lunch at Foley’s?” she asked as she buckled in.
“I do love their salads” Alexa said as she started the car.
Bayley made a face saying “bitch, you weigh 95 pounds with your gun on what are you eating salads for?”.
Foley’s was something of a Vegas institution in many circles. There wasn’t anything too stunning about the food but people still flocked to it. This was mostly due to the diner’s owner, Mick Foley. Mick had been a fighter for many years and had the scars to show it. It was also possible that the constant pummeling had knocked a screw or two loose in his head because he was always a bit...crazy. But a friendly and ingenuous crazy that had made eating at his restaurant a fun experience for years.
Alexa and Bayley ate there often and only partially because they liked the food. One aspect of Mick’s character that wasn’t widely known was that he was one of the most well informed people about the activities of the shady side of Las Vegas. He never, at least as far as anyone knew, actually crossed that line himself. He just managed to keep tabs on all the important local players. And they were content with this because he was usually willing to share what he’d heard with people who he liked.
Ordinarily he didn’t share his information with law enforcement. Not because he had anything against cops but because, understandably, his dubious contacts would be much less willing to speak to him if he did. However it had been realized long ago that Mick made an ideal informal line of communication between the two sides and so he was able to speak to a select few cops. Fortunately for Bayley and Alexa he had liked them both as uniformed officers so he was generally willing to help them now.
Bayley and Alexa took their usual window booth and waited for their usual waitress Noelle, who also happened to be Mick’s daughter, to swing by. Noelle was like her dad in that she was usually in a cheerful mood and today was no exception. “Hey ladies!” she said happily as she sat their usual drinks down in front of them, tea for Alexa and a diet soda for Bayley, before lifting her order tablet and asking “the same as always?”.
“For me yes” Alexa said with a matching smile. This meant a chicken caesar salad with the dressing on the side.
“You’re hopeless…” Bayley said to her in a despairing voice before smiling at Noelle and saying “...today I’ll do a meatloaf sandwich with those fries EXTRA crispy”. Noelle nodded and headed off leaving Alexa looking at Bayley with a half amused half exasperated expression.
“Garbage in garbage out Bayley” Alexa said as she began brewing her tea.
“Zip it Kendall Jenner” Bayley said as she sipped her drink. In truth Bayley ate a lot of junk food, but her hyperactive nature and intense workouts kept her in fighting trim. Before Alexa could respond they were joined by the diner’s eponymous owner, Mick.
“I don’t think detective Bliss looks anything like Kendall Jenner” he said with a smile as he pulled a chair to the end of their table and sat backwards in it.
“THANK YOU Mick” Alexa said as she let Mick lean over and hug her. Bayley did the same and was about to ask a question when Mick turned back to Alexa.
“You don’t actually look like her do you? I don’t know who that is” he said with a grin.
“NOTHING like her” Alexa said as she glowered at Bayley.
“Then yes, I don’t think she looks anything like her” Mick said magnanimously to Bayley.
“Oh don’t enable Thumbalina, Mick” Bayley said with a grin.
“I got that reference!...” Mick said happily before looking at Alexa appraisingly and adding apologetically “...she may have you there gorgeous”.
“Mick!...” Alexa said in mock outrage “...I can’t believe you betrayed me”.
“Never!” he said sounding mortified at the very thought. They all laughed and then paused briefly as Noelle arrived with Mozzarella sticks which she deposited on the table before kissing her father’s cheek and hurrying away.
“Mick...what are those…” Bayley said with a spreading grin on her face.
“On the house detectives, lord knows you’ve spent enough money with me over the years” Mick said as he slid the plate toward the women. Alexa’s eyes almost bugged out of her face as she looked down at the sticks. When it came to junk food she had two vices: chocolate and mozzarella sticks.
“I shouldn’t…” Alexa said before quickly picking up her tea as though it could protect her from the influence of the fried and breaded cheese.
“I will!” Bayley said eagerly as she picked up one of the sticks, dunked it in the marinara sauce, and scarfed it down. After an internal struggle that played out on her face Alexa relented and took one herself, declined to dip it, and nibbled the tip as though that would be enough for her. They both knew it wouldn’t.
“Now, as much as I would like to think so I assume you two lovely ladies aren’t here just for the food or my company” Mick said as he demolished a mozzarella stick in a single bite.
“We DO come here a lot without any kind of ulterior motive” Bayley pointed out before cramming another mozzarella stick into her full mouth.
Alexa made an expression of distaste before saying “but yes we would like to hear what you might know about something”.
“I know a little about a lot of somethings, a lot about a few somethings, and nothing about many more” Mick said with a grin. This drew blinks from both Alexa and Bayley. This was a manifestation of Mick’s unique way of viewing the world.
“Right...well...what about what happened at Cheetah’s earlier today” Bayley said after swallowing a lot of fried cheese. She washed it down with a sip of her drink.
“Bad bad business” Mick said ruefully, his face falling.
“Which is why we’d really like to catch whoever did it” Alexa said quickly.
“Believe me I’d like to help you do it…” Mick said as he shook his head “...that’s just not how civilized people conduct business”. Bayley supposed this depended on how one defined ‘civilized people’ but didn’t say as much.
“Oh come on Mick…” Alexa said in a voice that would be familiar to any woman who’d had to convince a reluctant male friend into helping them move “...you mean you haven’t heard ANYTHING”. Mick smiled at this in a way that suggested he knew exactly what Alexa was trying to do but he shook his head nonetheless.
“Anyone who would plan something like that would be quiet about it and certainly wouldn’t tell me” he said.
“OK…” Bayley said in a reasonable tone “...I agree, but do you know anyone who might know someone else?” she suggested.
Mick thought about it for awhile before saying “no one, but from what I hear things got pretty...over the top violent”. Given that the incident had occurred just over two hours beforehand Bayley had to be impressed by the efficiency of Mick’s sources.
“You could say that” Bayley allowed guardedly.
“Well...whoever it was had to either be big enough that they could take on the Godfather without a thought or small enough that no one knows about them yet” Mick suggested.
“Hmm...maybe” Alexa said cautiously.
“If it’s a big group then your problem just got a lot more complicated, but if it’s a small or new group and they are carrying HEAVY heavy artillery...well there’s really only one place they could have gotten it in the city isn’t there?” Mick said.
Both detectives grasped what he was suggesting very quickly but it was Bayley who said “Dean Ambrose”.
“It’s as good a place to start as anywhere” Mick said reasonably.
Dean Ambrose was a lunatic. Anti-social, prone to sudden rage attacks, and paranoid about the world around him. He was also the gun dealer of choice for many of Vegas’ smaller crooks. The LVPD had been building a case against him for years but despite his quirks he was as clever as a desert fox. He was ostensibly an antique weapons dealer and as far as anyone had been able to prove in court, that was all he was.
“He moves around too much, where would we find him? Bayley asked.
“I really don’t know” Mick said sounding honestly regretful. He perked up a moment later as he said “but I do know that Carmella has been popping up in all sorts of interesting places around the city lately. Places you wouldn’t expect her. AND that she’s been looking a bit more prosperous than usual”.
“That could be nothing…” Alexa started to say.
“It’s Carmella, it’s something” Bayley said dryly.
“OR…” Alexa said “...it could be something unrelated”.
“Well it’s this or just wait on the lab” Bayley pointed out. Alexa bit her lip but after a moment nodded.
“Mick, could you box up that food for us we need to go” Bayley said as she slid out of the booth.
“Of course ladies” Mick said as he returned the chair to its original table and wandered off toward the kitchen. Bayley and Alexa left their payment and a generous tip before taking their food from Noelle and hurrying out the door.