Lindsay and I made our way through the casino with no one recognizing her. She was as nondescript as any teenager on a casino floor. No one gave her a second look, caught up in smoking bad hands. She had dyed her hair bright red and wore a short pleated skirt and red tube top. I was in my old suit. To the man on the desk I was her bodyguard as he recognized her instantly. “Katie Holmes is in the penthouse, Ms. Lohan,” he said pleasantly deferential.
We rode up in an express that went straight to the top.
The hotel’s house dick was an Indian. A woman claiming to be Katie Couric offered to blow him if he could get her past security. Not the straightest of arrows he agreed. He was pretty sure she wasn’t Katie Couric but a blowjob was a blowjob.
Holmes’ assistant met us at the elevator.
“Lindsay—! Oh, what happened to Pete?” she said, expecting the bruiser.
“Pete’s not with me anymore. This is Duke, my new man,” Lindsay replied.
“Oh,” the girl said and spun her stilettos. “Katie’s here.”
We followed her to the foliage-laden sundeck where Holmes and Sawyer were takin’ in the view from a couple’a lounge chairs.
“Lindsay—!” Katie squealed, soundin’ just like the other girl. She jumped up and they air kissed then Katie said, “You know Diane Sawyer.”
Sawyer rose and shook my girl’s hand, her eyes roving to me. “Have we met?” she asked me.
“No,” I said, not knowin’ whether we had or not.
“But I’ve seen your face,” she continued.
Lindsay solved the mystery by way of sayin’, “This is Duke Brady. The big shot private eye from New York.”
“Oh, yes. I’ve heard of you. You’re a big time racket buster. I suppose you think all these murders are part of some big conspiracy.”
“There’d better be, otherwise its open-season and there’s not a thing I can do about it.”
“I find it all fascinating. Do you think we could have a private chat?” she said, none too coyly. “Perhaps we can take a walk while the girls get reacquainted.”
“It’s all right, Duke,” Lindsay said, taking the leggy journalist place on the lounge chair when she got up.
Sawyer wrapped her arm under mine and tugged for me to walk. I didn’t want to leave Lindsay, but I guessed it’d be okay. You’d think I’d have learned. As soon as Sawyer and I were out of sight and with Katie’s mom babysitting Sara in another room in the big hotel, the girls snuck down to the casino for an impromptu photo-op.
Her system accustomed to far more potent narcotics than a little reefer and coke, Courtney was a habitual early riser. She bounded into the kitchen where Fifi was already making breakfast. The willowy blonde in only a man’s pajama top parked her bare ass on a stool at the kitchen counter to watch the shapely frog bend to lower the burner on which sausage and eggs sizzled in a frying pan. Fifi’s flouncing see-through uniform was always a sight for sore eyes and Courtney wolf whistled to let her know she was being watched.
“Bonjour,” said the maid, wriggling on towering black patent leather stilettos as she shook the frying pan wearing an oven mitt that covered more of her than the uniform making Courtney both hungry as horny.
“Do you always dress this way?” Courtney asked, as Fifi poured her a cup of black coffee.
“What way?” the maid innocently replied, and turned up the plasma set on the wall with the remote to distract Love from her nouvelle cuisine.
“Again, gunmen slaughtered over fifty people at a private party in an Upper West Side condo late last night. Among those murdered were Nicole Kidman, Nicole Ritchie, Emily Watts, Kate Hudson and Charlize Theron. As of yet Police have no leads to the gunmen’s identities or motive. The beauty, talent and charm of these actresses will be greatly missed.”
Olivia ambled in wearing the bottoms of the pajamas. They were too big and slipped past her hips. She sat down before they fell down.
“I didn’t know Kate Hudson was there,” Courtney muttered.
Fifi poured a cup’a joe for the lady’a the house and Olivia with her curly locks dangling over her face like a shaggy dog sipped, coming awake.
“Kate Hudson was at that party last night. I didn’t see her, did you?”
“Was she the blonde?” Olivia asked, obliviously.
“Musta been. The news just said somebody came in and killed everybody. They’re all dead now.”
“That’s how that usually works. That musta been what we heard,” Olivia confirmed.
“Musta been. It’s a good thing we left when we did.”
Nicky appeared and Fifi started another omelet while Olivia and Courtney each had another cup’a coffee. Nicky now a blonde hadn’t bothered to put on anything and took a seat on the third stool at the counter. Fifi set three tall glasses and a pitcher of freshly OJ onto the counter, laid out three plates and silverware and served breakfast. The three blondes ate like animals while she daintily nibbled a baguette smeared with grape jelly.
The telephone rang and Fifi answered the cordless extension.
“‘Eloo? O-oh, Docteur Drake—yes, it is ‘orrible.” She handed the phone to Olivia, who spoke with a mouthful of eggs.
“What’s up, doc?”
“I’ve just heard on the news about Nicole. I wanted to make sure you were safe.”
“Aw, that’s sweet. Yeh, I’m all right. Me and Courtney were in the elevator leavin’ when the fireworks started. Weird, huh? Ya talk to Duke?” she with a glance at her companion.
“Yes. He’s in the thick of this case.”
“I know what he’s in the thick of,” she scowled.
“I’m heading up to Ithaca County to perform a psych eval. You’re welcome to come.”
“Is Kim comin’?”
“Then I don’t think I’d better go either. I’ll just stay here and wait for the breadwinner to come home.”
“You sound like you’ve had a change of heart since we talked last.”
“Just missin’ out on bein’ murdered’ll do that.”
News spread around the world if only for the number and fame of the starlets massacred. Over in England Joss Stone dyed her baby blonde locks the muddy rainbow colors of an oil slick to dissuade any gunmen out for blondes. Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue and Sienna Miller went into hiding. In Miller’s case it was more of a publicity stunt that went unnoticed since no one cared whether she was alive or dead anyway, while on a country estate some miles outside of London depressed American expatriate Madonna loaded a vintage World War Two Luger and pressing the barrel to her temple blew her brains out after watching a BBC report on the killings in the States. To her children and their numerous nannies the single fatal shot made a sound like a breaking tree branch and no one hurried to discover the cause of it.
Katie Holmes’ assistant’s assistant informed the assistant who hurried to tell Katie and Lindsay. Both girls were on the casino floor with cameras flashing all around them and their names being shouted in riotous adulation.
Sawyer had slipped out of her loose fitting yoga pants and into the churning Jacuzzi. I lit a cigarette and watched her. I didn’t get in wither because I didn’t want my guns to take water. Her assistant ran through the suite looking for her and we heard the girl shouting her name.
“In here, Margo!” sawyer called back.
The girl lunged through the door out of breath with tears in her eyes, and panting and gasping said, “They’ve killed Nicole…and Charlize…and Emily…and…”
Sawyer rose out of the water, her face red from the heat. She hadn’t bothered to put on a bathing suit and dripping naked demanded a phone. The girl had one and Sawyer took it from her trembling hand and called her producer.
“Duke, isn’t there something you can do about all this?” she said to me, her sad eyes tearing up.
I flipped my cigarette into the Jacuzzi and went to look for Lindsay.
The joyful mob’s cheers became moaning and wailing as mood in the casino dampened and then darkened. The two were at the center of things and when the television monitors simultaneously switched to coverage of the crime scene suddenly everybody wanted a piece of them and not in a good way. The thought was that these two would be dead soon too and the crowd turned on them like vultures after fresh carrion. The Mohawk guards quickly moved in, shoving and punching their way past the tourists and paparazzi. The going wasn’t easy and some of the angry fans started to fight back. The burly Indians were outnumbered but not outgunned; jacking nines out of their holsters and firing randomly into the crush in a vicious act of crowed control that was really revenge for all the wrongs the white man had ever done to their people. People screams and tried to run, hemmed in by the rows of whirring slots, trapped against the ungainly roulette wheels and dice tables. Katie and Lindsay had only the small body of Katie’s assistant for protection and used the girl like a shield and tried to push through the nearly solid mass of thrashing arms and legs.
“Where are Katie and Lindsay?” I pressed Sawyer’s assistant.
She hiccupped choking back her sobs, wiped her eyes and said they’d gone down to the casino.
I hopped the express elevator and hit the lobby as the cruisers and ambulances were arriving with the usual ringing racket. The hotel’s lobby was in confusion and finding Lindsay was going to be next to impossible. She was hard to find alone in’a room. Feeling heroic the bulls rushed the place without a strategy and got embroiled in an Indian war, the Indians havin’ the home team advantage.
Miller was wonderin’ if she still had a job when she walked into the Ithaca County DA’s office. The ADA was there along with Andover, Lee and Patricia Cohen. The district attorney came from his desk to greet the captain and shook her hand with a dim-witted grin on his face, happy to meet the much talked about set of curves. Finn and his buddies were over at the casino and news of how bad things were goin’ there hadn’t reached the courthouse.
“Captain Miller, I’ve received a call from Doctor John Drake. He’s on his way. Is there anything he needs to know?”
“Like what?” she asked, not gettin’ him.
“Well,” he said and turned to the women sitting around in leather chairs, their stems crossed like judges at a dog show, “I’ve been told that the woman has had a nervous breakdown.”
“I’m not workin’ that angle,” Miller said impatiently. “I escorted Trooper Finn back to Ithaca with three prisoners that may be connected to the murder of Tom Cruise, bur I’ve recently heard that my main suspect bit the dust. A gangster and gunman named Edward Jorgofsky.”
“I see,” he said curtly, “Then I suppose you’ll be heading back to the city.”
“I suppose so,” she said.
“You know the public liaison from mayor Broomberg’s office,” he said, indicating Donna.
“Not well,” Sophie answered. “Ms. Andover works mostly with lieutenant captain Ryan.”
The phone on the desk buzzed like a timer and his secretary came on speaker, saying, “Mister Hammerstein, Troopers are engaged in a gun battle at the Mohawk casino. They’re outnumbered and the guests of the hotel are caught in the middle. There are several casualties but the paramedics can’t get near the place. The National Guard has been requested.”
“National Guard!” he cried out. “My god!”
He turned to Miller who kept her bearing though the pressure was building inside. “Captain Miller, what is happening?” he asked anxiously.
“Dunno, sir. It sounds like a bloodbath to me.”
“A bloodbath!” he exclaimed, at wit’s end.
Cruise’s murder had been great for tourism. Now the tourists were payin’ the price for their morbid curiosity. The Troopers retreated from the gunfire that had spilled out of the casino into the hotel lobby and took up positions in the parking lot waiting for the Mohawks to make the next move. It was an Iraqi War strategy and only promised more casualties. The Mohawks had high-powered rifles, god knows where they got them, and used the lobby’s furniture to barricade doors and windows. I’d gotten as far as the front desk and ducked into a back stairwell where I caught Katie Couric and the house dick in flagrante delicto. He appeared more proud than embarrassed but I wasn’t impressed.
“Didn’t you hear all that noise?” I said.
She lay on her stomach ass in the air and her skirt hiked past her waist and he extracted him wood from her ass and scrambled to his feet.
Pulling his pants up hastily and the leather holster onto his shoulder, he inquired dumbfounded, “What noise?”
“You’re boys are killin’ tourists like settlers. Tell them to stand down. Nobody’s shootin’ back at ‘em. Tell ‘em to hit the bars, tell ‘em to get drunk!”
“Ya don’t say?” he said, adjusting his belt, and to the parted cheeks on the floor, “Ya hear that, Miss Couric? Sounds like you’re missing a great story for the Evening News.”
She sure was, scooped yet again by Diane Sawyer.
He picked up his wind talker and squawked in their native tongue. It must’ve sounded like a good idea. His boys stood down.
The Troopers were at a loss with hundreds of lives at stake and the Guard wouldn’t be arriving for hours and with nobody on the till the casino’s several full shelves of the were ransacked. Pretty soon the Mohawks were staggering out with their hands over their heads and the EMTs were able to get inside to tend to the wounded and the slain.
Katie and Linds weren’t at the top of their game for nothin’, playin’ dead the whole time beneath a pile of bodies that were really dead. Once the gunfire abated I came out of the stairwell with Couric and the house dick to see Troopers throwin’ Indians onto their bellies outside the lobby windows. We walked through the glittering debris with paramedics hoisting overweight and stunned guests onto gurneys wheeling them into the open air. Lindsay took my arm and wrapped it around her small shoulder. When I looked down at her my crossed makin’ her look like two baby rats peekin’ out of a hole in her burgundy rat’s nest.
“Didn’t I tell ya don’t ever leave?” I said, feelin’ dizzy.
Traumatized, Katie stood alone in the midst of the scattered corpses and withering seniors that were caked with blood. With Lindsay under one arm I put my other arm around Katie and brought both girls out to the parking lot.
A female EMT helped them into a medical bus and treated their bruises while I stayed outside and lit a smoke. The cruiser rolled into the parking lot and Miller got out of it. The Indians were getting herded into county wagons and she saw me standing there like I was takin’ in the scenery.
“Duke,” she said, jiggling over in a trot. “I should’a known. Where were you when this melee broke out? You musta been someplace else ‘cause the buiding’s still standin’.”
“To be honest with ya, Sophie, I was thinkin’ about gettin’ into a little hot water.”