Doing a blast from the past for this weeks story. It’s been over 2 years since this one has seen daylight. Although, you can find it and others like it in the Wonderland Casino collection.
Secrets of the Game
“Here is your ticket sir,” Jaynie said. He didn’t turn or acknowledge her. Instead he looked deeper into the dark recesses of the game room floor. “Sir, your ticket, you will need it to pick up your coat before you leave.”
“What’s that? Oh right, the ticket.” He snatched it from her hand then slipped it into his pocket. “Tell me, have you seen this girl around her?” He held out a faded picture, the edges frayed.
“I’m sorry sir,” she said. “She doesn’t look familiar, but I am new here and haven’t met everyone else yet.”
“Fine.” He walked off, disappearing into the game room.
Jaynie lied. She hated herself for it, but this guy was a jerk. Of course she knew the girl in the picture. She wasn’t about to tell him that though. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and sent a quick text. “Guy asking about you. big jerk.”
Her phone beeped with a return message. “Name?”
“Asked if I knew you. Said no. Walked into the game room.”
“Thanks, I’ll keep my eyes open.”
She moved in with Molly a while ago. Molly helped get her foot in the door at the casino. After the crap jobs she had before this, it was a major step up and a steady paycheck felt so much better than surviving job to job. Her boss told her that she would be next in line for a serving job as soon as a space opened. Jaynie liked the coat check job at the moment. Time to get homework done while working was a win-win for her.
Another text rang from her phone, “I know him.”
“That guy, he knew my father.”
That explained the older picture anyway, Jaynie thought. She walked through the coat room, a short walk, but her job entailed clean up in her work space. Like the other work stations within the casino, a door at the back of the coatroom led to the service hallway. Jaynie always felt a bit like a spy when she traveled through these halls.
“I’m coming to you.”
Jaynie sent her response seconds before Molly burst through the service door. Winded, her eyes wild, Molly stuttered to speak. “I… I… I need to get out of here.”
Jaynie glanced over her shoulder back into the game room. “What’s wrong?”
“That guy, my dad knew him on the force,” Molly said. “I think he had something to do with my dad’s murder.”
“Are you sure? I never saw a badge. Maybe you are mistaking him for someone else?”
“No, it’s him. I will never forget that face. You don’t think?” she asked. “No, he couldn’t know it was me.”
Jaynie held Molly’s arms. “Take a deep breath. What’s going on?”
Molly gasped then filled her lungs. After she released it; her eyes changed, her breathing slowed. “I never told anyone this,” she said. “Not even the cops investigating my dad’s murder. I was there the night he died. I saw the guy who killed him.”
“It was him?” Jaynie looked back over her shoulder. She could feel the eyes from people on the game floor watching them. “We need to call the cops.”
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” she said. “Don’t you get it? We can’t call the cops. He is one of theirs. Hell, they won’t believe me anyway since I never came forward before now.”
“There has to be something we can do.”
“I need to get out of here. I should never have involved you in this.” Molly turned to the service hall door, ready to run.
“Wait, you can’t just run from here,” Jaynie said. “What if he has a helper, or worse what if he knows where we live? I bet he does know where we live since he figured out where you work. I can’t go home and neither can you.”
Molly sighed. “You’re right, I know you’re right. But what else can I do?” She looked out toward the game room. “Shit, here comes Roger. I saw him talking to the guy a little bit ago.” Molly ducked back into the service hallway.
“Jaynie, I need to have a word or two with you.” Roger was a dining room manager from K-12, the restaurant where Molly served. Jaynie didn’t care for his style, the kind of manager that rocked a sweater vest at work or at home. His stuffy by the rules methods left little wiggle room in their interactions. “Have you seen Molly?”
“I haven’t seen her recently, no,” Jaynie said. “Is something wrong?” She smiled as she spoke to him which always seemed to unsettle him a little.
“Well, not wrong per se. But there is a gentleman looking for her. Official business from what I understand.” He opened the half door and stepped into her workspace. “Don’t you both drive to work together?”
Jaynie stepped away from him, out of arm’s reach. “We do sometimes. Though we took separate cars today. She was scheduled much earlier than I was today.” She saw him, Molly’s cop at the edge of the game room. He caught her eyes and stared her down. He knows I lied, she thought. “Isn’t she at work?”
“I haven’t seen her for a bit. In fact no one has seen her.” He looked at his watch. “I thin her shift might have been ending soon anyway. If you see her tell her to call me.”
“I will.” She stepped away from him to help a couple at the counter. With their tickets in hand she retrieved their coats as Roger left her workspace. She watched him walk back into the game room. After a quick exchange with the cop he left for the restaurant.
A younger man joined the cop at the edge of the game floor. Gooseflesh covered her arms when they glanced in her direction. I hope you made it somewhere safe Molly, she thought. She cursed under her breath when they started walking in her direction.
She met them at the service window, hiding behind a warm smile. A smile that lived only on the surface of her face as her body trembled. “Do you gentlemen have tickets?”
The cop dropped his ticket on the counter. “I left my coat with you earlier, if you remember. Speaking of remembering, I showed you a picture earlier, you said you didn’t know the girl in the photo. Turns out she’s your roommate.”
“Really? Wow, I did not recognize her at all.”
“Where is she?” His voice sliced through her belly.
Her smile disappeared. “I… don’t know.” She stepped back, away from the window.
The cop nodded to his partner, who unlatched and opened the half door separating them. “You can tell us now while we’re still being nice, or my friend Charlie might not be as nice.”
“I swear I don’t know where she is. I haven’t seen her since she left for work earlier today.”
“Funny, Charlie told me he saw you talking to a girl a little bit ago that looked quite a bit like the one I’m looking for. What can you tell me about that.”
Charlie inched closer to her, but her focus was on the cop. Afraid to look away lest he strike, she was losing the battle of wills and she could think of nothing to help herself.
“My offer won’t stand for much longer,” he said. “Hell, I think Charlie here is getting to be a bit anxious as it is. You know what Charlie does when he gets anxious?”
“No, not sure I want to know either.” She felt him getting closer. Inside, she wanted to scream, cry out for help, but outside she was frozen. The cops eyes held her in place frozen like prey.
“Sometimes he breaks things. Sometimes he cuts things. He changes it up every now and then to keep me on my toes.”
“Jaynie!” The shout came from behind her. She had forgotten that Molly hid in the service hall when Roger had looked for her. Molly slammed the door open and grabbed Jaynie’s arm. She pulled her back into the service hall and slammed the door shut behind them.
Molly locked the door and piled boxes in front of it. “We need to get out of here.”
“But to where?” They ran when the banging started on the other side of the door.
Roger found them on the service side of K-12. “Molly! Where the hell have you been. Jen had to take your tables.”
“We don’t have time right now, Roger,” Jaynie said. “We need a place to hide out.”
“Was it that guy? I knew there was something weird going on. He’s a perv right? Should I call the cops?”
“No cops,” they said.
Molly focused down the service hall. “Give me your keys Roger. We need a place to hide out for a while. They should give up after a bit.”
He pulled his keys from his belt. “Here you can hide out in the employee apartment. No one should be there right now.”
The employee apartment was a room set aside in the hotel for interns and others who worked at the hotel on a temporary basis. The room itself was smaller than a typical guest room but it wasn’t built for comfort. The interns who spent their summers in the apartment also spent little time in the apartment.
Jaynie stood at the balcony looking out over the parking lot below. “Who is that guy?”
“I don’t know his name,” Molly said. “I saw him with my father a couple of times. I think he worked vice like my dad.” She looked out through the peephole in the door again, nothing to see but she did it anyway. “The last time I saw him was the night my dad was killed.”
“I came home early from school. My dad was working late, always did when he was on a case. I wanted to surprise him. The gunshot in the middle of the night woke me.” She payed no attention when Jaynie moved beside her. “I saw him standing over my dad’s body from the top of the stairs. They didn’t know I was home.”
Jaynie wrapped an arm around Molly’s shoulders. “How did they find you now then?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “My witsec files were closed when I came here. He must have found them.”
“You need to call someone,” Jaynie said. “Don’t you have a handler or something?”
“That’s the hard part. I called him earlier, number was disconnected.”
They jumped when a knock hit the door. Jaynie looked through the peephole when the knock came again. “It’s just Roger. Should I let him in?”
“He probably wants his keys.” Molly went to the night stand to grab them as Jaynie opened the door.
As soon as the deadbolt clicked the door burst open knocking Jaynie onto the floor in the bathroom. Charlie rushed into the room ahead of Roger and the cop. The knife at Roger’s throat stifled anything more than a whimper.
“You could have made this easy,” the cop said. “Too many people now, too messy. Why did you have to run?” He pressed the knife tip into the soft skin of Roger’s neck, drawing blood. “Mind you, I will enjoy this.”
Charlie turned back to the door to close and lock it again. Then grabbed Jaynie by the hair and drug her into the main room. She fell to the floor at Molly’s feet.
“Why are you doing this?” Molly asked.
The cop sliced through Roger’s throat, then let him fall to the ground. “You know too much.” After wiping the blade on Roger’s sleeve he closed it and slipped it into his pocket. “And now you’ve made this too messy. You could have come with me and avoided all of this.”
Jaynie sprang at the cop; nails dug into his throat and neck. He fought against her assault, placed a hand on her forehead, and pushed her head up and away. His other hand slammed into her diaphragm knocking the wind from her lungs. Charlie grabbed her and hoisted her over his shoulder.
“Is this how you want it?” the cop asked. “Do you want me to take out your friends one by one?”
“Why are you doing this?” Molly asked. “You’ve proven your point, now let her go.”
“Or what?” He asked.
“Or nothing,” she said. “Leave her alone and I’ll go with you.” She hung her head, her hands behind her back. “You win ok.”
Charlie dropped Jaynie on the bed when the cop nodded at him. “Let’s get outta here then,” the cop said. “Don’t make any trouble and you might even see the state line.” He moved close to her for better control of the situation.
She used her chance to strike fast. The .22 derringer she pulled from the back of her apron, wasn’t big enough to do much damage, but a well placed shot at point blank range could still do quite a bit. She fired right behind his ear, more a pop than a bang. He fell to his knees before he even realized he was dead.
She turned with the pistol pointed at Charlie’s face. “Easy killer,” she said. “This may be small but I still have a shot left. I’m not afraid to use it. Drop your sidearm to the floor.”
Jaynie grabbed the gun and chambered a round. “We don’t want any trouble.”
Molly bound his wrists and tied him to the bed frame. They left the room without looking back.