Part 2 - Chapter 15 - Gerty and The Grip

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Las Vegas McCarren International Airport was a zoo. Hundreds of people crowded the terminal. I made my way past baggage claim toward the terminal exit.

In a text message, Hailee indicated that her driver, whose name she wrote as The Grip, would be holding a sign with my name. A half-dozen drivers stood around holding placards bearing names, but I didn't see mine.

A knot of people gathered around a big guy holding a sign. I wondered why he attracted such a large crowd.

Elbowing my way closer, I heard an excited forty-something woman exclaim, "I wonder if he's alone or coming with the rest of the band."

I noticed the big man's sign. It read: Sting.

Poor guy. Either someone was playing a joke on him or he misunderstood.

"Excuse me," I said and raised my hand. "I think I might be your party."

The crowd hushed and everyone looked at me.

"Who the hell are you?" someone asked.

"You're not him," said another, his voice dripping with disappointment.

"My name is Sing, not Sting," I said. "I believe you're supposed to take me to see Ms. Morgan?"

The man said nothing, but he smiled displaying a gap where one of his upper front teeth used to be.

The crowd dispersed, many of them grumbling.

"Are you The Grip?"

He nodded but remained mute. I expected a man of his size to lumber along, but to my surprise, he bounded away toward the exit with the grace of a gazelle. He led me to a pearlescent white Mercedes sedan and held the rear passenger door open for me. I slid in. It had that new car aroma of leather.

He got in without saying a word and pulled away from the curb.

"Nice wheels," I said.

The Grip said nothing.

I looked out the window at the familiar sights of my home town.

A few minutes later, The Grip spoke for the first time in a deep baritone voice. "We've arrived." After I climbed out, he drove away.

The front desk of the WB Grande Resort and Casino was mobbed. It took me forty minutes standing in line to get registered. The attendant checked my ID and handed me a card key. "Your party has reserved a suite of rooms on the Loft Level. Elevators are around the corner to your right."

The elevators were jammed with newly arriving guests. One-by-one they all exited as they reached their floors. I was alone when the doors opened at my level, the twenty-ninth floor, and I was greeted by two security guards.

"This is a private wing, off limits," one of them told me. He was tall and wore a goatee. The other, smaller man sported mutton chops.

I showed the man my card key and ID.

"Are you part of the cast?" he asked.

"I'm not. I'm Ms. Morgan's personal escort for this evening."

The two guards exchanged glances. Goatee handed me back my credentials. "You're a lucky man."

Other than the two guards, the corridor stood empty. I unlatched the lock on my room and entered. Ambient lighting came to life automatically. Soft jazz began to play from ceiling speakers. I walked into the suite, mouth agape. A bottle of champagne on ice awaited me on the counter of the kitchenette along with a dozen chocolate covered strawberries. In a vase stood a yellow carnation.

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