Bravo —Saturday, 9:09 PM
I exit the limo's conditioned environment and feel the sweltering blue haze that hangs above the Rideau Casino. A stilt supported, all-glass cube juts from the otherwise rectangular house like postmodernism on the run. Greasy goons in suits grin like gargoyles, flanking the entrance—hands on hidden earpieces, eyes on me. The leather business bag in my outstretched arms suggests I've brought money to lose and grants me admission. An open palm demands relinquishment of the nine mil they've uncovered by frisking me. Time to rekindle my Russian accent.
"If you want to count my coins you must win them first."
They study the unopened handbag like a bomb and hesitate before handing it back to usher me through the entrance with a timed triple tap on the doors. Calm, classical music welcomes me amid the flowing chatter within. Beyond the foyer, where men in suits conspire with prostitutes in couture, I spot green felt tables and spiraling lights through an arched opening. Within its framed symmetry appears a suited scoundrel with greasy hair who locks his eyes upon me. He approaches with a smile and nod.
"Clyde, I presume?"
His greeting expression becomes wide-eyed as I free myself from the weight of the handbag by slamming it into his unprepared chest. He should have anticipated of my fancy behavior. With luck, my accuracy mimicking the weight of money by stuffing the newspapers around my weapons will be more accurate.
"Happy to have you back, Mr. Petrov! If you'll kindly follow me..."
It's a challenge to stay in character, avoid the bright lights and distraction of the casino passing around me. Unconscientious gamblers disguised in couture take little notice of me, fixated on their games of chance.
"Ah, Miss Sokolov!"
Following Clyde's greeting, my virgin eyes behold exquisite, terrifying beauty. A funeral-appropriate black dress that starts and ends in lace covers skin that the sun is unworthy of touching. Her red hair waves around her head like a flowing fountain. Dark eyes pierce my skin like needles as they slice over me with indifference.
"You'll be delighted to know, Caterina, that your consigliere has arrived." Clyde turns to me.
I follow his glance but there's no one behind me... Why is he looking at me like that?
"Da?" her bold voice asks with deep intonation, "There is little about Orlov that is delightful, Clyde."
She follows my gaze while Clyde stares at me...
Realization clicks in for both of us, like the double crack of shotgun cartridges reloading.
Her inquisitive eyes enslave my mind. My thoughts skim over the contents of the true contents of the bag Clyde carries for me.
"I see..." her giggle skitters like a chirping bird call as she glides past us. My guide seems confused by her departure.
"Lead on, Clyde." I press, wanting to conclude this scene before I slip up on my lines or forget my 'character'.
We reach a winding staircase. The majordomo leads us up.
"While I'm still figuring things out," he continues, "I've prepared your usual welcome. I hear you like inflatables... I've set you up with a ton of inflatables. And yes, I know what you're thinking—Avocados? Yes! We got you a whole crate!"
"Splendid!" I reply and wonder what manner of persona I've hijacked.
"Women? We got you Orlov. We know how you like 'em, and I won't judge. Get ready for the cheesiest feet and crunchiest, unkempt toenails. They're in the kitchen right now—'swissing the cheddar', as you guys like to say."
He produces a key at the top of the stairs. A click reveals the absurd lengths reached in accommodating Orlov's comfort. Once inside the room he turns to me with a grin.
"Look about right, Mr. Petrov? You know..." his pause suggests he almost thought better of continuing, "You're the first Sokolov I've seen without hand and neck tattoos peeking out from under your suit.
Time to take him out. His eyes widen further as I deliver a spinning elbow that cracks his temple and concludes the tour. I recover my bag, withdraw the 'deals section' of a newspaper, and place it on his crumpled body as gratuity for his hospitality. I lock the door and drag his body deeper into the room. According to my phone... it's dark—time to piece together the arsenal Clyde's carried up for me.
♛ ♛ ♛
Thanks for Reading. The main characters are now in play. One is about to reveal their true nature while another hides their true identity. If you enjoyed this chapter please consider giving it a vote.
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Rival demigods-Venus and Killer Caterpillar-assume control of the gangster scene, dragging Dahl and Bravo into their ongoing conspiracy. ****** Trigger warning: Violence, Mature Language, Sexuality, Murder