as eddie began his trek across the parking lot he tried not to hurry or do anything to call attention to himself. he figured he was lucky he had gone into the commercial for breakfast. the mob guys probably didn’t think he would be coming from that direction. and by the way they were clustered up eddie thought they were just setting up for the job at hand. the job to find and kill him.
how had they found him so soon? simple really he thought. either the man at the sports book last night or someone in the cat house. or maybe even both. god, he was stupid and probably deserved whatever the mob had planned for him. maybe he should just go up to the suite and call the local law and take his chances with them. no, that was stupid as well. think eddie.
once inside the hotel lobby he saw only the paiutes and a few more leftover drunks from the night before. no mobsters. eddie wondered if they would actually come into the hotel to find him and take him. he took a chance and stopped at the main desk.
good morning. i’m up in 421. has anyone been looking for me?
no, sir. not that i know of anyway. i’ve been here for about an hour and a half.
ok. thanks. ah, some friends of mine mentioned they might stop by. if they do will you call me and let me know? i’d prefer to come down and meet them here in the casino.
not a problem, sir.
perfect. here’s a twenty for your trouble.
no trouble at all but thank you very much.
eddie made a beeline to the elevator. thankfully the wait wasn’t very long. he rode up to the fourth floor with several of the paiutes. he smiled but didn’t say anything.
once in his room eddie went to the window being careful not to stand to close to the opening. the mobsters were gone from where he had seen them talking. there must be one at each entrance by now. maybe others as well. he got his things together in preparation for a fast exit. then he called housekeeping and told them he didn’t want his room cleaned today. if anyone came to the door it would be the mob and not the cleaning lady.
from the side window he couldn’t spot any mobsters either. though on the corner there was a bar and a group of bikers gathered outside. eddie had noticed the signs yesterday about a poker run in memory of one of their fallen. today was going to be sunny and warm. a good day for riding a bike. was it going to be a good day for eddie?
eddie thought again about just calling the police but by now that option probably wouldn’t do him much good. he had run away after the killings. maybe if he had stayed in the apartment and waited for the cops back when it happened he might have gotten away with the killings. maybe. though the mob wasn’t going to forget. ever.
he pulled the last smoke from the pack in his shirt pocket. he crumpled up the package and tossed it towards the trash. he missed and it rocked a bit on the carpet before it settled. eddie looked for the carton of smokes and when he found the carton it was empty. he crumbled it up as well and tossed it towards the can. he missed again and the carton rolled to the wall and stopped.
eddie needed smokes. now was not the time to quit. yet again. maybe it was but he didn’t see it that way. he needed smokes to help him think. he was in a predicament and decided to take a chance and the stairs down to the lobby and try to find a machine for some cigarettes. and he hoped the mob guys were outside and not parked in the lobby or casino. from the side window he had seen the corner of what appeared to be a supermarket about two blocks away. he doubted he could manage to get that far with the mobsters around but it might become an option.
finding the back stairs eddie slowly made his way down to the lobby. the only people on the stairs were a few of the paiute kids playing kid’s games. they paid him no mind. once downstairs he slowly opened the door. he didn’t see any mobsters. eddie couldn’t actually skulk around in the casino without attracting a certain amount of attention. so he sucked it up and ambled as best he could out into the gaming area.
he asked a casino employee if there was a cigarette machine around. the man pointed to a corner by the coffee makers. eddie thanked him and walked over to the machines. he didn’t see any mob guys on the trip over. likely they were all outside, he thought. after all he would at some point have to leave. once at the machine eddie pulled a few dollars from a pocket and then realized the only smokes left in the machine were camel straights. unfiltered camels. this was not good. he needed cigarettes but not honest to god real live cigarettes. he hadn’t smoked one of them in many many years.
eddie walked back to the employee and spoke to him.
is that the only machine in the casino?
there are only non-filtered camels in it.
really? we were very busy last night. busier than i thought. sorry about that. it rarely happens. maybe once a year or so.
will it get filled up again today?
sorry, pal. the guy doesn’t come around till tomorrow afternoon. you can try the bar across the street but you’d probably be better off going over to the market down a few streets.
yeah, i’ve seen it. thanks anyway.
sure. nice day for a walk.
ah, yeah, right.
eddie returned to the machine and bought a pack of the camels. he opened it there and pulled out one of the short cigarettes and lit it. he immediately started coughing and thought, this isn’t going to work. he also thought since he was downstairs he ought to check the exits for mob thugs.
he picked up a free paper and walked around pretending to read it while he smoked and coughed. the unfiltered camel was making him a bit dizzy. he stood near the front desk and noticed two men smoking and talking out on the sidewalk. they didn’t blend in with the paiutes or the rest of the hotel crowd. mob guys. going back through the casino he noticed one mob soldier standing by the casino entrance door. two for two. probably at least one more at the side entrance by the sports book.
eddie was screwed. what the hell had he been thinking? why hadn’t he spent just one night in elko and then out on the road again? or better yet why hadn’t he just talked to the cops? hindsight. it always made you crazy. or in eddie catalina’s case, crazier.
back up in his suite eddie lit up another of the non-filter camels. he was going to have to figure something and fast. he needed smokes he could actually enjoy smoking and he needed to get the hell out of elko. as he stood smoking he noticed there were quite a few more bikers at the bar across the street. bikers and their biker harley’s. they weren’t your run of the mill sunday biker who took the wife for a ride and a brunch some place. no, these guys were the real deal.
eddie smiled and stubbed out the camel. picked up his stuff and went downstairs. he used the back stairs again as he didn’t want to pass the front desk with bag in hand. he was leaving but he wasn’t checking out.
once back in the casino he went towards the sports book and the rear side entrance. he got about three feet from the door and spotted the mobster on guard duty. eddie stopped. he knew this was his only shot at ditching the mobsters if only for a little while. eddie steeled himself. then he ran into the door and flung it open.
the mobster was startled and almost fell over. he steadied himself and yelled after eddie, who was about halfway across the street. the three other mob men were already turning the casino corner. eddie made it to the other side of the street and up on the sidewalk. he was running for his life.
the mob soldiers ran across the street giving chase. eddie rounded the corner of the bar and ran for the parked bikes. there were several rows of the shinny hogs lined up in the parking lot. it had been years but eddie catalina had once ran track and at one time was an accomplished high hurdler. he made the correct calculation inside his head and easily hurdled the parked bikes even carrying his ratty suitcase. hit the pavement on the other side and kept on running.
the mob guys weren’t so lucky. years of breaking bones and shooting people had left them way south of any athletic ability if there had ever been any to begin with. all of the mobsters crashed into the the parked bikes.
eddie didn’t look back. eddie catalina was in the wind.
this originally appeared in july of 2014.