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Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2277380
Episode IV: Part IX - The Case of the Conniving Gun Moll
Part IX

“Nice ... very nice,” Matt noted, walking slowly around the hotel room, his light blue eyes visually probing Russo’s elaborately decorated suite. He watched with curiosity as she placed her Gucci purse on the mirrored dresser table in front of the king-sized bed. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a quick glimpse of an olive-green seabag atop a suitcase rack, the same type of seabag he remembered seeing when he viewed the security footage provided by New Corporate Bank.

“Does the room meet with your approval, Mr. Duggan?” she asked, noticing his eyes strolling over the suite.

“Makes my room look a run-down boarding house by comparison," he mumbled. "Oh, and please call me Matt."

"Okay … Matt," she smiled flirtatiously. “So … where is your room?”

“Steerage ... with the rest of the peasants,” Matt replied with a cynical chuckle.

Joan turned and looked at him, a puzzled expression appearing, quickly exchanging it for a dubious smile. “Oh, okay, I get it … ha-ha, the Titanic. You’re a funny guy. I like a man with a sense of humor.”

Matt exhaled a breathy laugh. “Well, I …”

She cut him off. “Why don’t you stop talking ... and help me with my necklace,” she asked teasingly, fiddling with the clasp behind her neck. Turning again and facing the mirror, she could see Matt’s reflection as he approached her from behind.

Gently touching her shoulders, he slowly moved his hands inward until he reached the necklace, quickly unhooking the clasp while she parted her hair with her hands. “Here you are,” he whispered, lowering each end of the necklace, a slender 24 karat gold chain supporting a pendant which until now had gone unnoticed. It was the Pandora entwined hearts double dangle charm Delia had previously pointed out. He glanced at her right wrist. She was wearing a Pandora bracelet, complete with approximately ten other charms.

“Beautiful necklace and pendant,” Matt commented.

Joan spun around. “I love you unconditionally,” she quickly muttered.

Caught off guard, Matt chuckled. “Really? Well, this certainly takes ‘love at first sight’ to a new level,” he replied.

Her face broke into a wide grin. “That’s the engraving on the charm, silly,” she explained, placing her arms around her new acquaintance.

"Well, if that’s the case, I’d be interested in seeing what the other charms on your bracelet …”

“You're just too handsome to be doing all that talking," she whispered seductively, cutting him off again. Their eyes met. Matt wrapped his arms around her slender waist, pulling her close. Bending down, he pressed his lips against hers, both feeling the jolt of surprise, until she finally peeled away.

A surprised expression appearing, Matt wondered if she was playing hard to get ... or regretting inviting him to her room.

"Maybe we should go back to the lounge," she nervously suggested.

Matt cocked his head to the side. "Well, uh ... sure, if that’s what you’d like to do. Is something wrong?"

She turned and walked quietly around the king-sized bed.

"You have an entire bar here in your suite, courtesy of the resort," Matt pointed out, heading for the mini-sized wet bar. Several small refrigerators were tucked neatly below the counter. He stooped down to check out the inventory, muffling a quick, “I can make us a drink if you like."

"Uh, sure, okay," Joan mumbled. Quietly pulling the bedside nightstand drawer open, she reached inside, removing her Glock semi-automatic handgun. Turning around, she pointed the gun in Matt's direction, still busy checking out the supply of liquor in the mini-bar.

“Ah, yes ... here we go,” Matt said, locating several bottles of premium vodka, bourbon, rum, and tequila. Grasping several bottles by the neck, he stood, lowering each on the countertop. “Okay … so far, so good,” he muttered. “Hmm, let’s see ... a couple of glasses … some mixers … and a few ice cubes. Satisfied he had what he needed, he quietly shouted, “Okay, Joan ... what’s your pleasure?”

“Step around the bar ... and do it slowly,” came the gruff reply.

Matt’s head whipped around, his eyes fixated on the gun. He paused, flashing a nervous grin. “Wow, talk about ending a date on a not so positive note ... so, what's with the gun?"

She walked slowly away from the nightstand. “I was just about to ask you the same question. And keep your hands away from your jacket.”

“What are you talking about?” Matt snickered.

“I’m talking about the gun you’re wearing. I felt it when you kissed me. All you male jerks think I'm the proverbial dumb blonde," she ranted. Her tone growing more menacing, she walked closer. "I know all about guns ... and that wasn’t your hand or your wallet brushing against my boob."

A cynical smile played around the corners of Matt’s mouth. “What can I say? Trust is in short supply these days; everyone I know is packing.”

“The only suits I know who are packing heat are the cops,” Russo hotly replied. “Open your jacket opposite the side of the gun and remove your wallet. Do it now ... and do it slow.”

Complying with her order, Matt grabbed the front of the jacket containing his wallet and moved it out and away from his torso. Using his other hand, he slowly reached inside.

“Toss it on the bed. Do the exact same thing with the gun ... throw it on the bed as well ... then step away,” she demanded.

Clutching the Glock and moving cautiously toward the king-sized bed, Russo covered Matt's gun with a pillow, then reached for the wallet with her free hand. Flipping it open, she stole a quick glance at the Private Investigator's License that appeared. Tossing the wallet back on the bed, she looked up at Matt.

“Does this mean our date is over?” he asked in a cynical tone.

“Shut-up,” Joan barked. "Cop, detective, private dick … you’re all cut from the same cloth. You better start talking mister, or you’re a dead man walking. No one plays me for a fool.”


Strolling leisurely through the resort’s main entry, Ferrante and his three thugs stopped. Surprised at the enormity of its size from the interior, they continued to gaze in astonishment at the gargantuan vacation and convention center.

“Alright, so now what?” one of his three goons asked, unsure of how they would go about locating their accomplice and partner in crime.

“So now we find Joan,” Ferrante snarked.

“How?” another perp asked. “This place is enormous.”

“Joan loves swanky places like this. Knowing her as I do, she’s checked in as a guest ... and has a suite. “Look,” he nodded in the direction of the main lobby counter. “There’s minimal traffic at all the check-in booths. You three keep those people busy. Since I’m the only one wearing a coat and tie, I’ll slip behind the counter and find out what room she’s been assigned to.” He gave his associates a stern look. “Get moving.”

“Okay boss,” voiced a single reply, his criminal colleagues making their way toward the employee staffed booths.

Ferrante proceeded toward the end of the lengthy counter; lifting up the counter flap, he made his way back toward the office located behind the check-in booths. Stealthily opening the office door, he walked quietly inside, pressing the lock button on the door handle before releasing it. A lone middle-aged male employee sat at a desk in the center of the room, his face glued to a desktop computer screen.

“Can I help you?” the hotel employee asked, startled at the sound of the door slamming shut.

Ferrante displayed a cynical smile. “As a matter of fact, I believe you can," he announced, making his way toward the seated employee.

The resort hotel employee made an anxious face. “Are you new, here? I don’t believe I’ve seen you before.”

“Well, uh, I suppose you could say I’m new ... but only for a few minutes. The good news is there’s just one easy thing I need for you to do.”

The employee’s face twisted in puzzlement. “Beg pardon ... what’s that?”

Reaching the desk, Ferrante removed his holstered Berreta. “I need the suite number of a guest. Her name is Joan Russo. And I know you can find it on that computer you had your face buried in just a few moments ago.”

The employee swallowed hard. "The … the … that information is confidential," he stammered, his eyes locked onto the gang leader’s pistol. I’ll be fired if I …"

Ferrante reached over and slugged the employee in the face with the barrel of the gun. "Correction ... you’ll be dead ... and then you won’t have to worry about being fired. Now give me the room number before someone knocks on the door."

Stunned by the blow, the terrified employee fumbled clumsily with the keyboard.

"You better cough up that room number in a hurry mister before you make this gun I’m holding really angry."

Panic-sticken, the hotel employee finally located the the room number. "It’s s-s-suite number 1116," he sputtered.

Ferrante pinched his lips together in a crooked half-smile. “Thanks," he said in a smug tone before walking behind the employee and bringing the full weight of the Beretta on the back of his head. Slumping to the floor, the gang leader bound and gagged the unconscious man before stuffing him in an office supply closet and removing what appeared to be a master key card clipped to his belt. He noticed a box of magic markers on a shelf. Just what I need, he thought, using one to write the words “DO NOT DISTURB” on a sheet of print paper. Exiting the office, he slapped the taped note to the front of the door just as another employee prepared to walk inside.

"Oh, excuse me," she said, almost bumping into the unfamiliar party. "I need to see Mr. Murray. I just finished locating the figures he wanted and …"

"I’m sorry," Ferrante replied in an apologetic tone. "Mr. Murray told me to leave this note on the front door. He’s really busy ... unexpected conference call with Corporate. As a matter of fact," he chuckled, "the boss man just told me to take a hike. Looks like he’ll be tied-up for a while."

She tossed the folder of papers onto an adjacent credenza. “Well, here's the figures he asked for," she grumbled, "whenever he’s ready for them." She looked around in frustration, her gaze finally returning full circle to the face of the strikingly handsome, but unfamiliar man she just encountered. "Are you new here?" she asked. "I don’t believe I’ve seen you before. You’re not wearing a name tag."

"Uh, yeah, I’m new ... just started today. HR is taking care of my name tag," he lied.

Exchanging her previous look of annoyance with a now interested smile, she introduced herself. “I’m Katie ... with the auditing department," she announced, extending her hand.

“And I’m busy,” Ferrante barked, ignoring the employee's friendly gesture. Walking back in the direction of the counter flap, he stopped and pointed at the office door. “Oh, and a word to the wise ... don’t go in there.”

Startled by the rudeness of this never-before-seen new employee, Katie lurched angrily forward; “I have no intention of …”

“Who’s that?” a colleague of Katie's interrupted, both gawking at Ferrante as he walked quickly in the opposite direction.

“I don’t know,” she answered with an exasperated sigh. “He said he’s new, but one thing I can tell you ... he’s a first class jerk. I’d sure like to know how he charmed his way past stone cold Medusa.”

Katie's coworker laughed. “You mean the HR recruiting manager? The one with the Shirley Temple pin curls that look like snakes?”

“He must have steam rolled right over her with a fake charm or bullshit dozer,” Katie angrily barked

“Hmm ... too bad,” her coworker now chuckled. “He sure is good looking, I’ll give him that; but as my manizer sister is so fond of saying, ‘he may be nice to look at ... but handsome is as handsome does.’”

Click to read Episode IV Part X - "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES
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