Eli Goshen loves his wife. He has for over fifty years. He’s always taken care of her, but when she takes an unexpected gambling trip to Reno and fails to return, he has no choice but to hire a private detective to find her.
A detective who’s been around gambling all her life.
A detective who knows how fast a big win can turn into the biggest loss of all.
(This story is no longer available to read for free, but it can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.)
Long, Slow Suicide
I usually meet clients in my office.
It’s not much of an office, little more than a closet with a desk and file cabinet the last tenant left in lieu of rent, and a couple of chairs I rescued from a mortgage company’s going out of business sale. But I like my clients to see I’m legit. Not some schmuck working out of her apartment who cobbled together a one-page website featuring a generic shot of the downtown Reno skyline with the words Detective, Reasonable and Discrete Photoshopped on top. I have an actual office.
Okay. So my website only has two pages. I also advertise on Craigslist. Shoot me. I have to eat like everyone else.
My new client, Eli Goshen, didn’t want to come to my office. He wanted to meet me in a casino.
Reno’s lousy with casinos. Vegas gets the splash and the notoriety, but we have more than our fair share up north. From the massive Silver Legacy, with its ridiculous, huge bowling ball of a dome, to the latest trend—mini strip mall casinos nestled next to the neighborhood Subway or Payless Shoes. If you want to shovel your paycheck in the mouth of a slot machine, you don’t have to go far in this town to find one.
I never understood the allure.
Gambling aside, breathing the air in a casino is like mainlining a rancid cocktail of secondhand smoke and alcohol fumes directly into your bloodstream. The gaming areas are one huge, windowless cave lit by enough neon and flashing lights to give an epileptic seizures. Heaven forbid the gamblers might notice the sun’s come up (or gone down) while they’ve been plunking silver dollars into a slot machine’s maw.
The carpets are loud, the games are loud, and the whole thing’s tarnished with a none too subtle sense of desperation.
Casinos sell the ultimate get rich quick version of the American Dream, but I grew up here. Casinos aren’t built because they lose money. They don’t need any of mine.
I tried to talk Goshen into meeting me anywhere else. He told me he was staying at the Downtowner and would meet me in the coffee shop in a half hour.
That brief phone call told me two things about my new client. One, he was cheap.
Casino food’s the best deal in town if you can stomach the atmosphere. Casinos can afford to lose money in their restaurants because they more than make up for it with gaming revenue. Most casinos have some kind of all-you-can-eat buffet for those who want to pig out, plus a coffee shop for those who don’t. Goshen was of the non-pig out variety.
The second thing that phone call told me was that Goshen was old.