Read Dying for the Highlife Online

Authors: Dave Stanton

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Hard-Boiled, #Private Investigators

Dying for the Highlife (5 page)

BOOK: Dying for the Highlife
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Hey Sanzini,

Remember that douchebag Jimmy Homestead who ripped off your stake? I just read in the paper he won a $43 million lotto. Couldn’t have happened to a bigger asshole, huh? Anyway, just thought I’d give you a heads up. Might be a good time to go collect that two grand he took you for.

Good luck, amigo.

Sanzini read the letter three times. Then he smashed his fist through the wall. The old sheetrock collapsed in a cloud of dust, leaving a jagged hole.

“Where is he?” Sanzini said. He had a habit of talking out loud when no one was around. Sometimes he engaged in long, animated conversations with himself. He considered this habit indicative of higher intelligence. Occasionally he would try to use a vocabulary word he picked up from a daytime television show. His latest word was “inevitable.” He was still a little vague on the meaning, but he thought it was an impressive word. He pronounced it “enviable.”

The situation clearly called for action. So Sanzini put on his black leather chaps and vest, got on his hog, and roared around the corner to Little Otto’s, his local hangout. The bar was one of San Jose’s dozens of anonymous dives, and it had stayed steadfastly in business decade after decade, immune to economic cycles, development trends, and Northern California’s fashionable culture. Sanzini swung the door open, and the noon sunshine flooded the joint, revealing stained and threadbare carpeting, the battered wood facing of the bar, and the backs of the day drinkers. Oakland Raiders posters from long-forgotten seasons were faintly visible through motes that danced in the shaft of unwelcome light from the doorway.

“Close the fuckin’ door, Sanzweenie,” a voice called out.

“Bite me, Rancour,” Sanzini said to Garrett Rancour, taking a seat beside him. “I ain’t in the mood for any shit today.”

“What’s up your ass?” Rancour asked.

Sanzini glared at him as his eyes adjusted to the gloom. Rancour had boasted he could bench press four hundred pounds when he was released from jail six months ago. Though he was only about five foot nine and 170 pounds, there was no question he was unusually strong—he had a sort of unpredictable, wiry energy about him. Still, Sanzini outweighed him by at least fifty pounds and he knew he could kick Rancour’s ass if he wanted to. He also knew much of what Rancour said was bullshit, and the claim of benching four hundred was a lie. But Rancour had a crazy light in his eyes, and when he said he feared nothing and didn’t care if he died, Sanzini felt there was a good chance that was true. It made him wary of Rancour, and so he tolerated Rancour’s smartass attitude, to a point, and let him get away with remarks that from anyone else would result in a Sanzini down-for-the-count right cross.

“Go bother someone else, Rancour,” he said.

“Hey, man, lighten up. I’m just catchin’ a buzz, having a good time.”

“What are you using to pay for your drinks?” Sanzini knew Rancour had quit his warehouse job about a month ago.

“You know me, I’m resourceful.”

Sanzini looked around the bar. He recognized most of the people there. At noon on a Tuesday, the crowd was made up of old drunks, two Mexican guys drinking beers and eating their brown-bag lunch at a table, and a couple of teenagers the bartender let drink because they tipped well.

“Resourceful, huh?”

“You got it,” Rancour said.

“So, how would a resourceful guy like you go about tracking down someone owed you money?”

“How much money?”

“None of your damn business how much.”

“Whatever, then,” Rancour said. “Finding somebody ain’t hard, if you know how to go about it.”

“Yeah, right. And you know how to go about it.”

“I’ll tell you this—if someone owed me money, I’d find them and they’d pay, quick like.”

Sanzini felt a surge of irritation at Rancour’s flippant tone. The man had a way of talking down to you, as if he were something better than a low-life parolee. Sanzini wanted to tell him to piss off, and then go sit at the other end of the bar and drink shots of Jack Daniels until he didn’t give a shit. But he only had five bucks in his wallet. Besides, Sanzini needed help and wanted to hear what Rancour had to say.

“How would you find them?” Sanzini said.

Rancour paused, and took a slow draw off his beer.

“I’d know who to call.”


“I got this buddy. His uncle works for a big security company. My buddy caught him humpin’ this young slut who works there, so he can basically get all sorts of information, in return for him keeping his mouth shut.”

“Hmph,” Sanzini snorted.

“Be skeptical, I don’t give a shit.” Rancour slid off his barstool and ambled toward the jukebox.

“Wait a minute,” Sanzini said. “So this buddy of yours can get the lowdown on somebody, make it easy to find them?”

Rancour turned back toward Sanzini. “If it’s worth it to him, sure he can. ’Course, I need to be cut in on the deal too, right?”

Sanzini stared back at Rancour and after a moment he said, “Right. Let’s call your buddy.”


immy Homestead was getting burnt out on whores. Ever since hitting the big time, he’d been screwing the most beautiful pieces of ass money could buy. He’d spent most of the last three weeks whacked out on top-shelf booze and Colombian flake and humping his brains out. But the hooker he just had delivered to his suite at the Mirage in Vegas had been a total bitch. Jimmy recognized her disposition as soon as she arrived. The surly woman wanted to service him for five minutes and then split with his five hundo. Her attitude was a total turnoff, and Jimmy couldn’t get it up, and eventually he had to call security when she demanded to be paid.

Afterward, Jimmy sat at the Mirage’s oasis-themed lounge, surrounded by plastic palm trees and artificial waterfalls. He ordered a nine-dollar cocktail and crunched the ice cubes between his molars. His anger over the surly whore had subsided, leaving him in a contemplative mood. The possibilities and potential for his life were limitless. But he was feeling empty. The sensation had been gnawing at him for a couple of days now, especially during the brief interludes when he was relatively sober.

“Hey, man,” Jimmy said to the bartender, a short Hispanic man in his fifties. “You mix a good cocktail, man, here you go.” Jimmy pushed a five-dollar bill across the bar. The barkeep looked at him with blank eyes and nodded briefly.

“Listen, I’m like looking for investment opportunities. I’m thinking maybe investing in this place, the Mirage. Maybe buying it. You know who I would talk to?”

The bartender glanced up from the glasses he was washing. “I would have no idea.”

Jimmy watched the man walk away and felt a quick flash of anger. Didn’t the bartender know who he was? Christ, he’d dropped fifty grand at the tables last night and had the Mirage’s general manager kissing his ass, offering him a complementary room, practically begging to lick his balls. He was no doubt the richest man in the joint, a genuine VIP. And here he was, dealing with snotty hookers and brain-dead bartenders.

Two women walked into the lounge and sat at a cocktail table. One was about thirty, a dark-haired thing with full breasts and nice legs. The other looked a couple of years older, blond, short, and slinky. She had a tough look to her, like she’d been rode hard and was maybe a drink or two away from being up for another ride. Jimmy felt his crotch react to the thought. It was four in the afternoon, and the unhappy noontime episode with the prostitute had left him unfulfilled.

He turned around fully on his barstool, rested his elbows on the bar, and stared frankly at the ladies. They glanced his way, and he smiled, imagining the image he projected in his black leather pants, alligator cowboy boots, and red silk shirt. The women ordered drinks, and Jimmy told the bartender to put them on his tab. He smoothed back the locks of his shoulder-length blond hair and continued staring, a grin on his face. These broads were hot, and Jimmy was starting to think in terms of a two-on-one. One thing he hadn’t done in a long time, and really missed, was going down on a woman. Back in the day, he used to take pride in his ability to bring a woman to a screaming orgasm with his tongue. It was a game of his, and at one point he’d kept a written tally. But he hadn’t been able to test his skill recently, because diving on a whore was, of course, out of the question. But these two were turning him on and might be just what the doctor ordered.

Jimmy sauntered over to their table, and the blonde looked up at him.

“Hi there,” Jimmy said. “What’s up, girls?”

The brunette clicked her nails on her glass. “Thanks for the drinks,” she said, but she barely looked at him.

“Yeah, thanks,” said the blonde. “We’re just taking a break.”

“Cool,” Jimmy said. “Hey, what do you say? Would you like to take a ride with me in my limo, maybe check out some hot spots?”

“No thanks, we’re fine here,” said the brunette.

“Sure, why not? The Mirage is as good as it gets,” Jimmy said. “Heck, I’ve got a penthouse suite, and it’s pretty intense.”

“How nice,” the blonde said.

“Yeah, it’s a real palace.”

“I’m sure it is.”

Jimmy looked at the blonde, tried to gaze deep into her and seduce her with his great blue eyes. She looked away and lit a cigarette.

Jimmy pulled up a chair and straddled it backward. “So, where you ladies from?”

The brunette reached out with her left hand and straightened her arm, so her hand lay on the table directly in front of Jimmy. There was a large diamond ring on her middle finger.

“I travel a lot myself,” he said. “Europe, Hawaii…” Jimmy tried to think of some more romantic and exotic places, but couldn’t come up with anything.

“Well, we’re going to go find our husbands,” the brunette said.

“Come on,” Jimmy said.

The blonde rolled her eyes. “Have a nice life,” she said. They both stood and left.

Jimmy watched them walk away and heard them giggling. His smile stayed intact, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, until he was struck with the realization they were laughing at him.
Well, fuck you, then.

An hour later he was packing his bag and contemplating where to head next. He was sick of the Mirage and sick of Vegas in general. The city was full of uppity women. He finished packing and was almost ready to take the elevator downstairs and hit the road in his Lamborghini, when an article in a magazine he was glancing through caught his eye.

The headline read:
Tired of the bar scene? Why not Internet dating?

Jimmy had never owned a computer. During the years the PC had become a ubiquitous appliance, he’d been in a state of arrested development, moving from town to town, working menial jobs. Though he was familiar with the concept of the World Wide Web, he really didn’t understand how it worked. He read the article with interest. It listed a number of Internet dating sites and made some brief references to sites that focused on sex rather than relationships.

After rereading the article, Jimmy called the general manager of the Mirage (he’d given Jimmy his cell phone number, saying if there was anything Jimmy needed—
—just call). Jimmy asked him to send a photographer and an Internet-ready PC to his room.

“Jim, are you planning to stay another night with us?” the manager asked.

“I might.”

“Splendid. I’ll have your request taken care of immediately.”

By early that evening, Jimmy Homestead had his Internet dating profile, including pictures, posted on three popular websites. The photographer had done all the setup work. The only thing Jimmy had to do was pose for the pictures and write his self-description. Here’s what he came up with:


Hello girls. If you’re looking for a man that has it all, I just might be available. I’m independently wealthy and accept only the best life has to offer. The world’s most luxurious hotels are my home, at least until I decide where to buy a mansion. My Lamborghini is rare, my eyes are as blue as the sea, and my hair is the envy of most men my age. I have a fun sense of humor, and am an extremely intelligent and interesting alpha male.

Who I’m looking for—well, let’s put it this way—I only date women who are head turners. Sex is a BIG priority in my life. If it’s a big priority in yours, you’ve passed the first test. If you have any doubt about your weight, or appearance in general, no need to respond. Please be in your twenties, or perhaps early thirties, as long as you are truly a knock out. I am a breast and butt man—if you are lacking either, no need to respond. Silicon implants are acceptable. I prefer a neatly manicured woman, if you know what I mean. If you’ve been an erotic dancer, or a model, that may help your chances. Please bring no baggage, and a heavy appetite for sexual adventure. If you are bi, and have friends, that’s a plus.

Feeling confident his love life was poised to take an exciting new turn, Jimmy ordered a six-pack and a pepperoni pizza from room service.
It’s good to be me
, he thought, and settled in for dinner before another night at the Mirage’s blackjack tables.


er plan was full of holes, and Heather realized it wouldn’t do. But she proposed it to Eric anyway, hoping the prospect of a few million bucks might spur a creative process in his brain. Eric was basically a hot-headed loser, but Heather had seen him become plenty focused whenever a shortcut to money presented itself. But so far, Eric had offered nothing of value in conceiving a decent plan to find Jimmy Homestead and extract a chunk of his fortune.

Heather’s original plan was meager. It consisted of three elements:

– Find Jimmy Homestead.

– Put a gun to his head and convince him he would be killed if he didn’t deliver the cash.

– Get away to the Bahamas with the money.

Eric yelled at Heather and pointed out how stupid and lacking in detail the plan was. He seemed more interested in berating her rather than offering anything constructive. Recently, Eric really seemed to get off on ripping into her. She reacted to his criticism calmly; it was his way of projecting the frustration he felt within himself, she knew. But that didn’t make it any less humiliating.

BOOK: Dying for the Highlife
11.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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