You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You

BOOK: You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You
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also by Robert J. Randisi

IN THE RAT PACK MYSTERY SERIES
Hey There (You with the Gun in Your Hand)
Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die
Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime

IN THE JOE KEOUGH SERIES
Arch Angels
East of the Arch
Blood on the Arch
In the Shadow of the Arch
Alone with the Dead
IN THE NICK DELVECCHIO SERIES
No Exit from Brooklyn
The Dead of Brooklyn

IN THE MILES JACOBY SERIES
Eye in the Ring
The Steinway Collection
Full Contact
Separate Cases
Hard Look
Stand Up

STAND-ALONE NOVELS
The Disappearance of Penny
The Ham Reporter
Once Upon a Murder
Curtains of Blood
The Offer

BY ROBERT J. RANDISI AND CHRISTINE MATTHEWS IN THE GIL AND CLAIRE HUNT SERIES
Murder Is the Deal of the Day
The Masks of Auntie Laveau
Same Time, Same Murder

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

A
THOMAS DUNNE BOOK FOR MINOTAUR BOOKS.
An imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

YOU’RE NOBODY ‘TIL SOMEBODY KILLS YOU
. Copyright © 2009 by Robert J. Randisi. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

www.thomasdunnebooks.com
www.minotaurbooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Randisi, Robert J.
      You’re nobody ‘til somebody kills you / Robert J. Randisi.—1st ed.
          p. cm.—(A Rat Pack mystery)
      “A Thomas Dunne book for Minotaur Books”—T.p. verso.
      ISBN 978-0-312-37643-7
    1. Rat Pack (Entertainers)—Fiction. 2. Monroe, Marilyn, 1926-1962—Fiction. I. Title.
      PS3568.A53Y68 2009
      813’.54—dc22

2009012737

First Edition: September 2009

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This is for Marthayn. The actual song title is “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody LOVES You,” and when I met you I found out that was very true.

Prologue

Las Vegas, Nevada
Spring 2003

I
LIKE THE FLAMINGO
, and the Riv. Along with the Golden Nugget, Binions and a few other places, they’re the last vestiges of my Las Vegas—the Las Vegas of Frank and Dean and Sammy. Now it’s the Vegas of Howie Mandel, Siegfried and Roy and Danny Gans—talented, yes. The Rat Pack? Hardly.

I had a meeting at the Riviera that day. Some kid journalist wanted an interview about the old days, and when anybody wanted to talk about the old days they came to Eddie G.

“Hey, Eddie,” a blackjack dealer shouted as I walked by, “how the hell are ya, man?”

“Good, good.” I didn’t know his name, but I knew the face. It made an old man feel good when the youngsters working Vegas recognized me.

I went past the bar, and it’s, “Hey, Eddie, have a drink, man.” Past the pit and they said, “Mr. Gianelli,” respectfully, because I made the pit what it is today. And when a waitress stopped to kiss my cheek, let me smell her perfume and breathed, “Hey, Eddie,” into my ear—well, I ain’t dead, ya know. I popped wood—or what passes for wood when you’re eighty-two.

Just like me the hip life has passed the Riviera by, but I still liked it. I told the journalist to meet me in Kady’s coffee shop at 8:00 A.M. Me, I don’t sleep so much, anymore. I’m usually up around five or six, and Kady’s is a twenty-four-hour joint.

I stopped in the doorway, looked around. There were a few customers. Some had just gotten up, others hadn’t been to bed yet. But they all had the same look in their eyes. Tired.

Except for one. A young girl who seemed wide-awake and eager. I was looking for a writer named J.T. Kerouac. A friend of mine had set it up, but if the writer was a girl he would’ve mentioned it. Unless he figured it would be funny.

The girl jumped up out of her booth when she saw me and hurried over.

“Mr. Gianelli?” she asked, all excited.

“Eddie G,” I said. “Everybody calls me Eddie G.”

“Eddie, I’m so happy to meet you,” she said. “I’m J.T. Kerouac. No relation.”

“I knew Jack,” I said. “Well, I met him. I wouldn’t say I knew him.”

“Wow,” she gushed. “See, that’s why I wanted to interview you. You’re a legend in Vegas. They say that Eddie G knew everybody.”

“How old are you, Kerouac?”

“Twenty-four,” she said, with a grin. “I know, I look younger. It’s the freckles—but they go with my red hair. Nothing I can do about it. I really am a writer, though. Want to see my ID?”

I hesitated, then said, “Okay, Kerouac. Let’s have some coffee.”

We walked to her booth. The table was covered with papers and a lined pad. There was also a laptop computer, and books—about half a dozen, some hardback, some paper—all having to do with the Rat Pack, with Frank and Dean, and one on Marilyn Monroe.

She sat down and I slid across from her.

The waitress came over and said, “Hi, Eddie. It’s good ta see you. How ya doin’?”

“Good, Melina, real good.”

“This gonna be separate checks?”

“No,” I said, “I’ll take care of it—”

“No, no, I invited you,” J.T. said. “It’s on me.”

“I’ll start with coffee, Melina.”

“Sure thing, Eddie.

“I’m sensing a theme,” I said, gesturing toward the books.

“Oh, these? I’m working on a documentary. I’m a writer, and a filmmaker. When I’m making a film I’m also the director and the producer.”

“Not the camera … woman?”

“I have a cameraman, actually,” she said, “and a soundman.”

“And what’s the documentary about?”

“The Rat Pack, and their women. And I don’t only mean their girlfriends and wives. I mean women who were fringe Rat Packers … sort of …”

“And what am I here to be interviewed about?”

“Old Las Vegas,” she said. “Vegas has been turned into a huge theme park.”

“Tell me about it.”

“I’m going to write about the way it used to be, and nobody knows more about that than you.”

“And that’s what you need me for today?”

“No, today I’m working on a piece for
Las Vegas Magazine.”

“And who are you making the documentary for?”

“Well … for me. I’m hoping to place it with one of the cable stations—HBO, maybe A&E, or even Bravo.”

“How’s it going?”

She had been typing on the laptop while talking. Now she stopped, sat back and looked at me.

“Actually, it’s not going very well.”

“Why not?”

She touched the book on Marilyn. I saw the name Spoto on the spine.

“Everything I’ve found on Marilyn seems to be old news,” she said. “I have some stuff on Angie Dickinson, and Shirley MacLaine, even Ruta Lee.”

“There should be more on Marilyn Monroe than on those women combined,” I said.

“Oh, there is,” she said, “but it’s all been done before. Over and over. I need something new, and I just can’t find it.”

I drummed my fingers on the table. Even Eddie G wants to impress a pretty young girl. It had been awhile since somebody like J.T. had looked at me with such admiration.

“What?” she asked. “What’s going on, Mr. Gianelli?”

“Eddie,” I said, “call me Eddie.”

“What’s on your mind, Eddie?”

“Old Vegas,” I said, “and Marilyn.”

“Did you know Marilyn, Eddie?” she asked, leaning forward.

“Yep.”

“Well?”

“Well enough.”

“Don’t play games, Eddie,” she said. “This documentary is important to me. If you can help me—”

“Breakfast,” I said.

“What?”

“I need some more coffee, and some breakfast,” I told her.

She worried her pretty lower lip, then said, “And then what?”

“And then I have a story to tell,” I said, “about old Las Vegas, and Marilyn …”

One

Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday, January 21, 1962

D
EAN MARTIN SAID
, “Twenty-two, pay the lady!”

The crowd erupted into applause as Dino paid off the beautiful brunette, who probably wasn’t even legally old enough to gamble. That’s not my department, though. Once they’re in, they’re in.

Only Dino could get away with paying a gambler when they actually busted the hand. Immediately afterward he spread his hands and backed away, giving the regular dealer back his table. Then he walked over to me with a big grin on his handsome face.

“Eddie, my man! I came lookin’ for you.”

We shook hands warmly.

“Been a few months,” I said.

“Well, I’m back,” he said. “Actually, we’re back. Three of us, anyway.”

I knew that Frank, Dean and Sammy were booked into the Sands for one night, on the twenty-third. I had expected a call from one of them, but didn’t think Dean would come looking for me in my pit.

“Can you get off so we can have a drink?”

When it came to Frank, Dean or Sammy I could pretty much walk off the floor anytime I wanted to. My boss, Jack Entratter,—like the power to pay off on twenty-two.

“Just gotta get somebody to fill in,” I said. “How about we meet in the Silver Queen in ten minutes?”

Dean’s smile broadened. “I’ll be waitin’, pally.”

I got to the Silver Queen lounge in eight minutes. Dean was sitting at the bar talking to the bartender. Folks seated at the tables were pointing at him and talking excitedly to each other, but no one approached him. At the moment there was no one performing.

I approached the bar and Dean turned, gave me that famous smile again. He had a cigarette in one hand, and a partially finished drink in the other. Dean always had a drink and a cigarette on stage, but I knew the whole drink thing was a put-up job for the “Clydes” in the audience. In fact, I’d been on the set of
Sergeants 3
the previous summer to shoot a couple of scenes the guys had cast me in for fun, and I never saw Dean drunk the whole time. Ruta Lee, the leading lady of the film, had been quoted saying the same thing. She also complained that the guys treated her like a little sister. Well, everybody but me. Ruta Lee was quite a dish.

But Dean’s smoking, that was for real. In fact, Dean, Frank and Sammy—who all made their living with their voices—were heavy smokers.

“Bourbon, Eddie?”

“You know it.” Now
my
drinking, that was for real, too.

He turned to the bartender, Lew, who nodded and gave me a wave. I took the seat next to Dean.

“Kind of odd for you to come in this early for a one-night show,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “Frank and Sammy will be in tomorrow. They want you to have dinner with us.”

“Be my pleasure.” Lew set my drink down. “I saw Sammy here a couple of months ago, and Joey last month. I haven’t seen Frank since Tahoe.”

“I remember,” he said. “Seems like we always come to you when we’re in trouble, Eddie.”

“What are friends for?”

BOOK: You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You
13.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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