Books are the gateway to imagination

Books are the gateway to imagination
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Only in Las Vegas

Ready for a good laugh and a whodunit filled with twists, turns and backfires?

Vanishing Act in Vegas, the latest Silver Sisters Mystery is so much fun, I decided to share the chapter where Flossie and Sterling Silver, the twins' 80-year-old mother and uncle decide to "go undercover." Former vaudeville magicians, themselves, they know they can talk their way backstage at the Glitz Palace and pull off a little investigation. If you would like to read the rest of this fun-filled whodunit, you can find it at Amazon, many online bookellers or order it from your favorite local bookstore. This is CHAPTER 13.


At nine-thirty the next morning Flossie stood behind a pillar in the lobby and watched her twin daughters leave the elevator arm in arm. She smiled to herself as she marked the contrast in their fashion sense: Godiva in her stylish taupe pantsuit and Goldie in her eclectic layers of castoffs.
Flossie often told herself the difference in her girls’ personalities was written in the stars. Even though they entered the world only an hour-and-a-half apart, in the realm of astrology that meant a lot. By being born on different days, in different months, different years and even different decades, their aspects were poles apart. Flossie shook her head. Boy that was some New Year ’s Eve, the night they were born.
The twins exited through the main doors, climbed into the waiting limo and were whisked away to the Whopping World of Antiques Expo. When she was sure the girls had gone, Flossie sidled up to the concierge desk. The woman on duty said, “Good morning, Ma’am, my name is Margie. How can I help you?”
Flossie flashed a sweet smile. “Hello dear, I was just admiring your beautiful hairdo, what a vibrant shade of magenta.”
“Why, thank you Ma’am. May I assist you with tour information, show tickets, dinner reservations? It’s my job to help you sort out all the possibilities.”
“Yeah, it can sure make your head spin,” said Flossie. “What Ideally would like is a recommendation for a good breakfast place. Somewhere near the Glitz Palace, if possible.”
Margie smiled broadly. “Oh, you’ve gotta go to the Peppermill. It’s incredible! All the locals go there. It’s farther up the Strip—right across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Glitz Palace.”
Flossie’s mind raced. Right across the street? What could be better? “Thanks for the tip, dear,” the old woman said over her shoulder. She bustled away to find Sterling and talk him into her plan.
Flossie dragged her brother-in-law out of his room while he was still wiping the shaving cream from his chin, and hustled him to the elevator. “Listen, Sterling, instead of making that limo driver wait for us while we eat an overpriced breakfast here at the hotel, I’ve got a better idea.” She pointed toward the concierge desk. “That cute girl with the day-glo hair—her name is Margie—said we shouldn’t miss eating at the Peppermill. So, why don’t we take the limo there instead? We can have our young man come back for us after we eat. I’ll call him on that cell phone Godiva gave me.”
Sterling narrowed his eyes and harrumphed. “Okay, old girl. I know you wouldn’t wait for that first cup of coffee just to check out this Pepper Pot place.”
“Pepper, schmepper. Don’t dodge the question. What are you up to? Spill the beans.”
Caught in her attempt to pull the wool over his eyes, Flossie played it straight. “Okay, you got me,” she pouted. “Here’s the deal, Sterling. That restaurant is right across the street from the Glitz Palace. Now, I’ll bet the girls told the chauffeur to be careful where he takes us. I wouldn’t even put it past those watchdogs to tell him the Glitz is off limits.”
Sterling rolled his eyes. “Wait a minute! Something tells me we’re about to bite off more than we can chew.”
“Well, I want to find out more about how that poor boy died, don’t you?”
Sterling hesitated as he scratched his chin. “Hmmm, yes, darn it. I’m very curious about the way that body fell. Something was off, and it couldn’t hurt for us to poke around a bit.”
She nodded. “So we’ll eat a quick breakfast, then go across the street to the Glitz. Ask around, see what we can find, and hot-foot it back to the Peppermill where we call the driver to pick us up. That way, no one’s the wiser. If we find anything out, then we tell the girls what we did. If not, our lips are sealed. Piece of cake.”
He patted her on the shoulder. “I think you’re right. That Floyd fellow won’t think anything about taking us to a coffee shop. Particularly if it’s known to be a good place for breakfast. But, just keep your trap shut about the Glitz Palace, okay?”
Oy vey, Sterling, don’t you have any faith in me? Do you think I’ll get on the P.A. system and broadcast our mission? My lips are sealed. But before I seal them, I’ve got an idea.”
Sterling folded his arms across his chest. “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Well, you know I brought that whole bag full of costumes. I’ll go back to the room and put a couple of them in that big flowered tote bag Goldie gave me.” She rubbed her hands together.“We can try to get backstage in disguise. Say we’re an opening act or something.”
Before he could protest, Flossie pushed Sterling Silver into a cushy chair. “Why don’t you sit here in the lobby and wait for Floyd? Tell him I’ll be down in a few minutes.” She flashed her dentures, and hoped it was a seductive smile.
A big grin tweaked the corners of the elderly man’s mouth. “Gotta hand it to you, old girl. You may not get it right all the time, but you sure keep that thinking cap on.”
“You betcha. I may be pushing eighty, but I’m not ready for the rocking chair yet. Still got plenty of good tread on these old tires. We’ll be in and out before the girls are any wiser.”
He nodded. “Then can we have the driver take us over to the Liberace Museum for the rest of the day? I want to see all of those costumes of Lee’s. I’ve heard it’s quite a display. He sure knew how to dress.”
“Yeah, he was a nice guy, too. Remember back in 1978 when Harry was still alive?”
“You mean when we were appearing at the Flamingo?”
 “Yes! We took the night off to see Lee’s show at the Hilton. When he came on the stage wearing those red, white and blue sequined hot pants, riding in a jeweled Rolls Royce, it was—”
“Yeah, he was the consummate showman. No doubt about that. But no long stories, old gal. We’ve got to hustle if we want to do everything today. Go ahead and get that tote bag with the costumes. I’ll wait for the chauffeur.”
They settled into the comfortable circular booth and discussed their caper while they waited for their order. “I figure it shouldn’t be that hard to get backstage,” said Sterling. “I’ll find someone I can pump for information. After all, we’ve been in show business most of our lives.”
“Yesiree,” Flossie chirped. “Like I always say, we walk the walk and talk the talk!”
The Peppermill was everything the concierge said it was. There were mirrors on the ceiling, faux dogwood trees forming a canopy above the booths, a fire pit in the bar, waitresses in evening gowns and neon everywhere.
“Eating here is almost like being on stage,” Flossie said, “with bright lights and mirrors and all sorts of schmaltz.
Sterling was attacking his huge farmer’s omelet. “The only schmaltz I’m interested in right now is here on my plate.” He smacked his lips. “This food is great. It would’ve been worth coming here even if the Glitz Palace wasn’t across the street.”
The oldsters finished their breakfast quickly and went outside. They looked across the wide, teeming boulevard and realized that “just across the street” in Las Vegas translated into a very long trek for seniors. Just then, Sterling spotted a cab dropping off some passengers at the restaurant. Before the driver could pull away, he opened the passenger door and said, “Young man, I’ll give you ten bucks just to drive us across the street to the Glitz. Whadda you say?”
It didn’t take a minute for the driver to answer, “Okay. Hop in old man.” And off they went. Across the street in a cab.

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