The Coin Castle King
All the discarded neon from the hotels, motels, clubs, and casinos of Las Vegas ended up in the boneyard. Once shiny and bright, signs now waited here to die. Tucked behind a sign company, the boneyard only took visitors by appointment. It made a kitschy place to meet.
Todd preferred this spot to any other place in Las Vegas. It wrapped up all of the glitter, glamour, and glitz into one place where secrets came to be forgotten.
Wallace and Cindy found Todd standing beneath the Coin Castle King. The massive statue offered anyone a coin. For years, the king stood on Fremont Street until Todd decided to build his office and turned the casino below into a slots parlor. Nothing in Vegas lasts; the Coin Castle King stood rusting in the boneyard.
Two men approached Wallace and Cindy. A bigger man with a mustache outstretched his hand. He pulled Wallace closer as they shook hands. The big bodyguard whispered in Wallace’s ear. The man stepped back and waited. Wallace took out his revolver and handed the gun to the man.
“We’re just here to talk,” Wallace said. He regretted parting with the gun, but it made no sense to start a fight.
The smaller bodyguard smoothed his hands over Cindy’s leather pants. He found no weapons. Wallace never gave Cindy a gun, a pocketknife, or anything that could be used as a weapon. She even left the rim fire pistol behind.
She stood behind Wallace and peaked at Todd. A flood of emotions ripped through her and she lunged at him. Todd took a step back and let his bodyguards stop her.
“Look girl, my fight was never with you,” Todd said. “Me and your dad had a disagreement, but you never came up.”
Cindy seethed. She lost her dad and it had everything to do with her. A neon bulb flickered as the setting sun turned the sign red.
Todd surveyed the boneyard as all of the faded colors came to life in the warm glow of the sunset. Cindy continued to rage. She thought about her mom, living on the street, the drugs, all of her dashed hopes. Wallace grabbed her hand and felt it shake.
“This is no good,” Wallace said.
Cindy rushed Todd again and Wallace tried to hold her back. The small bodyguard tripped her and the bigger man threw a large knuckled punch at Wallace. The big man leaned into Wallace and hit him again. Wallace lay motionless in the dirt. The smaller man held Cindy down.
“You can blame me, and never forgive me, but if you thought I was just going to confess,” Todd said. “That is never going to happen.”
Todd towered over Cindy. She fought to reach him as the small man held her back.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Todd said. “Tommy knew when you make a deal you honor it. Otherwise, you pay the price.”
The anger inside Cindy started to boil. The two men struggled to keep her from leaping off the ground. Todd started to laugh. There was nothing she could do.
The lights on the Coin Castle King began to glow white. The light spread to the signs surrounding Cindy and the men. Todd covered his face, while the light seemed to lift Cindy off the ground.
She hovered above them as if an avenging angel engulfed in white light. As sparks and lightening flashed around her, Cindy pulled her arms up and let the power surge through her. Cindy pointed at the bodyguards and lit them on fire. Todd ran backwards tears rolling down his face.
The light grew brighter until the night sky around the boneyard looked like day. Below her, the neon lit up and a lone figure wearing a black fedora stepped from behind a giant metal pool player.
Cindy tried to drop to the ground, but the light refused to let go. She saw the man smile before firing his gun multiple times in Todd’s chest. Todd grabbed his chest and fell back toward the Coin Castle King.
As he fell, Todd grabbed into space as red sparks spread out over his white shirt until blood covered his chest.
The light began to fade and Cindy floated to the ground as the boneyard neon went dark.
The man in the fedora walked over to Cindy. He kneeled down next to her and gently caressed her hair. She started to speak and he touched his finger to her lips.
“I’m Martin, your brother,” he said. “Dad sent me to help you.”
Cindy sat dumbfounded. Wallace shifted and looked the boneyard and the dead bodies of Todd and the men.
“Did I miss something?” Wallace said. He recognized the man from the hospital. “Who are you?”
“Dad sent me.”
Wallace looked around for his gun.
“My name is Martin.”
Cindy brushed off her pants as Martin pulled Wallace off the ground.
“It happened at the Crystal Palace,” Martin said. “I drank too many shots and too many beers when I stumbled out of the bar too drunk to drive.”
He pointed at some neon.
“And a sign started talking to me,” Martin said.
Cindy looked at him skeptically.
“I didn’t believe it either,” said Martin. “The sign said I needed to get to Vegas and help my sister.”
“I don’t know you,” Cindy said.
“And I don’t know you either,” Martin said. “The sign said it was dad. I did not believe it at first. But dad said he knows both of us and that should be good enough for me.”
Martin dug his toe in the dirt with his boot. Cindy chewed her bottom lip.
“He said you were going to die trying to kill the man who killed him. The next day he talked to me again when I was sober. That’s when I came to help.”
“The light spoke to me too,” Cindy said. Wallace stepped back and furrowed his brow. “That’s how I knew where to find Todd Loudin.”
The brother and sister hugged and stood in the neon boneyard surrounded by old signs. They laughed at the absurdity of the night.
“You two better get going,” Wallace said. “No one is going to believe this story.”
As the sun rose over Sunrise Mountain, the Salt Lake City bus pulled into the Plaza Hotel for a planned rest stop. Cindy followed Martin to the door and hugged Wallace as the driver took her bag.
Brother and sister settled down in a seat and Cindy waved through the bus window until the bus left the depot. She then snuggled next to Martin and closed her eyes.
As the bus rolled past Casino Center, Wallace turned and walked to the burned out shell of the Glitter Gulch.
He wondered where he was going to find a good plate of eggs.