Security followed Mr. Hawley across the casino floor. Crowds broke like schools of fish making way for sharks. In their dark suits, they almost blended in. Grey-haired Hawley in his brown sport coat was the head of the spear, the motion that first caught the eye. The whales knew who he was and that respect had a way of impressing the onlookers. And the waitstaff. And the cooks.
“Why are we going into the kitchen?” Michaels asked. He maintained the confident pace of the others, but they could hear his eyebrow raised behind his sunglasses.
“Seventy-five million dollars worth of security,” said Dimestico, “but we still do some things the old fashioned way.”
When Hawley passed through the wide-eyed kitchen doors, the division between veteran and new kitchen staff was clear. Some of the white and black clad staff gaped while others kept working. It used to be a more common thing, having the owner of the Tallahassee himself come through those doors.
Hawley approached a cluttered two-bay sink. From an overhead shelf he took a box of iodized salt. He poured some into a glass and then filled it with water. Dimestico stood apart from the three other guards, who were crowding to get a better look.
The big red dice with white pips went from Hawley’s palm into the glass of salt water. He plucked a spatula from the sink and stirred briskly with its handle. After setting the glass on the counter, he began spinning the floating dice with gentle flicks of his index finger.
“Haven’t seen this in a decade,” Hawley said. “This guy either hasn’t heard, or he’s dumb as a brick.”
Each time Hawley spun the dice, the sixes always settled upward, as if by magnetism. Both of the red dice bobbed at the surface of the glass, a perfect twelve.
“Sneaking loaded dice into the Tallahassee?” Dimestico said. “I’d say he’s dumb as a brick, Mr. Hawley.”
Hawley grunted. He left the security guards there and stalked back to the floor. Michaels gave the dice a few more spins before he took them out of the glass and shook it out in the sink. Burns and Mack stayed right on Hawley’s heels. They didn’t want to miss the confrontation. Neither did Dimestico, but he took Michaels back to the security backroom via the back elevator.
Michaels came into the security room and almost missed the chair; his head was wiping back and forth as he tried to find the brown sport coat on one of the many monitors. Dimestico sauntered in, folded his arms, and stared at one particular craps table. Michaels saw the grey head come into frame. Hawley gestured; there were some words with the cheater, who then moved into the adjacent camera screen. The cheater was wearing an open shirt with sailboats on it. Khaki shorts. A nervous moue.
Burns and Mack flanked the man. Escorting a guest to security is always a delicate process; manhandling anybody is bad publicity. But in this case, dumb-as-a-brick decided to run. He darted between the guards and disappeared from the screen — he looped the long way around the table. He had to double back, however, and Hawley threw an arm out and nearly caught him as he sped past. He pelted toward the door, from one monitor to the next. The back of his head here, his kicking feet there, and then down a flight of stairs, seen from above.
Michaels started toward the door, but Dimestico was already gone. Michaels looked back — the back rooms and security corridors, normally bright and white, featured several men in black suits, all at a dead run. Dimestico emerged from a doorway on the far side of the lobby. Michaels was watching the cheater from above as he pelted toward the door. And then he was on the ground. Dimestico flattened the cheater out of nowhere like an attack dog. Cheers and laughs went up in the security room.
Michaels wanted nothing more than to watch this unfold. The cheater got to his feet, but Dimestico has his elbow in a grip that looked like it hurt. Guests began to flock to the lobby to see the action. Hawley arrived precisely as they converged and deployed his expert defusal skills. He had them back at the tables in two minutes flat. But Michaels then noticed the glare that Dimestico had leveled right at the camera.
Even on the other side of a security camera, the man was intimidating. Michaels hustled down to the lobby to help out. He as more worried about pissing off Dimestico than Mr. Hawley himself.