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The Druperman Tapes
LAS VEGAS, OCTOBER
Even before the envelope containing the tape and the threatening letter landed on his desk, a series of minor annoyances had upgraded Emmett Druperman's disposition from everyday irascible to red-flag aggravated.
For starters, early-morning pickets were teeming around the Galaxy like ants at a picnic, discouraging walk-in traffic and reducing the casino drop alarmingly.
Then there was this message on his machine from Tony Francisco's agent, suggesting that unless the hotel upped the ante, the singer might be "forced" to cancel an appearance on whose promotion Druperman had just invested well over half a million dollars.
And just to finish things off nicely, his hemorrhoids were on fire.
Preoccupied with these fiscal and physical irritants, Druperman came close to consigning the envelope to the trash along with the few other pieces of junk mail that had escaped Edith's steely eye. Only the envelope's very plainness saved it. The padded brown nine-by-twelve envelope bore neither postage stamp nor metered imprint; no courier slip was attached; it had no markings except for a neatly printed address label.
Which was the other funny thing. EMMETT DRUPERMAN, PRESIDENT OF LVCA, CONFIDENTIAL, the label read. Druperman never got mail in his capacity as head of the Las Vegas Casino Association. Few people knew that the LVCA even existed, fewer still that he was its president. Secrecy had always been the association's watchword. Its members, powerful men who ran most of the casinos in Las Vegas, frequently bent the law to suit their own purposes, rarely committing anything to paper. Certainly they never wrote to one another. Most of Druperman's everyday correspondents addressed him by his far better known title of Chief Executive Officer, Galaxy Hotel and Casino.
For a fleeting instant, he considered the possibility of a letter bomb. Before corporate respectability had become the norm in Vegas, the CEO had acquired his share of enemies. But just as quickly, he banished the notion—after all, this was the twenty-first century and the town had long since outgrown its gangster heritage. Besides, Edith had already slit the envelope open and survived. Druperman imagined his secretary blown to pieces, bits of her scrawny body pasted to the ceiling, those goddamn pearls she always wore embedded in the walls like bullets at a crime scene. He enjoyed the thought briefly, then put it out of his mind.
Druperman tipped the contents of the envelope onto the polished mahogany surface of his desk, noting three items: a laser-printed letter on a single unfolded sheet of white paper, a VHS tape in a generic cardboard sleeve, and a red five-dollar chip from the Dunes Hotel and Casino.
His curiosity aroused, the CEO examined the red chip. Nothing unusual about it; chips from defunct casinos were a dime a dozen in Vegas. He rolled it between thumb and forefinger absently while straightening his bifocals, then picked up the letter.
As he read, it dawned upon Emmett Druperman that he might now have a real problem on his hands, a potentially deadly one that could cause his current concerns with hard-ass unions and hemorrhoids and double-dealing entertainers to pale by comparison. With a deepening frown, he inserted the tape into one of the VCR units in his media wall. Returning to his desk, he picked up the remote and pushed PLAY. He stared at the TV in disbelief, his normally sanguine countenance darkening several shades as the message on the big screen became clear.
The CEO pushed a button on his speakerphone and barked into it. "Edith? Call Steve Forrester."
After thirty seconds, his secretary's voice came back, "He's not in yet, Mr. D."
"Well, find him. And get him in here—now."
Emmett Druperman released the speakerphone button, ending the discussion. Where the hell was his Vice President of Security when he needed him? He squirmed in his plush leather chair, trying unsuccessfully to promote a little relief from the burning pain in his ass.
THE DRUPERMAN TAPES. Copyright © 2005 by John Goodger.
Posted December 9, 2008
The Druperman Tapes John Goodger St. Martin¿s, Nov 2004, ISBN: 0312321996 In Las Vegas normally just irascible grumpy Galaxy Hotel and Casino CEO Emmett Druperman has watched his temperament turn hot coal irate from minor irritants. Pickets were reducing the drop in leisurely casino players who detested stepping past the ¿ants¿ picketing his facility. The agent of his entertainer wants more money or he will cancel in spite of a half million ad campaign. His hemorrhoids on fire, Emmett receives a plain envelop addressed to him as the head of LVCA (Las Vegas Casino Association) containing videotapes and demanding $10 million or else from the casino owners.--- Realizing he has real trouble, Emmett hands everything over to his Vice President of Security Steve Forrester who takes the threat seriously. They think of possible strip con artists such as Dan Shiller and Jurgen Voss, but Steve cannot picture either doing what happened on the tape, the poisoning of a guest. Knowing that the culprit is most likely a casino insider, Steve needs to figure out who would be bold enough to risk murder as opposed to card game scams.--- THE DRUPERMAN TAPES is an enjoyable investigative tale that showcases Las Vegas glitz from the perspective of those who keep the casinos safe. The cast is powerful as all the key players seem genuine (hemorrhoids will do that) and a subplot involving a romance makes former cop Steve seem that much more real. Though the cat and mouse game never quite takes the audience over the edge, John Goodger hits black jack with his first hand.--- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.