ch8 pg 51-53

DANNY'S was a small lounge located just outside of the downtown area of Honolulu. I pulled onto Kapiolani Boulevard and headed west into the business district. The rain had lightened to a drizzle. The large drops that spattered the windshield can from the trees that lined the street. I slowed the Rover as we passed Blaisdell Center and hung a left through on coming traffic into the parking lot. A glowing neon light hanging in the window said they were open for business.
"You think it's a good idea?" Samantha asked me. She was having second thoughts.
"What do you mean?"
"I dropped Freddie for Greenie, I mean-"
"Don't worry. It's a business. They play by certain rules too."
I hoped.
Samantha and I entered Danny's Bar and Grill.
The lounge was dimly lit by wall lamps that cast an uneven light around the room. High backed booths lined with cheap vinyl hid the customers from curious eyes. The television sets that were bolted in each corner of the room were all tuned to different channels. The flickering grey light that emitted from them reflected on tables that looked permanently wet. Danny's was a dive.
This was the kind of place I liked. The beers were cheap and people kept to themselves. With Samantha behind me, I followed the worn track in the carpet to the rear of the room where the bar sat. The smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer hung in the air like a bad painting no one wanted to take down. What was behind it was worse than what was in front and after a few drinks you didn't notice it any way.
We took a seat on the worn stools that lined the empty counter. The ashtrays that had been put in place were made out of cheap plastic and looked like they'd been sitting there forever. Premium liquor was lined up in front of the mirror behind the bar above stacks of glasses. Most of the bottles were fairly full and some of them still had unbroken seals. I looked down at the house pours lined up in front of the sink. They all looked like they had come from another planet.
I studied Samantha's reflection in the mirror. Despite the fact that she was sitting in a two dollar drink joint looking like a million bucks, she looked composed and relaxed. Our eyes met and she gave me a brave smile. The bartender approached us.
He was a pale local Chinese who had his hair neatly trimmed in a crew cut. His silky aloha shirt screamed at me from behind his stained apron. He wiped his hands on a dirty wash cloth and stood in front of us. I noticed his nails were manicured.
He smiled at Samantha and gave me a nod. "What can I get you?"
I ordered a beer and watched as the bartender put a glass in front of me. I turned to Samantha. "You see Freddie here?"
Samantha turned and scanned the room. She motioned with her hand to the right. "Over there, in the booth by the clock. The guy sitting alone."
Freddie appeared to be an older Filipino man who sat by himself in booth facing one of the television screens in the room. The twenty four hour sports channel cast his face in various shades of grey. He wore wire rimmed glasses, a baseball cap and a polo shirt. There was a pad in front of him that he kept making notes in while nursing his drink. He didn't look up.
I got a beer set in front of me on a paper napkin. Samantha must have been a regular for without asking she got a glass of what I assumed was wine. I paid the tab and picked up my beer. I motioned for her to follow me.
No use being sneaky, I thought. I walked right up to Freddie's booth and sat down across from him. Samantha took a seat next to me.
Freddie looked up slowly and smiled at her. "Hello Sam. How you been?"
"Fine. How about you?" She masked her nervousness by taking a sip from her glass.
His face broke out in a map of wrinkles as he smiled and chuckled. "I'm a doing a little better than Greenie is right now. Who's your friend?" He motioned to me.
"Freddie, I'm here to help Samantha here out," I said before she could introduce me.
"Well, what can I do for you?" Freddie asked. "I only heard about Mike's problem today."
"Problem?" I asked.
Freddie put his pencil down on his note pad before answering. "You and her wouldn't be sitting in front of me right now if Greenie was still around."
Word on the street apparently traveled as fast as news in my hotel. I wondered what the word on Samantha was.
"Well, I know that you and Greenie must have talked shop once in a while. Maybe you can tell us something we don't know."
Freddie shrugged. "What's to tell? Greenie was stupid. Somebody wen get smart."
"What do you mean he got stupid?"
"Well actually, he got lucky. Too lucky. He came to me to lay off one bet. Told me he had taken in too much action on one game. I wen take em and he ended up taking me for fifteen grand. Happened to me twice and I'll tell you right now it nevah happen again. After that, I wasn't having anything to do with his action. He must have gone elsewhere cause one night he's telling me that he wen clear sixty thousand over the weekend. That's better than he ever did with me. Mike liked to gloat about his winnings."
"I don't understand."
Freddie looked at me, then at Samantha. He was wondering who the hell I was. I let the look slide.
"In Vegas, if they think you counting cards, they show you the door. Or worse."
He had made his point. I motioned to Samantha that it was time for us to leave. We stood up and looked at Freddie.
"They had a partner. Someone else could burn for because of this. The initials C.S. mean anything to you?"
Freddie shook his head. "No. But if it going help I'll ask around. For her."
His eyes went back to his note pad.
We turned to leave.
"Hey Sam," he called out.
She stopped and turned to him.
"You take care. Okay?"
She smiled and nodded to him.
We walked out of Danny's into the rain.

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