A man in his early sixties with a crew cut and a bushy mustache walked down the halls of the Bellagio. Despite his military-like posture, he walked with a slight limp.
“Please tell Sanders that Detective Joe Harris is here to see him,” he said to the security guard sitting at the lost and found desk.
“Joe, good to see you,” Sanders said and shook his hand.
“Sanders, it’s been a while.”
“What was the commotion out there? Did one of your guests get drunk again?” Sanders said and chuckled.
“Not sure. Apparently a heart attack. But interesting that you should ask, because you just saw your targets,” Sanders said, ushering Harris along the same corridor that Michael and Emily walked down the night before.
“So what’s the story?” Harris asked.
“Michael Adams and Emily Hart won six million playing roulette last night.”
“Wow. You must feel robbed. In one night?”
“That’s the thing. They won it within a couple of hours,” he said, raising his voice.
“Hard to believe,” Harris replied, his brow wrinkled.
“They only bet on numbers. No colors, no even or uneven or any of that other crap. Only numbers. And every single time they got the number right. They bet on thirty-two, thirty-two won. They bet on twenty-four, twenty-four won.”
“Clearly they cheated, come on,” Harris said.
“I’m sure they did, but I had the table checked, the video footage, nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don’t have a clue how they pulled it off.”
“Okay. And that out there just now? That commotion. What was that about?”
“Front desk got a call in the morning from Mr. Adams. He said his girlfriend, Ms. Hart, stopped breathing.”
“Interesting. Seems to me like he doesn’t want to share.”
“Or perhaps he was afraid that she’ll tell on him,” Sanders said and took the printouts from the printer.
“Here are copies of their credit cards and driver’s licenses. Please find out how they did it. I want the money back.”
Harris glanced at the papers.
“Ah, New Yorkers. I always wanted to live in New York but can’t stand the cold weather. That’s why we’re out here in the desert, right?” Harris said and chuckled.
“Maybe. Can you help me?” Sanders said talking over him.
“Don’t worry, bud. I’m on it,” Harris said and patted Sander’s shoulder.
“After all, how could I let my former partner down?” he added.
“Thanks, bud,” Sanders said and continued, “How long has it been?”
“Six years I think,” Harris paused a moment. He smiled slightly and then continued, “I must admit, I do miss wearing a badge. Made life so much easier.”
Sanders knew that Harris would always have his back. During their time with the police, they walked the streets together. Harris’s limp resulted from one of their nightly patrols.
* * *
They got a call about a domestic violence incident. It was only their sixth patrol together. It sounded like routine—go to the house, assess the situation, talk to the parties, and calm them down. Most likely the troublemakers would come back to their senses and the guys in blue wouldn’t be needed anymore. These are the calls every officer wants. Low risk, high reward.
They didn’t believe they needed to call for backup in advance. Why should they? This was a routine call even though the house was in a sketchy area of town. Nothing unusual. Most domestic violence calls were made from these parts of town.
A young woman, looking as if she was in her early twenties, opened the door, mumbling that her boyfriend was being violent. She directed them to the kitchen. Upon entering, four masked men standing inside the room aimed their semi-automatic weapons at them. Before they could realize it was a trap, the four men started shooting at Harris and Sanders. Harris pushed Sanders to the floor, shielding him with his massive body. Harris knew that Sanders was not wearing a vest. It got destroyed in a practice, and Sanders was waiting on his replacement.
The first bullet hit Harris’ kneecap. Then a second cut through his thigh. The pain stunned him. Sanders pushed Harris off of him and jumped at one of the shooters. Harris, bleeding heavily, tried to focus on the task and not the pain. He pulled his gun and shot two attackers instantly. The third panicked at the sight of his dead friends and made a run for it. Sanders tried to wrestle the remaining gunman to the floor. The attacker lost his gun but was able to pull out a knife. He rammed it into Sanders’ foot. Sanders screamed and went down to his knees. The attacker pulled the knife out of the foot and aimed for Sanders’ throat. In the opposite corner, a bullet left Harris’ gun, piercing through the air into the skull of the attacker, stopping in his brain tissue. Blood gushed on to Sanders’ face.
The fleeing attacker was apprehended later that night. He told the police that they hated cops and wanted to get even with the killers in blue. Harris and Sanders were just random victims, the attackers only teenagers. Sanders was aware that he would have been most likely killed if Harris had not been there. Since that day, he knew that if he could trust anyone, it was Harris.