Legal Brains



     The legal brains for the place, Ollie Hamlin, knew it wouldn't stick, seeing as the Feds were so pissed off and all. What was he gonna say, “I'm checking that the tits are okay? Casting new lions? What?”

     Ollie Hamlin practiced criminal law. So he hung out with criminals. Why are you surprised about that? And the worse the criminals, the more they needed him, and the more they paid. And the more he hung out with them. And the more he talked to them, and reasoned with them and, let’s face it, schemed with them, and maybe bribed a judge or two. Not in an overt way, not so you’d be embarrassed or indicted or anything like that.
      “Okay,” Ollie grinned, dollar signs flipping over in his head. “We can use the Sinatra Clause, it’s the best Clause since Santa. Whatever it is that you may claim to do, we just say it’s entertainment and they have to prove it’s not. So, what do you want to do?”
     “Well, for a start,” said Paul, “I’m the Entertainment Director. That means I direct entertainment.”
     “Yeah, I get that. We need something, you know, just a smidge more…like, you know, leaning into the area of reality.”
     “Reality?”
     “Into the arena, as it were, of things that you might argue…are real. Like it, whatever it is, should actually, maybe really happen. Just so they can’t nail you on a fraudulent something, you know. Like if you were to, say, do something, and they come in and investigate and do forensics and look under the carpet and all, and you aren’t actually doing anything…then that would be bad.”
      “So what you’re saying is…
     “You have to produce… something,” insisted Ollie.
     “I’ve seen producers. They don’t do anything.”
     “No. It’s something. It just doesn’t look like anything.”
     “Well, if it doesn’t look like anything, why can’t I just say I’m doing it. How can they tell I’m not? ”
     “Well, like if nothing got produced, that might be considered a dead giveaway.”
     “I get it,” said Joey. “You gotta be like Sinatra. You gotta be an entertainer.”
     “In some, as yet undefined…way.” added Ollie. “You don’t dance, do you?”
     “Not for nobody.”
     “Or sing?”
     “What are you calling me?”
     “Nothing. No offense. Sinatra. He sings. He dances, he acts. See? He’s an entertainer.”
     They sat there for a moment. Dead air.

     “I set the line.”
     “You set the line?”
     “What are you, stupid?”
     “I think so, yeah.”
     “Look, I set the betting line. I set the odds. I’m an oddsmaker.”
     “Ohhhhh.” he said.
     “You see this sports book here, that’s my personal innovation.” Paul turned with an expansive, Moses-like gesture, encompassing the cavernous room. “And they’re off!” the screens yelled. Horses digging for the first turn, wide receivers down and out, slap shots on goal…all at once, with sports chatter and screams and shouts from the gambling addicts in the aisles. Paul’s eyes positively lit up from pride and the blinking “No Vacancy” sign in his brain.
     ”You come here, you can see all the games, all the races. On TV! All at once. Everything! And with drinks! You can get a bet down on anything. Anytime. 24 hours a day.”
     They looked. There were gamblers, bleary eyed, locked into the screens, some collapsed on their tout sheets, dead to the real world, with bells and whistles going off in their heads. It was a drug, this gambling thing. A pure adrenaline/dopamine rush. All peaking in a nanosecond of bump; the batted ball, the nose on the wire, the clock running out. All in. And All New Paul was into it. He was part of it, but above it all. He had created his own universe. But, still…Technically, it wasn’t entertainment, argued Ollie.
     “What do you want, the horses to strip off their saddles and blow you? Would that be entertainment?” Paul was getting a little cranky. He wasn’t used to two-way conversations.
     

     So Paul was gonna entertain. But what was he gonna do? He didn't sing! At least he better not if he knew what was good for him. He didn't dance. And he didn't tell jokes, at least not real funny ones. The ones he told just got that nervous laughter, which was not so good for crowds. Like, his funniest line was: “Hey, so, ya wanna die or what?”
     Sure, all his guys laughed. They had to, ya know. But sometimes the other guy didn't laugh.. Just sort of froze up and made choking sounds. Anyway, that sort of thing didn't work in a crowd, although it's been tried. And, you know, being Vegas, the audience was made up of Federal Agents and, you know, they didn't have the best sense of humor where Paul was concerned. He'd go for a joke and wind up with an extortion rap, you know what I mean?

     So the only thing Paul could do was, he could talk. Only he don't talk if he knows what's good for him. And he knows just that, believe me, that's one thing he knows. Day and Night. He's been trained this way for years. It's implanted in his genes by now. He don't talk. He just don't talk! A grunt. A look. A growl. A nod. Could be anything, you know. He could have the entire population of Casper, Wyoming whacked out and stuffed into garbage bags by intimation, but on the transcripts it would just look like…you know, something intestinal.