Deklan Falls Book 4
by Bryan W. Alaspa
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
town of Redemption, NV, is a dirty, rotten, stinking little town. Not
as famous as Vegas or Reno, it's a place where people come to gamble.
They come to drink. They come to get into trouble. It's better known
by another name - Judgement Town.
Redemption is also a place hiding big secrets. A town torn by two families vying for power and an old, brutal, murder, that threatens to tear lives apart if the secrets are revealed.
Into this firestorm steps private detective Deklan Falls. Hired to find out who murdered a young man years ago, he soon finds himself in the middle of a family struggle stretching back decades.
Who will survive? Who will manage to find that bit of redemption they seek? Who will be able to leave Judgement Town.
This is the fourth novel in the Deklan Falls series. A very different tale told in a unique way, this novel takes Falls out of Oldtowne for a novel about family, rivalries and murder.
From the author of The Man From Taured, Storyland, RIG, Totality and Deranged comes a tale of murder and mystery.
The irony about the town of Redemption is that no one here is ever redeemed. At least, not that I’ve seen. I’ve been here my entire life, in a position where I might have seen someone do something redeeming and I’ve never seen it. I suppose if you look at the place from the air, or just come through town, you might look at the nice, neat houses with their rocky front yards, calm-looking businesses and the people walking the streets and think it’s a normal small town. Sure, one set in the middle of nowhere, Nevada, surrounded by desert, but it looks normal. How do they get water?, you might ask, but that’s probably the extent of the questioning from an outsider.
The people who live here, though, they know. They work the casinos at the edge of town. They work at the hotels and at the various offices and the one factory which makes car floor mats, but they know there’s a secret here. They know there are women who only work at night, for example, and know exactly what building they work in, which is also at the edge of town. They know the people behind the mask this town tries to wear.
Redemption is a dirty, rotten, stinking, corrupt, nasty little town.
I grew up here, as I said. My family owns one of the casinos and we’ve lived pretty well. I grew up inside among the gambling tables and slot machines. We don’t get the top-notch quality tourists like Vegas or even Reno gets. Most of our customers are other people from Nevada or places you don’t want to know. We get hard people here.
I don’t call this town Redemption. I call it Judgement Town. I’ve seen it repeatedly. People come here and those who choose to stay are either avoiding judgement or are waiting to be judged for something. No one sits there and thinks they should move to Redemption, Nevada.
My name is Tommy. Thomas Judge, to be more formal. I know calling it Judgement Town is funny when my last name is inside of it, but I can’t help I was born into this family. My father is Eddie Judge, Sr. and my brother, well he was named Eddie Junior. My mom is named Catherine and my sister is named Dillon. We’re one of the richest families in town, but we aren’t the only
There're the Casters. Jed Caster is the head of that family with his leather skin, ever-present cowboy hat and white mustache. His wife is a hard-bitten woman named Dottie, and he’s got four kids: Dale, Marty, Johnny and Kristie. They run the bigger hotel with the bright lights, lots of neon and the suspicious funding we try not to talk about.
You might think there’d be a rivalry between us and you’d be right. We hate the Casters and the Casters hate the Judges. Your next question might be if the rivalry has ever gotten nasty. Well, yes, it has, but no one here talks about it. It’s just one of those things we don’t talk about publicly.
Sometimes I think the number of secrets we keep here, the things we don’t talk about, is going to get so big the ground is just going to crack beneath us and swallow the town whole. Maybe it would be a good thing.
That was the state I was in when the stranger came to town. I worked at the casino for my dad, but I longed to get out of Redemption. I dreamed of getting to Vegas or Los Angeles or Chicago or New York. Sometimes my dream was to move to Australia just to put an entire planet between me and this town.
I had seen the corruption grow. I watched as Jed Caster became a kind of de facto mayor of this stinking town and how things got even worse as his power grew really fast. I knew what he had done to my brother.
My brother Eddie, Jr., was the only good man this town ever produced. He was the one guy who tried to stand up and say no more to the dirtiness and the corruption. He tried, and he was making progress.
Then they killed him.
Beaten to death.
Can you guess what happened with the case? If you guessed nothing, then you get the prize.
Because Redemption is a dirty, stinking, rotten, nasty little town. Because people here are scum.
Then the stranger walked into town and suddenly there was this small ray of sunshine. I dared to hope. I guess I was searching for something and I guess I found it. Looks like I dumped a lot on you right now and maybe you’re struggling to keep up a bit, but I’ll try to explain. No, this isn’t some western or anything with the no-name hero in a poncho and cigarillo between his lips. The guy, the stranger, has a name. I’ll never forget it. Deklan Falls.
I did not know who he was when he got here, but I found out pretty fast. I found out what he had done not long after he settled in. When I did, I figured he was the right guy for the job. He was here to ask questions. He was here to find out about my brother. That’s a dangerous thing to do.
Anyway, I guess I can stop building this up and just tell you about what happened. Like so many earth-shattering things, it all started on a beautiful, normal, average day. ***
I headed down to the cafe that morning the same way I had done for years. Our family lived on the top floor of the casino. The Regal Casino in Redemption was mostly glass and steal with the gaming floors at the bottom and in the basement. They designed the top floor to be the residence for my family. It was a weird life living there, but I liked the view. I had my own apartment, too, but it was just down the hall from where the rest of my family lived. Like I said, it was an odd life.
Technically, the cafe wasn’t open until lunch. Joe the cook, though, had known me my entire life, and he always had breakfast and coffee for me when I came down. I sat in the kitchen while he talked to the cooking staff and prepped for the later rush. There was another chef, Andre, in the larger main dining room where the actual breakfast was served. I preferred the greasier stuff Joe made in the cafe.
“Well, good morning, your highness,” Joe greeted me in his standard way. “Knock it off.” My standard reply. “What’s on the menu today?”
“Two eggs, over-easy, hash browns and my coffee.”
“Can I get some sausage, too?”
“Yer gonna get fat if you keep eating that shit.”
“I’ll work out extra hard this afternoon.”
Joe patted his own prodigious belly and waved his other hand dismissively. I took up my spot on a stool next to the counter. The coffee was already in a pot waiting for me and I poured a mug full. It was like some kind of black jet fuel and I drank it straight. I felt the warmth down my chest and started to wake up.
Joe was one of those who still got a newspaper every morning. He was not a fan of the digital world and would spend time during his off hours doing the crossword puzzle. I picked up the paper and started reading. It was the Las Vegas daily since the Redemption Eagle only came out weekly. Standard stuff.
The town itself was just buzzing along. I worked in the casino offices in the marketing and sales department. I was a better marketer than I was a salesperson, but the rooms were booked and conferences planned. It was the busy season, and the place was already buzzing. You could feel it even in the kitchen on the lower level.
“Here you go, young sire.” Joe placed a plate in front of me. Greasy hashers and two perfectly cooked over-easy eggs, with two sausage links beside it. I added salt and dug in.
I was reading the newspaper and devouring my breakfast, as content with my world as I could be (yet, always a little tense and worried), when I heard a voice behind me. There was an open area between the dining area and the kitchen, just a small window in the wall where Joe could put the plates and the servers could grab them. Most of the time, diners didn’t even notice it, but apparently this guy did.
I jumped a bit, spit out my coffee, cursed, and wiped at my chin. When I turned around, I froze. No idea why I had that reaction to this day.
The man had brownish-red hair, but a very square face. Intense green eyes stared at me. He was clean-shaven and there was a hint of a smile on his lips. It wasn’t so much his appearance as the aura the guy gave off. Just a feeling of confidence and surety, which wasn’t normal in a casino, which usually reeked of desperation and sadness.
“The cafe is closed.” It was my instinctual response.
“Yes, I see that, and I apologize, but it’s so busy and loud out there I came in here. You’re Tommy Judge, correct?”
I was taken aback by the mention of my name. “Yes. I am. Who are you?” He smiled this winning smile that even got through my steel heart. He extended a hand. “Falls. Deklan Falls.”
I had to laugh, thinking of the James Bond movies. He laughed too, and I walked out to shake his hand. He had a firm grip.
“How can I help you, Mr. Falls?” I asked.
“I need to see Eddie Judge. Your father, I believe.”
He reached into his coat pocket and removed a small white square. As he handed it to me, I read the words on the one side.
There was a cell phone number and an email address below that. I had to admit, it surprised me all over again. A private investigator? Here?
“Wow, um, did my dad hire you?” I looked back up at him.
“Well, I don’t like to reveal my clients, Tommy, but I do need to speak to him. I’d like to talk to you, too. Maybe later today or sometime tomorrow?”
I felt nervous at the thought, but nodded anyway. He had this strange feeling of authority around him which, in turn, made me feel I could trust him. “Sure. I work in the marketing and sales office. Down in the basement. They always put the marketing and sales people in the basement at hotels. I’ll be there all day. Stop by.”
“Thanks, I will. Can you do me a favor and tell me where I can find your dad now? Point me in the right direction. This place is a lot bigger than I thought I would be.” Most people said things like that when they saw the hotels in Redemption. The Regal was very large, stone and glass, with neon and flashing lights. The Caster’s place, The Castle, was even bigger with an all white front, resembling a castle, and bright lights on the roof that sent beams into the night sky night after night. The Castle also had a pool and a nine-hole golf course which allowed the Casters to call it a resort.
“Yeah, he’ll be in his private office now. Take this hallway just outside the cafe door to your left. Down the hall and then right. There’s a bank of elevators there, but take the one across the way and by itself. Hit the button and his secretary, Dorothy, will call down to ask who you are. Tell her and she’ll send the elevator. He gets to have a magnificent view of the town and surrounding desert up there.”
I smiled. He nodded.
“Thank you, Tommy. I’ll be sure to talk to you later.”
I watched him walk away and stood there for a moment, my brain spinning. Why was there a private investigator here? I looked down at the business card in my hand, ran my finger
over the raised lettering. I was going to have to look this guy up. Where the hell had he come from?
“Hey, are you done eating, young prince?”
“Just coming back to finish, Joe. Hold your horses.”
“Who the hell was that guy?”
I tucked the card into my shirt pocket. “Not sure just yet, but I am going to find out. Something’s going on, Joe. I just hope it’s a good thing.”
Bryan Alaspa is an author from Chicago and has published more than 50 books and novels. He writes thrillers, horror, suspense and mystery novels as well as true crime and history books. He lives with his wife and two dogs and still hopes to someday write the definitive book about Chicago.
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