“Have you ever met Mr. Bigg?” asked Johnny the Valet. I hadn’t.
“He’s a big time crime boss out of LA and a good friend of Mr. Stern. You can’t miss him; very buff, always dripping in bling, drives a tricked-out Escalade, and if he likes you he generally tips in hundreds.”
I’d been working at the resort for almost a year as a security guy and Manager-On-Duty, and somehow I’d just missed this “Mr. Bigg” fellow. Mr. Stern was our boss and he ran a tight ship. I wasn’t surprised to learn he rubbed elbows with mobster types.
I usually change names and places for a story if I need to protect the privacy of someone, but this time it’s more to protect myself from getting whacked by the mob, rather than just keeping things private. This account is entirely non-fiction and it’s something I’m not even that comfortable writing up today, even though a decade has passed.
Johnny said that if you get on Mr. Bigg’s good side, he was known to stuff a hundred dollar bill into your shirt pocket and slap you on the back. I asked what happens if you got on his bad side. he said he didn’t know, but he didn’t want to know, because the one thing he did know is that Mr. Bigg was the type of guy who had people working for him, and they could be very proficient at the art of smashing kneecaps.
I’d kept that conversation in mind but I wasn’t thinking about it a few months later when I got a call to the poolside bar at the hotel due to a guest acting up and giving the bartender a hard time.
I arrived to find one of the most stunningly beautiful women I’d ever seen, in a bikini, a little tipsy and complaining that the bartender wouldn’t let her 19-year-old daughter sit at the bar with her. She was in a great mood and not in the least bit upset, but she was willing to push the matter and she wasn’t letting her daughter walk away.
Not her, but you get the idea / Photo by EVG photos on Pexels.com
I introduced myself and we had a chat. She said her name was Jackie and her daughter was Jessica, and that they’d been coming to this resort for a long time because her husband was a businessman who’d spent a lot of money here and dammit, surely we could make an exception concerning her daughter sitting at the bar? She told me Jessica was having virgin drinks, so that would be okay, right?
I asked her if her husband and Mr. Stern were friends. She said they’d been friends and business partners for a long time, so I asked her why she would want to get Mr. Stern in trouble. She asked what I meant.
“Well,” I said, “If some local or state law-enforcement official visits they could see Jessica sitting here – alcohol or not – and slap a big fine on the hotel because it’s against state law for minors to be seated at the bar. I’m sure you’re an awesome lady and I know you don’t want Mr. Stern to have to pay a big fine, right?”
She thought this over for a few seconds and then said, “Oh hell, no I don’t. Okay Jessica, take off.” Jessica said, “THANK YOU!” and headed for the hot tub over on the other side of the pool.
Jackie got a little flirty with me, which made me very uncomfortable, so after another few minutes of friendly conversation I excused myself to some duties that needed my attention. I had actually caught-up on everything I’d needed to do, but I wanted an excuse to distance myself from her. I headed out to the valet area to catch up with Johnny.
He was on-duty and asked how my evening was going. I told him what had just happened, and he asked me to describe the woman. “Totally hot, her daughter is too, and I didn’t get her last name but she introduced herself as ‘Jackie.’ She said she and her husband are longtime associates of Mr. Stern.”
“DUDE!” Johnny looked like wombats had just flown out of my ass. “Do you remember a couple of months ago when I told you about Mr. BIGG? WELL, THAT’S HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTER.”
I felt a knot in my stomach. This was not something I wanted to know, but it was good for me to be aware of it, so there you have it. Johnny went on to admonish me to be careful, which he didn’t really have to do but I appreciated the concern.
Johnny said they’d checked-in that morning, leaving Mr. Bigg down in LA for the weekend. He’d intended to let me know when our shift started, but he hadn’t seen me until that moment.
To make it even more interesting, that week the resort was hosting a group of US Marshals who were in the area doing felony raids. They would be up and out by four-thirty each morning and were kicking in doors starting promptly at six, arresting bad guys on felony warrants. It was a sweep that the Marshal’s service did every year.
A US Marshal badge
They’d returned at about four in the afternoon, as they’d done every day that week, and being a Friday I think that particular day had been the last day of their raiding, so they were in a partying mood and drinking around the pool area.
There were twelve of them ranging in age from about 25 to 40, and you wouldn’t know they were federal law enforcement once they got into relaxation mode around the pool. They were careful that no badges or anything showed to give away who they were, they just wanted to kick back and keep to themselves.
The marshals were hanging out in one particular corner of the pool area and Jackie was still at the pool bar while Jessica seemed to be enjoying the attention she was getting at the hot tub, in the company of several young male admirers, just as you’d expect. I had to walk by the pool bar a few times on my way to some tasks, and Jackie was engaged in conversation with a couple from Idaho. So far, so good.
She seemed to be behaving, but I noticed that the drinks just kept coming and it didn’t help that the guy from Idaho kept buying rounds, much to the obvious chagrin of his wife.
A few hours went by without incident, but Jackie had tried to flag me every time I’d walked by. “Dave, you have to come meet my new friends, this is Hank and Melba from Boise!” She threw her arms around my waist at one point and I couldn’t excuse myself fast enough.
“Nice meeting you folks, enjoy your stay! I have to go see to a guest, boy if it’s not one thing it’s another around here!” Then I’d hurry off.
The call I’d been dreading came at about 9:30 pm. I walked by the front desk and the young woman on duty told me the pool bar had just called and said that I’d better get out there as soon as possible.
When I arrived I didn’t see Jackie at the bar. The bartender saw me coming and pointed to the area where the US Marshals were hanging out, and there she was, sitting right on the lap of the best looking of the bunch, a guy who was maybe 32, with great tats and in great physical shape, but for that matter, they all were.
As I walked up she saw me and said, “Hey DAVE, have you met Eddie? This is my new friend, isn’t he handsome?” She’d flung her arms around his neck and snuggled him; the look on his face said he didn’t care for it one little bit.
Somehow I talked her off his lap and convinced her it was time to go up to her room. So of course she threw her arms around MY neck and said, “lead the way, boss!”
So alla-sudden I was heading toward the rooms with a drunken bikini-clad hottie of a mob wife hanging on my neck, giggling and stumbling along in a half-stupor. Darned good thing I passed Chef Hector on the way up. He was coming from the restaurant, and the dinner rush had just wrapped up an hour earlier, so he was heading home.
“HECTOR! My god, I’m glad to see you! Give me a hand, eh?”
It wasn’t so much an extra hand I needed, but a witness to how straight-up I was going to play this without anything shady going on that she might claim later. This resort wasn’t big enough to warrant a security team, so I was always the only one on duty. If I needed back-up for something, I’d tag a houseman, bellman or valet to go to a room with me just as an extra body/witness.
Hector saw the fix that I was in, and being the executive chef of the resort for many years, he recognized Jackie right away. “Hi Mrs. Bigg,” he said. “Oh hey Hector, “she replied, “bring a plate of fries to my room?” We told her the kitchen had closed but I assured her that if she continued letting me and Hector escort her to her room, I’d have something sent up for her to eat. Hell, I was ready to call a local restaurant and have the best fries in town delivered if it’d keep her from going out again.
Fortunately, I ended up not having to do that.
After a whole lot of falling down and giggling on her part, we managed to get her to her door and I used my master key-card to open it. The suite had a bedroom and she asked if I’d put her to bed. I told her I’d walk her as far as the bedroom door but then she was on her own.
She stumbled to the bed and plopped right down, groaning a little and complaining about how fast the room was spinning, so I threw a blanket over her and Hector and I stood at the door until we heard snoring, which came on quick. We stepped out, I made sure the door was locked and then I sent Hector on his way after thanking him profusely.
While crossing back through the pool area I stopped to inform Eddie the Marshal that she was out cold and wouldn’t be a problem, but to call me if she somehow got up and came back down there, then I visited the hot tub and asked Jessica to return to her room. I had to close the area for the evening anyway, but in actuality I just wanted her to baby-sit her sleeping mom.
My next stop was Mr. Stern’s suite. He was a residential manager, who had a home in Los Angeles but the resort was about a two-hour drive up into the desert, so he’d often stay over. I normally wouldn’t bother him with guest problems that could wait until the morning report, but in this case I wanted everything out in the open and to make sure I was covered.
He listened with rapt attention, and seemed especially pained when I got to the part about her flirting with that guy Eddie, not knowing he was a US Marshal. “Okay David, I’ll take care of it,” he said. “I have no problem with how you handled that, thank you.”
The rest of the night continued without event until my relief came in at midnight. I told him the whole story and since he too had been employed at the resort for many years, all he had to say was, “Well, better you than me, Dave, I don’t want to go anywhere near that lady when she’s been drinking, her husband scares the hell out of me.”
The next day I arrived for the same shift at 4 pm and Johnny the valet told me that Jackie and her daughter had abruptly checked-out that morning. Apparently Mr. Stern placed a call to Mr. Bigg in Los Angeles and told him of his wife’s antics, flirting with hotel staff and US Marshals. I’d imagine none of that sat well with Mr. Bigg, especially the last part.
Jackie and Jessica had intended to stay through Monday morning, but they abruptly checked-out early on Saturday and the valet on duty had told Johnny she looked like a hung-over, whipped puppy. Mr. Bigg must have really gotten on her case.
A few hours into my shift I passed Eddie the US Marshal in a hallway and tossed him a greeting with a friendly nod. He stopped me and looked around to make sure we were alone.
“Hey uh, Dave, is it?”
“Yes sir, what’s up?”
He was thankful for two things: That he hadn’t given in to the lure of a beautiful woman, given his state of intoxication and the fact that his boss had been watching it all. Also, that I’d come along and removed the temptation before he had a chance to knock the little angel off his shoulder and head upstairs with her.
I’m thankful that he didn’t follow through, mainly because guys like Mr. Bigg are really good at what they do and if one isn’t cautious, they could end up buried in the desert with lizards doing push-ups on their sunny, sandy graves.
Always happy to help. And THAT my friends, is what the hospitality industry is all about.
Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com