Ghost of a Gamble (Granny Apples Mystery) (3 page)

BOOK: Ghost of a Gamble (Granny Apples Mystery)
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you have no channeling or spiritual abilities around your mother?” Emma asked the question while walking from the window back to the sofa. “Or do you simply choose not to use them around her?”

Tracy turned to Emma. “Milo goes blank around Dolly.”

“Blank?” Confusion danced across Emma’s face.

“Dolly is Milo’s kryptonite,” Tracy explained. “Around her, he seems to lose his paranormal powers.”

“Completely?” Emma looked at Milo, her confusion turning into disbelief.

Milo, a slight man of fifty-three with thick glasses and serious nerdy overtones, stared down at his hands like a child being chastised. Until recently, Milo had kept to himself, writing books on the afterlife and communication with it. He also saw private clients and conducted group séances. Emma knew he and Tracy had come to Las Vegas because Milo had been invited to give a talk at UNLV—the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The latter had been something Tracy had set up through her own contacts as a college professor. Since falling in love with Tracy, Milo had started coming out of his shell and was doing more public appearances with her encouragement. He had always been confident with his clients and in his abilities, but speaking before people had made him shake with fear—a problem he was overcoming with Tracy’s help. His public appearances were a huge success and demands for his time on the rise.

“Yes, it’s true,” admitted Milo. “It’s like my spirit radar goes on the fritz.” He ran a hand over his head, mussing his sparse brown and gray hair. “A lot of people have mother issues. I guess that’s mine.”

“And probably why you don’t live near her?” ventured Emma.

Milo nodded at Emma’s accurate perception. “It’s difficult to earn a living as a medium when your gifts have the plug pulled.”

“Did you try to reach out to the spirit in Dolly’s home at all?”

“I did when we first arrived, but got nowhere with it.”

“Lenny ignored him,” added Tracy with a grin.

“Yes, Lenny.” Milo laughed. “Lenny could have been dancing on my head for all I knew.”

“Have you had a chance to see Nicholas interact with the light?”

Milo nodded. “We arrived Friday about an hour before his mother picked him up. Whenever Dolly took him into the kitchen, he did seem preoccupied with that particular light fixture, but he only stared at it. Same thing this morning when he was dropped off by his father before you arrived. Nicholas watched the light, but he didn’t get animated like he did when you were there. All weekend I kept checking, trying to sense something, even when Dolly wasn’t home, but got nothing at all but a stiff neck from looking up.”

Emma thought about that. “Do you think the baby is the connection?”

“You mean,” asked Tracy, “that the ghost is visiting Nicholas and not necessarily Dolly?”

“It’s possible, isn’t it?” Emma turned to Milo.

Milo nodded in agreement. “Could be Lenny is a dead relative visiting the boy. Maybe we should ask the parents.”

“Dolly told me she doesn’t want to alarm them or make them think she’s strange.” Emma got up and retrieved a bottle of water from a cluster of them lined up on the credenza. “She likes taking care of Nicholas and doesn’t want to lose that. Although I’d like to meet them, especially at Dolly’s to see if there is any change in how the baby reacts to the light when they’re present.” She held the water bottle out to her friends. They both declined.

“Your mother obviously believes in spirits,” Emma said to Milo as she opened her water and sat back down on the sofa. “Are you sure she doesn’t have any special talents in connection with them?”

“Not that I’ve ever seen.” Milo crossed over to the sofa and perched on the arm next to Tracy, putting his arm around her shoulders. “But who knows, maybe she does possess some paranormal gifts. Maybe I received mine from her.”

“Kind of like you and your mom, Emma,” Tracy pointed out.

It was true, Elizabeth Miller could hear Granny, but could not see her. Emma’s daughter could both see and hear Granny, and recently Emma learned that Kelly could interact with other spirits, though that didn’t happen often. Emma wasn’t sure if that was a decision made by Kelly herself or if the spirits were leaving Kelly alone. Either way, Emma was pleased. She didn’t want any distractions from Kelly’s education.

“The talent does seem to be genetic, at least in my family,” Emma admitted. “And you give readings, Milo, so maybe Dolly being a fortune-teller isn’t that far off the mark. She might be more accurate than you think.” She thought about something else. “What about your father?”

“I have no idea who he is. Dolly was barely twenty when she had me. I always figured it was some guy who’d passed through Vegas. She’s never spoken about him and refused to answer my questions.” Milo’s face darkened like sunlight turning to dusk as he spoke. “I’ve never met any of my mother’s family either. I only know what Dolly has told me, that she’s originally from somewhere in New York and that her family disowned her when she came to Las Vegas to be a dancer. Apparently, they were quite religious.”

Aching with curiosity, Emma asked, “How did she get from dancer to fortune-teller?” It was one of the many questions on her mental list she could now cross off.

Milo gave a weary shrug. “She danced until they felt she was too old to be attractive. From there she got a job in a casino as a cocktail waitress, then as a dealer. She didn’t start up with The Raven’s Craft until she was in her late fifties and standing at the tables all day started to bother her. She doesn’t make as much money as in the casino, but it’s her own business and seems to make her happy. Like I said, she claims she got the idea from my readings.”

“Which came first,” Emma asked Milo. “The Raven’s Craft or Ravenscroft?”

Milo chuckled. “My last name actually. When I was fifteen, Dolly asked me if I wanted a different last name. She said I could keep Milo Meskiel if I wanted, but that it sounded like a bug-eyed accountant instead of someone who would one day be famous and important.” He laughed again.

“See,” said Tracy, pointing a finger at him, “your mother might very well be clairvoyant. You are famous and important.”

Milo snorted and pushed his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose. “And still bug-eyed, my love.”

Turning his attention back to Emma, he continued, “Dolly said to take my time and find a name I’d be happy with for the rest of my life. During my senior year in high school, I came across
in a book and instantly glommed on to it. Dolly liked it, too, so she had my last name legally changed to it. I entered high school as Milo Meskiel and graduated as Milo Ravenscroft. When she started her shop, she asked if I’d mind her using a version of it. Which I didn’t, of course.”

Tracy leaned forward with eagerness. “So do you think Dolly really knows there’s a spirit in her house?”

Emma took a drink of water. “I think there is a good possibility she senses something.”

Remembering the comment she’d heard just before she left Dolly’s, Emma asked, “Tell me, what does the name
mean to you?”

Tracy piped up first. “That cute fish in
Finding Nemo

Emma turned to Milo. “And what about you?”

Tracy leaned toward Emma and said in a loud whisper, “I’ll bet five dollars he says Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Milo got up from the sofa and paced, his hands jammed into the pockets of his slacks, as he gave the question consideration. “Normally,” he said to Tracy, “you would be right. That was one of my favorite books as a youth. However, given we’re in Vegas, another thought came to mind.”

He sat again on the arm of the sofa and focused all his attention on Emma. “Tell me, Emma, why are you asking?”

“Shortly before I left Dolly’s, I could have sworn I heard someone say, ’Did Nemo’s boys send you?’” She paused to let the words sink in. “I’m pretty sure that’s what I heard.” Emma ran a hand through her cropped blond hair. “I wish Granny hadn’t left before that.”

“I wish I hadn’t, too.” The ghost left the window and floated over to the sofa. “Sounds like something Edward G. Robinson would say.”

Milo nodded. “Granny’s right.” Quickly, he passed along to Tracy what the ghost had said.

Tracy looked at the empty air by Emma. “How do you know about Edward G. Robinson, Granny?”

“You forget,” Emma answered instead, “she watches a lot of TV.” She glanced at the ghost. “Too much, in my opinion.”

“And that’s all it is,” Granny snapped, “your opinion, not the law.”

“She’s now hooked on old movies,” continued Emma, “especially black-and-white crime films. She and my father have been watching them together.”

“Yeah, but when Dr. Miller snores, I can’t hear.” Granny crossed her arms. “I gotta figure out a way to work the clicker on my own.”

Emma sighed, thinking that if Granny could work the TV remote and the DVD player on her own, the TV would be going day and night.

“Granny might not be too far off,” Milo said, returning to the subject at hand. “Back when I was a kid here in Vegas, there was a well-known hood named Nemo.”

The two live women and the dead one turned their attention fully on Milo. “Really?” asked Emma, the first to find her voice.

“Yes. He was a local guy named Nelson Morehouse, but everyone called him Nemo. I don’t think he was officially Mob, but he had connections to them. He was in the news a lot. As I recall, he was suspected of running drugs from Mexico and operating gambling scams. I think he was even connected once to a casino robbery.”

“So if there is a spirit in the light, it might be him?” Tracy put a hand on Milo’s knee. He covered it with one of his own hands.

“The voice asked if Nemo’s boys sent me,” Emma said, “so whoever was speaking was probably not Nemo.”

“What about the light fixture?” asked Milo. “Do you really think there’s a spirit inhabiting it, and that’s who spoke to you? Or could it have been another spirit lingering nearby?”

Tracy snorted in laughter. “Lenny the Lightbulb. How funny would that be for a gangster name?”

“I kind of like it,” said Granny with enthusiasm.

Emma played with her water bottle as she dug through her memory for exactly what she’d felt at Dolly’s. “At first I wasn’t sure there was a ghost haunting the light, but it was obvious that Nicholas could see Granny, and he is fixated on that particular light.”

“Isn’t it odd,” asked Tracy, “that the baby could see Lenny the Lightbulb and you couldn’t?”

“Not really,” Milo answered. “If the ghost specifically didn’t want Emma to see him, she wouldn’t.”

“But he definitely wanted me to hear him,” Emma pointed out. “At least at the end of my visit.”

Remembering the way Dolly had glanced at the light, Emma asked Milo, “Do you recall if Dolly had any friends named Lenny?”

Milo looked surprised. “Do you think my mother knows the ghost in the light?”

“I don’t know,” Emma admitted. “It’s just that when I asked how she came to give him the name
, she seemed a bit nervous when she answered. And when I mentioned the name
, I caught her glancing up at the light in an odd way.”

Milo tapped his left foot on the carpet as he tried to think. “I really don’t recall her having any friends named Lenny. Then again, she did her best to keep our life together separate from her life at the casinos, especially after I was old enough to be left alone.”

“Could have been nothing,” Emma said with a shrug. “She just might have been nervous about the light.”

Putting her water bottle down on the coffee table, Emma got up and went to the desk in front of the large window. On the desk was her iPad. She turned it on and brought it back to the sofa and sat down.

“Milo,” she asked as she waited for the iPad to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, “how about the Nemo guy? Do you remember if Dolly knew him?”

He shook his head. “I just remember him from the news.”

“What did you say his name was again?” Emma pulled up a search engine.

Milo and Tracy settled in on either side of Emma so they could see what she was searching. “Nelson Morehouse,” replied Milo. Granny hovered nearby.

Emma typed the name into the search engine. Up popped many references. Scanning down the list, Emma saw entries that had nothing to do with a Vegas criminal. There was a doctor in Des Moines and an artist in Florida with the same name. Another, a lawyer from Seattle, wrote novels on the side.

“There.” Milo tapped the screen at a listing. “I’ll bet that’s him.”

She clicked on the link and found herself reading a Wikipedia entry on a Nelson Morehouse, a Las Vegas gangster also known as
. Emma scanned the information.

“According to this,” Emma told them, “Nemo was purported to be a local front man for some Mafia activities in Las Vegas. In 1979 he was caught up in the sweep the FBI conducted on the Tropicana on Valentine’s Day. He was charged with fraud and conspiracy, but never convicted.”

“Look at this.” With excitement, Tracy pointed to an entry in Nemo’s bio. “It says here that Nelson Morehouse was a prime suspect in the Lucky Buck Casino robbery in the sixties, along with someone named Leonard Speidel.”

BOOK: Ghost of a Gamble (Granny Apples Mystery)
5.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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