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Flash Fiction: Selling La Tour in Vegas

There's an old old con, where you sell the Eiffel Tower again and again. Just play on the marks greed, give them an out, and then close it down and leave with the cash. The script is pretty simple: "I work for the Mayor of Paris. It's going to be torn down - massive structural problems. We need someone to scrap it all. It's very important to keep it quiet, the pride of the country. Preferential bidding status? You know bribery is illegal? Why, of course I'll take your million euros. Shit, les flics. Bye..."

Of course you still need a crew, and an office (or two), along with all the props. Documentation is important, and you'll need convincing paperwork, along with enough people in the right places to inspire confidence. But as they always say, you need to invest some money to make lots of money. And in this game, you can make lots and lots of money. The only problem is, well, getting caught. Not by the police. After all, griftings not the sort of crime that sends you down for ten or twenty. Three years in an open prison is plenty time for a few cushy mail order scams. It's the marks you want to avoid. The motto is "You can't con an honest man", and sadly, the dishonest men often have big men with baseball bats on their team.

Jason had sold the Eiffel Tower once too often. The mark had turned out to be ex-FSB, and his Russian steel holdings were a front for a mafia mob in Moscow. They wanted their money back, with interest. Jason cursed his faulty intelligence, bought a one-way ticket to Canada, and disappeared across the US border on a fake passport. He'd been playing back room poker in Vegas for a month or so when he had his big idea.

Walking down Las Vegas Boulevard in the morning you feel you're walking through a city with a hangover. The bright neon of the Strip is washed out in the bright desert morning, and the few cars staggering down the wide street seem to have places to go that aren't here. Jason watched them roll off, carrying last night's losers to the airport. It wasn't his hangover. In fact it was a pretty good morning. The sun was shining over the wall of casino hotels, as he stood by the Bellagio lake, sipping a coffee, and feeling the comforting weight of a hefty bankroll. The cards had spoken to him last night, guiding him to the right hands and to the right tables. He'd won big. Not enough to get rid of the mobsters on his back, but enough to see him through a few more months in hiding. He'd just allowed himself a smile when he heard the explosion.

On the skyline the Stardust was coming down in a cloud of concrete dust.

The smart money was remodelling Vegas again, tearing down old casinos and making them new. Across the Strip new bright lights clad the old Aladdin, while whining cranes added more levels to the massive complex the MGM folk were building to fill the gap between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo. The word was that some of the newer casino complexes were ready for the imploders' TNT.

Leaning back on the wall, watching the dust cloud rise above the towering hotels, Jason knew what he'd do next. It was right in front of him, towering over one of the largest casino resorts. He'd do what he was good at. The seed money he needed was in his pocket, and the con, well, the con was one of the oldest. A smile wasn't enough for this idea. Jason grinned and laughed. He was going to have some fun. He was going to take a large chunk of that smart money.

Jason was going to sell the Eiffel Tower again.

Only this time it was built into Paris, Las Vegas.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
rdmaughan
Mar. 13th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
Very nice.

My favourite real world scam was the team that stole the Mona Lisa in the twenties. They sold about a dozen fakes to rich crooked art collectors. The real picture never left Paris.
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