Charles Fleming

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The Ivory Coast


The fight behind the casino was a nightmare. There was blood everywhere. One of Mo's men had taken a bad knifing. He had fallen into the pool and was thrashing around, clutching at the side, trying to get out. One of Haney's guys was stamping on his fingers. The water was going pink where he splashed in the shadow of the swaying palms. A big ape who worked for Haney had one hand wrapped in brass knuckles and one hand wrapped around another man's throat. He was putting the brass to that guy's face. Music pushed out of the casino like wind pushing sand across the desert.

To Deacon it was all a night at the movies: Haney's men and Mo's men, behind the casino. The big Starburst Hotel and Casino neon from the Strip side of the building blinked a red-gold-green over the desert darkness. A searchlight swept across the horizon, caught his gaze, and pulled it into the stars. The breeze blew hot. He was high and flying and he'd seen it all before. The fight scene. Take five. It had started over a woman

How did things get so fouled? The night before had been fine - not just okay, but fine. Cab Calloway's orchestra had been at the Victoria for a week. Pearl Bailey was at the Sands. Sinatra and a bunch of his crowd were rehearsing over at the Desert Inn. Someone had gotten word out that everybody was going to be over on the West Side, at Mamie's Black Bottom, after hours - and it was fine. A horn player Deacon knew from his Chicago days was working with Cab now, and he got him onstage for half a set. Deacon may have been wailin' and he may have been failin', but then Pearl gave him a smile that made his heart stop and he said, "Baby, this is it!" The place was on fire, from the Strip to downtown to the West Side. Especially, lately, the West Side. The Strip was happening, and downtown was happening, but the West Side was where it really cooked. That's where the colored folks were

Selected Works

Non-fiction, biography
The heart-breaking, award-winning National Public Radio story of childhood lobotomy survivor Howard Dully, now grippingly told in book form.
Explosive story of 1950s Las Vegas; "Impressive, sure-bet thriller,"
Pre-Castro Cuba catches fire in this sequel to The Ivory Coast.
Nicky Deuce returns with more meatballs and mayhem.
Thrilling young adult adventure story for boys and girls aged 8 to 18.
Riveting autobiographical story of the chief who caught the DC snipers
How to live like a guy from the neighborhood ...
How to make amore like a guy from the neighborhood ...
The fast life and ugly death of Hollywood's most notorious film producer
Travel Essay
Ten damp days in Havana