Work Smart Not Hard

by Lisa S.


AUTHOR'S NOTES: Below is a modernized Vegas adaptation of "The New Law" episode. A HUGE thank you to Lisa C. for being my sounding board and reading over my various drafts and to Antoinette/RiverOtter for betaing the story. A special thanks to Sarah for creating this wonderful AU for us to play in.

DISCLAIMER: Mag7/Las Vegas alternate universe was created by Sarah (aka Midnight Profit) and is based on the "Las Vegas" TV series. This AU is not related to the Mag7/Las Vegas RPG created by Lisa O. and Ruby. Trilogy, MGM, and the Mirisch Corporation own "The Magnificent Seven" characters. NBC Studios, NBC Universal Television, DreamWorks Television, and Gary Scott Thompson Productions own "Las Vegas." They are not mine. The only purpose of this story is for entertainment. No money is being made.


The mood was very somber in the conference room as the Montecito department heads waited for owner, Orin Travis, to start the meeting. Security Chief Chris Larabee studied the gentleman who was seated along the back wall behind Orin. He had thinning reddish blonde hair and looked very serious. As Orin started to speak, Chris drew his attention back to the owner.

"I think we all know why we are here today," started Orin Travis. "We've all heard the rumors going around that there are going to be layoffs. Let me start off and say I'm not going to lie to you. At the moment the Montecito is doing ok but unfortunately with the economy the way it is, one never knows what is around the corner. That is why I've called in a specialist to help us . . . he's efficiency expert, Mr. Walter Bryce."

Walter Bryce stood. "Thank you, Orin, for that introduction. Ladies and Gentlemen, I know what many of you are thinking . . . an efficiency expert is all a bunch of crap but I'm hoping when I'm done here I will have changed your minds. My intent is not to cause turmoil and fear but to look for the most effective ways to run this establishment and I will need your support to do this. Remember . . . it's better to 'work smart not hard'. Now over the next couple days I will shadow you in your jobs and then I will report back to Mr. Travis on my findings. . ."

"I want open communication so I expect everyone to report back to your staffs and let them know what is happening," interjected Orin. "And I also expect everyone to cooperate with Mr. Bryce."

As the meeting adjourned, department heads filed out of the conference room to report back to their staffs. Chris Larabee purposely stayed back to have a private word with the owner.

"Orin, do you have a moment?" asked Chris in a low voice.

"Of course, Chris," said Orin as he guided the man to the side, knowing he was most likely worried about the latest announcement. "What's up?"

"Sir, is this all necessary?" asked the Security Chief. "If you're not happy with how I'm leading the security team, I'd be happy to step down. . ."

"First of all, Chris," interrupted Orin. "Your leadership is not in question . . . never has been and never will be . . . you have done a remarkable job turning the security team around so that the Montecito is now known for having the best security force around. Unfortunately in the casino business one cannot rest on one's laurels . . . we have to always be striving to better ourselves and right now that means doing it in the most efficient way possible . . ."

"Okay, but let me state for the record that if Mr. Bryce's suggestions mean we lower our security practices, it ain't gonna happen," stated Chris. "I will not put our employees or guests' lives in jeopardy just so we save a few bucks."

"Agreed," replied Orin as he lightly slapped the Security Chief on the shoulder.

Chris nodded, glad to see they were on the same page.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

When Chris entered the Security spaces, his employees looked up expectantly, anxious to hear the news.

"Are the rumors true?" asked JD. "Is Mr. Travis laying off people?"

'It's worse,' thought Chris. Before he could verbally respond to the young security officer's question, Walter Bryce walked in.

"Everyone, this is Walter Bryce . . . he's an efficiency expert," introduced Chris. "Mr. Travis has hired him to take a look at how we do things around here."

"What's wrong with how we do things?" blurted JD who immediately turned a deep shade of red.

"No one is saying there is anything wrong with what you do," replied Walter while trying to calm the young man. "We are just looking to see if there is a more efficient way . . . in this time of economic woes, we need to 'work smart not hard'. So over the next couple days, I'll be shadowing you . . . just consider me a fly on the wall. . ."

Chris held back a groan. He had a feeling he would be hearing that 'work smart not hard' line many times over the next couple days. He was definitely not pleased and from the looks of it the rest of his team felt the same way.

"Ok folks, let's get back to work," announced Chris as everyone returned to their jobs.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Nathan looked up from his desk when a gentleman with reddish blonde hair walked in. Must be the efficiency expert, he thought. Word of Walter Bryce's arrival had spread through the employees like a tidal wave.

"Doctor Jackson?" asked Walter Bryce as he closed the door behind him.

"Yes, how can I help you, Mr. . . ." replied Nathan as he stood to greet the man, purposely not letting on he already knew who he was.

"My name's Walter Bryce . . . Mr. Travis has hired me to look at the Montecito's efficiency," replied the visitor. "I hear you're the doctor here at the Montecito."

"Yes, I am," replied Nathan as he gestured for the man to take a seat and then followed. "The Montecito offers its guests the best of amenities and Mr. Travis thought it would be wise to have a physician on the premises."

"That's exactly what I wish to discuss," said the efficiency expert. "I have been doing this job a long time and from a budgetary standpoint to have a doctor on the grounds is not the best financial decision considering one could easily dial 9-1-1 and have emergency personnel here in a matter of minutes . . . not to mention the possibility of malpractice lawsuits against the Montecito."

Nathan took a deep breath to remain calm before he responded, "I can easily see how you would think that but let me say there have been quite a few instances where it was a matter of life or death and waiting a 'matter of minutes' for the emergency personnel would have meant a guest or employee's death. And that, Mr. Bryce, would be unacceptable." The hotel physician was purposely not addressing the malpractice issue the efficiency expert brought up.

"I disagree, Doctor Jackson," replied Walter Bryce. "One needs to weigh all the factors in running a business to decide what an acceptable loss is and what's not."

"You mean budgetary factors," chimed Nathan who did not like the turn this conversation had taken.

"That is one element," said the efficiency expert.

"Well, clearly we're on different sides of the fence on this matter," said Nathan. "And if the Montecito decides to follow your recommendations, then obviously I need to find another job."

A knock on Nathan's door interrupted their conversation as a young brunette woman dressed in a showgirl's outfit walked in.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor Jackson," said Sallie as she paused in entering. "I didn't realize you had another appointment. I'll come back later. . ."

"Oh . . . it's not a problem, Sallie, come on in. . ." replied Nathan as he stood. "Mr. Bryce was just leaving."

Walter nodded, acknowledging his dismissal as he stood. "Mr. Jackson . . . thank you for your time . . ." he said. "If I require further information, I will let you know."

"You do that," mumbled Nathan under his breath as the efficiency expert walked out. Once the door closed, Nathan turned to his newest visitor. "So, Sallie, what can I do for you . . ."

"I think I pulled a muscle in my leg in the last show," said the pretty brunette. "And wanted to see if you had any ointment or cream . . . Ben Gay or something. . . to get me through this second show . . ."

"Let's take a look and we'll see what we can do," said Nathan as he smiled, trying to push thoughts of his recent conversation with Walter Bryce out of his head. . .

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

It was a typical night at Mystique . . . the club filled with rowdy customers who wanted to drink and have a good time. Even though Inez was shorthanded due to the flu hitting several of her workers, she immediately spotted the gentleman looking very serious as he took in the chaotic scene while approaching the bar.

"What can I get you Mr. Bryce?" asked Inez as she placed a cocktail napkin in front of him.

The efficiency expert raised an eyebrow, surprised the pretty bartender knew his name.

"News spreads fast here at the Montecito," explained Inez.

"So, I see," replied Walter. "I'll take a Perrier . . ."

Inez nodded and turned to grab a small green bottle as well as glass with ice. "Here you go," she said as she placed both in front of him.

"Thank you," said Walter. "Also, if you have a few moments I would like to chat with you about Mystique."

"Sure thing . . . give me a couple minutes to take care of some customers and I'll be back," replied the pretty Latino woman.

True to her word, Inez returned a few moments later to chat with the Efficiency Expert.

"So, Senor Bryce, what can I do to help you?" asked Inez as she took a seat the small table he had settled at.

"Just wanted to talk about your club . . ." stated Walter as he gingerly held his glass of Perrier with two hands.

"What about?"

Gazing out at the crowd, the efficiency expert asked, "Is it always this busy?"

"Pretty much," replied Inez as she smiled proudly. "Folks enjoy the live entertainment. . ."

"You don't find that it would be better to go another route on the entertainment?" queried Bryce.

"How so?"

"Live entertainment can be . . . costly. What if you went a different route . . . say offering karaoke instead. . ." commented Walter.

"We pride ourselves at the Montecito in having the best entertainment for our guests," replied Inez as she tried to remain calm. "And that means having a wonderful singer like Rain. . ."

Walter nodded. "And the drinks you serve your guests?"

"What about them?" replied Inez who was starting to get defensive. "We serve nothing but the best to our guests. . ."

"Exactly my point," replied Walter who had noticed the brands of liquor they served. "Maybe it would be better to go with a less expensive selection of beverages as well as adjust your proportions. . ."

"You mean serve cheap watered down liquor?" replied Inez quickly and then without waiting for a response she continued, "You can't be serious?!"

"I am."

Having had enough of the conversation, Inez stood abruptly. "Fine . . . now if you'll excuse me, Senor Bryce I should return to work. . ." The pretty Latino woman did not wait for a response as she turned and walked away.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The next day Buck Wilmington and Ezra Standish were enjoying a quick lunch in the Twenty One café.

"I assume you heard what happened to Ms. Recillos yesterday?" asked Ezra before taking a bite of his sandwich.

"Oh . . . that's an understatement . . . let's just say she was madder than a wet hen when I talked to her," commented Buck after taking a sip of his drink.

Ezra raised an eyebrow at the Hospitality Host's analogy.

"Bryce basically wanted her to fire Rain and start serving watered down drinks to the customers. . ." continued Buck as he shook his head in disgust.

"It seems he is only considering the budgetary factors in running a casino . . ." commented Ezra who glanced up to see Walter Bryce approaching. "And it looks like the gentleman in question will be joining us momentarily," he murmured under his breath for Buck to hear. The Hospitality Host braced himself for the Efficiency Expert's arrival.

"Gentlemen," said Walter Bryce as he stopped at their table. "Can I join you for a moment to discuss your duties here at the Montecito. . ."

The two men nodded as Ezra gestured to the empty chair and said, "Please do. . ."

After Walter was settled, Buck decided not to beat around the bush and asked, "So, Mr. Bryce, what can we do for you?"

"I was going through some of the materials Mr. Travis gave me and I wanted to discuss Montecito's policy regarding its whales."

"How so?" asked Buck as he placed a napkin over his half uneaten sandwich, he had suddenly lost his appetite.

"Well, it seems the Montecito has on countless occasions caved to the extravagant whims of your whales," commented Walter Bryce. "And I question whether that is sound business practice."

"Extravagant whims?" repeated a flustered Buck. "Well, you have to spend money to make money. . ."

"But in the current economic situation one needs to 'work smart, not hard'," continued Walter.

"What Mr. Wilmington is trying to say," interrupted Ezra Standish, seeing his friend was clearly upset. "The Montecito would lose millions of dollars of revenue each year, all to its competitors who, by the way, are more than willing and able to comply with the whale's demands."

Walter Bryce nodded as if mentally noting the men's responses. Changing the subject, he asked, "Mr. Standish, you are the Pit Boss here at the Montecito, correct?"

"Yes, I am," replied Ezra who realized it was now his turned to be interrogated by the Efficiency Expert.

"It is quite a staff you have that works under you," commented Bryce.

"They are a dedicated, hard working group of individuals," replied Ezra. "And I am very fortunate to have them work for me."

"One might also say you have too many individuals on your staff," said Walter. "This casino could run just as efficiency with less people. . ."

"Excuse me?" The Pit Boss was suddenly speechless.

"I think he's saying you should fire some of your folks," chimed Buck.

"Not fire . . . let go . . ." countered Walter. "Of course with a severance package. . ."

"Of course," said Ezra who had finally gained the ability to speak. "I would resign before firing any of my employees."

"It just may come to that," said Walter Bryce as a wiry grin crossed his face. "Now if you excuse me gentlemen I have more workers to talk to. . ." Standing the efficiency expert turned and walked out of the restaurant leaving two stunned men.

"That went well," commented Ezra as he placed his napkin over his partially eaten lunch.

"You think?" replied Buck. "Looks like we may need to update our resumes . . ."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

JD returned from the break room with coffee in one hand and a glazed donut in the other. "So Vin . . . how many efficiency experts does it take to replace a light bulb?" asked the young computer specialist before taking a large bite of his confectionary snack.

Before Vin could respond a voice behind JD replied, "None . . . Efficiency Experts replace only dark bulbs."

JD swallowed his donut in one gulp and then slowly turned to find Walter Bryce standing there. 'Oh crap,' he thought, realizing the efficiency expert just heard him making fun of his job profession.

"Mr. Bryce . . . I'm sorry . . . I didn't mean. . ." stammered JD as he apologized.

"No worries, Mr. Dunne, I'm use to it," replied Walter as he held up a hand.

"So, Mr. Bryce, is there anything we can do for you?" asked Vin as JD sat down in his chair, placing his coffee and donut on his desk.

"Well, there are a couple items I wanted to discuss regarding Security's expenses," stated Walter.

"Shouldn't Chris be here?" asked JD who did not like talking about this without the Security Chief present.

"No, it's not necessary . . . I want to discuss your expenses specifically, Mr. Dunne," stated the efficiency expert.


Walter Bryce nodded.

"What about 'em?" asked JD.

"It seems many of your 'toys' are quite expensive," stated Bryce.

"They're not 'toys' . . . they're . . ." started JD who was so upset he couldn't come up with the right words.

"Sophisticated technological security devices," chimed Vin who clearly had been around Ezra enough to pick up some of his fancy lingo.

JD looked over at Vin shocked and the Texan winked at him as if to say 'I've got your back.' JD then looked to the Efficiency Expert and said, "Exactly!"

"So you would say that the money spent on the facial recognition system, bomb detection devices, and all your other gadgets and gizmos is worth it?" asked Bryce.

"If it wasn't for JD's 'gadgets and gizmos' we would never have caught that FBI fugitive," chimed Vin, referring to the time they caught Natalie Rhea Lambert in the hotel's spa.

"You are security guards, Mr. Tanner, not FBI agents or police officers . . ." stated Walter Bryce. "It's not your job to catch felons or fugitives . . . leave that to the real cops. . ."

Vin gritted his teeth to keep from saying something he would regret.

"I'll have you know we received a commendation from the FBI for catching that fugitive. . ." replied JD who was growing angrier as the conversation continued.

"Did they give you a monetary reward?" asked Walter.

"No . . . we got a certificate," replied JD reluctantly.

Walter Bryce nodded. "I think we're done here. . . If I think of any other questions, I'll let you know."

The two men watched as the Efficiency Expert walked out of the security office.

"Chris ain't gonna like this," stated JD.

"That's the understatement of the century. . ." chimed Vin.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Inez ran a weary hand across her brow as she took a moment to catch her breath. It seemed that tonight's boisterous crowd at Mystique was on the verge of being downright unruly. Maybe it had something to do with Walter Bryce's suggestions, she thought. Rain had taken a much needed leave day so tonight's entertainment featured karaoke or as Inez like to call it, headache- inducing, high-pitched squealing. In addition she had received multiple complaints about the watered down drinks they were serving that evening. This "efficiency" change was definitely not going to work, she thought.

To prove her point, one of the sun tanner conventioneers spit out his drink after taking his first sip. "What the hell is this crap?" he muttered in a loud, booming voice.

Unfortunately one of the Harley Davidson convention goers was the unlucky recipient of the spit take. He stopped dead in his tracks and wiped the liquid from his leather jacket.

Much to Inez's horror, she watched as a fight broke out between the bikers and sun tanners.

"Madre Dios," she swore as she grabbed the phone behind the bar to call Security. Vin answered it on the second ring. "Vin . . . I need security's assistance right away . . . a fight has broken out in Mystique. . ."

"We're on our way. . ." replied the Texan before hanging up.

Inez and the other employees decided it was best to stay behind the bar and wait it out. So much for "efficiency" thought Inez. Mr. Bryce's ideas resulted in requiring additional personnel from security. Additional personnel that, of course, cost money. Probably not the outcome he was planning, she thought.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Josiah Sanchez was on a much needed break from his Head Valet duties and the hot August heat. Taking a long swig of ice cold water, he stood off to the side, watching as the junior valets helped some guests.

"Mr. Sanchez, do you have a moment?" asked Walter Bryce.

Josiah glanced over at the Efficiency Expert. He had heard enough about the man to know that he was trouble with a capital T. "Sure, Mr. Bryce . . . I'm on a break at the moment . . . what's up?"

"You run quite an efficient operation here," commented Walter. "Very impressive numbers of how many guests you assist daily and in addition to those duties you personally also help Security out on occasion."

"Thank you . . . I have a good group of people who work for me and we try our best," replied the Head Valet who started to think maybe this efficiency expert wasn't all that bad.

"But I have one concern. . ." started Walter.

"What's that?" asked Josiah after taking another drink of water.

"You. . . considering your age, it begs the question as to whether you can handle this physically demanding job in extreme high temperatures. . ."

"Well, I'd like to think I take pretty good care of myself," replied the Head Valet jokingly. "Exercise daily . . . take my vitamins . . . get my eight hours of sleep. . . I think I can give those 20 somethings a run for their money. . ."

"But still statistics show you are much older than the average age of a valet manager," continued Bryce. "And maybe it would be wise for you to step down and have someone younger take your place. . ."

"You do know that's age discrimination?" countered Josiah who now saw why everyone at the Montecito hated this particular man. "Besides I like to look at it this way . . . Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes . . ."

"Excuse me?" said Walter Bryce as his brow furrowed in confusion.

"Life is over in a blink of an eye . . ." said the Head Valet. "And I sure as hell ain't gonna sit home waiting for it to end . . . Now if you'll excuse me I have my duties to return to. . ."

Walter Bryce watched as the big man walked away, cheerfully greeting a carload of female guests. Turning, the efficiency expert headed inside so he could document his latest conversation. He would have quite a few recommendations for Mr. Travis.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

A very unhappy Orin Travis sat behind his desk, leaning back in his chair for a moment he contemplated Walter Bryce's efficiency recommendations. Clearly he had wasted his time and money on this "expert" who thought after only a couple days at the Montecito he knew a better way to run the hotel and casino. If he followed his suggestions, Orin thought, he would be bankrupt within a year.

"Mr. Travis, Walter Bryce is here to see you," announced Shirley Unsworth over the office intercom.

Pressing the button, Orin replied, "Send him in, Shirley."

A moment later the door to his office opened and a very smug Walter Bryce walked in and took a seat in front of his desk.

"Mr. Travis, I assume you have read my report," started the Efficiency Expert.

"I did," replied the casino owner.

"And do you have any questions for me?" continued Walter.

"Yes, I think I do . . ." started Orin. "Is this report typical of the crap you give your clients?"

"Excuse me?"

"Clearly you don't understand what it takes to run a successful casino," continued Orin Travis. "It takes people . . . dedicated, hard working employees who will bust their asses and give 100% everyday, and in this report. . ." Orin picked up the document in question and waved it in the air, "You clearly forgot that . . ."

"But . . ."

"And I don't appreciate the accusatory tone you took with my employees," continued Orin Travis. "And maybe you should remember that your way is not the only way to do things which became abundantly clear when Ms. Recillos followed your suggestions and a brawl broke out in Mystique which required Montecito's security force to step in and intervene . . ."

"Sir, I am the best in this business and I stand by my findings," said Walter Bryce as he grew very agitated, he had never had anyone question his recommendations before.

"Good, because you're the only one," said Travis as he tossed the document into the man's lap. "Because I'm not. . ."

"Excuse me?"

"Your recommendations are just suggestions . . ." said Orin Travis. "Suggestions that I choose not to follow. . ."

"Well, Sir, that is your prerogative," said Walter Bryce in a controlled tone. "I assume I will still get paid for my services. . ."

Orin opened a desk drawer and removed an envelope, sliding it across the desk in the direction of the Efficiency Expert. "Here you go . . . paid in full. . ."

Walter Bryce picked up the envelope and slipped it into his suit coat pocket.

"I think we're finished here," said Orin.

Seeing he had been 'dismissed', the efficiency expert stood, clearly not liking the outcome of the meeting. It was obvious he was not use to others disagreeing with his suggestions.

Orin watched as Walter Bryce walked out of his office and closed the door. "What a bunch of crap," murmured Orin Travis as he shook his head in disgust. He couldn't believe he put his employees through Walter Bryce's scrutiny. He would definitely have to make it up to them.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Walter Bryce was seething. He couldn't believe Orin Travis didn't agree with his recommendations. The old buffoon clearly had no idea how valuable his suggestions were. Travis was being too sentimental regarding his employees and that was just a sign of weakness and a sure sign of failure to come, thought Walter Bryce, as the elevator chimed to signal its arrival.

The doors opened and Walter walked into the elevator, pressing the Lobby button. Finding himself alone in the elevator, the efficiency expert had time to think of the recent turn of events.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

An alarm sounded in the security office causing JD to look up from his computer. "We've got a gun on the premises," he stated. The young techie had recently set up scanning devices at each of the casino and hotel entrances to detect if a weapon was brought into the Montecito. The scanners were barely visible to the naked eye, only the security team knew they were there.

"Which entrance?" asked Chris who had emerged from his office when he heard the alarm.

"Casino . . . west entrance. . ." stated JD.

Chris pressed a button on the console by JD's desk and made an announcement so that all employees who wore a security earpiece would hear. "Gun on premises . . . casino, west entrance . . . be on alert and report anything suspicious."

"Vin . . . you're with me . . . let's go check it out . . ." stated Chris.

"JD . . . monitor the other entrances and let us know if any other alarms go off . . . also check the casino's security monitors. . ." instructed Chris on his way out of the office.

"I'm on it, boss," said JD as he quickly followed the Security Chief's directions.

As Chris and Vin walked down the employee hallway, Chris contacted Josiah via his security communication device. "Josiah, head over to the casino, west entrance . . . just in case the suspect exits the same way he arrived. . ."

"Roger that," said the big guy as he took off to the entrance in question.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Ezra spotted the man at the same time he received Chris' warning through his ear piece. The robber had his gun pointed at Lucille who was working one of the cashier cages.

Pressing the button on his security mic, he reported, "Suspect is at cashier cage four with a gun . . ."

"Roger that," replied Chris as he and Vin took off running down the hallway. "We'll be there in 60 seconds . . . do not, repeat NOT, try to apprehend him yourself. . ." The two men exited out of the employee-only door into the hotel lobby, meeting Buck Wilmington who had heard the warning and came to help. The three men took off into the casino.

"Understood," said Ezra as he tried to discreetly shepherd employees and guests away while moving a little closer to the man. He watched as the man grabbed the bag of money Lucille gave him and took off running towards the exit.

"Suspect is on the run," stated Ezra in his communication device. "Heading towards west entrance of the casino."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Walter Bryce was so flustered from his recent meeting with Orin Travis that he found himself totally lost in the casino. Stopping dead in his tracks he decided to retrace his steps to find the main entrance. Turning quickly Walter unfortunately ran right into the path of the robber who was trying to make his quick escape.

The nervous robber had an itchy trigger finger and his gun went off twice during the collision, the two bullets finding their way into the Efficiency Expert's chest as he collapsed to the ground, blood quickly saturating his shirt and suit coat. Meanwhile, the thief continued on his path to the exit and freedom.

At the sound of gunshots, guests screamed as they ran into the casino to safety.

"Chris . . . gunshots fired . . . man down at west entrance. . ." alerted JD through the mic.

"Roger that," replied the Security Chief as he, Vin, Buck and Ezra tried to make their way through the wave of distraught people heading inside. "Alert Nathan . . ."

"Will do," said JD who was already in the process of making the phone call to the on-call physician.

Meanwhile, the robber saw daylight and thought he was home free. Running through the automatic sliding doors, he unfortunately didn't see the Head Valet hiding behind one of the pillars until an arm caught him at the throat, clothes lining him so he landed flat on his back.

Grabbing the gun the robber dropped, Josiah pointed it at the man and warned, "Don't make me use this. . ."

Realizing it was his unlucky day, the robber stayed on the ground gasping for breath.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris, Vin, Buck, and Ezra reached the downed man at the west entrance.

"Mr. Bryce," said Ezra as he placed a reassuring hand on his arm, noticing blood was everywhere.

The pale man moaned in response.

"Ezra . . . Buck, stay here with Bryce . . . Nathan is on his way . . ." instructed Chris as he and Vin continued outside to find Josiah pointing a gun at the thief who was lying on his back.

Josiah glanced up as the two men approached. "Not bad for an old guy, huh?"

"Not bad at all," replied Chris as the two men smiled.

Vin pulled the man to his feet as he ordered, "Get up . . ." Meanwhile, Chris grabbed the bag of money the robber had just stolen.

"Chris . . . the police and emergency personnel are in route . . . ETA 10 minutes. . ." said JD over the security mic.

"Thanks JD. . ."

"If you two got things covered here, I'll go back inside and see how Walter Bryce is," said Chris.

The two men nodded as Vin explained to Josiah the efficiency expert was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the unlucky recipient of two bullets by the robber.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

"Nathan, how's he doing?" asked Chris quietly when he arrived back to the injured man.

"Not good," replied the doctor as he looked Chris briefly in the eyes. "He's losing a lot of blood. . ."

"Can we move him?"

Nathan shook his head 'no' as he continued to apply pressure to the wounds. "I think it'd make it worse if we did . . ."

"Ok, continue doing everything you can . . . the EMTs should be here soon. . ." said Chris.

Turning to the Hospitality Host who was trying to keep the crowds back from the injured man, Chris said, "Buck, head over to the main entrance . . . direct the ambulance over to the west entrance . . . tell 'em time is of the essence . . ."

"Roger that," said Buck as he took off running through the casino.

The next hour flew with a flurry of activity as the emergency medical personnel arrived and whisked Walter Bryce to the hospital with Nathan accompanying them while LVPD arrived to arrest the robber and interview the witnesses.

A couple hours later, Chris Larabee was in his office, completing the necessary paperwork regarding the day's incident. A soft knock on his door, drew his attention away from the computer to find Orin Travis standing in the doorway.

"Good job today," said the owner as he stepped inside.

"I had a lot of help . . ." replied Chris. "We're a good team . . . I'd hate to see that end."

"No need to worry about that," replied Orin.

"How so?"

"I decided not to follow Mr. Bryce's recommendations," explained the owner. "They just didn't seem right for the Montecito."

"That's good to hear . . . " commented a relieved Chris.

"Well, I'm gonna head over to the hospital," explained Orin before walking out. "Check in on Walter . . . Again, tell the others 'good job'.

"Will do, Sir," replied Chris.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

It was several days later and the seven men were enjoying beers and burgers on Chris' back deck.

"So, any word on how Walter is doing?" asked Josiah as he popped the top off a beer.

"He'll be fine but he was very lucky," replied Nathan as he applied ketchup and mustard to his burger.

"That is an understatement," countered Ezra. "If it hadn't been for your expert medical skills, I have a feeling Mr. Bryce would not have faired so well."

Everyone at the Montecito had heard how the on-call physician had saved the Efficiency Expert's life by applying pressure to his wounds until the EMTs arrived. His tireless efforts kept Walter's blood loss to a minimum so the man didn't go into shock or much worse die.

"I heard Mr. Bryce is now having some second thoughts about all those recommendations," commented Buck as he grabbed a beer for himself.

"Well, he should. . ." replied Vin after swallowing his bite of his mile-high burger. "If it wasn't for JD's 'gadgets and gizmos', we would've never been alerted to that gun on the premises. . ."

"And Nathan wouldn't have been there to save him after he got shot," interjected JD.

"And some 'old guy' wouldn't have caught the robber," commented Chris as the corners of his mouth turned upward while he flipped another batch of burgers on the grill.

"Hey . . . who you calling old?" asked a grinning Josiah as the others chuckle.

"You know, Chris, I think there maybe a more efficient way in flipping those burgers," commented Buck who was standing close by with plate in hand waiting for his slab of beef.

"Do you want to do this?" asked Chris as he held out the spatula.

"No . . . no . . . practice makes perfect," said Buck. "Just remember to 'work smart, not hard'. . ."

The five other men groaned as several threw their crumbled napkins at the Hospitality Host.

"Hey . . ." said Buck as he swatted away the flying paper objects. "You knew one of us was gonna say it . . . you're just upset that I beat you'll to it. . ."



The Las Vegas Chronicles