CASINO : A Town Called Rainstorm
***This story takes an alternative route from the point in the movie where Ginger dies - What if Sam had been wrong about his wife and her lover both winding up dead?***
When Ginger Rothstein wound up living alone in a hotel room in despair after her affair with Nicky destroyed her marriage, she hit rock bottom and decided to spend her life in a haze of drugs – until a girl she befriended who bore more than a passing resemblance to her and who was also an addict wound up dead on her bedroom floor from an over dose. Ginger took this last chance to turn her life around and stole her identity, leaving town determined to start her life again and with two plans in mind - to leave the past behind and to terminate an unplanned pregnancy, because her affair with Nicky had left her with much more than just memories.
Ginger hears rumours that Nicky was going to be whacked– but the killing never happened because Nicky never made it to that meeting in the cornfield - when he left to meet with his crew on that fateful day his car was involved in a horrific collision that killed eleven other people and left many more injured - the body found in the burned out wreck was identified as Nicky because his wife recognised his watch – but no one knows the truth, that moments before the crash Nicky loaned his watch to his brother Dominic…
Then Ginger discovers Nicky is among several people who are seriously injured and yet to be identified from the accident. Using her new identity, she claims he is her husband and has him moved far from Vegas before anyone can realise there has been a mistake. Using the money she has left from her jewellery, she starts her life over in a small town called Rainstorm that's a long way away from the desert, it's the kind of place where mobsters only exist in movies and it is here that Ginger and Nicky try to rebuild what is left of their broken lives.
Then six years later Sam Rothstein is driving in the country looking for a place to plan a vacation with his daughter when he takes a wrong turn and winds up in Rainstorm. Here he sees a woman with Ginger's face and the truth quickly dawns on him that his wife is not dead after all. His first reaction is one of rage when he recalls how Ginger played her part in destroying everything he had in the days when he ran the Tangiers - then he learns Nicky is also alive and his thought turn to revenge…
Will Sam take revenge for the part his wife and her lover played in his downfall or can he ever find forgiveness and compassion in his heart? Has this new life truly changed Nicky and Ginger, or is Ginger still the same selfish woman Sam loved and lost, and is Nicky really telling the truth when he claims he remembers nothing of former life as a mobster – and what will happen when truths are revealed that have been hidden for six long years?
Rated T for language, adult situations and references to violence.
Please note: In keeping with the style of the movie, this story contains strong language used often.
A Town Called Rainstorm
Ginger Rothstein was dead.
At least, that was what the world thought – no, the world didn't matter. The only people who mattered who believed she was dead were Sam and her daughter Amy. That tore her heart out in a strange sort of way; not because she felt sorry for herself but because she figured she deserved it; she deserved to lose them forever and she knew it – she had never been a loving mother to Amy, not in the ways she should have been. Her daughter had witnessed the worst of her excessive lifestyle, seen her take drugs, seen Mommy get high. She had even tied her up once just because she wanted to leave her and escape from the home that had seemed like a prison, that beautiful home that Sam had made for them both. But she couldn't blame addiction for any of it – she could only blame herself for being weak, for being greedy, for letting her life slip off the tracks at the speed of a runaway train.
She had been ready to die, right about the time she found herself alone and cut off from her family, left with nothing but memories.
It was ironic that what ultimately saved her was the death of another.
She wasn't completely stupid, not dumb enough to lose all of her jewellery. She had started to sell some of it off, little pieces here and there that soon added up but paid for her addictions, she stayed in a cheap hotel and told herself that one day she would get out of there. But it was easier to let some day slide far away and think only of her next high because it would buy her time free from pain and regret. Then she met Janine Parker. At the time the woman was just someone to talk to; someone to drink with and most importantly Janine, or Janey as she liked to be known, had drugs and at the time didn't mind sharing them.
And so Ginger had got to know her.
But she had no hopes of forming a friendship with the woman- they were the same height, the same weight, they even looked similar – but Janey had forgotten to tell Ginger one little thing; she was a fucking thief and when she couldn't earn enough from prostitution to buy her drugs, her answer was to steal someone else's – even stealing from someone who had let her share her hotel room when she couldn't afford her own room any more…
And that was what she had done, while Ginger was out drinking, Janey had stolen Ginger's drugs.
Ginger came back and found her dead on the floor.
She had stood there for a moment, staring at the dead woman and guessing she should have known better than to trust anyone in this world, even a stash that would have killed her had been swiped while her back was turned…then as she looked at her she noticed Janey was wearing her dress. Anger flashed through her mind as her eyes ran down the woman's body: The bitch had even taken her fucking shoes…
Ginger had sat there on the edge of her bed, looking down at the body for quite a while.
It was almost light by the time she made up her mind.
As she lifted off the loose panel in the closet and took out the locked box where she kept what was left of her jewellery, she felt real misery as she lifted out the brooch encrusted with diamonds, the one that Sam had given to her when he told her just how much he loved her. It felt heavy as the lead weight in her heart as she handled it for the last time, sliding it onto the dress the dead woman was wearing. Then she pulled off a small diamond ring from her own hand and put it on the corpse's finger.
Then she packed, she took Janey's clothes, Janey's identity, leaving behind everything that belonged to Ginger Rothstein because they had now changed places and this was her last chance to straighten out her life, her very last chance and if this went wrong she would be as dead as the woman on the floor in the hotel.
The only thing Ginger took with her from her old life was her jewellery.
She closed the door behind her and locked it; this place was a dump and it would be days before anyone checked the room. By then the heat would do its work and the corpse on the floor would be identified as Ginger Rothstein – she had done it at last - she had finally killed herself, but not in the way she had expected to…
Nothing had been easy.
Giving up the drugs had been the hardest part but fear was a big distraction from her weaknesses – she had to get out of LA and keep going and not look back because she was afraid, running from herself and what she had done and even when she thought about the satisfaction she got from knowing Sam and Nicky would both believe her to be dead, the pain cut though her like a slowly dragging serrated blade when she thought of her daughter Amy, who would also believe she was dead.
But maybe she was doing her a favour – she had been a lousy mother and she knew it; nothing could ever make amends for that because those years could not be relived, they could not be altered. Ginger had never wanted kids. Sam had wanted a baby, she had given him that baby and then he had married her. She had tried to love him with the kind of depth that he loved her but she never seemed to reach it – perhaps she never would have reached it; a stream was a stream, ever moving, sparkling, beautiful – yet shallow.
And so was she. The dark, still waters that reached down into Sam 'Ace' Rothstein's soul were depths that she could not fathom, so she never tried – instead she kept on moving along with the way the tides of life drifted, and those tides had taken her to the arms of Nicky Santoro…
Ginger had a lot of regrets, but she knew in her own heart which mistake she regretted the most.
She went back to Vegas.
She stayed away from the places she used to go, but a big place was anonymous at the best of times and no one thought twice about a woman called Janey who looked a bit like Ace's dead wife, even if anyone had spotted her, no one ever noticed her because the designer clothes were gone, she was just a woman in the street, no one special, just a woman with a pale face and haunted eyes and a swelling low in her belly that was starting to show even though she wished it would just stop being there – Nicky had left her with more than just memories and she was running out of time to get the abortion.
She had called Sam while she was in Vegas.
Sam had picked up the call and said Hello.
Ginger had put the phone down again; she knew there could be no going back.
She wanted to find Nicky but he had long since thrown her out of his life, physically throwing her out of the door and onto the street when she had been unable to keep her mouth shut about their affair. Word travelled fast and Ginger kept her ear to the ground and she heard about how Nicky had disappeared because rumours were spreading that the Mafia bosses wanted him dead. She also heard that someone had tried to blow up Sam's car.
She thought again about Nicky – and she still ached for him…
Ginger had felt like a ghost in a town where she had once lived like a queen in a palace.
Then she heard the news that shook her to her soul and cracked the foundations she had been laying for approaching future plans – Nicky Santoro was dead.
Ginger had gone back to her small hotel room and locked the door, then slid to the floor and cried until she felt that she would break in half. She could have ended everything at that moment; she could have drank and drank until she passed out and kept on doing it until she was dead, or she could have just taken an overdose and welcomed oblivion even faster.
But she didn't.
Right at the moment she had thought of Sam and Nicky and then her thoughts had rested with Nicky and she had sobbed and sobbed wishing for death just to be where he was right now, something moved within her and reminded her she was not alone.
Ginger had put her hand on her belly and fallen silent, listening, waiting – then she felt Nicky's baby move again. Then Ginger had clutched at her belly and sobbed in a way she had never cried before – she wasn't crying for herself any more… She thought about the drinking, the drugs… It would be different this time. She had to get control over herself; she had to do it for this baby.
Everything in her life had screwed all up to hell and what couldn't be screwed had been ripped to shreds but she wouldn't allow those mistakes to happen again.
She had Nicky's baby. She was keeping the baby…
Her memories were running brightly through her mind as she stood on the street and watched as the bulldozer started to flatten what was left of the old hotel; it had stood in the town for almost a hundred years but it was being ripped down to make way for a shopping mall.
It reminded her of the way lives could be torn down, the way life could be shattered like glass in the blink of an eye, just like she had lost Amy and Sam, like she had lost Nicky, like Sam had lost the Tangiers and everything had slipped through his fingers…
It was like sand. Time slipped too fast. Time was also precious and she had never known it back then…
But this was not Vegas.
This was a small town called Rainstorm and it was far from the desert, far, far away where gangsters existed only in movies and everyone thought Janey Parker who called herself Ginger was just an ordinary housewife.
Six years had passed since she had left her old identity behind.
She had lived in Rainstorm for five of those years and not a day passed by when she didn't think about the past and the life she once had; it haunted her and she was sure it would haunt her forever because it didn't matter that she pretended to be someone else and lived each new day in a new life- she knew who she was inside and that was something that couldn't be wiped out..
Then she turned away from the demolition site and walked on up the street, she passed over a bridge and walked on up past a row of old houses and then turned another corner.
The gates were open and she walked in, a few of the women who were waiting said Hi to her, she smiled back and said hello.
Then the bell rang and Ginger stood and watched as the children filed out of the door.
She smiled as the little girl with her eyes and Nicky's dark hair ran towards her.
Ginger hugged Emily tightly, and then she took her hand and turned back the way she had come in and began to walk home from school with her daughter.
By the time they reached the small, single storey house she had pushed thoughts of the past aside. This place was far removed from the house she used to live in – it was tiny, it was nothing special- but it was home, even if she had to make do with ordinary closets instead of a walk in wardrobe, she certainly didn't need that any more…
As she pushed the gate open a car pulled up in the driveway of the house next door and then her neighbour Iris got out of the car.
"Hi Ginger!" She said brightly.
Ginger smiled at the woman who was younger than her by more than ten years. Iris was nice, she was helpful too. At times she had thought of her as a pain in the ass because ever since she had moved in, she was always leaning over the fence to talk to her, always knocking on the door… but in a way she couldn't help but like her; Ginger wasn't quite sure why, maybe it was because Iris had lived her whole life in Rainstorm and never seen anywhere else, perhaps she pitied her for that – or maybe at times she envied it because Iris would never know the kind of memories or heartache that she kept locked in her heart.
Iris had been widowed very young when her husband was killed in an industrial accident. She had no kids and her life revolved around keeping her garden tidy, working part time at the library and involving herself with the local church. She was pretty but rarely wore make up, she always dressed down instead of up, her long dark hair was always tied back in a ponytail and she was sure she had never known her to make much of an effort with her appearance - she was everything Ginger was not.
But she was helpful and she had certainly needed all the help she could get when she had first moved to Rainstorm.
"How are you?" Iris asked her.
"Fine." Ginger replied.
"And how's your husband?"
"He's doing okay." She told her.
As they spoke Iris came out of her own gate and went up Ginger's path to meet her. And Ginger hoped she could make an excuse quickly, otherwise she would be stuck out here for a long time and she had more important things on her mind…
Emily tugged at her mother's hand.
"I want to go to the park!" She said to her, "Please Mommy, can we go right now?"
Ginger looked down at her daughter.
"No, I said dinner first. I have stuff to do, we can go later on. Go and play in the garden."
The little girl's eyes flashed with a hint of the short fuse she had inherited from her father.
"I want to go now! Now!"
"She's got so much energy," She remarked to Ginger, "She must wear you out sometimes!"
"I'm used to it," She told her, "She's just like her father –"
Then she fell silent and Iris caught the look in her eyes.
"How about if I take her to the park? Then she can come back here for dinner and I'll bring her home afterwards. I love looking after Emily – and I'm sure you'd like to have some time alone with your husband."
"That sounds like a good idea. But only if you really don't mind."
"It's no trouble." Iris replied, "I like having Emily come over."
Ginger looked into her eyes and realised this was one of the reasons why she liked her so much – she was so helpful, she always had been. That made her friendship worthwhile, even if she sometimes had to put up with her love of religion and Iris talking about her church over and over… then as she mentioned leaving for the park and Emily took hold of her hand, she did it again:
"You should come with me to the church and meet some of my friends." She told Ginger, "You'd like it, you really would. I don't know how I'd cope if I didn't have my friends – and my faith." Then she added, "Maybe you should come with me to church one Sunday. The Lord can give you so much strength."
"No, I'm strong enough, Iris. Besides, I don't have the time I'm always busy."
"Well I always remember you both in my prayers; I guess that's the next best thing." She informed her.
Emily was tugging at her hand, impatient to go.
"I'll bring her straight back home after dinner." She told her.
"Be good for Iris." Ginger told her daughter.
"Okay Mommy!" Emily said brightly.
Iris glanced back at Ginger.
"See you soon." She said to her, "And say Hi to Nicky for me."
Ginger watched them walk away and then she closed the gate and turned back to the house. As she went through the door and closed it behind her she smiled, thinking about Iris and what she had just said: She thought Nicky was such a nice man. If she knew the truth about his past, if she knew all about him, Iris wouldn't have thought of him so kindly any more- she would have thought she was living next door to the fucking devil…
As she walked down the hall she was doing it again; she was thinking about the past. She didn't want to but these things often passed through her mind, flitting across like ghosts that refused to rest and right now it was still on her mind - six years ago, the day she found out Nicky Santoro was still alive…
It had happened two days after she had decided to keep the baby; Ginger had doubled up in the bathroom in agony and as pain stabbed at her belly she thought about how she had lived as if she wanted to destroy herself, she had done it too long – she had done it all the while that baby had been growing inside her. When the pain subsided, Ginger had gone to the hospital and by the time she had given her name as Janine Parker she was a sobbing wreck because she was terrified of losing that baby – hearing that Nicky was dead had changed everything for her, the baby had become the one reason she had found to start her life again and if she lost it she was sure she could never find the strength to drag herself out of hopelessness again.
But the baby had been fine.
Ginger had been ready to leave the hospital when she had walked along a corridor and as a patient was wheeled into a room she glanced at him. It was Nicky. Ginger caught her breath and stopped walking, wondering if all the drugs had screwed up her mind so badly she was going crazy - Nicky was dead, she knew it, she had heard all about it because news like that travelled fast :
It was rumoured that Nicky's own crew had been ordered to meet up with him and whack him. But if it was true, Nicky had never got there – he hadn't even left Vegas. His car had just turned onto the highway when a truckload of timber just up ahead had accidentally shed its load – crashing like missiles into vehicles behind. Nicky's car had been hit and spun out of control, colliding with a second car as the passenger door sheared off. Then it had skidded again, colliding with a wall just as another vehicle that was on fire had slammed into it. Both cars had exploded.
It had been a fifteen car pile up. Eleven people were dead and many more were injured.
Nicky's wife had identified his body – she had identified it only because she recognised the watch he was wearing as the one she had bought him several years back for their first wedding anniversary: Nicky never took it off…
Ginger was still standing in the corridor, staring towards the open door. She could see the man in the hospital bed, she could clearly see his face: It was Nicky. It made no sense because Nicky was dead – but it was Nicky…
She blinked, still staring through the doorway. It didn't matter how many times she looked away and then looked at him again – he still looked like Nicky…
Then she waited until two of the medical staff had left the room and then she approached the open doorway. A nurse was checking the equipment around his bed and her back was turned and she didn't notice her at first. Ginger took a quiet step into the room and looked closer at the man who was on life support. He was covered in cuts and bruises. His head was wrapped in a heavy bandage and one side of his face was so badly bruised it had swollen up. On this side of his face his eye was black and swollen too and a deep row of stitches ran from his temple and finished somewhere beneath the bandages that covered his head. And now she could see him clearly she knew for sure that there had been a mix up when his body had been identified: Nicky was'nt dead; this was Nicky, she was sure of it – she would know her lover any where, no matter how smashed up he was…
As Ginger spoke she could barely find her voice.
"Excuse me…what happened to him?"
The nurse turned sharply away from the bed, seeing a pale and rather shaken woman with blonde hair and tears in her eyes standing behind her.
"He was one of the victims from the big accident on the highway." She said in a quiet voice, "We don't know who he is – he's got some terrible injuries, it's most likely he was thrown from one of the cars during the accident – we'll probably have to see if the police can help identify him. You shouldn't be in here, this man is probably going to die –"
Hearing her words shocked her even more: The police? If they identified him as Nicky he would stand no chance because the truth would come out and Nicky had been marked out for death – they wanted him whacked and they would still do it even if he was in this place on a life support machine…
Ginger acted fast, grabbing at the only chance she could think of that would get him out of this mess:
"You don't need to call the police," She said quickly, then she dissolved into tears, adding: "That's my husband…"
Then as Ginger sobbed and the nurse led her over to a chair and helped her to sit, she told her how sorry she was, she told her that she didn't know she was his next of kin…
But they had believed her.
And Nicky hung on.
The days went by and his condition made no improvement but he didn't get any worse either. Her thoughts were torn between staying by his side and willing him to live and making plans for both of them to get the hell out of town. At the time Nicky was too sick to be moved. Each day had been filled with dread for Ginger; fear that he might not make it and fear that the cops would show up and arrest her for stealing Janey's identity, and for lying about Nicky's identity too…
But it didn't happen like that.
Nicky's family believed he was dead and the funeral went on as planned. Sam had also buried the woman he believed to be Ginger – it was over, but she knew she would never relax until she got them both the hell out of town.
That was the hardest time, waiting to see if he would pull through…
Sometimes when she sat at his bedside and looked at him the thought hit her that maybe if he had made it to that meeting in the cornfield, maybe if they'd beaten him and left him for dead his injuries would be just the same as he had now – except that there was no one he could blame for this because it had been an accident. She wondered as she looked at him, how did he get thrown from the car? She knew his car had the door ripped off. Perhaps Nicky had not been wearing his seatbelt. And no one had seen or heard of Dominic Santoro for a long while…had Dominic been driving that day? Had Nicky given his brother his watch? How much had Nicky known about the accident? Had he seen that car hit the wall, watched helplessly as his brother burned to death as the cars exploded? It would have broken him as sure as a savage beating by his own crew would have broken him; Nicky's accident had simply exchanged one fate for another – but at least now he stood a chance to escape the threat of being whacked…
But Nicky was not showing signs of making any rapid or vastly encouraging signs of improvement; he hadn't even opened his eyes yet…
Ginger started to weaken and wonder if her willing him to live was simply prolonging his suffering.
She had looked down at the once powerful man and seen nothing of her lover left, only the battered remains of a guy whose face was held together with pins, beneath heavy dressings a frighteningly huge scar hid the worst of the damage and the emergency surgery that had saved his life. Part of his skull had been shattered. His face was black and blue and his body was broken.
As she thought about these things she felt her own heart breaking and she knew she'd had enough.
She had turned on her heel and walked out of the ICU back into the sunshine, where she leaned hard against the wall and lit up a smoke, welcoming the burn as the taste brought her back to life. Then she sobbed feeling as broken as the man in the hospital on life support. She could have walked away; to walk would have been the easiest solution, but the hardest to bear come nightfall when she laid alone in cold sheets with nothing but the memory of his warmth beside her. She had considered life without him; the image of his shattered body remained stark in her mind - but only for a time lasting seconds.
Her smoke was creeping burnt, another lungful and she was back in the moment before their first kiss, he had promised to get her jewellery, he had whispered all she wanted to hear, "I'll take care of you."
Those words burned through her heart as sharp as the fire that scorched the tip of the cigarette between her lips. She tossed it to the ground and crushed it, grinding it to a mess of torn paper and half-smoked tobacco as she turned back, heading back to the Intensive Care Unit where she knew she had to be.
That had been back then, after the shock had almost got the better of her.
Time made everything better, softened even the sharpest of life's razor edge.
Time was also a great healer.
She had sat beside his hospital bed and watched him sleeping.
The scars were fading now, the bruising had gone and so had the machinery that had kept him alive for so long, at last he could breathe on his own and the doctors had assured her this was a very good sign.
She leaned over him and her lips brushed his temple, touching soft dark hair that was growing over to cover the large scar that resulted from his second surgery.
He was healing at least on the outside, inside it would take longer and she guessed much of the man she loved had been lost but held out hope there would be something of the man she loved who could be salvaged from this mess.
Time did heal all wounds, certainly those that could heal.
The rest she had to trust to...what? Time? Would it be enough to place all hopes in the simple belief that love would be enough?
She felt no movement; his hand remained motionless in her grip. She spoke to him with a brittle strength that she was sure she had cultivated by the sum total of her life right up till now, there was a time when she could have quit but coming this far had showed her she had more strength than she knew. As she spoke she swore she would not shed tears when today would be the same as every other day; it was a miracle he was breathing unaided, to expect him to show more signs of recovery were far off and when they came she knew to expect little, the impact of the crash had left him with severe head injuries and she had been warned of the outcome - there would be no more miracles.
Her voice was strong, she kept it soft but did not allow her tone to waver, strength had been her only ally and now she needed it more than ever.
"Can you hear me?"
His hand remained motionless, only the sound of his slow even breathing came back in reply, his eyes did not move behind closed lids, silence filled the room once more. She refused to let the futility of the situation deter her- she had almost walked away once but no more. Once, he had turned away from her, too- but love as deep and passion as raw as they shared had forged an unbreakable bond.
She kept hold of his hand, studying his face as she searched for any sign that would give her hope.
"I know you're still in there, you're a fighter, you're too tough to give up now. Please, try for me.''
Her voice began to break up but she refused to quit.
"Nothing matters except that we are still alive - as long as you hold on, so can I! Please, try and hold on for me."
The heart monitor continued to bleep a steady rhythm as he breathed slowly and his hand rested motionless in her grasp.
Then his fingers weakly closed around her slender hand.
"Nicky.'' Said Ginger, sobbing as she leaned over him and her tears ran onto his face, ''That's right hold on, hold on to me.''
Ginger kissed his cheek and returned the promise he had once made to her:
"It's all okay now, it's my turn - I'll take care of you now.''
She kissed him again, weeping tears of hope as he held on to her hand, this time he gripped it tighter, this time she had known for sure that he intended to live…
Ginger had moved fast after that, quickly snapping up a small house in a far off town in the middle of nowhere called Rainstorm.
She had never been there before or heard of it – and she hoped that was true for most people, because she needed to vanish fast and so did Nicky.
It was almost a year before they could move in, by then the baby was born and she named her Emily and the day Nicky saw her for the first time she swore she saw some of the man she remembered come back into his eyes when he looked at his daughter for the first time. He seemed to have no memory of anything at all before the accident, not even of his wife and his son little Nicky, but he loved Emily. He adored his baby daughter and that child had helped them both to be determined to make the most of their new start in life. Six year had passed; they had been in Rainstorm for just over five years and even if nothing ever happened here, even if it was a word away from the life she used to know, none of that mattered – because here they could be who ever they wanted to be, here no one ever got whacked, either…
Ginger pushed away all thoughts of the past as she reached the bedroom door.
She went in quietly because he often slept at this time of the day and she didn't want to wake him sharply. Nicky had told her he had no memory of his life before the crash. When she talked about the past he often used to look at her like it meant nothing to him, then close his eyes and block it all out. So she had stopped talking about it. But he recalled the accident, he still had nightmares about it sometimes and that was why she wanted to wake him gently.
He was on the bed, on his side on top of the covers and his eyes were closed as he breathed softly against the pillow.
"Nicky?" She said quietly.
His eyes slowly opened.
Then the two people who Sam Rothstein believed to be long since dead and buried looked at each other and Nicky smiled as Ginger leaned closer, and then she gently kissed him…