Benjamin Horne eased back into his office chair at One-Eyed Jack's, took a leisurely and appreciative puff from his cigar, and thought about the new girl. It was far-and-away his favourite perquisite about being the co-owner of a casino/brothel – he was in a position to sample, first, all of the newest, freshest merchandise that his contacts sent his way. Well, only if he won the coin-toss with his partner, younger brother Jerry, that is. However, he made it a priority to keep Jerry out of the country, for as long as he could reasonably get away with – so, for the vast majority of the time, he was their first client. He leant back even further, thinking about the dozens of young women he had bedded over the last five years, and the familiar stirring in his pants caused him to smile, salaciously. He was the proverbial little boy in a sweet shop. Unlike Jerry, who was a bull in a china shop – according to Blackie, at least! Would the two of them ever be able to sate their overwhelming Epicureanism? He hoped not, for he was forming plans. Oh, the things he was going to do with the new girl tonight.
The sound of the door opening interrupted his lustful thoughts. He glanced up to see Blackie, the Madam he had hired to run this place for him and, without any greeting or preamble, she cut straight to the chase. "We might have trouble."
He looked at her more closely and noticed, not for the first time, how her drug habit was, by imperceptible degrees, beginning to take its toll on her looks. It was a drug habit that he had initiated, and continued to subtly maintain; he preferred his employees to be easily malleable, and what better way than to be continuously in his debt? He knew, in his heart, that he was a contemptible bastard for those actions but, in all honesty, he was more than happy with that admission – in many ways, relishing the ruthlessness with which he treated everyone, friends and enemies alike.
He took his cigar, somewhat reluctantly, out of his mouth and sighed. "Blackie, must you always expect the very worst from our loyal customer base?"
She shrugged. "Well, it's your casino that's losing money hand over fist to one of them. But, if that isn't trouble enough, I'm certain they're cops – U.S. cops, at that – they both emit a certain bouquet."
He adjusted his glasses and sighed again. His erection was beginning to flag – he hated that. "Okay, let's have a look at them on that thing," he said, pointing to the TV monitor on the corner of his desk. "I presume you know where they are?"
Blackie picked up the remote and deftly started pressing buttons. "Well, the cute one making a killing at the Blackjack table is – here." An image appeared on the monitor of a young man wearing a tuxedo, a sizeable pile of chips arrayed on the table in front of him.
He did a double take, before he rose out of the chair to grip the edge of his desk to steady the sense of disbelief, his fallen cigar, forgotten, on the carpet at his feet. "What the devil is he doing here?"
Blackie calmly glanced between the monitor and her employer, and raised an eyebrow as her curiosity piqued. "By your reaction, I presume you know him, and you're not best pleased he's here."
He continued to look at the monitor, as his cigar started to burn a hole not two inches from his right foot. He knew him all right. The image on the monitor might be of a young gambler wearing a tuxedo and a pair of glasses – but glasses had never been much of a disguise for Clark Kent – and they weren't much of a disguise for Dale Cooper, either. "Yes, I know him," he snarled. He sniffed, and finally became aware of the damage his cigar was happily inflicting. With a grunt, he bent down to retrieve it and vented his anger by stubbing it out, vigorously, in the ashtray. He looked at Blackie, while his right hand stabbed in the direction of the monitor. "That happens to be the F.B.I. agent investigating the murder of Laura Palmer, goes by the name of Cooper. He's staying at the Great Northern. Your instincts didn't let you down, my dear, I shouldn't have doubted you."
She accepted his apology with a brief nod of the head before sitting down opposite and entwining her fingers together in an attitude of deep thought. "So, if he's Bureau – what is he doing here? I wasn't aware he had any jurisdiction on this side of the border?"
He tore his gaze away from Cooper to look at her, a lascivious smile appearing on his face, as his mind began concocting nasty little scenarios. "You may have something there, my dear." He trailed his tongue along his lower lip, as his mind worked overtime. "Do we have any of our RCMP regulars in tonight? The Deputy Commissioner, for example?"
Blackie nodded. "DC is here, yes, and our stock of celery is just about holding out."
He shook his head and snorted. "That damn fetish of his. Did he mention anything? The usual heads-up?"
"About cross-border operations and the Bureau here tonight? Not a word."
"Excellent. That means Cooper has been flagrant with the rules, and is here illegally. Oh, the arrogance of the man. I wonder if there's any way he could be used."
Her eyes widened in surprise. "You're not seriously thinking about trying to blackmail him?"
"Why not," he snapped back, instantly. "He wouldn't be the first agent I've blackmailed, and I know he won't be the last. And besides, it's not strictly blackmail I'm considering – I just want him in my corner of the ring, for the duration of his stay."
"You're playing with fire, Ben."
He looked at her, and thought about simultaneous schemes. Playing with fire – if she only knew how true that statement was, tonight of all nights. In a matter of hours, the Packard Saw Mill would fall victim to a catastrophic fire and, if Leo Johnson did as instructed, with Catherine Martell inside at the time. Goodbye Packard Saw Mill, Hello Ghostwood Development Project. "You know, if you never experience a little heat, let yourself get right to the edge of being burnt, you never build up the resolve to get the necessary things done. So, just bring him in here, Blackie. I'm going to give him a gift that he won't be able to refuse."
"And what might that be?" she asked curiously.
He leant back in his chair, slowly clasping his hands behind his head, a triumphant smile on his face. "I'm going to give him the new girl!"