Saturday, June 5, 2010

Peru



It may be hard to believe but it's true, the Atlantic City Casino is in Lima, Peru. Schmitz would never have guessed. Inasmuch as AC is a casino city, it, nonetheless, has no casino named after itself. But neither does Las Vegas, for that matter. So it goes. Maybe that's why some people don't like to name their kids after themselves. Not George Forman. He has five sons named George, namely George Jr., George III, George IV, George V and George VI. Oh, Schmitz checked and there is a Las Vegas Casino in Lima, Peru as well. Peruvians know how to flatter.

A couple of reviews from TravBuddy...

"While in Lima my friends and I came upon the Atlantic City Casino while walking the streets looking for fun. We found some at this place. They serve free alcohol, which is always a plus at any casino. The inside is very nice and they run a tight ship. They only accept American Dollars so that’s not bad; they have ATMs there of course. The minimum bet on blackjack and roulette was only $2. So this made for plenty of gaming action without losing all that much money. Sports betting also went on here, you could bet on pretty much any event in the world. The area for the sports book was high quality as well. Overall I highly recommend that you give this place a try if you’re looking to gamble in Lima."

"Peru is a popular destination in South America not just for regular tourists but also for all those who love gambling. Casinos in Peru are quite popular. There are all over the country! Gambling is well played and much enjoyed, both by locals and tourists.
This casino's games cater to every taste and include blackjack, roulette, craps, and slots and of course poker. Security is provided properly, so tourists don't have to worry about it.

But they don't offer just games, they also have a karaoke - open the whole week! - and 2 restaurants: a fancy one and other one called Deli Gourmet not expensive.

But, this casino (Atlantic City) gives you free food and free drinks while you are playing. So you can save some money there ;)"

This week the Atlantic City Casino of Lima, Peru is hosting the Latin America Poker Tournament (LAPT). This would be of little concern to Schmitz other than the fact that the name Joran van der Sloot has popped up on the wires linked to the casino and the LAPT and a local murder. Sloots was in Lima to play in the LAPT. The Slooter was and remains the prime suspect in the presumed death of Natalee Holloway, which occurred in 2005 in Aruba. Ever since Schmitz saw the picture of Natalee back in 2005, he was hooked. 2005 was a bad year for Schmitz.



You see Natalee is the spitting image of Schmitz's daughter, Anna Schmitz. (Well, except for the gap). And like Natalee, Anna is missing. Sometimes Schmitz gets the two girls and their stories confused.

It was on May 30, 2005, when Natalee went missing. She was celebrating her eighteenth birthday. She was last seen with Joran and his two friends. Her body has never been found. Sloots and the two brothers were quickly identified and brought in for questioning. They were detained on two different occasions but there wasn't enough evidence to try them. Paulus van der Sloot, Joran's father, was an Arubian judge. Strings were pulled. Much has been written and said about the Holloway case. The consensus is that Mr. van der Sloot got away with murder.

Anna Schmitz was nicknamed Wild Thing. She had a gap between her two central upper incisers. Some people say that's a sign of being oversexed. Anna's mother, Gypsa, left Schmitz and Anna when Anna was six years old. Gypsa had a gap too. Gypsa worked as a blackjack dealer at the Sand's Casino in the World's Playground. She and Sal Coniglio*, her pit boss, fell in lust and hopped off one night after the 4 PM to midnight shift. Impetuous woman, she was. Schmitz did his best with Anna. Too bad she got Gypsa's dentition.

At the age of fourteen, Anna became the unofficial mascot of the Atlantic City High School football team. Schmitz sent her to therapy. He took her out of the public school system. He enrolled her in an expensive, preppy, private school supported by the TV Guide guy, Walter Annenberg. Things didn't get much better. The blue blazered boys of the Peddie School were happy to have such an accomodating coed. And so it went, Anna did all the fun things, all except anything with a needle. In February 2005, Anna was eighteen. She was supposed to come home to Atlantic City to spend a few days with Schmitz for the President's Day break. She was last seen with James Lord leaving Hightstown, NJ, the home of Peddie. He was going to drive her to the shore.

Lord, also a senior at Peddie, said that he and Anna got into a heated argument. Lord was jealous. Anna was the kind of woman every man wanted. By the time they were deep in the Wharton Forest on Route 206 South, Anna demanded that he stop the Miata. So said Lord. He pulled to the shoulder of the road near Atsion Lake. She jumped out. He left her there to thumb a ride the rest of the way to Atlantic City. It was dark, about thirty degrees and desolate. She was never seen again. Lord was questioned and held. Searches went on, corpse dogs combed the forest, jets with infrared scoured the Pinelands for fresh turned, uneven earth. All to no avail. Lord was and remains the prime suspect in her presumed murder. Anna's body has not been found. Schmitz could never understand how any man would leave a woman in that God forsaken stretch of road. He hates Lord. He thinks Lord has gotten away with murder.

Sometimes, especially on warm, humid nights, Schmitz will nightmare. The faces of van der Sloot and Lord will flash back and forth and flicker like the "E" on the "HOTEL" neon sign. Here's what Sloot looks like.



Lord has a nose with upturned nostrils, nostrils flared liked he smelled feet. He will never forget that weasel face. He looks like a younger version of Representative Henry Waxman of California. Imagine Waxman with hair and younger, a lot younger and with a lot more hair.



Well, it looks like Sloot is at it again. Joran arrived in Lima from Columbia, a few days before the start of the Latin America Poker Tournament. He met twenty-one year old Stephany Flores. She, too, liked to play poker. Her family says she knew of van der Sloot's past, yet, curiously, she hung with him. She has been found murdered, battered and with a broken neck in a room van der Sloot had been staying in. There is a video record of the two of them entering the room around AM 5 and Sloot leaving the room alone AM 9 on May 30th, ironically five years to the day of Natalee's disappearance. Joran then took a bus and headed for Chile. Interpol helped in apprehending him in Chile and he has now been returned to Peru. He claims innocence. Schmitz wonders whether he has an uncle Arturo or Silvio or Placido, who might be a Peruvian judge. His father, Paulus van der Sloot, died of a heart attack a few years ago. He wont be able to pull any strings this time.

Schmitz is excited, but sad, too. He feels the pain again for himself and for the Flores family and for the Holloway family. This time there is a body! It is hard to prove a murder without a body. Not only a body, but also a condemnatory video recording. Schmitz wonders whether van der Sloot might be a serial killer. Are there others? How many? For a second he thinks van der Sloot killed his Anna. Those flashing faces confuse him.

It's a hot, humid night. The ocean mist coming down Brighton Avenue makes Schmitz feel sticky hot. He knows the nightmare will come again tonight. He cracks a Pabst open. The tab gives him a hard time and the beer squirts out in a fine stream hitting the green painted kitchen wall. A picture of Gypsa and the six year old Anna hangs askew a couple of inches from where the beer has coalesced and is about to run down the wall. It's the winter, January, a week or so before Gypsa left with the Rabbit. It's one of those days when the sun is at an angle at noon in New Jersey. Both Gypsa and Anna are smiling, wide toothy smiles. Schmitz stares at the picture for the millioneth time. He downs the can in one gulp. He'll need more.

*coniglio=rabbit (Italian)

Addendum June 8, 2010

According to La Republica newspaper, van der Sloot said he broke Stephany Flores' neck after she grabbed his laptop without his permission and found out that he was involved in the disappearance of an American woman

The paper quoted van der Sloot as saying, "I did not want to do it. The girl intruded into my private life... she didn't have any right.

"I went to her and I hit her. She was scared, we argued and she tried to escape. I grabbed her by the neck and hit her."

A Peruvian television station, Channel 4, also said it had obtained details about Van der Sloot's confession in which he reportedly told police that he killed Flores because he got angry when he found out that she had looked up information about his past on his laptop.

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