By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
On the street, Cole called a cab on his cell phone to take him to his girlfriend's house.
Alone in the dark, he waited by a pillar near the pool hall's entrance to be picked up.
Cole Bailey Sr. spent his early childhood on a ranch outside of Tucson, riding bulls and living a cowboy lifestyle. His mother, Ginger, describes him as "rebellious," and Bailey concurs. He's had his share of fights. "I hate bullies. I've hated them all my life. I remember in fourth grade someone would pick on me and I'd think about getting back at them all night long. I've always been the quiet one who carried a big stick."
Soon after puberty hit, Bailey's aspirations became more Hollywood than Wild West. He wanted to be a rock star, and began composing and singing gritty blues-rock songs. But he wanted to be a father, too, and that goal was more easily attained. Bailey learned his girlfriend was pregnant when he was just 16, and Cole Adrian Alan Bailey Jr. was born on July 23, 1982.
"When Cole was born, I was overjoyed, ecstatic. I'm very guarded with my emotions, always in control, but that day there were tears running down my face," he says slowly. "Pure untainted joy."
Cole Jr. was diagnosed with his heart condition shortly after birth, a common congenital malady called ventricular septal defect, which means he had a hole between the left and right pumping sections of his heart. Cole would undergo two open-heart surgeries, including the installation of a pacemaker when he was 8 years old.
Cole was an understanding and sensitive kid, his grandmother remembers tenderly. When he was hospitalized for heart surgery, he met a sick young boy and intentionally lost a game of pool to him. "Cole Jr. then whispered to his Aunt Rachel that he . . . let the other boy win because the other boy needed to win," his grandmother recalls. She remembers camping trips in the Catalina mountains, thrill rides at the State Fair in Phoenix and the time Cole Jr. "convinced me to go down that twisty slide and then I got stuck and had a minor panic," which caused her grandsons to laugh uproariously.
Cole Bailey Sr. joined the Navy to support his young family when he was 17. He served four years in the service doing undercover drug-enforcement work for the Naval Intelligence Service. He was assigned to a Temporary Personnel unit, where those returning from overseas would await reassignment. Because of the constant flux of personnel, he says it wasn't difficult for an agent to operate without detection.
The Navy taught him prejudice, he says. Bailey describes military service as being much like prison in those days. There was a clear separation of races, and animosity was common. He says he was in boot camp five days when he fought a black man who blamed him and the white system for repression. But gradually, Bailey says, he's unlearned that prejudice: "I learned to judge a person on his own character."
Still, Bailey has cultivated distaste for certain factions of society; there's not an ounce of political correctness in him. "I don't like white trash, and I don't like immigrants flooding into this country. They have no patriotism, and they don't give a shit." The influx of illegal aliens, he says, was one reason he left urban Phoenix for the hills outside Prescott.
Bailey was discharged from the Navy at 20, and went to work promoting nightclubs in Hollywood, and playing with his band, Roadkill Cafe, on the weekends. It was there, he says, that he first made connections with a group of Russians that would later assist him in locating his son's killers. Bailey moved to Phoenix in 1994, and worked as a DJ at the Jungle Cabaret until 1996, when he bought his first strip club, Cheetah, which he renamed Amazons Olympic Gardens. In July 1997, he purchased another club, Baby Dolls, which became Bailey's Platinum Club West until it closed recently. Today, Bailey monitors operations at his Tucson club, Bunny Ranch Cabaret and Cafe, through a system of 20 video cameras that feed into his home in Prescott.
When Cole Jr. turned 18, Bailey put him to work in Bailey's Platinum as a bartender. "These middle-aged men would come in and sit and talk with him for hours," Bailey says. "Knowing that people were coming more to talk to him than watch the girls always made me smile."
Bailey was fascinated by his son's intellect and intuition. "I knew he was smarter than me. He was a people reader. He could size people up and read between the lines."
Bailey admits he was strict with his son. "I'm not much of a time-out kind of dad," he says with a smile. Their conversations, especially in the months before his death, "were pretty much yes sir, no sir."
"Things were still a little cool between us. He was resentful he wasn't working for me anymore, and he was having problems making payments on his Mustang."
Bailey wishes more than anything that he could regain that time with his son during those difficult months. In addition, he's felt cheated every single day since his son's death, knowing that he will never enjoy Cole's company again.