Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 10

It’s six in the morning when we finally exit the sultry dungeon that Olympic Gardens has become. By this point we’re all a bit weary. We wander around towards Las Vegas Boulevard and I realize that I’ve got to piss, so I meander into a liquor store and can’t figure out what the hell’s going on in there, and stumble back out and piss on the wall outside while Leroy and Chet keep screaming that they see a cop car coming. I feel much better after I zip up and look up at the Stratosphere looming over us as the sun rises. It’s like a Space-Needle-sized queen from a chess set that’s been stretched out by a torturer’s rack, or some magnificent antennae for Pantagruel’s radio. I start screaming, “We have to go to the Stratosphere while the sun’s rising. We have to go all the way to the fucking top of the thing and watch the sun rise from up on top of the world!” This seems like a good idea to them, so we run across the street and into the doors of the Stratosphere’s lobby. It’s nice and cool inside. For some reason we’re all running. I think I had convinced them that we were going to miss the sunrise if we didn’t hurry.

Empty slot machines were everywhere. It felt like we were the only ones alive in the world. We kept following the signs hanging from the roof that were supposed to give directions to the different areas of the hotel, but we couldn’t concentrate long enough to remember in what direction they’d told us to go. I kept looking for a sign that said, “The Top of The World” but kept not seeing any, which only made me run faster towards the next sign. Finally we found some lone security guard sitting by the escalators. He was just a blur of blue. I said something like, “Top of the World. Now. We need. Running. Soon? Elevators or things that go up?” Needless to say, we never made it up there.


*


We are in a bathroom at the Stratosphere and I am in a large handicap stall with Leroy and Chet, and Leroy is cutting up lines of coke on the burnished surface of the toilet basin lid and the bathroom is empty and peaceful and echoes a lot and nobody is coming, don’t worry we’re the only ones here right now stop fucking freaking out here do this line okay and this toilet is so smooth it is so much like melted porcelain almost like a thick white liquid and it shines like it’s been polished all those powdery lines cut-up like chalk dust sitting there and not sinking, and now everything feels good again and they never stop serving alcohol in Vegas and this is good because I could really use a drink right now. Where are the mirrors? I need a mirror. I want to look inside my nose. Every little noise is amplified into echoes that rebound off of the walls like a hundred bouncy balls shattering the stillness of this grand and shining and empty bathroom.


*


We kept having to remind ourselves of how early in the morning it was. Time seems very strange when you don’t sleep. It’s like the night never happened, but it is still happening at the same time, and the sun doesn’t make sense, like weather on another planet, and your brain keeps flipping upside down and telling you anything is possible, that is before dejection sets in and tells you that everything is wrong and horrible and that it’s all an empty dream of nothing, and that’s where the cocaine can come in handy. After doing the last of Leroy’s stash of blow in the Stratosphere’s bathroom, though he assured me he still had more back at our room, we walked out to Las Vegas Boulevard and sat at a bus stop for a little while. Buses kept not coming, just long moments when there didn’t seem to be any sound anywhere in the world. I kept listening. A giant man made of PVC vinyl sheets stood superciliously with his hands on his hips above the casino towers. His name was Danny Gans and he was smiling. I stood up too and put my hands on my hips and smiled like Danny Gans. The billboard he was on proclaimed him, “ The Man of Many Voices.” I started talking like Bill Cosby. Then I sang the chorus to Deep Blue Something’s ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s,’ except I sung it with an operatic baritone and changed a lot of the words and ended up singing something like, “And I said what about My Breakfast With Blassie, and you said that Andy Kaufman sure hates women, and I said, well I know what that’s like, dah dah dah dahdah!” Leroy and Chet ignored me. It wasn’t a good performance. This Danny Gans sure was something.

We finally decided to take a Taxi back to the Tropicana and go swimming in the pool. I also wanted to ride on the NYNY roller coaster, which I had assured my two companions would still be running, even at this early hour. So it was back in a Taxi and back to the Tropicana. I remember sitting on the floor of the hotel hallway there with Leroy while Chet went into his room, where his brother and his girlfriend were sleeping, and checked to see if he still had some Coke left. We were starting to fiend a little at this point and Chet kept telling us to keep it down. He must’ve found some because I also remember doing a fat line in his hotel room bathroom while being shushed as I yapped on about something or other so as not to wake up the sleeping pair. Chet was trying to be considerate. I was cockeyed. He pushed me out into the hallway at some point where I stood grinding my teeth until Leroy also came bounding out, and we both ran to the mirror by the elevators to check to see if we had any white dust in our nose hair. We didn’t.

Unfortunately, the NYNY roller coaster was closed until ten a.m., but I think it was past seven by the time we made it over there, and it didn’t seem unreasonable to us, being coked out of our gourds, that we would just go hang out somewhere else for a while and come back. I remember screaming to the guy at the NYNY rollercoaster’s reception desk—who had kindly informed us with a really scared look on his face, like I’d been holding up his dead grandmother’s skull or something, that the roller coaster would be opening up at ten sharp—“We’ll be back at ten! This thing better be running because we’re going to be ready to ride. You can bet all your bottom dollars on us being back here at ten. We’re not going to miss it. You better be here.” I kept going on as we all walked away with much alacrity and a great sense of purpose. Chet suggested we go swimming at the Tropicana pool. Leroy and I didn’t have swimsuits, but somehow this didn’t seem to matter, and onward we trod, making our enfeebled way back to the Tropicana at last, then following and trying to make sense of ceiling signs again. All these arrows pointing in all these directions, some even seemed to be pointing back at us, but eventually we found the pool, and discovered that it opened at 8 a.m. This was disappointing, but again, we figured we would just wait it out.

We ended up hanging out in a video arcade where none of the games were turned on, except for this photo booth that engraved your picture on a metal keepsake for 5 bucks. So we put in our five bucks and sat in various poses while the thing snapped a bright light at us. I had a prominent under bite in the picture that we chose to have engraved. It was actually kind of cool. This little metal plaque kind of like a dog tag or something with our picture on it. Chet kept it. He went up to his room to change or something. Leroy and I sat in the dual bucket seats of a race car game staring at the blank screens, pretending to drive and shift gears, talking very loudly as some guy vacuumed the carpet all around us.

“Shit. You know what I want to do? I’ve always had this dream, this kind of plan for myself, how I’ll end up.”

“Dead. Just like the rest of us. That’s how you’ll end up no matter wha…”

Leroy cut me off with a barbarous war cry. “Shut the fuck up! No. Just…listen.”

I was having a hard time just listening, but I tried.

“So, I’ve got all of this money in this 401k account, you know, for when I retire, but shit, I don’t want to wait. I mean, who knows? At the rate I’m going I might not make it much longer.”

“Could get hit by a bus to-morrow so eat, drink, drain your bank account.”

“I’m going to take all of that money and buy a trailer and go live out in the desert somewhere where nobody can find me. I’ll drive it around for a while maybe. And I’ll just end up somewhere, and that’s where I’ll stay. Every morning I’d go outside and sit in a lawn chair and drink coffee, smoke, and watch the sunrise. Just look up at the sky and think about things, take things slow, enjoy life, watch clouds go by. I’d get a dog and buy some guns and I don’t know, I’d just live out there on my own.”

“Do you even know how to shoot a gun?”

“What? SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Leroy was howling now and I decided to change the subject.

“Hey. What do you think about moving to France? I know this guy in Paris named Dominique. Good guy. Works in real estate. Has all kinds of connections. We could just get all of our money together and get some place to live there and we could learn French and you could just paint all day and I could walk all over the city and meet people and invite girls back to our place and we could go out at night and have wild times and…”

The vacuum cleaner turned off and my voice was all of a sudden ridiculously loud. Leroy and I were quiet for a few seconds and then we started laughing uncontrollably.