Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 13

Leroy was still all curled up sleeping. I left the lights out and quickly dove into the bathroom. The floor was soaked. He must’ve showered with the curtain open, or pissed all over the floor. I decided to believe the former. My shoes got all wet. Leroy snored from his bed, as I shit away in the dark.

I chose to let Leroy sleep off whatever it was that he’d been doing all morning. I mean, he hadn’t slept in two days. Freemont Street was calling me back, so I heeded its call and went back out into the early evening heat.

I ended up sitting at a bar in some casino where they had this hi-def television that was showing a dozen split-screens of baseball games. The bartender was busy making these tall, slushie, margarita-like drinks that give people horrible brain freeze. The drinks came in these plastic souvenir cups that looked liked thin vases for long-stemmed roses, and there were these turbine-like-things above the bar that were spinning the slush around. It was like getting a Slurpee at seven-eleven, except with a little tequila mixed in. I ordered a Budweiser as soon as I could and sat there watching all the baseball games. Some guy in pink shorts and sandals kept coming over for refills on his slushie drink. I tried to ignore him, and for once, finally, this strategy worked. He went away. The beer was cold and I drank it down and ordered another. Getting the bartender away from the slushie machine wasn’t easy. I started knocking on the bar top with my fist. This seemed to do the trick and some well-dressed guy came over and told me to, “Quit doing that.” I tried watching the baseball games but it was too much. As soon as I’d get set on watching one game my attention would be diverted by another, and as I was slowly getting a little drunk, it was hard to concentrate anyway. My eyes kept wandering from square to square on the big screen, and I started getting dizzy, and my beer started getting empty, but I liked sitting there trying to watch all the games at once, trying to keep track of the scores and balls and strikes. On one screen Ichiro got beaned by a pitch and some guy at the other end of the bar yelled out, “That’s for Pearl Harbor you fucking Jap bastard!” It was all too much. I ended up just getting myself really confused and I got up and left. It was time to wake up Leroy.

Leroy was sitting on his bed smoking a cigarette when I came flailing through the door. The air conditioner was rattling like a jalopy with mis-firing spark plugs.

“Leroy. You’re awake.”

“Yes. Yes awake I am. What a fucking morning I had. Or afternoon. Whatever it was. Before I slept.”

“Where?”

“The Glitter Gulch.”

“Where the strippers go to die.”

“Yes. Yes. Man, what the hell was I thinking? I couldn’t sleep and you were freaking out about the ceiling eating your head or something.”

“Yeah. I think I still have some cottage cheese in my hair.”

“So I went down to the bar and had a few beers and then I was like fuck it and I went out to Freemont and just started walking around. I was fucking crazy. I did some more coke in a bathroom somewhere, and I was walking around mumbling to myself and people were starting to stare at me, so I decided to duck into the dark and cozy confines of the Glitter Gulch for a while.”

“How was it?”

“It was a fucking freak show. All these old and worn out strippers kept coming up to me and bugging me, trying to get me to give them money to shove their old and wilted tits in my face. I kept trying to get them to go away. So I mostly just sat there at the stage throwing ones at the girls dancing. Some were kind of hot I guess. More wrinkles than curves though.”

“How long did you stay there?”

“I don’t know. I kept ordering beers and sitting there in the dark, and they kept playing Aerosmith and Whitesnake and shit like that. But, oh, and then this one stripper was actually pretty cool. Let’s see…so, I’m sitting at the stage smoking all of my cigarettes up and drinking beer after beer. I just wanted to see the show, and ever goddamn stripper in the place keeps coming up to me and asking me if I want a lap dance, and I keep telling them no that I just want to watch the show and to leave me alone. And finally this one really ugly stripper, who is more than a little on the heavy side, comes up, and she’s like 19 and looks like she’s been beaten with farm implements her whole life, and I tell her the same thing, you know, that I just want to watch the show. And so this really ugly and blubbery young stripper just sits down next to me and starts talking at me. I drink some beers and watch the show and at some point I turn to her, and for some reason, maybe just to get her to shut up, I ask her what there is to do in this town besides gambling and going to strip clubs, and she’s of course like really shocked, like what the fuck are you doing in Vegas if you don’t want to gamble and ogle naked women while getting drunk? So she tells me we should go to this bar called the Double Down to do our drinking tonight. I guess bands play there and the place doesn’t close. I trust her. She was pretty trashy and probably knows the seedier sides of things. After we got done talking she asked me if I still wanted a lap dance. I told her to get the hell away from me, that I just wanted to watch the show, and I wasn’t about to throw eighty bucks at her so she could wreck the shit out of my lap with her big ass. Maybe if she’d given me a walloping discount, maybe…but anyway, we should check out this Double Down bar.”

So we had plans for the night. That was good. I didn’t want to think anymore about what we were going to do. I just wanted to do it.

Night was settling in and we were going to need a little more cocaine to keep us going. Leroy cut up a few more lines, we sucked them up, finished off the rest of the Jameson, and went off to find some kind of adventures among the tintinnabulations of the casinos.

After a couple of really bad ham sandwiches at the Gold Spike Diner, and a few more Tecates as well, we decided to meet up with Chet and his brothers and explore the high-class excesses of The Strip.


Another taxi, another twenty five bucks, another mega resort hotel lobby and casino, capriciously strolling from one place to the next, not staying anywhere long, grabbing the handrails and putting our feet up us we sped along above the motorized grooved rubber surface of moving walkways, jumping on air-conditioned trams, shouting at things and people for no reason, flipping people off, cussing and getting yelled at to watch our language, drinking at odd fancy bars with tiny furniture and getting kicked out for throwing ice cubes at potted plants, Leroy flinching in wild hiccupping fits and screaming in terror every time he thinks he sees what he believes to be a yuppie, wandering some more, and finally losing more of my money at an Elvis slot machine just trying to make the damned thing play music, screaming, “I just want to make Elvis sing!” as Leroy and Chet drag me away. I remember being rushed into a taxi and the cabbie laughing at us in disbelief when we told him to take us to the Double Down. I seemed to still have a glass in my hand with some ice and a little tawny-colored liquid left in it. I quickly drank it down, rolled down the window, and threw the empty glass at the moon.