Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 17

“Man, those bathrooms suck.” I said as I rejoined the group at the table. “They’re all small and cramped, and just beware…it kind of stinks in there right now.”

Chet’s brother, already impressed by my meticulous attention to the conditions of Las Vegas restrooms, suggested that I write a book entitled, “Where To Find the Best Bathrooms in Vegas,” or some such thing.

The Eskimo, whom I kept referring to as Hoy, had brought a few dozen napkins to us by this point, and there were knives and forks spread all over the table, glinting in the ocherous light of the Rio Buffet Dining Area. Leroy was playing the drums on the table with a couple of knives. Snaggle, who was sitting directly across from me, looked a bit piqued, and there was a certain kind of vermilion coming to her face. Her snaggle tooth was biting hard into her lip. I thought she might have a stomachache and offered her my water, but she just shook her head like a wounded animal. There was a terrified look in her eyes, some kind of preternatural fear that was hemming her in on all sides. I knew that look. And I also knew that there was no cure for it. She’d just have to wait it out.

My eggs were almost inedible by this point, but I shoveled them down anyways figuring I might need something in my stomach at some point today, and this would probably be my best shot at getting it. They were slimy and so was the tepid bacon, but it all went down the chute. I finished it all off and set my plate behind us with all of Leroy’s partly eaten dishes. I picked up a fork and started playing air guitar with it. Boston’s “More Then A Feeling,” was playing on the dining room’s sound system. Leroy and I were doing quite a good version of the song, using our utensils as instruments and singing the chorus when it came on. The others in our party were not amused, especially Snaggle, who was grimacing in horror and holding her stomach.

Leroy and I both realized that we had to get out of this disaster, and fast. Leroy screamed, “Don’t leave any tip for these bastards!” And we got up and left. It was time for us to go get some drinking done before we had to face the long drive home.

There was a fancy bar in the middle of the Rio lobby. We sat down in these plush and oversized armchairs, feeling a bit out of place, and watched a tall and elegantly beautiful cocktail waitress walk around in a very skimpy outfit, the material barely enough to cover her slender curves. The world buzzed on around us. We took no notice. It was as if we’d been put into a trance and all we could do was hang our mouths open and pretend to be alive. Chet joined us soon and began staring at the waitress also. I couldn’t handle it anymore and started looking at the bottles behind the bar. But they were less interesting and I went back to watching the waitress make her rounds. When she came up to us we were all still speechless and numb, but somehow we ordered drinks, I think I got a Mojito, and she went on away and left us to try out this thing called speaking once again.

There was a decision that needed to be made. None of us wanted to make the drive back. We talked it over. There was always the option of heading out in the Mercedes right then and just driving the damn beast as far as we could into the desert, and wherever it was that we may stop when our limbs or eyeballs gave out we’d just hunker down there and get a cheap motel room for the night, with me calling in sick to work the next morning. I liked that idea for some reason. Just the thought of this presumed freedom, this excess of time just languorously going by in some small desert town somewhere, the breaking up of the drive, and just the audacity of going for it and saying what the hell and driving on into the American night, maybe even reaching Barstow or some cheap shit motel off the I-5 where we could wander in exhausted and completely wrecked, and just sleep while the night spilled all over us like black tar, weighing us down with a benevolent somnolence, a small and downy comfort in the long long arms of America’s open road. Chet mentioned that his brother had gotten a room at the MGM for like eighty bucks. That seemed like a much easier way to go. I’d have to call in sick to work either way, and it would be nice to just take it easy, to not have to drive or go anywhere, to lie out by the pool drinking margaritas and sleep in a plush, well air-conditioned hotel room at the luxurious MGM Grand. At first I thought they were saying, “Sam Jam,” and I couldn’t figure out what that was. I kept asking what the hell, “Sam Jam,” was. Both Chet and Leroy were very confused by this. I gave up and just started saying, “Sam Jam!” every time anyone spoke to me. It made things easier. So while I sat there sipping on my Mojito and screaming, “Sam Jam!” at everything, Chet and Leroy made arrangements to stay at the MGM. It all seemed like a fine idea to me. One more night in Vegas and I could just sit here saying, “Sam Jam,” forever, watching the cocktail waitress bend over to pick up empty glasses and pretending that tomorrow didn’t exist. Chet went away to have a long phone conversation with somebody at the MGM. Leroy and I sat there in our plush armchairs drinking our drinks and not saying much.