Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 2

Everything began for me at 5 a.m. Friday morning in San Francisco’s mission district. I’d fallen asleep on somebody’s couch and was awoken by a cat licking at my face. After that I couldn’t get back into any dreams so I just lay there waiting for time to go by. I was planning to go to Vegas that day anyway with Leroy and Chet, who were roommates and lived only 7 or 8 blocks away from where I was, and we were supposed to leave early. I stared at the ceiling for a bit and awaited a phone call from them. After a while I got tired of that and got up, put on my shoes, and went out to get some coffee. The sun was bright and it felt good to be outside early and walking in the sun. I wasted some more time sitting outside the coffee shop watching buses go by, trying not to stare at other people, and trying not to drink my coffee too fast. It was exciting stuff.

Soon eight o’clock rolled around and nobody’d called, so I went back to the apartment I’d fallen asleep at the night before and rang the bell to be let in. After much buzzing and noise and confusion, somebody let me back in and I went back to my supine position on the couch. Lying there, not thinking much, not sleeping, I started getting anxious and soon turned on the television. People kept trying to sell me things I didn’t want, making it seem as if I needed these things when I really didn’t. It got tiresome. I clicked off the TV and stared at the walls.

I finally called Leroy around nine or so, and he answered in a gravelly, unslept growl. When he said my name it sounded like a needle being obstreperously scraped across a badly warped record. It turned out he was on his way to score some cocaine and that Chet was on his way to pick up the rental car. I knew this would take a while. I resigned myself to a long morning of waiting. Staring at the walls wasn’t so bad.

They finally showed up at about eleven. They’d rented a Mercedes. The place had somehow run out of Cadillacs, which is what we’d originally wanted. Turns out the Mercedes was a great choice. It was a nice big car and it fit all of us nicely, including the girl Leroy had spent the night with, who was, for some reason, sitting in the front seat. I got worried for a moment that we’d be a foursome for the weekend, until Leroy started telling Chet how to get to her house. This turned out to be quite an ordeal unfortunately, as Chet was not used to driving and Leroy was confusing everything with his distracted outbursts of, “Turn here!” at the last second. I just sat back and tried not to worry. Eventually we made it to her house and Leroy hugged her and said goodbye and we were finally on our way.

So, Leroy had been up all night ingesting various illegal and dangerous substances into his system, and now he was just aching to break open the bag of cocaine he’d purchased that morning. I advised him against it, as being on any kind of a stimulant in an enclosed environment sounded about as fun as getting locked in the trunk of a car to me, but since he’d let me ride shotgun I stopped caring and told him he should do whatever the hell he wanted. Chet’s erratic driving was starting to make me a little edgy, so after our first stop at a Burger King off the I-5 I offered to drive. He said he hated driving and gave me the keys, and we all went in to get some breakfast. After ordering, Leroy went into the bathroom and stayed in there for a long time. I ended up eating all the fries he’d ordered. It was good service. They brought the food to the table for you. Chet and I ate our soggy fast food while Leroy finished doing whatever it was he was doing in the bathroom. I felt bad for the person going in after him. It wasn’t going to be pretty in there.

When Leroy finally emerged from the bathroom and sat down at the table we decided to head out. Chet and I had eaten all of the food. I backed the Mercedes out of our parking space, after taking a long time figuring out how to shift gears in the damn thing, and then we were off onto the freeway and onward on our journey into the lights, glitter, mayhem, bloodlust, and insane heat that are Las Vegas.