Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 25

I walked through a tunnel and over a bridge and went back inside the MGM looking for some rest. Ideas of lying in my bed in the hotel room were starting to sound really good. Walking was an ordeal. My brains were all scrambled from the loud music and the drugs. I came to a place called the Sports Lounge, a cathedral of a place with hundreds of TV screens on the wall, which was as large as an Imax movie screen. It was quiet. A few people were scattered around in chairs facing the wall of TV screens, but for the most part it was empty. I bought a banana and a bottle of water and sat down in a chair facing all the screens in a very deserted part of the lounge. The chair was comfortable, the water was cold and good, the banana was ripe and tasted sweet without being too sweet, and not many people were walking by. Sporting events of all sorts were playing on the screens. Horse races from all over the country. Basketball games in Africa or New Jersey. Long distance running, lacrosse, baseball, football, sports that were out of season were somewhere being played by somebody, and you could bet on the results. I watched the screens and started to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. There was something comforting in the fact that all these people up there on the screens were still doing things, things were happening, and I could just sit here and watch it all happen without lifting my pinky. Things were all happening, as they should, as they always would be, no matter what I did with my little life here. The world would go on without me, as it always had been going on long before I was born. Doing absolutely nothing felt good. I ate my banana and drank my water and started to feel the amphetamines course through me. They were coming on really slow, but after a little bit of rest and hydration I was starting to get back to a more hearty and hale state. My eyes were burning less and a sense of well being came back to me, of everything being okay again, and I laughed and watched the TV screens, feeling good about myself, about drinking cold water and eating a banana. I started to not want to go back to the room. The shapes of things were starting to change. Images coming off of the TV screens were all blending together, coming at me like a in 3-D movie. Horses were racing basketball players on a football field. Long drives were sending baseballs into volleyball nets. Chris Berman’s head was inches from mine and he was screaming at me in Spanish. All kinds of numbers and letters were crashing into my eyes, ticking by my eyeballs like a teleprompt of supersonic Sanskrit. This was getting fun. All the screens turned blue, their plasma surface undulating like jelly. It was like watching the ocean from high above, the capillary waves rippling into the deep rich texture of the azure surface. Then the screens flashed back on all at once and all the multi-colored movement and noise was back. I reached in my pocket for a stray cigarette. Nothing. Damn. I decided to get up, leaving the circus of spinning colors to its own revolutions and leaps of legerdemain, and start a few circling ways and maybe some whirligigs of my own. Off to find my companions, I went exploring the MGMs chasmal kingdom halls.

Leroy and Chet were sitting at the video poker bar. Idiots. I knew there were no more royal flushes in those machines. I sat down next to them and ordered a beer. They looked haggard, older than when I’d known them earlier that night on the dance floor at Coyote Ugly, changed, enervated, depleted of their precious bodily fluids, worn out somehow. Chet had his head in his hands and was looking bleary-eyed at the video screen. Unlike them I was in fine fettle. I had a bounce in my step. I was in backslapping, high-fiving form. I drank my beer, lifting it high and draining it, wiping the excess from my lips with a gratuitous swipe of the back of my hand, yowling at them, “What’re you guys, asleep?” as I twirled in my chair and looked all around. “Come on. Show some sign of life.”

Leroy said, “You sure turned into one cheery asshole. What happened?” His head was lying right on the video poker screen. I could see all the light from it glowing on his face. It made his cheek a nice neon green and his teeth a shiny yellow. His glasses were askew, the thick lenses refracting the colored light from below into distorted realities, rhombuses contracting and expanding and going ovoid or flattening out or spinning in four or five directions at once, seeming to lift off of the glass surface and out into the air where they hung and broke apart like destroyed asteroids in an old Atari game.

I just hunched my shoulders and kept spinning, saying, “There is too much dust gathering in this corner of the universe.”

At some point Chet went back to the room.