Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 7

We journeyed down past the gambling machines and out into the blast of heat that was the Las Vegas summer night. Down Freemont street I grabbed two bottled waters—Leroy was too scared to venture inside the uterus of a Disney-like souvenir shop with me to buy the water—and we swilled them down fast, realizing that we were both really parched. I figured we would need as much water as we could if we were to survive in these hell fire conditions. Zigzagging back and forth we took long strides among the fat-bellied, fanny-pack-wearing, bad-T-shirted crowd of Midwest vacationers. The canopy above blocked out the desert sky, and there wasn’t even a light show to look at yet. I couldn’t really settle on a place to go into. We wandered by the Glitter Gulch with its booted gal eying us from her neon perch above, almost meandering our way in, but I told Leroy it was too soon for stuff like that, and that first we needed good strong drink. The Plaza hotel loomed at the end of the street where an old railroad station had once stood long before what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas.

I motioned to Leroy, extending my forefinger in an exaggerated point, “Look. There it is. The Plaza. They’ve got a great band that plays there, this like Japanese crooner sort of band. Hard to explain. They might be playing. It’s Friday night. Let’s go.”

So we hurried out from under the fake white sky of Freemont Street and into the really well air-conditioned lobby of the Plaza hotel. It seemed kind of deserted in there, and everything was going by really fast. We must have been really moving through that place. At one point I shouted out, “Ah shit! The curtains are closed. The band’s not here. Fuck. That sucks.” Leroy wanted to keep moving towards a bar. I told him there was a really nice long bar at the back somewhere, but for some reason we kept not finding it. My head was kind of scrambled and I kept getting distracted by the buzzing hum and whirring roar of people hitting mini-jackpots on the gaming machines. But in an auspicious and very singular blink of the eye it shot out of the distance and I saw it and there it was and then there we were sitting at the bar and staring at the video poker screens there in front of us, and the bar tender was a really old guy who was just standing around not really doing anything or serving anybody drinks and we were the only ones sitting at this side of the bar and it was really long and he wasn’t doing a damn things and we both really needed a drink. The coke was working its furious way through my limbs and I was chomping at the bit and Leroy was freaking out and waving his arms to try to get the old slob’s attention and I put a fiver in the video poker machine and then finally the fucking moron ancient bartender guy comes over and we both are struck dumb for some reason and can’t even think of anything to order…

…and so then Leroy was saying, “Why yes. Hello there. My companion and I will have two Irish car bombs please. Yes. That will be all. Two car bombs. That will be just great my dear man.” So the guy kind of gave us a funny look and he didn’t really seem to know what the hell he was doing, and the last thing I wanted was a fucking car bomb in my stomach, but what the hell. I then became very immersed in the video poker, which was quickly draining the quarters from my five dollars. The guy appeared again seemingly out of nowhere holding two plastic cups half-filled with Guinness and two tiny plastic cups filled with some strange yellowish liquid that made me think of pineapple juice for some reason. Leroy and I both looked at each other in disbelief. Leroy tried to explain to the poor chap our situation, and ended up just telling him to, “Get some fucking Baileys in the god damn cup and some Jameson for christsakes! We want IRISH fucking car bombs!” The guy muttered something penitent and unintelligible and went back and did what Leroy had recommended. When he came back with the proper drinks he said something like, “Oh. Irish. I see. Irish cab bums.” We just looked at each other and laughed. The poor sap. Stuck in this dead end job serving shitty drinks to even shittier people who keep gambling away all their money on a video game. We decided to drink up. Most of mine spilled all over the table, curdling in boggy pools all across the video poker screen. About half of this diseased mixture was left in my cup. These cups were obviously not the proper size for this endeavor. I tried to drink the rest of it off, and ended up spilling most of it all over my pants. Leroy had his downed in an instant and was ready to go. He’s one of these people who can just open up his throat and pour anything he wants to down really fast. I’m not. I’m more of a sipper. So we were off to catch a cab over to the Tropicana on the strip, and I figured it would feel good to be outside again. The Plaza had almost destroyed us single handedly. We needed a change of scenery.