Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 8

Outside it was an oven and we needed a Taxi to keep us alive. Luckily they were all lined up on the street waiting for fares. We hopped in one and told the guy to take us to the Tropicana hotel and he said sure thing and we were off headed towards the strip via the freeway. The cab driver was some kind of old hippy and said that he used to smoke two joints every night before driving, but that he didn’t do that anymore of course, and that we were safe with him at the wheel. He asked if we were musicians or something. I told him some story about us being a folk duo that did some gospel hymns and Carter family songs and did a lot of yodeling and that kind of stuff. Told him I played a stand up bass because I was tall and Leroy played the banjo. He just laughed. He got us to the Tropicana. That was good enough for us.

As we made our way through the swinging glass doors and up the red needlefelt-carpeted stairs to the lobby I remembered something my Uncle had told me a long time ago. He said when you go into the Tropicana remember to look up. I couldn’t remember why. I had to take a leak so we went up to the 2nd floor where I knew there were nice bathrooms and decided, upon entering the empty and clean facilities, to actually let off a little steam as well. And in fact I did sit down in a cozy, pristine and plush stall with plenty of toilet paper, some nice Elvis music playing, and took myself a nice dump. A well-stocked silver container for seat-covers was hanging from the back of the stall door, and I stared at it while I sat there on the nicely warmed seat contracting my intestines. Little black letters ran across the top reading, “Provided By The Management For Your Protection.” Mighty nice of them, I thought. But, as I’d already failed to take advantage of their nice offer for protection by sliding my bare ass across the—for some unknown and possibly scary reason warm—surface of the porcelain ovate seat, I tried not to think about what this management could possibly be protecting me from. It was very pleasant in there. Glittering recessed lights hung like yellow eyeballs from the ceiling, and the tile floor was an impeccably grime-free, sparkling chessboard of chartreuse and sapphire squares. The stall doors were high, wide, and thick, coming almost all the way down to the floor. Music was playing and the air was crisp and fresh and clean. The only thing is, I heard someone else go into the stall next to me, and I don’t like company when I’m pushing out a winner like that, so I got a little perturbed. That was until I looked down and saw Leroy’s shoes under the stall door. I couldn’t help laughing. I just got the fucking giggles. And they must’ve been contagious because Leroy started cracking up too. So there we were, both sitting there shitting our brains out while Elvis crooned, and we were laughing our asses off. I kept asking Leroy if he could spare some toilet paper or at least hand me a seat cover and he kept freaking out and screaming and then laughing again. That was when I started singing as I shat, and I do a damn good Elvis too. And of course Leroy had to join in and do the Jordaneers part, which he does quite well actually, and all this going on between grunts and multifarious movings of the bowels and heaves like bellows roaring and many ploppings and plashes of water. After the song ended we both started laughing like mad men again. At some point I decided enough was enough and I grunted out one last disastrous cringing coprophiliac’s wet dream of brown splendor. I flushed and left Leroy there to laugh alone and finish his own cathartic doings.

While I was washing my hands I noticed a pair of shoes in another stall on the other side of Leroy’s. Poor shmuck. Sitting there trying to take a nice clean dump with two maniacs shouting and singing. I made a quick exit and hoped Leroy would leave before the guy saw him. I didn’t want him to finger us as troublemakers to some casino security guard. I would think bad bathroom etiquette is probably frowned upon in a nice place like that.

So I left and walked out onto the bridge that looks over all the gaming tables. That’s when I heeded my uncle’s advice and looked up. The ceiling there really was fantastic. It was like a thousand stained-glass mirrors all arching over everything. Actually that’s exactly what it was. My uncle used to make stained glass windows, and I remembered the time I’d dropped a basketball down the stairs when I was a kid, and how the ball crashed into the glass he’d recently stained with blue and yellow flowers at the bottom of the stairs, and how the ball had hit the bottom stair and shot out like a rock from a slingshot, breaking a panel of the thick opaque window into a thousand cloudy pieces. My parents’ sadness had been unbearable and I’d locked myself in my room for days as they pined away for their dearly departed window. As I stood on that bridge at the Tropicana staring up at more stained glass I found myself wanting to chuck a basketball at the ceiling, imagining all that beveled and textured colored glass falling all over the people below like a sudden downpour or a bomb exploding in the sky. I didn’t have a basketball so I just looked out over all the people playing blackjack and roulette and poker or whatever else it was that they were playing on the green baize of those tables down there, and I felt an old, forgotten sense of disquiet surge back through me again. I felt triumphant. It didn’t last long, but it was alright for the time being. Soon Leroy came around and I told him about what my uncle had said, and he liked avuncular advice as much as the next guy, so he looked up and said how that was nice but we’d better get up to Chet’s room. So up in the elevators we went.

After spending some time drinking beer in Chet’s hotel room we went out wandering around various hotels on the strip, trying to meet up with Chet’s older brother at the MGM Grand, getting lost numerous times. We finally ended up at some high-end hotel bar filled with very drunk and ordinary people. As I was trying to order a drink some very bibulous young fellow kept tugging at my sleeve and telling me how tall I was and mumbling about drink orders or something. Finally he ended up standing on his stool and yelling, “Look who’s taller now!” I’d had enough of him and I grabbed my drink and left to find Leroy and Chet. It seemed they’d met some other nice young inebriated gentleman who kept following us around and talking non-stop. Finally we all started ignoring him and went on looking for a place to sit. He kept following us and asking us if there was room for him to sit down too. I told him that there wasn’t and then he said, “Okay. I can see you guys are in your own little chill zone here. I don’t want to interrupt that,” and he left us alone finally. I didn’t know what the hell a “chill zone” was, but I was glad he was gone. We found three seats and drank our drinks down. Some guy whom Leroy knew named LT had recommended that we go the Hard Rock Hotel. They had a circle bar there and it was supposed to be a good place to do some drinking. Chet called his brothers, whom we’d somehow failed to find in our peregrinations across casinos, and told them we’d meet them at the Hard Rock.