I’m a warm waiting idol above

“So I was in Vegas a few weeks ago, right. It was Hendo’s bachelor party, and he and I and all his asshole buddies from Oceanside, you know those townie retards that go out and get in fistfights with the Marines from Pendleton, we’re all out. We’re getting stupid, and there are way too many of us to get into a club, so we’re just drinking. We had these forties from the 7-11, and we went over to check out the Wynn. I hadn’t been there before.”

“I didn’t like it that much, it’s like a shitty ripoff of Bellagio…”

“Shut up I’m telling a story. Anyway, so we’re in Wynn sitting at these slot machines, but not playing, just drinking. For like a half hour, all nine of us. Finally this security dude comes up and says you guys can’t just sit here, you have to go to one of our bars if you’re gonna drink or you can gamble. Hendo looks at him like right. The guy moves off, but is still there watching us. So one of his Oceanside buddies stands up and stares straight at the guy, the Security guy. Just looks at him for like 30 seconds. He sets his forty down on the chair, and looking the dude straight in the eyes he sticks his finger down his throat and fucking pukes all over the machine and into the little money tray. All over. This dude was like 230 lbs of Oceanside meathead, and he yaks like a halfgallon of stuff on and in to this machine.”

Raucous laughter.

“The dude comes over SO FUCKING PISSED. SO PISSED. But not like violent pissed, just absolutely appalled. He talks into his little walkie talkie and he and the other security guys drag us out into the street, they don’t just throw us out the door they walk us to the street itself and toss us out. We couldn’t struggle or any damn thing, we were all laughing too hard.”

More raucous laughter.

“Chris you know what?”
“What.”
“That may be the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. In my entire life.”
“Seriously.”

Viva Las Vegas.

——————————-

Saturday.

Morning in Vegas is a rough time.

A man awakes, bleary and dessicated. Lying in a bed half-dressed, the room a disaster of socks and empty bottles and broken ice buckets. At morning in Vegas, a man must look upon himself and his deeds with bloodshot eyes, and take stock. He can’t sink deep enough back into that uncomfortable bed to sleep, or to forget.
Judgements are seldom so harsh as those made at 9:30 AM in Nevada. Absolution is word devoid of meaning at such an hour.

I showered for an hour. It only took twenty minutes to get rid of the stale cigarette and gin smell. The rest of the time, I just stood there.

Peter slept deeply in the next bed. I stood on our balcony in the scorching winter light of the desert. Get it together, man. Get it together.

It’s Saturday.

——————————-

It’s become a sort of Vegas tradition to patronize Denny’s on the Strip at least once or twice, no matter what. The food is so crappy and chemical that it settles in your stomach like an anvil; queasiness is impossible, since Denny’s OG Slam is simply too heavy to throw back up. Granted, this might not be the best way to cure a hangover, but it works. It’s like putting out the forest fire by napalming the entire national park. The end result is, the fire’s out, so everything’s kosher. Who cares if you shit buckshot for a week.

Right.

Denny’s employees in Vegas may be the most hardened and stalwart staff in a town of hardened and stalwart staffs (staves?). They have the kind of deep psychological disconnection and unassailability that develops in guerrillas, or child prostitutes. They greet each day, each customer, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that they’ve seen worse shit than anything you can throw at them. Six of us, post collegiate Californians whose greatest crime of the day thusfar is not shaving. I ordered the stack of pancakes and six cokes, standard recuperative fare. We ate and jabbered and listened as one of the brothers’ friends recounted his various failed conquests at the exit door, which they guarded judiciously until 6:30. We talked of previous Vegascapades; we talked about Timmy’s 37 year old girlfriend in Mendocino county, of her questionable intimate behaviors, and of his life cutting down dead trees and living in a mini winnie. I hounded Chris about getting married, as I was duty bound to.

Denny’s on the Strip. Oh yeah.

On our way back, after stopping at every single god damn casino between Denny’s and Harrah’s for Hot Sauce to go pee, we found an establishment offering dollar michelobs.

Ever the opportunists, we loaded up and made an afternoon of it.

We made it as far as the Aladdin before sitting down on the steps in front of the main entrance. There, with our handfuls of plastic Michelob bottles, we sat in the sun and judged passersby. We discussed the merits of the decimal as opposed to binary rating system. We got drunk.

Killing time in Vegas can be a daunting proposition for the non-gambler. Activities not centered around gambling or direct cash expenditure are few and far between. The USC / Cal game was over before it started, so even watching TV wasn’t an option. We enjoyed ourselves and our Michelobs and our arguments are great length, however, on the steps of a few different casinos. Carrying around a cocktail in a glass cup on a busy street is a uniquely Nevadan pleasure, and for some reason it gives one an almost aristocratic sense of accomplishment and purpose. Don’t ask me why.

The sun set behind the pale desert without much incident.

At this point, things get tangled. My sense of order and timing are completely gone; chronology is laughable. Who knows when we did what.

Who cares.

Another greasy man in a floor boss suit escorts us from the beige security phone. Chris and his brothers make small talk with the guy; he walks us into an exterior bar with an atrocious cover band playing and hands us a stack of free drink vouchers, allowing us to get good and destroyed before dinner.

These miraculous little yellow pieces of paper can provide hours of entertainment. Each one bought us 8 drinks; a rum and coke for the Wheeze, a jack and coke for Timmy, a wine cooler on the rocks with a cherry and a little umbrella for Hot Sauce, and five whiskeys for Chris and I to split. God knows how many of those little fuckin papers we had.

Chaos.

Nearly drowning in the Venetian… Did we eat at a Mexican restaurant in there?

I vaguely recall Mexican.

Arguing with the lackey looking for Timmy’s (nonexistent) proof of age. The terrified, tormented little bar dude, forced to confront comped guests, guests with friends in dangerous and high places… He approaches our table with caution, a supplicant approaching our smoke-shrouded thrones. He begs pardon, and asks for our IDs, looking about to see if the manager who escorted us in here is watching… looking to see if the manager who didn’t escort us in here is watching…

There was a lot of bad noise, and I pulled the guy aside as the others finished their drinks.

“Listen fella, I know where you’re coming from. Let’s be honest here. You know we were brought in here by your boss’s boss; but you know you could lose your job if you don’t see little Timmy’s ID. I recognize the rock, and lord do I know the hard place.”
The sweating little employee fretted, muttering under his breath.
“Don’t mutter, son, it’s bad form. Here’s what I’m gonna do for you. We’re gonna take these here drinks and move on, out of your jurisdiction and out of your hair. You just sit tight and I’ll set things right, kiddo.”
I demanded pint glasses from the barman, and we consolidated our considerable remaining drinks into larger vessels. With a wink and a thumbs up to our little buddy, we moved on.

21 year old girls.

“Where’s this chick? What the fuck are we doing here?”
Where are we? MGM? I remember some harried tram ride… or something.
“She’s coming down, hold the fuck on Trevor. Jesus.” A brother shouted. I’m slumped against a video poker machine, trying to maintain. Where the hell are my sunglasses, it’s too bright in here.
Somebody knew some girl having her 21st birthday here, a gaggle of her equally young and impressionable friends in tow and they were on the way down to meet us.

Hours pass. Eons. A plain, thickish white girl shows up.

“Hey Whatever (Kaitlyn? Ashley? Katie? some drab name), happy birthday.” One of the brothers offers.

I reach out to shake her hand, forcing myself to stand up straight. “Where’s your crew, honey?”

“Oh they’re upstairs, we gotta go get them.”

Chris and I exchange looks, looks dripping with what the fuck.

The room.

The girl opens the door, and when the little green LED lights up I shove past her and into the dark room.

“Hos! Wake up! My various miscreants and I have arrived! We’ve come to rescue yoouhoh shit!”

Scrambling and fumbling, a guy rolls off a girl wrapped in nothing but a sheet. The halfnaked couple on the couch don’t even move. The sickly blue light of the TV lights up both beds, both occupied. A naked girl and a halfnaked guy are passed out on a blanket on the bathroom floor. The scrambling guy gets to his feet, and gives me a look of such pathetic desperation and utter incomprehension that it brings a tear to my eye. You poor fucker, I think. Six dudes in coats and boots just showed up at your random slut’s door, and you don’t even have your drawers on. You don’t know her name, and we may very well be her brothers or boyfriends or the fucking ATF for all you know. Poor fucker. He looks like he needs a hug.

I give him a double thumbs up, tell him Allah loves him, and shove my way back out the door.

“What a disaster, jesus christ. Don’t even go in there Peter, there’s nothing in there you need to see. Just some Chico State morons playing herpes tag. Those people in there Peter… no I’m not drunk fucking listen to me. I’m trying to drop some science here, some real life applicable skills and knowledge so pay damn attention. Those people in there Peter, they have no class. We might not have much, gentlemen. We might not have anything but these pint glasses and these jackets, but we have class. Those people have no class, and you’re nothing without class, Peter. We might not have honor or fame or money or a nice car. We might have driven here in your mama’s station wagon which doesn’t even have a fucking CD player. But we have class, fellas. At least we aren’t having sex with a fat chick on the bathroom floor of somebody else’s hotel room. At least we didn’t just barge in on us freaking on the furniture. They can’t take that away from us, men. We’ve got class. Class, Peter.”

“Paul get away from that door, you don’t need to see any of that low class–”

Then it dawns on me.

“You! Come here bitch, I need to talk to you.”

The birthday girl comes over, nonplussed.

“You knew your scabby friends were up here boning down and you dragged us up here anyway. I took three years off that poor boy’s life, the one dateraping your ugly roommate, when I kicked in that door.”

She stares at me.

“You rounded us all up, six damn 24 year old dudes, and made us wait a half hour so we could bust in on these helpless scum cuz it’s your birthday and your homegirls are all up here ho’in out when they should be your fortress out in some club. That’s some devious and jealous shit, honey. Some devious and jealous shit.”

She stares.

I stare back.

I give her a hug.

“Well done girl. Good for you. I like your attitude. You’ve got class. What was your name again?”

———————-

The show. We get into some stage show, some weird variety thing with showgirls and comedians and dance. I drift in and out; things are dark.

———————-

Back on the tram, at least according to the pictures on my camera.

Timmy tries to kick through one of the plexiglass windows, just for sport. I chat up these two 40+ ladies, making jokes and giving them “you still got it” smiles. They love that shit; they giggle and smile behind their weathered hands. I think of it like community service, almost. I like to give back, you know.

———————-

Next picture, there’s us with a bunch of girls… when the hell did this happen? Who are these girls? It must have been a brief encounter.

———————-

Next picture, a cab ride somewhere. Dumpy motels and alleys, looks like North Vegas. Must be close to 4 now.

——————–

The strip club.

Of course we went to a strip club, Chris is getting married. Chris’d drag us to a strip club if his god damn goldfish had a birthday; there’s no excuse too flimsy, and you thought we’d get out of this party without one? Shiet.

Girls everywhere, with those soulless Denny’s-employee eyes. God knows what these chicks have seen. I can only imagine the human waste that’s stumbled through that door before us.

For whatever reason, strip clubs have never really been my scene. The entire concept of the place supports a patriarchy and promotes the objectification of oh christ I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t finish that with a straight face. I tried.

Regardless, it’s true: they’re not my cup of tea. There’s just something base there that doesn’t sit well.

In the dark and the din, drunken highrollers drop obscene amounts of money for… for nothing, essentially. False smiles don’t hide those vacuous eyes as the girls wander the crowd. Scores is a damn eerie place to be at five in the morning.

Well whatever, it was tradition.

Somehow, we made it back to the hotel.

————————

Sunday.

The body will not be denied.

9 AM rolls around and all I know is hurt, hurt and sickness. Peter’s gone. I click the remote, and watch the last half of Sleepless in Seattle. If anything, this aggravates my nausea.

Across the way, two white trash chicks shout from their balcony to guys a few floors below them. Leaning far over their railing, American Spirits stuck to their lips in defiance of all known physics, they holler from the 6th floor of the Imperial Palace. Shut the fuck up, I yell, half at Meg Ryan and half at the honkeys. Sunday is horrible, and I suffer terribly on physical and spiritual levels. I wonder vaguely where the other guys are, how we made it back. How we survived.

Self destruction is a beautiful thing, sometimes. Not this morning, but sometimes. Indeed, regardless of the consequences, it’s often necessary. Take our situation, for example. In less than 2 months Chris’s life will no longer be his own. Sentenced to a life of responsibility and banality, his only recourse is to act seriously hedonistic and stupid for this one glorious weekend. When the invaders come, and the tanks roll across your front lines, with no hope of defense… you might as well burn your own house down. Better you do it then let the conquerers have it undamaged. These are the subtle motivations behind the bachelor party, acknowledged or not. It’s honorable, in a way.

Seppuku by whiskey.

I drift back to a sickened sleep, hating Meg Ryan and life in general.

——————————

I found Peter in the service elevator, curled up with one of the maids in a nest of soiled towels. I kicked him savagely in the ribs. “Get up, you fucker. It’s bad form to sleep with the help, unless you’re British.”
He groaned, and I kicked him again.
“Up, you bastard, up! Leave Guadalupe in peace. I’ve got a flight in 6 hours and we still need to find Paul and drive to LA.”

I found Chris asleep in his bathtub, fully dressed in an Indiana Pacers basketball uniform with a blue vest like they give you when you work at Toys’R’Us. The nametag read MARCOS.

“GET UP! We need to find Paul and make it back to LA before my entire system shuts down.” Already I was coughing horribly, and I leaned on Peter often for support. Weakened by excess and deprivation, I was rallying them frantically. Just get on the road before your knees give out. Get on that plane and get back to the real world. Maintain, I told myself.

Maintain.

A couple years ago when Hot Sauce wandered off in Santa Barbara and wound up in Fresno and thinking his name was Mirth and sleeping behind a Conoco ice machine, we had a little electronic pulse installed in the nape of his neck. For his protection, and ours. Peter rigged up the tracking equipment and a half hour later we found Paul in a scummy North Vegas mall; the place the lowest tax bracket locals shop. The little tracker beeped excitedly as we headed for the BigLots! maternity section.

“Paul!”
“Hot Saaaaaaaaaaaaauce!”
“We know you’re in here dude, we have to get back to LA. Come out come out where ever you are…”

Tossing aside his little beeping tracker. Peter launched himself through a rack of mumus and he and Hot Sauce spilled out the far side. After we wrestled the hacksaw and the bottle of Parrot Bay away from him, Paul calmed down.

He wiped his tears and looked me right in the eye. “I’ve got so much love to give, man. So much love to give. Why did you take my saw?”

“Get ahold of yourself man, we’ve got to make tracks. Security’s been called, Shandi. I’m too weak to drive, Peter take the keys. Chris, don’t let Sauce run off before we cross the state line.”

We bought a 24 pack of Citrusgasm Sobe’s at 7-11 and five bags of sour cream sunchips and gunned it out onto the freeway.

—————————–

“God dammit Paul, I swear to christ this is the last time I help you bury a hooker.”
“Chris if I had a dollar for every time I heard you say that…”

“Keep digging you two.” I barked. “Less yap more shovel.”
I supervised the digging from the shade of a joshua tree, sipping a Sobe and coughing through bouts of extreme dizziness and fever. We were three miles south of Baker, at the end of a fire road. The Mad Greek’s Whacky Falafal was not sitting well in my stomach, and I elected to sit out my share of the hard labor. Even in November that sun gets hot, and the other three red-eyed unshowered wrecks I call my friends were sweating profusely.

We finish the job, and Paul muscles his sin out of the trunk of the Subaru and into the pallid dust of the Nevada wastes, where we bury it in silence.

—————————-

Traffic. We inch along, for hours. Every retard in the western hemisphere must be on this freeway. Every loathsome toolbox from Riverside decided to join us out in Vegas this weekend, and now they creep along stupidly, cholesterol clogging the veins of this horrible desert.

Peter listens to the Patriots game on AM radio. Hot Sauce munches thoughtfully on some bacon cheddar cheetohs that smell like an irrigation ditch full of pesticide. Chris sleeps with an open, drooling mouth, and dreams about his wedding. I fade, and get sicker, and watch the day pass.

We drive.

—————————–

“It’s been fun, kids.”

I hug the lads tightly after scraping together my scattered belongings from the floor and back of the Subaru. Orange County Airport, with 10 minutes to spare. It took us 6 hours to drive from Vegas to the airport. What a nightmare.

“Yeah man.”

“I’ll see y’all at the wedding.”

I slink into the airport full of screeching white kids in Disney sweatshirts and their worthless parents. I toss one last middle finger over my shoulder for my homies. I’ll see you assholes soon enough.

Fucking Vegas.

-T.

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