music that hipsters can cry to

What follows is a work of fiction written by Matt Batman.  Any resemblance to real places, persons, or corroboration of specific events with independent sources is purely coincidental.

Day One – Thursday, March 23 – Rococo
I turned on my phone as soon as the little light on the plane said it would be alright.  I had two text messages:

Kevin, 9:40am: Were at baggage claim

Kevin, 9:40am: By baggage claim 9

 

I sent one text message:

Jacob Richer, 9:40am: I am the runway nigger

 

The line for a taxi was at least fifteen minutes deep.  Jack and James broke off into a conversation.  Kevin and I turned to each other.  It wasn’t difficult talking to Kevin after months of separation, but it was.  We fought through years of a heterosexual partnership and now we barely emailed each other.  I felt an urge to pretend that excitement had flooded my brain with questions, but it didn’t – not that I wasn’t excited.  It felt like everything was in its right place.

Kevin himself had more expensive looking glasses after his company got bought out.  He also played recreational basketball once a week and had been eating less bread.  He looked like he was not afraid of you, but wouldn’t necessarily beat your ass.

I didn’t make a lot of eye contact.  I let pauses rise between sentences.  I looked for skinny brunette girls with thick, black-framed glasses also waiting in line for a taxi.  Then, when I saw one, I knew I had another person to avoid eye contact with.

 

Our cab driver talked about how the sports book across the street from our hotel was started for and by black people.  But, he said, it was really successful, so that didn’t last long.  Mr. Wynn soon turned it into one of the nicest sports books in town.

 

The girl checking us in had the look of a girl who grew up in Las Vegas and now checks people into hotels for a living.  I liked her.  I wanted to take her brain and stick it inside one of the pool waitresses with red bikinis.

Our room was nice or fine.  Jack and Paulo’s room connected to ours through double doors placed randomly in the wall.  Their room wasn’t ready and Paulo wasn’t here so Jack used a padlock to chain his work computer to the desk in our room. We joked that Jack’s room wasn’t ready because semen and hooker blood coated the curtains and carpet and closet and ceiling and blankets and TV and windows and whatever remained of a hooker carcass.

 

There was a margarita shop between our hotel and the sidewalk that sold beer.  We went outside with a Bud Light for everyone and even though I was assured you could legally walk around with open containers of alcohol in Vegas I still held mine down by my thigh just in case.

There was a sea of people.  It felt like downtown Chicago before 9:15 AM, but people walked about half as fast and there weren’t as many buildings or people or anything resembling Chicago weather or Chicago itself.

I didn’t really care about the nicely trimmed hedges or fountains and big buildings that looked like bigger cities, but it was fun to walk around and look at people’s faces.

 

We sat down at a ten dollar Black Jack table and betted like people who would intentionally seek out a ten dollar Black Jack table.  Our dealer was a nice old Asian lady who gave us tips in an aggravated manner.

I promptly lost all my money and made friends with an old man watching our table.

“I’m going to start betting some money tomorrow,” the old man said, “But first, I want to learn about the game.  They gave me this book for free with rules and tips.”

He showed me the book.  It was a pamphlet, probably ten pages in length, and not just about Black Jack.  The pamphlet seemed to be an overview of all the games in the Treasure Island casino.

“That looks pretty useful,” I said.

“I’m sure they’d give you one too, if you asked.”

“Yeah, I may just do that.”

 

We met Pete at our room.  Pete was a bro, but not in a negative way.  He was a good guy that embraced adult bro culture.  He dressed like a yuppie who used to be a frat guy, could have put “athletic and toned” on a match.com profile without feeling guilty, and probably listed to Top 40 and metal.

As soon as I shook Pete’s hand I knew it was good that he was here.  He seemed to be some kind of energy source, and I wanted to be sure that we all pushed it past our limits and left Vegas with feelings of sorrow and regret.

Pete said he wouldn’t mind getting a little buzz going while seeing the sights so we decided to walk along the strip again with beers in our hands.

We stopped in the Bellagio to go to the sports book and found a screen with lines.  There were cages off to the right, but they were empty and it didn’t seem normal to put a bookie behind a cage.  I looked at my cell phone.  We only had fifteen minutes until the first game started.

“Are you going to put money on every game, Richer?” Jack asked.

“You’re going to put money on every game?” James asked.

“Shit.  I should do that.  Who’s going to win every game?” Pete asked.

Kevin and I started lining up in front of a computer behind the cage hoping someone would come by.  I checked my cell phone.  Twelve minutes left.

No one was coming.  I ran back up the escalator and asked someone where the sports book was.

 

I flew back down and motioned to Kevin and the rest to follow.  I marched past the hostess waiting in the aforementioned hole, and a man-cave unfolded before my eyes.  There were two bars with lots of silver and black décor, random tables with cushioned seats and TV’s that looked expensive, and a stadium style seating in a main room surrounded by the bars and tables and restaurant like a coliseum of non-violence.

We went down the stairs and under the main drop-down screen.  That’s where the bookies with their registers were, cage-free.

I put twenty-two dollars on Cincinnati, Michigan State, and Florida.  I put forty-four on Wisconsin.  All straight bets.

The guy taking my money told me good luck like he was saying fuck off.  I thanked him.

I went upstairs and Jack slapped me in the arm.  “The stadium seating is full.  To sit down at a table, we would need to spend a hundred dollars per person.  We can sit at the bar, but we probably aren’t going to find five seats in a row.”

I looked around the room at everyone.  All of a sudden there was something about the place and people that screamed East-coast snob or men who worked too hard and were now in their forties dating twenty-three year olds.

“Well, fuck this place.”

“Yeah.  I mean, it makes sense, but fuck it.”

We went down and told the rest of the group and they all agreed to fuck that.  We went back to Treasure Island and over to their sports book, but decided to fuck that, too.

 

There was a bar in the hotel by the entrance.  It had pictures of girls in black leather bikinis with black chaps.  There was a sign with the words Mechanical Bull.

When we got in the bar there was maybe one blonde girl in a bikini.  There were TV’s playing country music videos, and kids surrounding a mechanical bull.

We sat down in the section of the bar furthest from the door.  The bartenders standing there had beards and looked like they listened to punk music in their free time and weren’t afraid to change a TV channel or two.

They agreed to talk to their manager about turning the games on.  In return, we bought a round of beers.

Paulo appeared while Michigan State was losing me five beers.  He shook each of our hands in turn.  He wore the same olive green military jacket he always wore while visiting us in college.  He sat next to Jack and complained that the posters outside constituted false advertising.

None of the middle-aged men having their pictures taken with the waitress would have tolerated this kind of talk from a foreigner.

One of the middle-aged men started yelling that Michigan State sucked.  I didn’t want any of them to know I had put money on Michigan State.  They were down by nearly twenty at the beginning of the second half.

“Richer, you have money on Michigan State, right?” James asked.  An older man sitting next to Kevin smiled.

 

There was a delay before the next two games started, so we decided to walk to another casino.  We stopped at the margarita place again and walked up the strip again.

We stopped in Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.  Kevin and Pete sat down at separate Black Jack tables.  The rest of us sat around watching the games in red cushioned chairs that you were probably supposed to be smoking a cigar at.

Kevin returned.  “Some ice queen bitch took all my money.”

Pete returned.  Kevin asked him, “Did that ice queen bitch take all your money?”

“Yeah, dude.  Wait, I still have twenty bucks.”  He rushed to a slot machine.  “Motherfuckering cock sucking son of a cunt!”

 

We put a temporary moratorium on making fun of people who were willing to call it a night.  Back at our hotel, Pete went to the ATM.  James, Jack, and Paulo went to bed.  I went to get a sandwich, and Kevin came with me to hang out and watch me eat a sandwich.

We talked about how the culture at his company may change after being bought out.  He said there was a meeting where they were assured their online activity would continue to be monitored to the least extent legally possible, but were cautioned that they should disconnect from the VPN if they needed to look at porn from their work computers.

“How’s the prime rib sandwich?” he asked.

“It’s probably good, but I don’t like it.”

“Why not?”

“It’s got some kind of sauce that’s really strong.”

“Like a horseradish?”

“I don’t know.  Probably.  It’s probably horseradish.  Does horseradish make you feel like you’re snorting cleaning solution?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then it’s probably horseradish.”

 

Day Two – Friday, March 24 – Do You Realize??

Kevin, James, and I went downstairs to the twenty dollar buffet for breakfast.  As we were about finished, Jack and Paulo came down and sat at a nearby table.

Paulo sat down with one plate of bacon, which he ate with a certain caution, hoping that maybe a reluctance to eat the bacon would counteract the fact that the pigs were probably raised one on top of the other pissing and shitting all over their own children and any of the weak too sick to stand up in the barn.

After breakfast we kind of went our separate ways.  I ventured off to take a beer shit in the public restrooms.  Then I went across the street to CVS to buy travel sized toothpaste.  I looked in the toothpaste aisle and couldn’t find anything, so I looked again and again.  I started slowly moving my eyes up and down and stepping to the left and looking up and down again and stepping left until I was at the end of the aisle.  Nothing.

I stood at the front of the store and started looking at the items in everybody’s hands as they walked by.  I spotted a gay couple, or perhaps a couple of effeminate straight guys, holding travel sized toothpaste containers.

 

I started scanning aisle one like they told me.  There was nothing but makeup and Preparation H and bullshit until your eyes got to the top of the very end of the aisle.  Then there was Colgate and Crest, both contaminated with fluoride, a chemical waste byproduct of aluminum production.

I thought about buying a container of Crest and a container of Tom’s and then emptying the Crest container and squeezing the Tom’s toothpaste into the Crest container and then throwing away everything leftover from the Tom’s container.  Instead I just grabbed a container of Colgate to support the presumably less successful business.

 

Kevin and James and Jack were going to go to a craps class at Bill’s at 10:30.  I told them I wasn’t going.  I brushed my teeth with the fluoride toothpaste and took a shit and showered and masturbated in the shower we all shared.

 

Jack and Paulo intercepted me in the hall of the thirtieth floor and asked me what I was doing.  I said I was going to put on a bathing suit and head to the pool and were they ready to go yet?  They said they needed to buy bathing suits first and asked if I wanted to go with them.

In CVS, Jack said he was going to buy the cheesiest swimsuit he could find.  We saw some aprons in the swimsuit aisle.  Paulo said he’d buy me an apron if I promised to wear it.  I promised, but neither of us picked up the apron for Paulo to buy and for me to wear.  Jack picked out a bathing suit that wasn’t at all cheesy.

Walking back, I heard someone yelling, “This place is fucking sick.”

“Walk faster,” I whispered to Jack and Paulo.

“This place is fucking sick.  It’s a goddamned den of sin.”

“Walk faster.  Jesus Christ, walk fucking faster.”

“This place is fucking sick.  It’s fucking sick and diseased.”

 

On the elevator down from the thirtieth floor, a stranger joined us.  He had bed head and a loose fitting Kansas tee.

Jack said to the rest of us, “You know, my friend said that at the health center they give massages, and they have some kind of specific hang over massage.  They said it’s pricey, but really worth it.”

I saw the smirk on the face of the man with the Kansas tee.  I said, “Sounds like you have some friends that need to get punched in the face.”

The man with the Kansas tee chuckled and raised his fist in the air in a show of solidarity.

 

We had to show our room key to get into the outdoor pool area.  Where you get towels, a girl said, “Do you guys want to rent a cabana?  It’s a hundred and twenty-five for the rest of the day, two-hundred twenty-five for a full day.”

“It’s only a hundred and twenty-five dollars?” Jack asked.

 

I felt embarrassed — being escorted to a cabana, putting my stuff in a cabana, sitting in a cabana.  We had free non-alcoholic beverages, and a beautiful half-Asian-half-Caucasian hybrid named Jen to serve us drinks.

Jen was extremely friendly.  It made me uncomfortable.  I wondered if she liked her job and her life as a professional hot girl.

We bought a bucket of beer.  Jen asked us what kind.  Pete said Bud Light Lime.  We were all silent.  Pete asked us if we liked Bud Light Lime.  Everyone was silent for a little bit, then someone said that they could drink Bud Light Lime.

 

I drank a Bud Light Lime pretty quickly when they came.  Then I went to the pool.  It was freezing, but I forced myself under the water and waded around a bit.

There was a DJ playing quasi-dub step music at all times.  He seemed to be in his late 30’s.  I imagined he had a pretty relaxed life.  To come in, play some music for eight hours or less, collect cash, and peace out mentally at night and pretty much all day.

I was freezing when I got out of the pool so I dried myself off as quickly as possible and sat on the far right of three lawn chair in front of the cabana.

I saw a tan brunette walk by in a pale blue bathing suit.  She seemed to be walking quickly, with a purpose, like a scout or a messenger or a criminal.

I grabbed another Bud Light Lime.

The cabana next to us had a beer pong table.  Jack asked the waitress how to get one of those.  She told him it cost some amount of money to rent it, and that the beer cost the same amount of money as without a beer pong table.

Jack asked us if we wanted to get a beer pong table.  We said maybe later.  Jack said he was going to buy a bottle.  We said we didn’t need one.  He said he was going to buy a bottle anyway, and told Jen to bring a bottle of Patron.

Jen poured shots for everyone.  Afterwards I grabbed a Bud Light Lime and sat back down on the lawn chair.  I sat on the far left.  Kevin sat to the far right.

The girl in the blue bathing suit seemed to pass by again without noticing us, then abruptly turned and headed straight for us.  She sat down at the foot of the middle lawn chair.

“I’ve been walking around trying to meet people.  It’s good to meet good people.  You guys seem like good people.”

Kevin told her we were nothing of the sort and she told us she was Rachel.

“There a lot of you guys, and I want to apologize now that I may forget your names.  Names are hard,” she said, “Too many names.  I just want to meet people.  My friends are sitting over there, but they’re kind of boring me.  I don’t want to sound mean.  They just, don’t want to do anything.”

I nodded my head in non-judgment only because she had a little, the slightest amount of pain in her eyes.

“I just want to have fun.”

“Hey,” Kevin said, “Let’s make sure fun times are had by all.”

A lull passed over for what seemed to be the rest of eternity.  I tried to think of something to say but it felt like I was smashing a pile of leaves with a sledge hammer.  I expected Rachel to flee.  She didn’t.

Jack came over to introduce himself, then James came, then Pete.  I was glad when Pete came.  Pete could handle small talk and keep Rachel with us and maybe pull her friends into the mix.

 

Rachel and her friends went to the University of Illinois.  Rachel was studying advertising and marketing.  She was from the suburbs.

“Richer used to live in Chicago with us, too,” Kevin said, “we lived together for like, five years.”

“Who’s Richer?”

“That’s Richer.  Sometimes he calls himself Jacob.”

I looked at Rachel.  She seemed to have grey eyes, simultaneously dark and bright — an epic, beautiful battle like you were looking at the bottom of everything.  “It’s my last name,” I said.

“Really?” She said.  She didn’t break eye contact.

I nodded.  She smirked.  She looked away when Pete said, “I knew we were like, going to the desert, but I really did not expect the weather to be this nice.  It’s a beautiful day.”

Pete handed Rachel a beer.  Pete was a smart guy.  Pete and Rachel clinked aluminum bottles of Bud Light Lime.

 

“Do you guys burn bad?”

“I do,” Kevin said.

“You look a little Irish.”

“I am definitely a little Irish.”

“You have a beard, though.  That’s gotta’ help, right?”

“Not really.”

“You guys both have beards.  I like it.  I’m not bothered by the sun.  I’ve got too much Italian blood.”

 

I got another beer and stood in the cabana by myself.

Jack asked if we got a beer pong table if Rachel’s friends would want to come play did she think?  Rachel said probably and went to get them while Jack got Jen to get us a table.

When it came we all took a shot and when one of Rachel’s friends came over we all took another shot.  The friend’s name was Melissa and Melissa had blonde hair and blue eyes and was a little pudgy or American trim.

Melissa handed me her iPhone and asked if I’d take a picture of her and Rachel sitting in our cabana.  They both curled up on a chair and put their arms around each other and smiled.

 

“Don’t our bottom halves look bad in this picture?  Like, kind of big?  I should crop that out, right?” she asked.

“Not at all,” I said, “You look fantastic.”

“I should crop that out.”

Rachel stood next to Pete as they watched Jack and James try to figure out how to press a button and make the legs extend on the table.  They chatted amiably.  I took a swig of beer.

A sex wars beer pong game started, Rachel and Melissa against Pete and Jack.

I went for a swim.  I seemed be the only person in the pool.  Most people were sitting at the edges with their feet in the water.

Paulo made it out to the cabana when I returned and Rachel’s other friend, Sarah had joined.

I got myself as dry as possible to minimize my shivering.  I introduced myself to Sarah.  I asked if she had met Paulo.

“I don’t want to be rude, but what’s with the jacket?”

“Paulo makes budget films in LA.”

“Do you really?”

“Hm…yeah.”

Sarah formed an approving frown and shrugged her shoulders.

 

Before the next game of beer pong began, Melissa had Jen take a group picture of us.

“This is going on Facebook everyone!” Melissa squealed.

I raised my eyebrows.  Rachel saw me and smiled.

“I quit using Facebook so much when my mom made an account,” I said.

“That’s probably a good thing,” Rachel said.

 

“What kind of music do you guys listen to?”

I underlined the words on Kevin’s shirt with my finger.  High On Fire.

“I saw that.”

“Uh…I mostly listen to punk, a lot of punk, most forms of metal, blues, and some jazz.”

“What about you?”

“I listen to music that hipsters can cry to.”

“Really?”

 

Rachel and Jack wandered off for alcohol.  Kevin, James, Pete, and I stood talking in a circle.  I slapped Pete in the chest with a backhand.

I could see Jack and Rachel returning out of the corner of my eye.  We all stopped talking.

“How convenient that the conversation stopped all of a sudden,” Rachel said.  “Everyone was so animated before, and just seemed to stop as soon as I got back.  What could you have possibly been talking about?”

 

Rachel joined Pete, standing by the table and watching the beer pong game.  I fixed a strong tequila and orange juice.  I figured we wouldn’t kill the second bottle Jack bought just by taking shots.

It went down smoothly, so I made another and sat on a lawn chair.  Melissa sat down two chairs over.

“What are you drinking?”

“Tequila and orange juice.”

“Is it strong?”

“I can’t even taste the tequila.”

“Isn’t that why they mix tequila with things?  It gets masked easily?  Let me taste it.”

She carefully took the drink from my hands and put it to her lips.

“Jesus, that’s strong.”

 

More tequila and orange juice emptied themselves into my plastic cup.  I turned around. Rachel was there, with her full attention on her cell phone.

“Is this strong?” I asked.

She took the cup from my hands and smelled it and put it to her lips.

“Shit yes this is strong.  And disgusting.  So you’re the reason half that bottle of tequila is gone already?”

“That’s complete heresy.”

“Is it, now?”

“What time is it?”

“3:17.”

“No it’s not.  It can’t be.  How would you know?”

Rachel looked down and opened her lips but didn’t say anything.

“I guess you’re looking at your phone.”

“People don’t normally say 3:17 when they’re just guessing.  That’s pretty specific.”

“You probably would.”

“Why’s that?”

“You’re kind of a bullshitter.”

Rachel looked up.

“I can see into your soul,” I said, “And you’re a bullshitter.”

Rachel paused.

“I couldn’t get you to talk to me before.  Half a bottle of tequila later and I can’t get you to shut up.”

 

I walked to the bathroom.  I knew I was half-mast but couldn’t tell if my cock was sticking out too much so I put my hands in my pocket to try to even out any bulges.  It was a good thing I had masturbated in the shower that I was sharing with all of my friends that morning, I decided.

Back at the cabana, Rachel asked me if I knew where that Paulo guy went.  I put one finger on my left nostril and inhaled with the other.

“Really?  I wondered about something like that.  He seems a little off, with his jacket and everything.  I don’t do that kind of stuff…but I’m not judging anyone who does.”

“I don’t actually think that’s what he’s doing.  I’m not sure if he would put anything in his nose.  Too many germs.”

 

“I gave you a boner earlier.  I saw that.  You couldn’t hide it.”  She was laughing and I was laughing.  She said, “You should have seen the look on your face when I first came over here.”

 

The beer games were over and Jack paid a bill and everyone was getting ready to leave so I put on my shirt.

Rachel said, “Hey, come over here.  Come with me.”

She grabbed me by the hand.  We sat in a lawn chair with a roof over the top and a sign that said: RENTAL SPACE.

“All of our friends are right back there,” she said.  “They’re going to know everything we do.”

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Why is there a problem between us?”

“There’s no problem.  What problem?”

“You have a problem with me.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You told me that you could see into my soul, and that I was a bullshitter.”  Her eyes were pure.

“Well, you have an elevated social intelligence.  You can just read people,” I said.

“You have that, too.”

“It’s not the same.”

“It’s not the same?”

“No.”

“But when Melissa said she was posting that picture on Facebook, the expression on your face was exactly what I was thinking.”

 

“Let me get my shirt.  You stay right here.  Don’t move.  Wait for me.”

Rachel got up and walked out of sight.  I looked across the pool.  Everything wobbled.

Rachel walked back into view, with a loose fitting white pool gown.  She smiled when she saw me and I smiled at that.

“So,” she said.  “Continue.  I think you were saying you hate me and you think I’m full of shit.”

“No.  Listen.  Rachel, we both know you’re beautiful.  You’re beautiful and you’re extremely intelligent and you’re going to take anything you want that someone doesn’t hand you.  The world is going to be yours one day.”

She paused.  “What girl broke your heart?”

I smiled.  I looked across the pool.

“I don’t know what some girl did you to break your heart, but I’m a Nice.  Person.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Alright.  Fine.  Look, I hate my friends.  I do.  I hate Melissa.  I hate her.  She’s dumb.  I can’t stand her.  I can’t talk to her.”

I looked at Rachel’s eyes.  They were grey.  They were red.  They were honest.  They were pained.  They were beautiful.

“You better be a good kisser,” she said. “If you’re not a good kisser, I’m out of here.”

“I wouldn’t blame you.”

“Are you a good kisser?”

“No, I’m terrible.”

“I like the sarcasm.  Are you a good kisser?”

Her face was turned away from mine.  I kissed her on the cheek.  She turned her head.  I kissed her lips.

“What are you doing?  What was that?  I’m not going to make out with you here.”

I sunk back over and looked across the pool.

“Alright, fine.”

We kissed.

“Open your mouth so I can put my tongue in it.”

I would have laughed, but words weren’t registering anymore.  I couldn’t see Rachel’s face.

“Alright.  You passed.  Give me your number.”

She repeated it back to me.

“You’re going to have a missed call.”

 

“Not in my bathroom!” I could hear Paulo yelling.  “You can’t puke in your own bathroom?”

 

“Let’s get you to a bed,” James said.  He grabbed at my arm.  I swatted him away.  He grabbed with both hands.  I punched in his general direction without getting up or moving over.  He prodded me on the back and I started kicking wildly.

He left me alone.  I stared at the carpet until it disappeared completely.

 

Day Three – Saturday, March 24 – Time to Pretend

I started to dry heave and spit on the carpet.  Someone put a trash can next to my head.  I tried to puke in it as best I could, but no puke came out — just pain and spit.  I fell back to sleep.

 

I staggered to the toilet and dry heaved again and again and again until bright yellow stomach bile burned my throat and hit the toilet like scared shots of fruity octopus ink.  I brushed my teeth and rinsed my mouth out and went back to sleep.

 

I asked Kevin what time it was.  His response didn’t register.  I sat up.  I stood up.

Pete said oh shit he thinks we have a rally.

I sat back down.  “I wish I hadn’t passed out.”

James explained that I didn’t miss much because IU didn’t beat the spread.

Everyone had met up with those girls the night before via a James-Sarah connection.

Jack said they went by the girls’ room to go to the buffet for supper and for James and Pete to go to a club with them and since Jack wasn’t going to any club he just wore tennis shoes.  He said that Melissa chick whined they’re not going to let him into the club dressed like that.   Jack let her know it was okay because he wasn’t going to the club.  It did not register with her.  Jack said it was like she couldn’t possibly imagine that he wouldn’t go to some douche-factory club with them.  She pulled up a picture on her phone and asked does this look like a club to you?  Jack asked if they have weird lights and glow sticks?  She said yes.  Jack said does everything in the place have a glossy black finish?  She said yes.  Jack said do they have a DJ?  She said Daft Punk DJ’d there once.  Jack told her well there you go.  She said but look at how they’re dressed.  They aren’t dressed like him.  They won’t let him in dressed like that.

James said  that Rachel chick knew she was hot and knew she wouldn’t have to wait in line.  She and that Melissa chick started flirting with some old guys so they could get in faster, even though they got in about the same time.  James thought Sarah kind of stayed back with them because she didn’t want to just ditch them, but once they were actually in the club all the girls just disappeared.  He said the employees were like sumo wrestlers and basically pushed Pete and James to the bar to buy thirty dollar drinks then pushed to the outside because you weren’t allowed to just stand there and drink you had buy a table for at least a hundred and fifty dollars to do that.

 

The new waitress at the pool was named Hailey.  She called people hon a lot and didn’t seem the least beat discomforted by flirting with people she wasn’t actually attracted to.  I thought she had kind of a hooked nose.

I sat down in the cabana.  I felt like the day after you get the flu, like back in high school when I ran a lot and ate pasta and believed in doctors and could get sick by something other than drugs.

There was a brobana to our left — a cabana filled with at least ten guys.  They may have been paying less than twenty dollars a piece for their status symbol.  They clearly didn’t have an ATM Jack to pay for everything.

 

Jack bought another bottle.  He asked me if I wanted a shot.  I told him not really, but Hailey was rubbing salt across the rim of the clear plastic cups that were to serve as our tequila vessels.  I had to take the shot at that point.

Kevin and James and I headed for the pool.  Kevin made a splash with a can opener.  As he jumped in, the DJ cut the music.  When he surfaced, a sixteen year old lifeguard blew a whistle and gave him a death glare.  Kevin swam around uncomfortably a while then headed back.  The DJ intercepted him between the pool and cabana and shook his hand and they both laughed and I imagined him saying he just had to do it.

 

The girls from the day before had gone to the pool at Mandalay Bay.  I knew because I looked over James’ shoulder when he got a text message that said Sarah:  Pool at Mandalay.  Join?  I thought about sending a text to Rachel.

Jack got a beer pong table.  He came up to me after missing a shot.  “Hey, Richer.  You see those girls over there?  By the DJ?  Your job – get them over here.  That’s your job.  That’s your only job.”

I hung low and watched.  Jack wanted to target a group of four.  Two of them, both Asians, were unquestionably fuckable.  One of those two was traditionally beautiful.  The other two, one white and one black, looked like very nice girls.

There was one very significant problem – their age.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were college freshman.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were still in high school.

 

“Richer?  Why aren’t those girls over here yet?”

“I can’t do that Jack.  Those girls could very easily be underage.”

“Yeah, you might be right.”

 

Hailey convinced Jack to buy a couple shots for a couple girls sitting out in the masses of lawn chairs.  Jack did it because Hailey told him that would bring the girls over and any of their friends and they would start drinking and partying with us.

The girls took the shots from their lawn chairs then came over to thank whoever bought them the shots.  They then told Jack that they were both married and left.

 

I started playing a game of beer pong with Kevin against two of the neighbors.  They both seemed like good guys.  But one of the guys seemed like he was a drunk and that when he was drunk he liked to get in fights.  His friend seemed sober, relatively speaking, and like while he wasn’t afraid of a black eye he didn’t see any point in incurring one just for fun.  Not that I would was going to be giving out any black eyes, but someone who could take a black eye could give me one pretty easily.

I hadn’t played beer pong since college.  And there was wind.  We fell behind quickly.  Every time we’d both miss a shot, the angry one would run up to our side of the table and yell that he was going to put his balls on our face.  He’d break out into a big smile and tell us he was joking.  After the fifth time I told him that if he put his balls on my face I’d bite them off and sow them over his eyes.

I watched Hailey walk over to the group of girls by the pool and give them each a shot of tequila.  They looked surprised and looked over their shoulders and all around.

They sauntered over and started asking who just bought them the shots.  They got a lot of blank stares.  I tried shouting at them over the DJ and directing them to Jack with my hands, but they didn’t notice.

I started shouting at Jack and directing him over to the girls with my hands.  Jack introduced himself and introduced the girls to the cabana.  They crawled about like kittens dropped into an unfamiliar room.  They sniffed around, trying to feel out whether they were about to get raped.

By this time the angry one had dropped out of the beer pong game and made an Irish exit and his partner started throwing just one shot per turn.  Kevin and I were grabbing anyone around us and anyone walking by and anyone not around us and not walking by to have them step in for a celebrity shot.  We called the game at a draw out of suffocating boredom and quickly started the new girls on a game.

I checked the lines on my tickets and my cell phone and anything to avoid feeling like a sexual predator.  When I had checked everything twice I went back to the pool and swam some more in the godforsaken cold.  I was swimming pretty close to the speakers and I wondered if dub step was maybe some type of mind control conditioning.  Maybe overdriven bass is Satan’s way of finger blasting souls in the twentieth or twenty-first or twenty-second century.  Maybe the story of Adam and Eve represents the singularity.  Maybe mankind’s destiny is to destroy itself in its irresistible urge to become like God.

I got out of the pool.

 

Now there were two girls playing beer pong against two guys and the other two girls were sitting in the lawn chairs in front of our cabana and Jack was watching the beer pong game and I stood inside the cabana and drank a beer and pretended to have matters to attend to by fiddling with things again in pretty much the same pattern.

I noticed the next tournament game was on and that I had Ohio State at negative three against Syracuse.  I noticed that one of the girls on the lawn chair got up to go to the bathroom or the pool, and that the traditionally pretty girl was all alone.  I thought about sitting on the lawn chair furthest from her in an attempt to creep without seeming creepy.  As long as she was 18 or 17 and not a snitch I’d probably try to sleep with her.

During my hesitation, Jack plopped down right next to her.  In a row of three lawn chairs, he sat in the middle.  Casually.

I couldn’t help but feeling a little bad for the little Asian girl in the Banana Republic looking bathing suit of an indiscriminate age.  I thought about tapping Jack on the shoulder or kneeling in front of them and guiding the conversation away from whatever excuse Jack was using to lean his head over to her and caused her to lean her head away and then for him to turn his torso towards her and her to slip up off the lawn chair and excuse herself.  I would have tapped Jack on the shoulder, but all of that happened before I could decide to act.

 

I watched the girls dance to the mind melting shitty music.  I watched a bro pull out his iPhone and mesmerize them with a video.  I sat back down in a cabana chair and watched Ohio State flirt with my square money.

 

“I want no part of this,” James said, “I don’t feel good about this.  I’ve tried talking to those girls.  I can’t do it.  They go to UCLA, but I’m not so sure they know what classes they’re taking.”

Hailey came by with another bottle that Jack ordered without asking anyone if it was a good idea.

We all took a shot as a testament to the reality of the situation.  We passed the time in a generally defensive and mopey manner.  I would walk to the bathroom more often and stand up and sit down more often.

 

The two Asian girls sat next to me in the sofa style cabana chair.  The traditionally pretty one said she was so fucked up right now.

“Do you want to do a shot?” her friend asked.

She said yes by getting down on her knees by the table holding the patron.  We were out of limes but someone tried to give her a glass of orange juice and she waved it away.

“She likes to taste the shot,” her friend said.

She gulped down the tequila and moved like she was underwater or getting blasted by sludge rocketed from a gigantic but very steady leave blower on the moon or in some type of military base with a reduced gravity level.

Hailey brought two checks because we had requested two of them.  We felt responsible for letting Jack buy a second a bottle and he felt willing to let us pay for the other one by splitting it four ways.

Kevin said tip was included in our total but I didn’t know if I was supposed to tip anyway.  I supposed if you’re the type of person willing to blow multiple hundreds of dollars on a bottle you should be the type of person that tips on top of a tip, but then Pete said something about Jack tipping a thousand dollars and I didn’t feel the need to add any additional tip.

 

Pete and Kevin went to change and gamble and move on with the day.  James and I waited for Jack.

Jack said, “That bitch better not puke in my goddamned cabana.”

The traditionally pretty Asian girl was patting the other Asian girl on the back as they both sat on lawn chairs and the two other girls stood with concerned looks on their faces.

James grabbed a trash can and rushed it over to her.  She probably ate at the buffet that morning because when she started puking it hit the chairs and the ground and her hands and thighs and the inside and the outside of the trash can.

When the violence stopped, I asked if there was anything I could do help.  The traditionally pretty friend said, “Water.”

We were out of water in our cabana fridge.

 

“Hi.  A girl just puked in our cabana.”

“I’m sorry.  Which one is that?”

“Uh…”

“Seven?”

“Yeah, it looks like it’s seven.  I don’t see the girls.  I assume they have rooms here that they’re taking her to now, but I don’t actually know.”

“So, they were just hanging out with you guys, but not actually with you, right?”

“Right.”

She picked up the phone and dialed an extension.  “Vom in seven.”

“We’ll clean that up for you.  Don’t let that ruin your cabana, though.  You have it rented until 6:00.”

“I think we were going to leave anyway.  But, actually now I see those girls — the girl in the black bathing suit? — she threw up, and it looks like she’s about to get back in the pool.”

“Wow.  Gross.”

“Oh, that reminds me, I had come over to get a water for her?  Our fridge was out.”

“Yeah, no problem.  Are you going to give it to her now?  I want to watch to be sure which one it was.”

 

James got a text message from Sarah.  She wanted to meet us for dinner at the buffet.  But James didn’t say Sarah.  He said the girls.

We met Sarah outside of her door exactly one floor below.  Sarah came out of her door within seconds of James calling her and she closed the door and leaned back against it and looked really flustered and nervous but in almost a coy way.  I thought that either she was only expecting James or her roommates were slamming D.

We waited in line at the buffet a little bit and then when we were about at the register Sarah turned and asked how she did this and if she was only paying for one right?  I couldn’t tell if she was asking if James would pay for her or if she grew up in an incredibly spoiled and dependent manner where she’d never done much for herself.

I got a plate of collard greens and sweet potato mash and prime rib and regular ribs.  I imagined my brain growing more powerful from a primal plate.  James and Jack had similar plates.  Sarah had crab legs and pizza.  Sarah became, quite squarely, a college girl in my mind.

Sarah, Jack, and James resumed a conversation that had apparently started the night before.  Sarah had told Jack she got a 175 on the LSAT or some high number but it was a lie and she only said it because she was drunk and could tell it was his weakness and she does that a lot when she’s drunk but he seems like a good guy and she’s sorry she doesn’t know why she does it.

Jack talked about how it really did kill him and he’s glad she was lying because he almost had his wife fax his 170 to his email account so he could show her and it was just eating him up so badly that she might be smarter than him.

Sarah would be going to Northwestern Law School next year.  Jack had already declined his acceptance to Penn years ago and was now sitting relatively high up in a big corporation.

All of a sudden Jack started talking about how guilty he feels that his employer did this and that to who and such.  He would hesitate and, “I just…I just…” but there was something a little contrived about it.  Like he wanted us to think he was sorry but he wasn’t that sorry or he was trying to relive a dilemma settled years ago in his heart to impress us.  I wondered if Jack had morphed into a reptilian bastard and I would need to stab my dear friend in the neck with a fork a few times.

James kept giving me weird looks while Jack was telling his story and I wanted to tell James to shut the fuck  up with his eyes and just let Jack do whatever he needs to do and that James was displaying a certain social unawareness by thinking that only I would see his face and not the other two people at the table.

Sarah started talking about how her friends were different people in Vegas because they would stay out until 10:00 AM letting rich middle-aged men mustache the fuck out of them.  I tried to mask my emotions, but I wanted to throw a chair at someone’s head and paint my face with their face blood.  But Rachel wasn’t important to me because I’ve been with tons of beautiful women according to the face I was trying to make.

Sarah said that when Rachel wants something she sees the quickest way to do it and who to flatter and flirt with.  Sarah said that Sarah wanted to get dinner with us because it’s rare to find guys who don’t just talk about how much money they make all the time and Jack said, “Well.”  She also said she wanted to get out of the room because her friends were probably coming back with the some guys from the pool.

James asked me something that ended in Richer.  Sarah said, “So you’re that guy who passed out last night?”

 

We got in a cab and told the driver to go to Old Vegas.  On Fremont Street, you’re both indoors and outdoors and that’s pretty much the whole draw.  There’s a big giant never ending jumbotron screen that entirely covers a couple blocks.

We bought twenty-four ounce beers for three-fifty and walked up and down the street before buying twenty-four ounce beers again.  Every time they played American Pie you had to stop and look at the outdoor television ceiling like they were playing the national anthem.

There were street entertainers just like in regular tourist Vegas but they were more interactive and sometimes more obviously homeless-prone.  A man with a thong and chaps swung a rope like he was going to lasso Kevin.  Kevin saw him and started darting behind other people.  The cowboy of men chased Kevin a little while, but when Kevin seemed to be out of his territory he stopped and without a smile on his lips or in his eyes he said, “I’ll get you later.”

We saw the Heart Attack Grill and talked about how disgusting it must be, but then I said, “I’d fucking eat there.”  Kevin said he would, too.   We agreed to eat there later drunk.

We got really bored and agitated and starting whispering to each other to find out who was ready to leave.  Eventually we all were, but not before American Pie became permanently and irreversibly cheapened.

 

Everyone was sitting around in our room and I said, “Well, I think it’s time to get to a strip club.”

James said he was in immediately.  Pete, Jack, and Paulo were out.  Pete had to get up for a flight by 4:00 AM and was out of money according to his bank’s ATM limit.  Jack had already spent a thousand dollars tipping a waitress so he couldn’t trust himself at an actual strip club.  Paulo didn’t go places without Jack.  Kevin said he wouldn’t go somewhere to blow a bunch of money on blue balls.

I said it was Vegas and if he blew enough money he surely wouldn’t have blue balls.

He said, “Yeah, fucking exactly my point.”

James started yelling at people that this was Vegas and he was disappointed.  It felt like a tactic I had tried and failed with years ago.

I told James we needed to go by the ATM first.  I only had a couple hundred dollars in my wallet and I was feeling kind of depressed.

 

There was no one else at the taxi stand so I wasn’t embarrassed to tell the attendant we were headed to the Olympic Garden.  His face lit up and he said we were making an excellent choice my friend and he said into his radio badge walkie talkie that he had two gentlemen for the OG my friend.

 

“So, what made you guys pick the OG?”

“I don’t know.  Heard it was a good place to go.  What do you know about it?”

“Yeah, it’s okay.  Have you guys ever been to the Sapphire?”

“No.”

“We’re coming up on it.  It’s much closer.  Olympic Garden is all the way downtown.  You can see the Sapphire now.”

“Jesus Christ, it’s like a factory.”

“Yeah, it’s huge.  It has any type of girl you want.  Any type.  The Olympic Garden is good, but it’s like any strip club.  Sapphire is…it’s a different animal.”

“You want to go to Sapphire?” James asked.

I told James fuck it.

 

Sapphire had a long red carpet leading to the front door and a bunch of well dressed people standing around as if they were waiting for something with nowhere to go.  There was also huge a hot dog stand off to the right.

We paid a thirty dollar cover charge to get in.  The club had a really high ceiling with cat walks for snipers or strippers or whatever.  There was a bar towards the front entrance, an elevated walkway to the right, and a sprawling main floor packed with little round tables and little curvy chairs with blasted men sitting in them.  There were a few circular stages along the length of the middle of the room with polls erupting out of them.  And half naked girls roaming around everywhere.

James and I stood by the bar to assess the situation.  I ordered a whiskey and soda for seventeen-fifty.  I handed the bartender a twenty and told her it was all her.  James was going to order a drink but a blonde girl came up to him and asked if he’d ever been here before and asked if she could give him a tour.  He agreed.  She told me not to worry about my friend because she’d take good care of him.

There were no seats at the bar, so I walked around the main floor rather as if I was looking for someone.  All the tables had little plastic plaques that said “RESERVED.”  I circled back to stand at the bar.

Within a couple of minutes a dark haired girl with tattoos on her lower back and left wrist said something to me.  I said yes.  She laughed and leaned in closer and said, “I asked you what your name was.”  I told her my name.  She said, “But I take it you said yes to a dance?”  I said yes.

She grabbed me by the wrist and led me to a nearby table with a RESERVED sign.  I sat down and she sat on my lap.  She moved my hips forward and slipped her purse behind me.  Then she slipped off her bra.  When the next song started she lightly rubbed a crucifix on my face with her nipple starting from my nose to my bottom lip and I wondered what would happen if I slightly parted my lips.

She turned around and rubbed her ass against my boner and I was there and not there.

When the song ended she asked me if I wanted her to continue.  I said I was alright for now and handed her twenty dollars.

As soon as she left a waitress took the RESERVED sign off the table and asked me if I wanted a drink.  I ordered a whiskey soda.  She brought it back quickly and said seventeen-fifty so I handed her a twenty and told her it was all her.

The drink was noticeably strong and I wanted to throw it all down but I didn’t want to buy another twenty dollar drink.

I watched girls walk by and other guys getting lap dances, but I tried not to watch too closely.  A couple times girls walked by that I wanted to raise my hand and ask for a dance from, but my instincts said to play it real cool.  My instincts were bad.

An Asian girl slowly walked from table to table without really saying anything to anyone and saying something to everyone.  She came right up to me and shook her wrists and wagged her hips.  I nodded my head sure why the fuck not.

When the song started she rubbed her tits on my face pretty aggressively.  I thought of naked Asians bound in saran wrap and stacked on top of each other like sardines.  She ran her fingers through my beard.  “Your beard so sexy!  Make me horny!  Ohhh!!”

She turned around and pressed her ass against my crotch and grabbed her tits and arched her back until her lips were in my ear and said, “Ohhh!!  So!  Hoorny!!”

I was ecstatic about this train wreck of a dance and the stories it would bring, but worried that I may lose my erection and insult her.

The dance was over before I knew it and I pulled out my wallet to hand her twenty dollars.

She dropped her faux sexy tone and demanded, “Five hundred.  You give me five hundred right now and we go to backroom and you get off full.”  I held a twenty in my hand and put my wallet back in my pocket and looked away from her.  She took the money and left.

 

Something vibrated in my pocket.

 

James , 11:35 pm: Hey man, I’m back by the bar.

 

I was going to send a text message that I had a table off to the left, but I felt a shadow hover over me and sit on my lap.  I set my phone down on the table.

She didn’t ask me what my name was or look at me or say anything at all.  Her gaze was kind of down and inside her head.  After what felt like an eternity she asked if I wanted a dance.   I said I actually had to find my friend.  She asked guy or girl.  I said guy and that he was back at the bar and I needed to make sure he didn’t make a terrible life decision.  She didn’t move or smile.  After a couple minutes she finally said alright and grabbed her purse and left.  I put my phone in my pocket and went to the bar.

James stood by the steps.  “I made a terrible decision.”

 

James dropped two-hundred dollars on the first stripper that talked to him.  I led him back to my table, but a waitress threw down a RESERVED sign right before we got there.

“Are you guys looking to get seated?”

“Yep.”

“Great.  Just talk to the host up to the left.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem, hon.”

 

We hopped over a rope and got in the back of the line.  Everyone else moved in packs of five guys at a clip.  We were two guys with drinks in our hand and boners in our pants.

The host was a black guy that looked unhappy his XFL career didn’t turn into an NFL career but he never knew how to express his disappointment in a healthy way.

“Have you two already been in the club?”

“Yeah.  We’re interested in a table?”

“A table?  You can either buy a bottle for two of you, or you can go to the bar.”

I pointed towards the bar from a hand I lifted to about my waist.

“That’s what I thought.  Next?” he yelled.

We walked to the bar and then circled around and walked out the door.  There were still a bunch of people standing out there like they were both waiting for a limo and just taking a smoke break.

 

“Olympic Garden.”

“You know what?  I think have some drink tickets for the OG.”

The cab driver opened an envelope stacked with hundreds of little cards.  He handed back two drink tickets.

“What makes you guys want to go to the OG?”

“Heard it was good.”

“Yeah?  I heard those bitches are nasty…I don’t mean like, nasty in how they look, but nasty in what they’ll do to you.  They’ve got this….uh…Brazilian girl.  I can’t remember her name.  What the fuck is her name?  But, she’s smokin’ hot.”

“You been there often?”

“No.  Once or twice.  I’m not the kind of guy to go to a strip club and spend a bunch of money.”

“I should probably be taking that wisdom.”

“You’re on vacation.  It doesn’t matter.  I blow my money on other things.  I lose it at the Black Jack table.  You lose at the strip clubs.  It’s gone either way.”

 

The Olympic Garden looked like a Greek temple of Satan or the Lincoln Memorial.  We paid fifteen dollars at the door, and the first host told us to ask the second host about a deal.

 

James said, “So I heard we’re supposed to talk to you about a table or a deal or something.”

“A what?”  He squinted his eyes and drew his head back.

“He said to ask you about a deal on a table.”

“I don’t know, but look — you can buy a bottle or two buckets of beer to get a table.  Either way it’s going to cost you two hundred dollars.”

“How many beers are in a bucket?”

“Six.  Twelve beers total.  You can drink all night.”

 

James ordered us twelve Bud Lights.  I could hear the waitress and the doorman arguing.

When the waitress got closer I could hear her say, “Plus, they have free drink tickets.”  Then she said, to us, “So, what do you guys want for your drink tickets?”

We each ordered a whiskey soda.  James asked if this was normal.  The waitress said, “I mean, we have new management.”

 

She brought out our mixed drinks first.  James got a dance from the first girl that sat down on his lap.  The waitress brought out the first bucket.  I told her not worry.  We wouldn’t attempt to drink all of those.

There was already a second stripper sitting in James’ lap before anyone tried to touch me.  A stripper with a weave came and asked if I wanted a dance.  I said no thank you.

 

Someone whispered in my ear, “How would you like it if I suffocated you with my titties?”  A blonde haired, blue eyed woman who was probably one notch above my age bracket stepped in front of me.  I would normally turn down someone of Aryan descent, but, really?

“That’s how I know you aren’t gay.”

“How’s that?”

“Any straight man would want to be suffocated with titties.  There seems to be a lot of gay guys here tonight.”

The dance was disappointing.  She would step back and do these artistic dance movements like the point of her job had anything to do with dancing.  I could see the artificially cultivated look of pleasure in her eyes.

She kind of leaned on my chair with one knee, stuck her tits in my face, and used the shin of her other leg to rub against my dick.  I couldn’t say I loved it, but it worked I guess.  There was something kind of distant and dehumanizing about it all that felt very fitting in the given environment.  There was something refreshingly honest about all the obvious lies in a strip club.

 

A blonde girl wearing a corset and thick framed glasses sat on my lap.

She put my cock in a death grip.  “I can take you to the backroom and give you a full release.”

“I’m alright, thanks.”

“You think you’re alright?  That’s cute.  Is that your friend over there?”

I looked over at James.  He had a hot brunette on his lap and a big smile on his face.  I would have paid a hundred dollars for one lap dance from that brunette.

“Yeah, that’s my friend.”

“What if he goes to the backroom?”

“Uh…that’d be fine with me?”

“Please.  Then you’d be stuck here all alone like a loser with your blue balls.  Do you want blue balls?”

“I’m alright, really.  Thank you.”

She picked up her purse.  “Fine.  Have fun with your blue balls, loser.”

 

I drank more beer as I sat with myself.  I looked over at James.  The stupid hot stripper was still just sitting on his lap, chatting away.

I got up and went to the bathroom.  It was comforting, not having to worry about whether or not someone would see you with a boner.

The urinals were clean, spaced out, and had wooden shelves jutting out of the wall for you to hold your drink on.  I tipped the attendant a couple bucks and felt much better about myself when I sat back down.

I decided to hold out for the right stripper.  Less dances, and enjoy the view a little bit, I told myself.

Then another girl sat on my lap.  Another blonde, but she had a different air about her – more carefree.

She asked me my name and age and celebrated the fact that I was only one year older than her in a sarcastic but friendly way.  I got a dance, then quickly realized I was probably going to blow the rest of my money on her.  She seemed relatively smart and didn’t rub my boner with her shin.

She asked if I wanted to go to the backroom.  “It’s just like, more private, without a bunch of people looking at you.”  She explained that it was forty dollars to get in, a hundred for the dance, and I had to buy drinks for both of them.  I won’t regret it, she promised.

 

I was being led by the hand past the original entrance and into a room so dark you needed a flashlight to read anything.  A large man asked me if I wanted to pay in cash, credit card, or put the drinks on a credit card and pay her in cash.  I said I’d pay the drinks on card and the rest in cash.  It felt like the right thing to do, like paying your bill at a restaurant in credit card and leaving a cash tip.

They took my credit card, held my driver’s license, and required a thumb print and signature for “my” protection.  I inked my thumb and scrawled my name without saying anything.

She led me to a table against the wall.  There were no tables in the middle of the room, just space to walk.  There were no chairs, but a velvet bench covered the perimeter, with little round tables evenly spaced and pushed up against the wall to hold drinks and purses.  Before anything started a strikingly sober looking waitress came to take our drink orders.

“I want a vodka, cranberry, and sugar-free Red Bull.  Do you like vodka cranberry?  You should get the same and tell me what you think.”

I ordered the same.  She started a dance paused when our drinks came.  “Isn’t this better, with less people?  No friends watching your reaction?”

“It is.”

“What do you think of the drink?”

“It’s very sweet.”

“That’s why I get it sugar free.”

I downed the rest of it.

 

She leaned and whispered into my ear, “Do you like to get choked?”

My brain was trying to process what was just fed into it.

She said, “I don’t mean, like, choked out, but just, lightly choked.”

I paused so I could give her an honest and thoughtful answer.

“All girls love to get choked,” she said.  “I’ll show you a move to get any girl off.  Your ladies are going to love it.”

She straddled my left leg, with one knee on the bench.

“When she’s getting closer to coming, just grab both of their wrists like this…put them over her head like this…then pin both wrists down with one hand like this…now you take your free hand…and put it over her throat while you’re just giving to her.  It’ll send all your lady friends over the edge.”

“This is very good to know.”

“So, do you like to get choked?”

“Um…maybe when you do it?”

 

The final dance was over and the waitress came by with a bill for forty dollars.

The stripper said, “Remember to tip her.  Tip her twenty dollars.”

The waitress shined a flashlight on my hands so I could read what I was writing.  I wrote twenty dollars on the tip line and sixty on the total and signed my name.  The waitress thanked the stripper baby.  When I handed her the receipt she handed me my credit card and driver’s license.

“Alright, I want to see you put the credit card and driver’s license back in your wallet.  Now, it’s a hundred and twenty for the dance.  Oh, and plus tip…if you want.”

I started digging through my wallet.  I could tell there were plenty of bills but it was too dark to see what they were.  I pulled out a bill and held it up in the air.  I was pretty confident it was a hundred so now I just needed to find two twenties.  I was a little worried that she was going to get worried that I didn’t have the money.  Eventually I established that I had a hundred and forty in my hands and handed it over to her.  She thanked me so much honey.  I stood up and patted her on the shoulder and said, “No, thank you.”

Back at our table I told James it was time to get the fuck out of here.  He agreed.  I went to the bathroom so I could pull out my wallet and count how much money I had left.  One-hundred and eighteen dollars.

I tipped the bathroom attendant one dollar and did the math.  One-hundred and seventeen dollars.

I went back to the table but James was gone.  I started inhaling beer.  I thought if we were going to leave I might as well drink too much.

A stripper sat down in my lap and asked if I wanted to go to the backroom.

“I just got back from the backroom.”

“You did?”

“Yeah.  At this point, I’m just waiting for my friend who seems  to have gone to their himself.  Then I need to leave.”

She stood.  “Thank you for being honest.”

 

My vision narrowed as I emptied more beers.  I turned down a few dances, but then a skinny Asian girl with huge tits sat on my lap.

“How about a dance?”

“Sure.”

When she was facing away from me she grabbed both my hands from the arm rests and put them firmly on her tits.  I squeezed and pressed them together.

That can’t be right, I thought.  Her tits felt like a cog in a machine, like separate moving parts.  I imagined two bags of softened hard glue grinding against her rib cage.  It looked like her tits had zero percent body fat.

But I just didn’t care.

I got another dance.  And then another.  Then maybe another but there’s no way of knowing.  I tried to stop at five but I couldn’t tell the difference between any of the shitty pop songs.  She asked me if I had the money to pay her and I handed her a hundred dollars.

“For that price, I’ll give you one more.  I’ll make it a really good one.  I promise.”

She shinned the fuck out of my boner OG style and had me play with her boobs and shinned my boner some more.  I didn’t care what she pressed against my cock.  I wouldn’t have cared if I blew a load in my pants and went back to the casino with semen stained navy short pants.  At the end of the song she thanked me hon and I looked over at a James with no stripper on his lap.

“We need to get the fuck out of here.”

 

The meter got close to ten dollars.  I pulled out seventeen and whispered in James’ ear, “My wallets empty.  Do we have enough cash to get all the way back?”

“Yeah, we’ll just make it with the tip.”

 

Day Four – Sunday, March 24 – Smoke Ring For My Halo

I woke up early and didn’t seem to have a hangover, but I didn’t want to move.  James was sleeping on the same bed as me, which meant Kevin must have had a bed to himself.

We all gradually roused ourselves so that we could sit around and do nothing in the same room.  Jack pulled out his work laptop and said that while the Mormons had done a lot to help establish a work-life balance at his company, everyone knew he wasn’t a Mormon.

I looked out our window at a helicopter flying by the Trump Tower.  I didn’t want that – a high priced condo, a BMW, gold colored nonsense and shiny shit.  But I was sure that in many instances the people living in that godforsaken tower had seized the cup of life and drank.  That’s what I wanted.  I didn’t want to waste my days behind a computer screen in a cubicle trying to force myself to stop reading interesting things on the internet so I could figure out why my sumproduct formula wasn’t working.

I wanted to know that I hadn’t wasted my life.  I wanted to choke strippers, not get taught how to properly choke a lady by one.

 

Paulo and Jack wanted to get on the road to LA by 9:00 AM.  Kevin found a place to eat breakfast on his phone.  It was owned by former Indiana natives, and tucked away in the back of the Imperial Palace.

The place was called Hash House.  I was a little worried because it looked nice and there was a wait.  We waited on a long bench by the top of the escalators that led up from the casino.  A couple girls sat down next to me – close enough that I debated whether I was supposed to talk to them.  I didn’t.

 

Jack and Paulo took off as soon as we got back to our rooms.

Kevin, James, and I finished packing and left for good.

We walked around Vegas, up the strip and through some gift shops.  Kevin wanted to buy a cheesy souvenir but everything he could find was just regular shit.

We reached a really long moving sidewalk escalator that fed into Excalibur.  We checked out the casino and Kevin went to the bathroom and James and I absentmindedly waited by the door for him and then we left.

We got lunch in a New York style deli in New York-New York.  I got a foot long hot dog because I forgot that New York style pizza and hot dogs are just like Chicago style pizza and hot dogs except that the ones from New York are stripped of everything good and just kind of suck.

I asked Kevin how he met his girlfriend and he said I’ve actually met her.  She was at some party that we were at towards the end of my Chicago days and then he saw her again in a bar incidentally and he introduced himself and she remembered who he was.  I told him I’m on match.com and it’s kind of fucking weird but not in an I-feel-like-a-loser-or-a-creep kind of way for doing it.

We went to the airport more than a couple hours early.  We walked around and talked about the TSA behind their backs.  My flight left about an hour before theirs so after walking to my terminal and them asking at my gate if they could get on an earlier flight and then walking to their gate and hoping it would make a difference in the answer to their questions we sat down at my gate again.  We kind of talked about nothing and work and Jack’s behavior and they played on their smart phones while I read.

James asked me what I was reading Richer?  I held the cover up.  He read out loud Shoplifting From American Apparel Tao Lin and then he chuckled a snort.  He asked me what it was about and I said nothing really.  He crinkled his forehead and tilted his head to my right but his left.

Kevin said, “Hip.”

I said, “Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s about.”

James said, “Well, I guess I won’t be reading that book, because I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”

An older lady sitting across from me looked like she knew exactly what we were talking about and I was surprised.

When it was my turn to wait in line in position 49, Kevin and James stood up to shake my hand and Kevin said I should come to Lollapalooza and James said I should head back East sometime and sleep on someone’s couch and I think I said if they ever headed out West there would be a couch or a tent waiting for them but if I didn’t say that I should have.

 

A mom and a young kid sat down next to me and I imagined I probably smelled like a gas station of alcohol and looked like the urban unabomber who camped on the weekends.

I held a black pen in my hand and scribbled furiously on a three by five inch notepad.  I tried to write this really stupid love story only without making it stupid.

There was this misunderstood bitch character named Rachel and this unreadable panty slayer named Jacob and they met at the pool but now they had just got done fucking in the bathroom of her hotel room.  She had been sitting on the counter facing him and the fact that the counters were too high in that hotel to be practical for this application didn’t matter because it was a fictional story and could be ignored by just not mentioning it.

Rachel slapped Jacob on the chest for no reason, so he grabbed both her wrists and put them behind her back.  Then he kind of slipped his hand over both wrists and sternly grabbed Rachel’s throat like he was training a puppy to sell Michael Vick.  She climaxed so hard that her head pretty much exploded.

 

They were laying in bed naked and she had a sheet wrapped high and tight around her torso and her head on the pillow as she looked up at Jacob who was more sitting up with his head tilted back against the head board and a blanket covering his junk and legs.  He wasn’t smoking a cigarette but he looked like he could have been if he wanted to.

She asked him how he knew she liked to get choked.

He said that she didn’t know him and he didn’t know her but don’t you think we kind of know each other?

She asked him why he liked her.  He said it was because of the pain on her face when she said she hated her best friend.  He told her she wasn’t a bitch.  She was just the result of giving a beautiful girl with a slightly rebellious core an unusually high social intelligence.

Jacob looked Rachel in the eyes and her eyes were vulnerable and grey or blue or something.

“You’re not going to like hearing this, but when I see a girl like you, I instantly fall in love.  I can’t help it.  It’s in your eyes.  It’s genetics or something.  You’ve heard of Myers-Briggs, obviously?  Well, you can think of each personality type as a root program – each person as a product of preprogrammed behavioral tendencies in a given environment.  For whatever reason, when your root program and my root program meet, there’s an instant reaction to breed and spread our DNA.  But your type misreads mine.  You think because you see the spark in my eyes that I’m just like a male version of you.  I’m not.  I can’t just exploit the stupidity of society.  I have to try to reconcile it all.  But I know your type, and I know what to say to be who I need to be when I meet one of you.”

“And why wouldn’t I like hearing this?”

Jacob looked straight ahead at the wall on the other side of the room.

“Because you couldn’t fall for a man that falls for you so easily.  It’s already written down, in the Neon Bible.”

Posted in Matt, Really Serious Literature
       

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>