“Vegas, Baby!” – Part 3

By Julian Draven

Filled with Pastrami and Rye, we left the microcosm of New York City that is New York, New York. Crawling under the stairs and floor, we met the blast of arid air that is the glorious sun-baked summer of the Nevada desert. Ah! Glory be for sun and heat.

Now remember, it is only Friday morning. I've only been in Vegas for 12 hours and I've already written two full pages and it has taken me two months! Jesus, we could all have walked to Vegas in the time it has taken for me to tell you about it. How will I ever complete Friday, Saturday and Sunday in just one more page? Don't worry, all will be made clear soon.

Trekking across the street from New York! New York! we made our way into the MGM Grand. The MGM Grand is a great chunk of shiny Green with a great golden lion out front. The huge screens displaying lurid light shows and coming attractions provides a continuing dynamic of color for those guests of Vegas that have taken too many hallucinogens. Although none of us were doing that, these signs also provide some distracting splashes of color for the alcoholically impaired...but I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I?

The MGM Grand is...well...Grand. Gigantic fucking place. The ceilings are enormously tall and the place is the brightest, loudest and shiniest of all the casinos that I went into. Thus, I felt the need to speed through the place with all possible haste. *grin* Even moving at the fastest pace that my 6'6" friend Scott could manage, it took us easily 15 minutes to get all the way through the MGM Grand where we had to catch a shuttle train to Ballys. That's right, Ballys. Yes, the same Ballys that you have heard of before, like the fitness club. Ballys is the Casino in Vegas where those health conscious yuppie wankers can smoke, drink, gorge themselves on prime rib, gamble _and_ get an aerobic workout. I wouldn't lie about this folks. Reality is more bizarre than anything I could create here.

There's just nothing like walking past an aerobic workout room on your way to gamble and drink away all your worldly possessions. I don't know, when I see those yuppie-housewives in their leotards and Reebok sneakers, hopping and bopping and stretching and bending and flexing and reaching...*gasp*...I need to gamble, goth-damn it! I wonder if I can marry a woman who will do that stuff for me and the boys while we are having Tuesday night penny poker at my house. Cigar smoke, sporting events in the background on the tube, double pepperoni pizza and a hot chick on the stairmaster. What else does a man need?

*sigh* In actuality, Ballys was the least interesting casino I went to. Thankfully, it was blessedly small. Well, small by Vegas standards. You could still park several 747s inside. We escaped Ballys via a long, slow, moving sidewalk that was flanked by white columns and colored lights. This would be the first of two trips down the Ballys moving sidewalk. Little did I know how Hellish the second journey would be.

Oh, if I may backtrack for a moment, I should mention that while we were on the train, we could overlook some casinos that were under construction. One of the casinos that is being built (I forget the name, it has been over 2 months) is going to be an adult only casino. I thought that was strange when I heard it, but it makes good sense, because Vegas has become a total family tourist vacation spot!! Shocking, isn't it? That's right, bring the kids to Vegas! Teach them at an early age how to squander their meager resources on all the vices that life has to offer, gambling, drinking, smoking, whoring.... It's all in Vegas, baby!

Across the street from Ballys is the magnificent Caesar's Palace. For those of you that don't know, I'm a huge fan of the Roman Empire, and all things Roman. I guess those four years of Latin class did something to my brain. Imbibo Ergo Sum. So, Caesar's Palace was going to be the aesthetic highlight of my trip. Now, I've been to Rome, and that is definitely a story for another Millennium, but let me tell you briefly that it was ten days of sheer breath-taking splendor amidst dirty, polluted, stinking squalor. Caesar's Palace is all the grandiosity and pomp of Rome, without all the dirt and substance. So, I spent the next several hours boring the shit out of my poor friend Scott as I geeked out over Caesar's Palace. Amidst the fake gold and marble and high domed ceilings are duplicates of historically famous sculpture and art appropriate to Rome, the Vatican and classical Greek. And, of course, everywhere you look there's wealth, drinking, smoking, gambling and hot women in stylish clothing. Yummy. Caesar's Palace is so large that it has a mall inside of it. I spent some time tooling through the music store where the cutest blonde girlie was able to help me find a couple of rare imports I had been looking for. Shout out to you, Carla. But, the best part of Caesar's Palace was the toy store. *grin* Am I a kid at heart? We spent at least an hour inside the FAO Schwarz. The place has this gargantuan Trojan Horse that you can climb around in and watch the mall from hidden video cameras. FAO also had a huge display window with probably a hundred animatronic stuffed animals going about their daily routine in a western town. Granted, the display wasn't very PC. All of the bears seemed to be the ones in uniform and in charge, the laborers were all monkeys and the Indians (who were being attacked by the bear cavalry) were all pigs. The cultural and sociological implications I will leave as an exercise to the reader. The food court at the Caesar's Palace indoor mall even has a realistic looking sky scene painted on it, so you can eat in the environmental comfort of Caesar's Palace, but pretend that you are actually outside, enjoying the scorching desert heat. :)

After finishing up at Caesar's Palace, it was time to start gambling. Hell, we were in Vegas after all. Scott wanted to go to a particular casino (the name escapes me) that is well-renowned for the gorgeous scenery, that being the large chested women. Being more interested in money than waitresses, I was up for anywhere. We hit the place for several long hours of gambling. When all was said and done, I was up $65, Scott was down a chunk and hating it. I bought dinner. Oh, did I mention that we got a free dinner from the casino because the floor manager thought we were cool? Of course, we were cool, so it's perfectly understandable. Ah...the dinner buffet. There's nothing quite like gorging yourself on 137 different types of food, beverages and desserts, especially when it was all for free!

By the time we finished eating and left the casino it was late. We decided to move back to the Excalibur and make the hookup with the rest of our group, the Bachelor Party group, who were supposed to arrive in the evening. We made the hookup and settled in for a long night of drinking, smoking, gambling and misery. Five hours, countless drinks and $100 of seven card stud later and I had had enough. I staggered up to my room and called it a night.

I woke up Saturday morning...okay, well...I guess you can't really call 2 o'clock in the afternoon morning...although, I'm pretty sure it was morning somewhere, like China. Regardless, I woke up on Saturday to the thundering hooves of 1000 buffalo stampeding across the plains of Kansas. Or at least they had stampeded across my forehead, throb, throb, throb.

By the time I had showered, dressed and made myself presentable, it was near 4pm. Scott and I waltzed downstairs to hit the Excalibur Buffet. Yum, yum. For $7 I was able to stuff myself with heaping piles of juicy and tender pink roast beef, turkey, roast chicken, potatoes, green beans, deluxe salad bar and an assortment of cakes, pies and pastries. I waddled out of the buffet like a kneeless duck.

Having gorged myself on food and drink I decided that it was naturally time to blow some cash at the poker tables. Whee!! Hours later, as darkness had enshrouded my desert paradise like a dirty secret, the fateful bachelor party festivities began. As though drinking and gambling and smoking cigars were not enough macho goings on for one bachelor party, it was decided that it was time to hit the strip clubs.

Now, the DeathJester doesn't have much of an interest in strip clubs (or titty bars as they are sometimes referred to). But, since it wasn't my bachelor party, I wasn't consulted in the matter of evening entertainment. So, take a terrifying taxi drive through Las Vegas at night, through the crack whores and vagrants and pushers, Oh my!! I paid the __TEN__ dollar cover and I was in the land of beautiful and nekkid on...what are those things??? Nipple covers?!? G-strings?!? What the hell? You mean the strippers in Vegas don't actually strip? Oh my Goth what kind of farcically unfortunate juxtaposition of inbred mongelry is this???

Having been drug against my will to a place filled with bare breasts and bottoms I was _most_ disappointed to find that there were no bare breasts and bottoms to be seen. *sigh* What misery is this?

I watched, lackluster, as my compatriots threw their money into the bras and panties of lovely coeds trying to pay their way through college...or at least that's their story...I believe it, don't you? Unable to convince myself to pay money for a thrill I could get from the Victoria's Secret catalogue, I ended up dusting most of my cash and time at the bar.

Eventually, a scrumptious blonde came and slinked into the couch next to me. I probably shouldn't give the details since I don't want to ruin my pristine reputation, but the next hour involved massage, whiskey, furtive glances from the bouncers and sly smirks from my fellow bachelors. *shrug* I'll deny everything.

Soon enough the cash ran out and all that was left was a long ride back to the hotel where I collapsed, reeking of smoke and whiskey, into the most comfortable bed this side of a Turkish prison. Little did I know then what the morning would have to offer.

Sunday morning, Goth save me, came much too early. Those 11am checkout times are a curse from the old gods that are still angry about that whole Jesus thing. Our planes didn't leave until the evening, so we stowed our baggage with the bell hops and slithered into the desert sun for some noon-time pizza and beer. Although I had awakened with some tummy grumblings, it wasn't until the greasy pizza with extra garlic hit the tummy that I realized the true extent of my body horror. I had imbibed my share of alkie the night before, but surely I hadn't drunk enough to merit the swirly spews. It was going to be a long day. If only I knew how long.

Scott wanted to get in some additional poker, so we strolled over the Luxor. At this point I was still able to walk upright. Like a die hard old bastard from a dirty 50s movie I lurched over the edge of the poker table, popping Tums like it was life support...and maybe it was.

Funny thing about Las Vegas, you can leave a stack of chips on the table and vacate for long periods of time, only to return and find that not a single one of your chips has been lifted. Lucky thing, too. I followed every wives tale I had ever heard, saltine crackers, coke, soda water, bread, Tums, pepto abysmal, milk, you name it. Oh, no, there was no remedy to be had. The old gods would have their revenge.

We've all had our mad dashes to the bathroom, holding our throats with the impending knowledge that the technocolor yawn was but a moment away. Imagine making that dash a few hundred yards through a gigantic Egyptian temple filled with buzzers, blinking lights, bells, the clink of coins and the bustle of thousands of tourists. Oh, yeah, it is an experience not soon forgotten.

As I baked under the setting desert sun, outside the huge black pyramid they call the Luxor, desperately clinging to the foot of the sphinx, trying to recover, it started to rain.

Scott departed to the airport to make his flight and my condition continued to deteriorate. I had tickets for an event at Treasure Island that I wanted to be sure I made. I hobbled, gasped and wheezed my way through the MGM grand to the shuttle for Ballys. The shuttle has no windows or doors that can open once the train starts and I prayed for the sake of the other passengers that the ride would be short. I just barely made it. The bitch with the hot dog with mustard and extra sauer kraut that sat next to me almost got a little something extra to go with her root beer.

Ballys was a nightmare. All those happy exercisers aerobicising and gambling. They had made me want to vomit the day before when I wasn't sick. I had to close my eyes and rush through the building. Making it to the other side, I slumped down onto the moving sidewalk and begged the gods for mercy. They had none.

Somehow I made it to Treasure Island, I edged my way through the casino to my final destination at the back - Cirque du Soleil.

I waited as patiently as my twitching body could in line for my ticket, once acquired, I collapsed in a quiet hallway and wished for death. It didn't come. What I was gifted with instead was an intensely unpleasant bout of vomitus. I engaged the bathroom stall like Godzilla engages Tokyo. There's nothing quite like the visual and aromatic appeal of rancid roast beef that has been fermenting inside a human host for 24 hours. If you enjoy watching roadkill simmer in the Texas summer sun, then you would enjoy a detailed description of the horror I lived through. But, even if you would enjoy it, I'm not telling the story. Suffice it to say I had to call Ralph on the Big White Phone. He never answered.

Thinking that the worst of it must finally be over, I collapsed into the chair in the auditorium and waited for the show to start.

For those of you that have never seen Cirque Du Soleil, I can only tell you that it was some of the most spectacular and magical two hours of my entire life. Mystere is worthy of a trip to Las Vegas just to see it. I was enchanted and delighted more than I could ever have thought possible. The drums, the costumes, the acrobats, ah!!! Fucking Glorious and Magnificent. Even considering the horror that my body was putting me through, I was enchanted.

The fat, redneck bastard sitting next to me passed the gnarliest gas I've ever had the misfortune to encounter for the first 30 minutes of the show. I thought I had been condemned to the worst living hell imaginable. Finally I looked over at him and told him that if he didn't stop I was going to gouge out his eyeballs. He moved to the end of the row.

As if this disaster of a day could get any worse, it did. It seems that the plague of locusts that had descended upon me weren't merely there to torment just me. During one of the final acts of the show, the Korean Plank exhibit, one of the acrobats, who was to be vaulted from the plank to the shoulders of a man standing on the shoulders of a man on the shoulders of a man on the ground. (Yep, that's four people up). She missed. The entire human acrobat structure collapsed and she hit the stage. Hard.

I looked on in horror as the Paramedics rushed onstage, examined her, strapped her to a board and rushed her away.

The show went on.

Staggering out after the show, I spent nearly the remainder of my money on books and CDs from Cirque du Soleil. New toys in hand, I shuffled and weaved out into the Las Vegas night. I was hungry and had been able to eat nothing all day. In desperation, I sought the shelter of that warm and familiar night spot - Denny's. My stomach had knotted into such spasms and cramps that I had difficulty sitting or standing upright. I ordered bread and water.

As I waited for my bread and water I was overcome with grief. My Michelle, that I still loved more than life, had been to Vegas and seen Mystere. She had loved it and thought it magical. She had wanted us to see Cirque du Soleil together. But there I was, alone, in Las Vegas, at night, sick, in agony with cramps, hungry and nearly penniless. Like a wailing widow in a third world country I began to weep. Great sobs wracked my frame as I collapsed on the counter in weariness, pain and desperation.

Long moments later I was able to recover enough to lift my head. My bread and water and a stack of tissues waited for me. Thank goth for gay waiters at Denny's in Vegas. I ate the bread and was, of course, nearly immediately sick. I called a cab.

I arrived at the airport too weak to carry my bags. I rented a push cart, loaded it with my luggage and hunched over it, like a dying man in a wheel chair. I wheeled myself slowly and pitifully through the nearly deserted Las Vegas airport.

I had collected some postcards to mail home. So I asked the super friendly bitch cunt at the magazine stand where I could buy some stamps. She told me I had to walk all the way back through the airport to the post office stand. I hobbled, limped and wheeled my torturous way back to the post office. The stamp machine gave me what I needed. I sat on the floor, weeping again and filling out postcards to friends, relatives and Michelle.

The glue from the stamps made me sick again. Somewhere in the Vegas airport there is a ficus tree that is dying from the poison that ended up in its planter.

It was nearly midnight in Vegas, but I found a pay phone and called my mother. I woke her from dreams to beg her to pick me up at the Atlanta airport. She agreed. Mercifully, I slept most of the flight back, but by the time I arrived, I could not walk at all. I had to be assisted from the plane and wheeled out of Hartsfield International airport in a wheel chair by my mother. She took me straight from the airport to the physician's office where I was poked, prodded, questioned and injected with medication. A shot in my butt!! *pout* The doctor's diagnosis: Food Poisoning. I was bedridden for the next three days on a diet of jello and juice.



The Excalibur hotel, where I had eaten the rancid roast beef, refused to pick up any of my medical bills. As a matter of fact their customer relations woman was a total and complete whore. May she burn in Hell.