It all started early one fateful Friday evening when I was just twenty three. My boyfriend Tyler had recently moved out and, once again, I was left alone in my Long Beach ghetto apartment scouring the internet and feeling sorry for myself. I had no sooner popped open a bottle of beer when there was a knock on the door and my retarded dog began loudly barking.
“Who the hell could that be?” I wondered aloud, as I lifted my Humpty-Dumpty self up from the chair I had been sitting on toward the front of my apartment. Looking out the peephole, I discovered the goofy face of my old pal Gonzo. Excitedly, I opened the door, kicking my dog out of the way while doing so.
“Hey Asterisk, what are you up to tonight?” he asked.
“Nothing. I don’t have any friends,” I depressingly stated.
Gonzo laughed, “That’s not true, you have me.” “I guess so,” I admitted. “Listen, one of my buddies is in Las Vegas this weekend. He was given a free room at the Mirage and drove out with his girlfriend earlier this morning. The friend he was supposed to meet up with flaked so he invited me to come out and meet him there tonight. I’m really in the mood to play some poker, but I could use some company on the drive. You want to go? It’s just for tonight, I’m coming back in the morning.”
“Uh, I don’t know Gonzo, I’m pretty broke. I only have $40 in the bank right now.”
“It won’t cost you anything. I’ll drive and my friend said we could stay in his room for free, there are two queen sized beds, we can share one,” he offered. “Or, you and his girlfriend can, and I can sleep in the other with my buddy if that would make you feel more comfortable.”
“Hmm, maybe. But there better not be any funny business this time, Gonzo!”
He smiled, releasing a small chuckle, “No funny business! I promise!” Even though I had known Gonzo a good majority of my life, I didn’t trust him. He was a few years younger than me and one of the biggest perverts I had even known.
“Fine, I believe you, but I need someone to walk my dog. Let me ask my neighbor and if he agrees to do it, I’ll go.”
“Great! You do that. I need to swing home to shower and pack a bag. Get yourself ready and I’ll be back by to get you within the hour,” he promised.
Once Gonzo had left, I walked out onto the porch that adjoined my house to my neighbor’s and let out a little yell, “Hey, Benny B, you in there?”
A few seconds later her responded, “Yes ma’am, what do you need?” “My friend just invited me to Vegas for the night, can you walk my dumb dog?”
“Absolutely, no problem. Just leave your gate unlocked.”
“Wow, thanks Benny! I owe you one!”
As promised, an hour later Gonzo reappeared at my door. “Hey pretty lady, you ready to go?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I’m ready, but you better watch it Gonzo!” I reminded him.
“I know, I know, I’ll be a perfect gentleman, I promise,” he lied while running his hand down my ass.
I gave him an angry glare and he threw both of his arms up as if to surrender before grabbing my small bag and lugging it down the stairs for me. I locked my front door behind us, though still making sure to leave the back gate unlocked for Benny B. as Gonzo put my bag into his trunk.
“I have to stop and get some gas,” Gonzo informed me.
“No problem, I need to hit the ATM. Did you need me to pitch in some money?”
“Nah, it’s cool I got it. Save your cash for the tables!” “Great! I’m going to grab a bottle of something to drink on the way.” “I said save your money! There’s a bottle of vodka in the trunk. Grab a soda or something to mix it with.”
“Fantastic Gonzo! Have I mentioned how much I appreciate our friendship?”
“Ha ha! I’m just hoping to get you drunk is all!”
“Has that ever helped you in the past? Please!” I lectured him. “Well there was that one night at the dive bar when we drank the generic liquor and then …”
“Never happened!” I screamed after climbing out of the car and slamming the door in his face. I made my way into the convenience store and immediately the twinkling lights of the fantastic Slurpee machine caught my eye! That was perfect! I grabbed the biggest cup I could find and filled it just half way before taking it to the counter to pay. The man working the register offered a confused glance after noting the less than filled container. He decided against saying anything and took my money anyway.
Once I was back to the car, Gonzo kept his promise and made me my concealed cocktail before hitting the highway. Once we were on the interstate, he sparked up a doobie and we partook in a little party before making our way into Sin City. It was somewhere between the darkened desert and the city lights that we spotted it. Flames encompassed the night sky in front of us to the right.
“What the hell is that?” I spat out.
“Something is on fire, that’s for damn sure!”
“I know, but what?” I asked as we approached the disaster.
“Looks like a restaurant.”
“In the middle of nowhere? So strange!”
“Very strange!” Gonzo agreed as we passed by it.
There was not any traffic on the road nor any emergency vehicles on the scene yet. I contemplated calling one myself but figured I should avoid authorities since I was concealing an illegal road cocktail.
We continued down the interstate another one hundred miles, and eventually we saw the lights of the city in the distance. I was feeling relieved because my enormous vodka drink had been finished and my bladder was about to explode. It was close to ten o’clock when we finally found a parking spot in the underground garage of the casino. I hopped out of the car and removed my bag from Gonzo’s trunk as he dialed his friend’s cell number.
“That’s strange,” he said, hanging up the phone and attempting to redial.
“What?” I asked.
“His phone went straight to voice mail, let me try again.”
“Fine, but dial and walk!” I ordered, “I really have to pee!”
We made our way into the giant casino and Gonzo immediately pointed out the bathroom.
“What are we going to do if your friend doesn’t answer Gonzo? I need to get changed in his room, I can’t gamble in these sweats? I have a sexy dress and some heels in this bag, plus I need to put on some makeup.”
“Just do it in the bathroom,” he suggested.
“Ugh!” I shouted, annoyed. “That’s so gross, Gonzo! I need a shower after that drive too!”
“I don’t know what to tell you lady.”
“Fine! But I’ll be in there a while!”
“I’ll be at the poker table, take your time.”
I walked into the bathroom and was almost ran over by two scantily clad drunk girls. Both bumped into me and one even spilled her cocktail down the front of my shirt. They kept walking without an apology or any acknowledgment of the accident. “Skanks,” I said under my breath, as I made my way into a handicapped stall to change.
I tucked my fat rolls into a tiny black dress and shoved my puffy feet into a six inch pair of pumps, then tucked my sweats into my overnight bag and made my way to the counter to put on my makeup and hooker shower my pits. After most of the BO was removed, I dug out my war paint and quickly began to plaster it on. Once my lips were drawn on twice their normal size with a red lip pencil and my eyes were covered in enough liner that I resembled a raccoon, I pulled out two strips of false lashes and did my best to glue them down.
Rapidly, the bathroom had grown crowded and I was being elbowed by bitches on either side of me. The left lashes went on okay but the right wouldn’t adhere correctly and they sagged down making me resemble a person with Downs Syndrome.
“Oh, don’t worry about it, you look incredible!” a lying drunken “lady of the night” in line for the sink next to me said in an attempt to hurry me out.
“Hmph,” I mumbled, rolling my droopy eye. I continued to push the lashes upward holding them down waiting for the glue to dry. Finally, they were bonded down even enough and I reached for my bag and made my exit.
Once outside the restroom I felt something wet on my side where my luggage was resting. I looked down to realize it was dripping with water. My entire right side was also soaked. Damn! The sink must have been wet and I hadn’t noticed. I began looking around the casino for the poker tables but couldn’t spot them. I just wanted to find Gonzo and ditch my crap in his trunk as soon as possible. Plus, I needed a drink. I wandered around the casino for a good thirty minutes to no avail. My frustration had grown and I was still soggy with sink water. I decided to make a pit stop at the bar.
“One apple martini please!” I sang out to the bartender.
After about ten minutes had passed, he finally came back with my alcoholic prize. I took a sip of the concoction and had just started to relax when he handed me my tab. I almost choked on my booze when I read it.
“Sixteen dollars?” I shouted.
The man just nodded.
Reluctantly I handed him the change from the twenty I had broke on my Slurpee earlier and then grabbed my bag.
I turned around from the bar and thankfully spotted Gonzo. It was like seeing an angel, if angels are five foot tall perverted Mexicans.
“There you are,” he said with a smile when we made eye contact.
“I need to put my bag in your car, it got wet on the sink. This damn drink cost me sixteen dollars Gonzo! I only have twenty left to gamble with for the entire night!”
“Wow, they were free at the poker table! Anyway, that twenty is all we have left period. I just lost all my money.”
“What? Are you kidding me? Did you get a hold of your friend?”
“What are we going to do Gonzo? We have no money and no place to stay. Are we going to have to drive back tonight?”
“We can if you want to do the driving, I had four rum and cokes. I’m not driving anywhere for a while.”
“Damn it!” I shouted as leaned back and chugged what was left of my overpriced martini.
Gonzo and I walked to his car and ditched my overnight supplies before making our way back into the crowded casino. “What do you want to play?” he asked.
“I have no clue. Penny slots, I guess. Then at least we can drink for free.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
We sat down on the first open machine we could find. I inserted my twenty and then pushed “spin.”
Both of our mouths dropped when we realized that I had hit “max bet.”
“Did you mean to do that?” Gonzo shouted at me.
“No! It was an accident! Oh God! Oh no! I just lost everything!” I cried.
Then it happened, a tiny miracle from God. DING! DING! DING! DING!
“Shit! You just hit $60! You tripled your money!” Gonzo shouted.
“Should I cash out?” I asked.
“I never tell anyone to stop when they are ahead.”
I pressed “max bet” one more time.
“Up ten more!”
“That’s good enough for me, I’m not pushing it!” I said as I cashed out. “Hold the machine, Gonzo. I still want to play but I’m going to break this ticket down.”
“Smart move,” he said, impressed.
Once I had changed in my winnings for smaller bills, we continued on the same slot for a good hour while collecting all the free cocktails we could score. Eventually the machine stopped paying out so we moved on to the next and then another still somehow managing to break even. Before we knew it, it was almost four am, and Gonzo’s friend still hadn’t called.
“I’m really tired Gonzo.”
“Me too. What should we do, we can’t afford a room. I heard they charge $300 a night.”
“Hmm,” I said as I thought. “I know of a really dumpy casino a few miles from here. I can call and see what their rates are and if they have any vacancies tonight.”
“Sounds like a plan. Call!” Gonzo ordered.
I picked up my phone and searched the directory. When I saw the number for the Eskimo Hotel and Casino, I dialed. Turned out they did have vacancies and they only charged $22 a night. I made the reservation and we were off.
Even though Gonzo was pretty shit-faced, he convinced me that he had sobered up enough to drive and I was just drunk enough to believe him. Lucky for us we made it there alive and without getting arrested.
As we pulled in, I looked up to see a faded and flickering neon sign that had been missing a good majority of it’s bulbs and read something more like, “ The E mo Hot a as .”
“Hey Gonzo, they have some hot emo ass in there!” I drunkenly giggled.
Once parked, we made our way into the smoky lobby then through the casino to the check-in desk. The place had been built in the 1950’s and probably hadn’t been updated since. The slot machines still produced real coins in lieu of the vouchers all other resorts used by then. The carpeted floors were covered in cigarette burns and the walls were dressed in dirty, peeling decorative paper stained yellow from decades of cigarette smoke. I looked over to Gonzo for his opinion.
He just shrugged, “Fuck it, it’s only $22 a night, Asterisk. We are out of options and I’m beat!”
“We have a reservation for two, under Asterisk Five,” I told the clerk.
“Check in isn’t until six thirty. You will have to wait.”
“But that’s an hour away and we are exhausted!” I complained.
“Sorry, that’s the rule, unless you want to pay for two nights.”
Sadly, I looked down into my almost empty wallet. “Do you have a restaurant that’s open?” I asked the clerk as my stomach began to growl.
“Yes, there is a twenty four hour café in the right corner of the building.”
Gonzo and I made our way to the tiny eatery. We were the only ones in the entire place and a large black woman, looking like she had given up on life a long time ago, escorted us to an old tattered booth under a florescent light.
“The server will be right with you,” she said as she dragged her mopey ass back to the hostess desk and plopped down on a bar stool to open up her outdated trash magazine.
Gonzo and I both lit up cigarettes and flipped through the old, sticky menus. That’s when I noticed the special. “They have 99 cent breakfast, Gonzo!” I shouted in excitement. “Sausage and biscuits, eggs, toast, ham … the list goes on! I’m so excited!”
“We can totally afford this!”
“And drinks! Where’s the cocktail waitress?” I asked, just as an elderly woman in torn panty hose, a short skirt and the saggiest pair of ta-tas I had ever seen approached us.
We placed our order then Gonzo looked deep into my eyes. “Something is definitely wrong with your eye,” he said.
“What?” I asked a little taken aback.
“It’s all droopy. You kinda look like Paris Hilton right now.”
“Droopy? What?” I asked again, pulling out my makeup mirror to look. Once it was open, I took a peek and saw that my peeper was in fact drooping. That damn troublesome false eyelash had fallen down and adhered itself to my lower lid.
“Oh my God!” I shouted out in horror. “It’s my fake lashes, how long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know, I just noticed it.”
“You liar! How long?” I shouted.
“Well, I guess all night. I wasn’t sure if you had hurt yourself or something, I mean, until we got under better lighting I couldn’t tell if it was just a shadow.”
“Fuck you, Gonzo! I look half retarded!”
Gonzo was laughing, I had amused him.
Quickly I grabbed the corner of the lash and removed the entire strip. Then I did the same to the other eye.
“Much better,” he assured me.
Lucky for Gonzo our food and drinks had just arrived. After we had scarfed them down, I checked the time. There was still thirty minutes to kill and we were about bust.
“Still more time to wait Gonzo. I want another drink but we are out of money,” I complained.
“I have an idea,” he stated.
“Oh yeah, what?”
“Let’s go to the bar and tell them we just got married. I bet we can get comped if we do that, this is Vegas,” he reminded me.
“Hmm, that could work,” I reluctantly agreed.
After we paid our tab, we made our way to the bar and sat down. I moved a gaudy sapphire ring from my right hand and placed it onto my left ring finger. “Here goes nothing,” I whispered to my friend. Leaning onto the counter, I began waving over the bartender. He started to walk our way and once he had reached us, I did it.
I put on the thickest, most absurd, drunken fake southern accent I could muster up.
“Excuse me, sir. This here is mah new husband. We just got ourselves right hitched tonight! We are from Louisiana and celebratin’ here at your wonderful cass-ina! See?” I said, showing off my unimpressive, non-diamond ring.
“Well congratulations! Let’s have a toast! Champagne is on the house!”
“Well thank ya sir! Wahoo!” I elbowed Gonzo in the ribs and mumbled, “Holy shit dude, it worked.”
“I knew it would,” he whispered back with a wink.
After we finished the bottle, we said goodbye to our new friend and made our way back to the check-in counter. I decided to continue faking the accent and as it turned out we were even upgraded for free to the honeymoon suite.
The suite was not actually attached to the casino. We had to walk outside through an old courtyard and past a nearly empty mosquito-infested pool to get there. The sun had started to rise as did the temperature. I was grateful when Gonzo finally inserted the key to our room into the door and turned the handle, well, until I stepped inside.
As Gonzo turned on a light, I watched a cockroach scurry away into a dark corner. To my left was a bathroom, the floor was covered in specs of mold and there was hair on the counter from a previous guest stuck into a used bar of soap.
“Oh God, I’m not staying here!” I yelled.
“It’s just for a few hours, Asterisk,” Gonzo reminded me. “I just need to get like four hours of sleep and we can head back.”
“Ugh! Fine, but you owe me!”
“Correction, my friend owes you,” he reminded me. “I still can’t believe he would flake on me like this.”
I walked into the bathroom to throw on my sweats but changed my mind after feeling how wet they still were. Instead, remaining in my dress, I dragged myself to one of the twin beds and pulled the smelly old blanket over my head as Gonzo closed the blinds to the room.
“At least it’s dark enough now that I can’t see what I’m sleeping on,” I bitched. “It’s just so weird,” I continued. “I mean, this was supposed to be the honeymoon suite. I thought it would be more glamorous.”
“I thought we would be sharing a bed!” Gonzo admitted.
“Ha, well thank God for that! At least I get my own bed.”
“What’s that?” Gonzo asked pointing at a small door on the far wall.
“Probably the closet.”
“No, the closet is over there,” he said, now pointing to an area next to the bathroom.
“You are right,” I agreed, already half asleep and a bit delirious.
I watched Gonzo walk over and turn the handle to the small door before pushing it open.
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