By Doog © 2007
The sun peeked through the tinted, slightly misty windows of the house as the door opened in the far wall of the large room. Rose composed herself, and stood up straight in amongst her sisters as Keeper approached carrying a large plastic container. Keeper gently gathered Rose and all of her sisters into the container, securing them snugly. Rose was pleased that there was plenty of water for everyone to drink.
With a slight jostle, the container was lifted and carried toward the door. Rose's heart pounded with anticipation, a strange mix of exhilaration and fear of the unknown coursing through her veins. Keeper opened the door and stepped through into the world outside.
Wow! It sure is bright, Rose thought. And hot, too. Rose took a quick drink of water to slake her thirst, and turned to look at the soft orange hues of the sun rising over the distant desert mountains. The visual spectacle of her first actual sunrise overwhelmed her; along with her sisters, she stood speechless gazing at the beauty of the vista as Keeper carried the container to a small wheeled house, opened the rear door, and gently placed the container inside. The door was closed, and Rose and her sisters breathlessly chatted amongst themselves about that awe-inspiring glimpse of the sunrise. They all wondered what other surprises the day held in store.
A low hum sounded and the wheeled house began vibrating. With a lurch, the house began moving, first slowly, then more quickly, Rose and her sisters jostling in their container. After an period of time, the jostling slowed, and then finally stopped. The door leading to the outside was opened by Keeper, and Rose and her sisters were carried towards a completely different house. Rose again sipped some water, and turned to stare wide-eyed at this new house.
It was huge. It had to have been the biggest house in the world. The towers of the house were etched against the morning sky, the stone exterior bathed in the soft morning light, with long shadows from the pointed tower across the street cast across the courtyard. There was a huge lake in front of the house with water fountains dancing in unison to an unseen rhythm. Rose craned her head to see the rotunda at the upper levels of the house, and saw the name of the house proudly displayed there. She squinted a little to make out the letters – Bellagio. That's a very pretty name, Rose thought.
With a swoosh, Keeper carried Rose and her sisters through an automatic revolving door and into an exquisitely decorated room. It was a very large room, with highly polished floor and well-crafted decorations adorning the walls and ceiling. There was a long counter on one side of the room across which people were chatting, conducting business of some sort. To the other side of the room was an opening to a huge cavern filled with more people than Rose had ever seen intermingled with countless blinking, beeping machines. In the center of the entry room, beneath a breathtaking artistic sculpture suspended from the ceiling, stood a huge display case. Keeper carried Rose and her sisters toward the case and gently placed each of them in their designated place. Again, Rose was pleased to find that there was plenty of water for everyone to drink. All of this excitement had made her thirsty, so she took yet another sip. She saw Keeper sign his name to a piece of paper and turn and walk back out the turning door. Rose was a bit unnerved – surely Keeper would not leave them, would he? He'd never do that, Rose thought to herself. He's always taken care of us – he'll be back in a bit to take us back to our house, I'm sure of it.
Rose turned her attention to her surroundings, particularly the people walking by. Right away she noticed the differences in demeanor of the people walking in opposite directions. Those entering through the turning doors, dragging their wheeled containers behind them, walked with an excited bounce in their step and a gleam in their eye. They impatiently waited in the line to speak with the uniformed people on the other side of the long counter, and when they were done, they rushed off to a hallway labeled Elevators – whatever that meant. However, the people who were walking in the opposite direction with their wheeled containers walked much more slowly, their gazes fixed upon the burnished granite floor as they shuffled toward the rotating exit. This must be a fabulous place, thought Rose, if people are so excited to come here and so sad to leave. What is it about this Bellagio house that so excites the people?
Rose thought that question over for a while, then she though that perhaps the answer lay in the huge hall with all the machines. She began to closely watch the machines and how the people interacted with them. The first thing she noticed were the smiles – all of the people looked so happy! But the closer she looked, the more unnerved she became by the smiles. They just didn't look real! They were fixed in place, as if they had been painted onto each face. Rose began to look closely at the people's eyes. Almost all were fixed in their gaze, almost glassy-eyed, yet deep within their expressions, hidden very deep, Rose glimpsed a manic desperation. It was as if each of them were being inexorably pushed toward the edge of an unseen cliff by an irresistible, invisible hand, but they could not bring themselves to step away from that hand, instead allowing themselves to be pushed over the edge inch by inch, smiling the whole way, pretending to be happy. A new thought struck Rose. Are the departing people sad because they are leaving, or are they sad because they came in the first place?
As she contemplated that question, Rose looked around the display case. Wait a minute, she thought. There were more of us a minute ago. Where did my sisters go? As she set out to search for them, she saw a chilling sight; a person walked up to the display case, seized one of Rose's sisters, and walked away! Worse yet, none of the people were concerned, or doing anything about the kidnapping!
At that moment, the awful truth hit Rose. Keeper wasn't coming back. Rose and her sisters, beautiful as they were, were simply ornamental decoration for this room, and also gifts to any of the people who wanted to take possession. Rose began to watch the passersby much more closely, wondering if there was some way that she could try to escape this fate, hoping that if her destiny was to have a new Keeper that at least it would be a nice Keeper like the last one was.
One person walked up to the case, and Rose shrunk back – he smelled strongly of a mélange of perfume and cigarette smoke and had way too much jewelry on. She didn't think he would be a good keeper. Thankfully, he didn't select Rose, though she felt sorry for the sister that was picked. Another passerby seized one of Rose's sisters, and again Rose was glad that she was not the one picked. That woman made strange, incomprehensible sounds with her mouth. What does 'estas flores son hermosas' mean, anyways? thought Rose.
Suddenly, Rose felt a strong, yet gentle hand seize her and lift her from the case. She was frightened, since she hadn't even seen this person approach – she had no idea what kind of person it was! She peeked behind her and saw a pleasant-looking man with a relaxed expression on his kind face, and she immediately felt better. Not that you can tell just by looking at a face, but somehow she instinctively knew that this was going to be a good Keeper, and that she would be happy. He approached a woman and Rose was passed from His hand to Hers. She was a beautiful woman, her earth-toned clothing accentuating her smooth, dark skin. It was clear that Rose was to be a gift from Him to Her; this pleased Rose very much. She felt the love between her new Keepers, and she was proud to be a part of that love.
Excitedly, Rose looked forward to the next adventure in this already monumental day. Rose's new Keepers meandered through the cavern with all of the machines, though They did not sit down and interact with any of them. This allowed Rose a more detailed examination of the people sitting in front of the machines, and examination which only served to reinforce her earlier impression. These machines had power over these people. Most of the people looked like they wanted to stand up and walk away, to escape from the control of the machines, but just when they most wanted to get up and walk away, their will crumbled and they reached into their pockets for more green paper to feed into the machines. Rose was glad that her Keepers were not slaves of the machines.
As Rose was gently carried through the cavern, He told Her that He wanted to visit a place called the Poker Room. Rose did not know what that meant, but she was excited to find out. They walked to a quiet place in the back of the cavern where people were clustered around tables absently fondling clay discs while another person distributed laminated pieces of paper to each person, and methodically laid more of the laminated pieces of paper on the felt table surface. Rose was not sure what was happening, but she noticed that both He and She were entranced by the proceedings. Every now and then the quiet hum of the area would be broken by a loud exclamation, either of triumph or disgust, usually accompanied by a large pile of clay discs being pushed towards one person. At last, Rose realized that it was a game of some sort, though by looking at the people's faces it was hard to tell if anyone was having any fun. In a few of the eyes she saw the same manic gleam as in the machine-slaves. These people tended to have the fewest of the discs in front of them. Rose wondered if that was a coincidence.
After a while, They left with Rose. Rose could tell that He really wanted to play the game, and so did She to a lesser extent. But He mentioned something about a show, and also something called an anniversary, which Rose assumed to mean that they would not be playing the game right then. Rose wasn't saddened by that, since she wanted to explore more of this marvelous Bellagio house anyways.
As They walked back through the cavern and down a meandering avenue with stores and boutiques on either side, She periodically held Rose to Her face and inhaled deeply, smelling Rose's sweet fragrance. Rose tried hard to open herself to allow Her to smell her sweetness, figuring that it would be best to try to please her new Keepers as much as possible. Her Keeper seemed to appreciate Rose's efforts, so much so that She occasionally caressed Her neck and face with Rose's soft, velvety petals. This Keeper's skin was so very soft, and pleasant to the touch, Rose thought. Rose was very pleased that She seemed to enjoy the feel of Rose on Her skin as well. Rose was getting a bit thirsty though. I wonder when They will give me some water to drink? Rose wondered.
Before long They stepped through a door to the outside. Rose was a bit startled that They would be leaving that marvelous Bellagio house, but by now she trusted her Keepers enough to believe that They would not place her in harm's way. In fact, Rose got excited to think about all of the wonderful new sights and sounds she was sure to experience in all of the other wonderful houses that she saw around.
And see them she did. Rose was carried through several wonderful houses. One was named Paris after a city far away, and another was named Venetian after another distant city where people rode in boats and sang loudly in a strange language. Rose accompanied her Keepers to see a spectacle called Le Rêve, whatever that meant, in a house called Wynn, whatever that meant. The show was enjoyable, featuring all kinds of marvelous sights and sounds, but the whole time Rose was getting thirstier and thirstier. Her Keepers procured something to drink for Themselves; it looked somewhat like water but was a different color and had some ice floating in it and smelled funny. Rose was tempted to taste that liquid, not because she was curious (it really smelled bad) but more due to her increasing thirst. However, They never offered any to Rose, not even a taste. Rose began to feel a little bit tired and worn – surely her Keepers would notice that and get her something to drink. Surely right after the conclusion of the show They would get her some water. Right?
Rose began to worry when, at the conclusion of the show, They immediately headed for the exit of the Wynn house. Why couldn't They just get her some water? It was getting hard to hold her head up high, as her original Keeper had taught her was the most beautiful. Rose wanted so badly to please her new Keepers, but it was proving to be very difficult, as thirsty as she was.
The Keepers left the Wynn house and waited in a line for a small rolling house called a taxi. They got into their taxi house, and Rose became excited when she realized that They were taking her to Their own house. While they were in the taxi, though, Rose was a bit unnerved when She put Rose down on the seat while They commenced touching Their mouths together and clutching Their bodies close together. Rose felt a little bit left out, but she figured that this was a personal ritual between her new Keepers and left it at that. Rose did notice that the driver of the taxi house spent more time looking in the mirror that he did at the path upon which he was directing the taxi, and Rose felt a little bit unsafe. Thankfully the taxi house arrived at Their house without incident.
Rose noticed that this house was not as nice as the Bellagio house or the Venetian house or the Paris house. It was quite a bit smaller, and it was not located directly on the primary thoroughfare where all the rest of the huge houses were. With a supreme effort, Rose fought through her dehydration to lift her head and see the name of the house. At the top of the house in flashing orange lights was the name of the house: Hooters. That's an odd name for a house, Rose thought. I wonder if it's a city somewhere, too?
The cavern of the Hooters house was much smaller than the other caverns, but it too was filled with the same machines and the same slaves sitting in front of the machines with the same resigned yet desperate look in their eyes. To be honest, most of the cavern was a blur, since Rose could only focus on her thirst. All she needed was some water – couldn't her Keepers see that?
Rose was carried to the hallway labeled elevators, where some doors opened to a small room that began to rise when the doors closed. So that's an elevator, Rose thought through her thirst. Rose was certain that when They got to Their room in this house and saw how thirsty Rose was They would give her something to drink right away, and then she would be just fine. Rose was dimly aware of her Keepers again touching mouths and pressing close against each other in the elevator, and she hoped that her Keepers weren't too distracted to remember to give her something to drink.
The elevator room stopped, and the doors opened. Rose was carried down a long corridor lined with numbered doors, and then her Keepers stopped at one of the doors. He put a plastic card into a slot in the door, and after a beep and a flash of a green light They stepped into the room. It was very dim; the only illumination was the outside light that entered the room around the edges of the curtain.
Rose desperately looked around the room for the water, but was shocked when she was dropped onto a table. Her Keepers quickly removed their clothing and climbed into the bed, while Rose's thirst overcame her. Rose's head drooped off the edge of the table, and the room seemed to grow even dimmer as she heard the sounds of rustling sheets and animal moans from the direction of the bed. Rose's petals, usually so lush and velvety, felt dried and withered; Rose gasped in shock as an outer petal detached and fluttered to the floor. Slowly, one by one, more petals fell to the floor like tears, as Rose suffered in thirsty torment.
So this is what it's like, Rose thought. This day started with such promise, such hope. And it almost looked as if I would actually be happy. As if something good would happen to me. Now here I lay, used and discarded, weeping sad tears, lamenting what could have been, what should have been. Now I see that I'm just like them – just like the slaves of the machines. I have no control; I'm powerless over my own destiny. I thought I had a chance with these Keepers, but they're just like all the rest. Just like everybody else in this place – this city called Las Vegas.
Rose wept into the night, and by morning she was no more.
Doog lives in California, is married with two young children, is a complete donk of a poker player while being a kick-ass poker blogger. He's also the most modest, humble person you'll ever meet, should you have the esteemed privilege.