By Paul McGuire © 2009
6:08am. Las Vegas. The Hooker Bar at the Rio Casino.
One middle-age guy in an orange Texas Longhorns hat sat down at the end of the bar and shoved $20 into a video poker machine. An attractive young woman with Halle Berry looks slid onto the stool next to him. She pulled out a cigarette and asked him for a light. I started to wonder if those were assigned seats for johns and working girls.
Just as we took note of the latest harlot, a gaggle of them showed up at the other end of the bar. First one, then two, then a couple more. We only had a few minutes before they pounced on us. After all, we were the only marks left standing at that time of the morning. The hookers at the Rio were a combination of famished vultures and parched vampires ready to pick apart any carcass. Any john. Any drunk. Anybody in their path. They were evil personified.
Three of them sat by Otis and ordered drinks. Two of them broke off from the larger pack and made a beeline towards my group. They flashed seductive glances with every step. They always operated in pairs. One did the stroking while the other one did the talking.
"You guys looking for a little fun?" she said which was the standard opening line from the local strumpets.
I played hardball. "Umm, that's what we were doing before you arrived."
"So where are you from?"
I pointed to Nigel. He's a proper Englishman who resides in London but I blurted out, "He's Irish and I'm from Colorado."
"What's your name?"
"Steve," I said. "I'm Steve from Colorado. I sell propane and propane accessories."
"What's his name?" she said as she pointed at Otis who had his head down, tucked so far in that it looked like he was sleeping on the bar.
"Cameron," muttered Otis.
"Have you ever been with a black girl, Cam?"
Otis instantly raised his left hand and practically shoved his wedding ring into her face.
"I have," I said in order to rescue Otis.
"Well how about we have some fun?" she cooed.
"How much does fun cost?" I inquired.
"Depends. What do you want to do?"
At that point, both slags stroked various parts of Nigel's paralyzed body. Dogs, bees, and hookers can smell fear, but Nigel eschewed all of their advances.
"How much for a threesome? I want to videotape both you and her tag-teaming my Irish friend."
"What's his name?"
Nigel remained still and silent.
"This my friend Bartley," chimed in Otis.
"We'd both do him, but you can't videotape us," she demanded.
Before I could retort with a counter-offer, she instantly changed her mind.
"O.K., you can tape us, but no faces!" she said. "I don't wanna see you getting fuckin' rich by putting that shit up on the internet."
At that precise moment, Otis noticed that we were dealing with a hooker who had a keen business acumen. She demanded that I sign a contract. We suspected that she had let a previous john tape her and it ended up on YouPorn. Otis offered up his services as a choreographer and that's when the negotiations broke down.
"You want a fuckin' cut? You get 10%. What's my cut?" she demanded.
"Umm, 3%," I said.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Tela," she said.
Wow, that's was a peculiar coincidence. Tela was the name of a Phish song and she had never heard of that band before. No shocker there. The only other Tela that I'd come across was a cat. My ex-girlfriend had a Siamese cat named Tela. (Later that morning, I'd send my ex-girlfriend a text that said, "u named your cat after a vegas hooker." She's a third grade teacher at a parochial school in Dallas and was not exactly thrilled when she received my drunken text.)
I steered the conversation towards economics. I wanted to know how the credit crunch and the collapse of the hyper-risky sub-prime mortgage market affected the average Las Vegas working girl.
"It sucks," she said. "Business is bad. No one has money. Shit, I might have to actually get a real job."
My buddy the Joker had emailed me a couple of questions that he wanted me to ask any hookers or strippers that I came across. He was curious to find out if working girls were benefiting from the popularity of the president-elect or if they look up to Michelle Obama.
"Did you vote for Obama?"
"I would have but I didn't vote."
"I'm from Oregon."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't know too many black people from Oregon, unless you count the guys playing basketball for the Portland Trailblazers."
"No shit. That's why I'm here. So do you guys wanna have fun or what?"
I sipped a bottle of Amstel Light as four hooker hands continued to stroke Nigel.
"What the hell is that?" Tela asked.
"Amstel," I said and she proceeded to give me guff about drinking a beer that she never heard of before.
A steady stream of conventioneers with name tags dangling around their necks walked by us every couple of minutes while on their way to breakfast. Some of them stopped and leered at the maudlin skanks hovering around us.
Tela didn't mess around and switched to lewder tactics as she unleashed an aggressive sales pitch.
"Don't you want a blow job? All guys want their cocks sucked. Let's go up to your room," she cajoled.
"We can't go up to my room. My girlfriend is sleeping there."
"Girlfriend? Who the hell brings sand to the beach?" said Tela.
That was actually a funny line but the banter ended right there. The hoochies knew when to fold a losing hand and finally gave up especially since Otis kept flashing his wedding ring and I constantly reminded them about my extremely understanding and wonderful girlfriend who was fast asleep upstairs. They were also worn down by Nigel's icy demeanor in the heat of battle. Nigel was as cool and smooth as a John Coltrane solo. He admirably displayed nerves of steel and did not blink once, nor did he utter a single word, or move an inch as the frisky hookers molested him.
"They fancied me," said Nigel once the storm had subsided and the harlots retreated. "I think we could have had a non-commercial relationship."
We managed to mollify the foul temptresses. We were unattainable and no longer on their radar. One of the working girls seated next to Otis received a phone call. She quickly wrote down an address and two of them scurried off. The last of hussies had bailed and disappeared into a sea of conventioneers. We never saw them again.
Otis polished off his Corona and motioned to the barkeep for another round of beers. He dug into his jeans pocket and pulled out a crisp $100 bill.
"This is just a semi-horseshoed bar in a no-name casino in a barely named city in a fuckin' country that's barely anything in the world," said Otis. "There is a reason why this bar is named the Hooker Bar. And we saw it tonight."
Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City. He currently resides in Los Angeles.